How To Pray (For Those Who Struggle With Prayer)

Sermon from CCM:City Centre


This sermon was preached by Tom O’Toole at the CCM:City Centre site of Christ Church Manchester on Sunday 26th January 2020.



This message was part of the ‘SERIES NAME’ series, preached at Christ Church Manchester’s church in Fallowfield in EARLY/MID/LATE YEAR. The full series included the following sermons:


This sermon was based on Matthew 6:5-13 & 7:7-11.

The Lord’s Prayer

5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.


Ask, and It Will Be Given

7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!


Relationship vs. Reputation

  • First thing Jesus teach them – prayer is fundamentally about relationship with God. The Pharisees … Oh Lord of hosts, I beseech thee. – All about public perception. Don’t be like that.
  • What will people think of me? … HUGE BARRIER. Understand that prayer is just between you and God – an audience of one.
  • Christianity = relationship with God as your Father.
    • Come as you are. Be who you are. YOU DO YOU.

Private vs. Public

  • Nothing wrong with praying in front of other people … can be an encouragement. Jesus did it some times. However the core of our prayer life is our private prayer – just us and God.
  • “Go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret.”
  • This is about forming the habit – day by day prayer. A lot of people get stuck here…
    • Choose a Place – Where’s your chair?
    • Choose a Time – Don’t make yourself decide every day.
    • Make it Work For Your – {Time} – Morning? Evening//In Bed – Shift Work (There are ways to make it work if you try hard enough) – Distraction Free.

Reality vs. Repetition

  • You are not trying to manipulate God with some special formula or mantra. Jesus taught the Lord’s prayer as a guide not a formula – some even turn this into that.
  • Be real. Pray about what is going on. What’s on your mind and heart. Talk to God about these things.
  • The Lord’s Prayer – Not complicated or a big formula. Maybe these headers help…between them they cover everything really you might need to pray, but it’s just about bringing what’s going on in your life and in the world before God – praising him for who he is and inviting him into what is going on.
  • Prayer is not about heaping up empty phrases, it’s just about being real and talking with your father God.

Persistence vs. Presumption

  • Persistence – Sometimes we need to keep praying for the same thing over a period of time. Maybe over our whole life.
  • Three words – ask, seek, knock. Progression – However close or distant God may seem, push through to make your requests. Tense – Continuous… keep on asking / keep on seeking / keep on knocking
  • Why? – Dependence on God. Reliance on God. Draws out a hunger and a wrestling. Don’t be discouraged if your prayers are not answered straight away. Persist and keep going and you will be amazed what you see God do.

Dad vs. Dictator

  • The last thing is to understand what God is like. The picture is a dad not a dictator. We don’t need to persuade him to be good to us – he wants to!!
  • Prayer isn’t twisting God’s arm to bless – as though he wants to do bad. He is the best, most perfect, kind father imaginable. The very best of human fatherhood is just a pale imitation of him. He has called us his children. Prayer is where we enjoy this relationship with our Father. It’s brilliant.



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