Rabbi Schneider - What Is the Right Way to Pray?
I have confidence when I'm praying, when I know that I'm praying according to his will. And how do I know if I'm praying according to his will? When my prayers, beloved ones, listen now, are lining up with Scripture. The Bible tells us in the Book of 1 John, chapter 5, verse 14, these words: This is the confidence we have before Him, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. Let me say it again. First John, 5:14: This is the confidence we have before Him, if we ask anything according to His will, he hears us.
So whenever I'm praying, I'm always monitoring my heart and my prayers to make sure that they're aligning with truth. And how do I know truth? The Bible tells me. A lot of times people will come and ask me to pray for them about things, and a lot of times I find that people, other people, when they're asked to pray, they just pray what's gonna make the person that has asked them for prayer feel good. But, those types of prayers don't always move the heart of God, because if somebody, for example, that's not living for God, that's living in outright rebellion, that has not in any way brought themselves under the subjection of Jesus Christ comes up to you and asks you to pray for, you know, all these different things in their life that they want blessed, you can't just ask God to bless them and bless them and bless them unless they first, beloved, come to a place of repentance. Jesus said, repent for the kingdom of God is at hand. Jesus said, unless you repent, you'll perish.
So we have to figure out when we have requests like this, how we can pray in such a way that first of all is pleasing to the Lord and aligns with truth. What I do in that situation, often times I'll say, okay Lord, how can I pray about this in a way that first of all pleases you? And then remember the Bible says Jesus said that God causes his sun, meaning the sunshine, to fall on the good and the bad alike. So I say, okay Lord, this person that's in front of me asking me for prayer, they may not be living for you fully yet, but you're such a good God that you can bless anybody.
So I'll say Lord, your Word says that you cause the sun to shine on the good and bad alike, and so I ask you to bless so an so. And then what I'll do is I'll also weave into the prayer a call that God would move in so and so's life and bring them into a deep relationship with God, and that their life would be transformed. But I'm always monitoring my prayer life, whether it's praying for myself or praying for others, to make sure, beloved ones, that the prayers that I'm praying are according to truth and line up with the Word of God. Because if we're just praying about things that we want for ourselves or other people that don't align with truth, then we can't really have confidence that those prayers are gonna be answered. But the Bible says if we pray anything according to his will, we know that he'll hear us and that he'll answer.
So once again this is the second part of the series. Last week I talked about some basic concepts. I brought up, for example, that the most common traditional Jewish word for prayer is the word Tefilah. It has to do with putting our self in a proper relationship with God as we lift our heart and voice to him. And that's what I was kind of just describing. When I'm in a situation where people are asking me to pray for something, I'm not just gonna pray in a way that makes them feel good. But I'm gonna first of all pray in a way that I feel like my heart is aligned with truth.
See the problem is some of us, getting back to that point is, we act like we're praying. Let's say that for example, somebody asks us to pray for them and we begin to start praying for them. A lot of times what's happening is that the prayers that are being prayed are not really being prayed to God, but they're actually being prayed to make the person that you're praying for feel good. In other words, someone says, well, you know, would you ask God to bless me in this, or would you ask God to do this for me? And the person that's praying for them, sometimes isn't first of all thinking about God when they're praying, but rather they're thinking about what words can they say that will make the person that just asked them to pray feel good. What words can they say, they're asking themselves, that will comfort this person. That isn't really prayer because it's not really being directed to God.
It looks like it's being directed to God. The person's eyes might be closed. They might act like they're praying, but it's not really prayer because truly the focus of their heart is on just speaking words of pleasantries that will make the person feel good. So we're looking at Biblical prayers, prayers that are founded in truth, prayers that are concerned with having right posture before God, that they're really prayers.
Again the Hebrew word for prayer, Tefilah has to do with putting ourselves in the right posture before our holy Father, that God's not gonna honor prayers that look pious, but really aren't directed to him. We find in, for example, when we see pictures of people, Orthodox Jewish people at the Wailing Wall, the Western Wall in Jerusalem. A lot of times you'll see them kind of moving their body like this. That's called Davening, and again it's an attempt to put oneself in the right posture before God because the Scripture tells us in the Book of Proverbs that the Spirit of the Lord within man is like a candle or like a flame.
And so the concept is, you know, God's spirits in me, he's alive. He's like a flame, and so I'm gonna reflect that, that my whole body, all my bones will reflect that. Again it's an attempt to put oneself in a proper posture before a holy God; because unless we have a right posture before him with our heart and our words, the prayer isn't really effective. It's not deep calling to deep. We're not really connecting to the divine and to the holy in a way that is gonna move him and availeth much.
When we see these Orthodox Jewish people at the Western Wall going like this again, called Davening, the word Davening has to do with intention. So the focus is that when we're going like this the Spirit of the Lord within man is like a flame and it causes all our bones to move, what is taking place there is we're always putting our self in the right posture, it's putting our self in the right focus. And so another concept in traditional Judaism that's associated with prayer is this concept of Davening and it comes from the thought of being focused on God and putting all our, get it now, intention into him and on him.
Again it's the exact opposite of just acting like we're praying when really we're not really praying to God, we're just looking like we're praying to God. When we Daven, we're actually putting all our focus and we're meditating and thinking on God. We're putting all of our energy into him. And so reviewing then, putting ourselves in a proper posture of prayer has to do with having a heart that's rightly aligned to him in the right posture, and focusing on him when we're praying.
Now last week by way of review, and then we're gonna get back into where we were and move forward, I talked about the first example of prayer in the Hebrew Bible. It's in the Book of Genesis that we call in Hebrew Bereshit. And in Genesis, chapter 4, verse 25 and 26, the episode that we've come to in the Biblical narrative is that Adam and Eve's son, Cain, killed his brother, Abel. And so Adam and Eve had lost their son, Abel. So they conceived again in, you know, in an effort to replace Abel, and they, Eve gave birth to Seth. And then Seth had a son, and Seth's son's name was Enosh.
So Enosh then was Adam and Eve's grandchild. And at this time the Bible says, I'm gonna read it for you now in the Book of Genesis, chapter 4: 25 and 26, it says that: At this time men began to call on the name of the Lord. This is just really interesting to see the first mention of prayer in Scripture. Verse 25: Adam had relations with his wife again; and she gave birth to a son, and named him Seth, for, she said, God has appointed me another offspring in place of Abel, for Cain killed him. To Seth, to him also a son was born; and he called his name Enosh.
Now get it, then men began to call upon the name of the Lord. I just love the, just that knowledge. Wow, this is the first place in the Bible we read about men beginning to call upon the name of the Lord. So we are gonna study now in the Biblical narrative the prayers of men and women that had a deep walk with God. Through this we can learn how to pray in such a way that matters, deep calling to deep; not praying about superficial things. You know, there was a song years ago, it was kind of a comical song, but you know kind of sacrilegious. And it was about this guy that was praying for the Lord to buy him, I'm just gonna be a little funny.
Can I be a little funny with you here? The song went something like this. "Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz". And it goes on. "My friends all have Porsche's", and I could go on but I won't 'cause I don't want to take away from our point here. But the reason I did that is because some people are praying for things that don't move God. Some people are praying for things that are not the things that God's concerned about. And so we want to study the prayer life of people that had a deep walk with God. Because by doing this, it will help us to learn how to pray in such a way that we can move God's heart.
First John, 5:14, again says this: This is the confidence we have before Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And knowing beloved ones, that he hears us we also have confidence that he will grant those requests. We looked last week at Psalm number 51, and we're gonna continue in Psalm number 51 today. Psalm 51 was written by David. Now the Bible tells us in Acts, 13, that David was a man who was after God's own heart. God said in the Book of Samuel concerning David, that David was a man after his own heart.
Remember when Samuel was going to anoint Jesse's sons, one of them to be the king. And you know he kept going from the oldest to the youngest, and then Samuel was like, why did you anoint David? I mean, he's just a shepherd boy. What do you see in him? And remember what God said to Samuel? God said, man looketh on the outside but God looketh on the heart. So God saw something in David's heart. Of course, I want to say that God's the one that made David the way that he was. But David's heart was pure before the Lord. That's why Jesu said, in Revelation, he was the offspring of David.
And so this is important to study David's prayer life because this is the prayer life of someone that knew God. And so by seeing how he related to God, and by examining how he petitioned God, it's gonna help us to know what's important to God, what we should be focusing on, and again beloved one, when we're praying according to his will we know that he hears us and he's gonna grant us our desires. And so last week we began in verse number 1. And in verse number 1, David said: Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your loving kindness; I'm not gonna review because I took all of last week's episode.
I really want to encourage you to get this entire series. You can get last week's episode if you missed it and any other episodes. The contact information to get this series will be at the end of the broadcast today. We looked last week, Psalm 51:1, David said: Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your loving kindness. And I talked about just knowing God's disposition towards you. He desires to be favorable to you because he loves you. Get last week's message. I want to continue today. In verse number 2, David said this: Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity And cleanse me from my sin.
Let's continue with verse number 6: Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom. Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness, Let the bones which You have broken rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins And blot out my iniquities. I want to focus on this deep longing in David to be washed of his sin. Wash me, he said, and I shall be clean. Wash me with hyssop. Beloved ones, if we're not washed inside, get this now, if we're not cleansed on the inside, get this now, we can't know God. The Bible says, who shall ascend to the house of the Lord but he that has clean hands and a pure heart.
In other words, what God is saying here is that we can't walk in fellowship with him unless we have clean hands and a pure heart. In other words, unless our nature is purified, we can't walk with God. It's called the law of similarity, that the more we become like Jesus, the more that we're washed on the inside, Jesus said, blessed are the pure in spirit for they shall see God. The more we're washed, and cleansed, and purified on the inside, the more we are connected to Jesus.
You see, we need to know a Jesus that is not just far away somewhere up there in the sky at the right hand of God, which he is. But we need to know a Jesus that's here, that's now, that's in us; Christ in you, the hope of glory. And so we're not gonna know him in us, we're not gonna know him with us the way that will bring us into deep satisfaction, get it now beloved one, unless we're washed on the inside. This is so important. To be forgiven takes place in an instant. The instant we receive Jesus we're legally forgiven. But to be washed is a process. The Bible says be transformed. It's a process, cleansing old ways of thinking, old ways of relating.
Let me read that again for you: Wash me thoroughly, David said, from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin. Continuing on: Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom. Purify me with hyssop, purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy. And so, again, this is a prayer that we should constantly be lifting up to the Lord: Create in me a clean heart, And renew a right spirit in me. Let's just pray to the Lord right now through that song that we used to sing. "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me".
This is deep calling to deep, because as we're washed and cleansed, and as his clean heart is created within us, we're brought into deep intimacy with Jesus. And deep intimacy with Jesus is a thing that will satisfy us. The things on the outside, although they're blessings, they can never satisfy. You see, Jesus said, beloved one, life consisteth not in the abundance of things. The only thing that will bring us satisfaction is when we become like Jesus, because then we'll know him.
Again, eternal life is about relationship. And so when we look at this man of God's heart, when we look at David's heart, first of all we find he has confidence in who God is, that God has a good will for him, that God desires to bless him. Remember the Lord said, I know the plan I have for you, saith the Lord; plans to bless you and to give you a future and a hope. So David knew God in this way. He knew that this was who God was. He didn't think that God was far away, but he thought that Lord was kinda towards him. And so he said, Lord, be gracious to me according to Your loving kindness. And then he began to pour out his heart. He said, Lord, create in me a clean heart. He said, wash me thoroughly from my iniquity And cleanse me, cleanse me.
And one of the ways, beloved ones, that God cleanses us is when we're willing to allow him to cleanse us. In other words, we have to cooperate with God's sanctifying process. We have to become aware, get it now, of what we're thinking and what we're saying and be in a constant state of examining ourselves. You see, we have a choice as to whether we're gonna put ourselves in God's beam of light upon our lives. Many people are running from the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and the Bible says it's the goodness of God that leads to repentance.
And so it's the conviction of the Holy Spirit that is God's kindness to cause us to become aware of our sin so we can look up to him and say, have mercy, O God, and wash me, and cleanse me, and give me a clean heart, God. I see that this evil is in my heart. I see this selfish ambition in my heart. I see this pride in my heart. I see this jealousy in my heart. O God, I know it's wrong, forgive me, wash me, cleanse me. And when we put ourselves in this posture, the Bible says, he's faithful to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
So David said, cleanse me but we also have to realize that to be cleansed has to do with our cooperating with the Holy Spirit. David said cleanse me, but the Bible also says if we confess our sins he's faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us. So this should be a deep longing of our heart. I'm telling you, beloved, the truths that I'm speaking to you of, these are realities that are matters of eternal life. These truths will change you. This type of focus in your prayer life will bring about transformation. It will bring you into deep waters in your walk with God in terms of knowing Jesus and the river of living water that will come forth from your life as you're walking in a state, beloved, of being cleansed and purified.
The next verse in the Psalm we're gonna look at, after David asked God to cleanse him was, he says, and joy is gonna break forth in me. You see, as we long and hunger for God, as we cooperate with him and ask him to cleanse us, as we willingly repent, you know what happens? Joy breaks forth in us. Jesus's goodness is released from our innermost being. The Bible said a river of living water will spring forth from our innermost being.
Beloved one, I'm telling you the truth. I want to be a blessing to you and that which I'm sharing with your heart today, if you'll meditate on it and put it into practice in your life, God is gonna change you and he's gonna transform you. Everything that we pray about is important, but let's not focus on the superficial things. Let's focus on the deepest things. The deepest things, beloved, have to do with matters of the heart. Father, we love you today and we thank you today for all that you're doing. Wash us and cleanse us of our sin that we might walk with you in joy, Amen.