Bad Prayers

“Bad Prayers”
Matthew 6:5-8


  • I love this passage of scripture, don’t you? Especially that last verse 8…for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.”
  • God knows what we need before we ask of it in prayer.
  • Shel Silverstein wrote a prayer and it goes like this….

Now I lay me down to sleep.
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
And if I die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my toys to break.
So, none of the other kids can use them. Amen

  • We all laugh thinking this is funny. But in spiritual reality and in God’s eyes I believe it to be a bad prayer.
  • Now is that a bad prayer? Every line of that prayer is good except the last one. WHY? Because the reason for him asking God to break his toys is wrong as it is selfish, hateful, and ungodly.
  • Now this morning in Sunday School and so far in our Morning Worship service we have had several prayers. After all, didn’t Jesus call God’s house “a house of prayer?”
  • Were any of those prayers “Bad prayers?”


I. When God says “NO,” Is That Because Of A Bad Prayer?

  A) Look to our example.

  • Look over in Matthew 26:39…And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.
  • Jesus asked God to “…let this cup pass from me” two times. Here in verse 39 and again in verse 42.
  • Of course we know “this cup” is talking about the sins of all the world being placed on Him, the weight of it. Do you notice how heavy your heart feels when you have done wrong? Imagine that feeling being multiplied by the world’s population.
  • I personally believe that it was “that weight of sin” that killed my Jesus. It wasn’t the cross, the piercings, the loss of blood. It was the weight of the sins of the world.
  • Was Christ’s prayer a bad prayer? God answered with a “NO.”
  • You might say… “Where in the Bible does it say that God told Jesus NO?”
  • For you who don’t know, so this answer is in an FYI (For Your Information) form… When you ask God for something specific, and you do not get an answer back ASAP, or in your time frame, God has said “NO.”
  • God always answers prayer. Always. Many times the answer is not to our liking. But He always answers.
  • Christ’s prayer up in Matthew 26:39 was not a bad prayer. It was definitely a prayer of major concern to our Lord. But His Father (God) said “NO.”
  • Just because we do not get what we want in a prayer does not mean it was an ineffective prayer.

  B) Jesus show us how to pray

  • In Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus gives His disciples this example of how to pray
  1. Verse 9b)”… Our Father which art in heaven,” Address the God (god, idol) to whom you are praying to. When you open your prayer with “Our Father in Heaven” it is only speaking of God the creator of heaven and earth and no other god exists in heaven.
  2. “…Hallowed be thy name.” The word “hallowed” means holy, set apart as holy, celebrated as holy. His name is above all names. And we must show honor to Him by glorifying His name in our prayers.
  3. 10) Thy kingdom come. We are to ask that God may reign (rule) our bodies as well as everywhere. His laws are to be obeyed.
  4. 10b) Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. We are to submit to His will being done in our lives according to His plan and purpose.
  5. “…Give us this day our daily bread.”  This is praying for what your necessities are. This is showing your dependency upon God. The words “daily bread” denotes things necessary to sustain life (To keep you alive).
  6. 12) And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. This is not talking about money debts or bills owed. Realize that you are in debt to God for your sins committed in this life. Jesus is talking about a spiritual debt that each Christians owes. What this verse means to say is this… “forgive our sins and those who sin against us.” This should be “the heart” of our prayers. In fact, Jesus expounded on this part of the prayer in verses 14 and 15. We are to always ask God to forgive us our sins, and forgive those who sin against us.
  7. 13) And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: This verse would be better rendered as “Do not allow us to be tempted to sin, protect us from the power of satan.” (Also see Psalms 141:4)
  8. 13b) “…For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. In closing out our prayer we are to acknowledge God as being the ruler over us, the most powerful of all powers, and all glory is due Him… FOREVER, not just while we are on this earth.
  9. Amen.” Typically this word means “so be it” or “it is true.” I would like to think that it gives tribute to Jesus Christ “The Amen” mentioned in Revelation 3:14… “…the faithful and true witness.”
  • Now before I close out this portion of the message, I believe it is necessary for you to know WHY Jesus was teaching them how to pray. This is also WHY this message is important for you to understand.
  • WHY? Because the disciples did not know how to pray. You don’t know how to pray. The disciples (converted Jews from Judaism) depended on the priests to pray to God. Priests were the only ones allowed to pray or petition God. Nobody knew how to pray to God.
  • Since the veil was rented (torn, ripped) by God after Jesus Christ our sacrificial Lamb was slain and put on the cross, it gave to us direct access to the throne of God allowing us to pray. The veil separated us from the high priests and God. Now Jesus is our high priest who petitions our prayers to God.


II. Prayers That Are Meant For People, Not For God

  A) Prayers of a hypocrite

  • Look back in our text verse of Matthew 6:5…And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are:
  • This is the first kind of bad prayer.
  • A hypocrite’s prayer is meant or aimed towards people. They are prayers where people use big words, and flowered words that sound beautiful.
  • These hypocrite prayers are those prayers that are prayed in a certain stance or kneeling as to show others how holy we are.
  • These hypocritical prayers are those where a person prays to make others feel good, and the person praying look good.
  • The rest of verse 5b“…for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men.
  • This is what Jewish men were doing and you can still see some doing this today at the “Wailing Wall” in Jerusalem. They get out a shawl and put it over their head, get in a certain position to pray so that everyone will notice they are praying.
  • Now we finish with verse 5c… “Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. This is Jesus answer to this “Bad Prayer.” He said “…They have their reward.” This does not mean that they will get a reward, a prize or a special gift from God. It has the meaning that God will give them what they deserve…a deaf ear. He will not even answer their prayer. He will act like He never heard it.
  • Think of it this way… To reward someone is to acknowledge their work or acknowledge them. Christ said that “they have their reward (the eyes of the people upon them)they won’t get one from God.


III. The Polished Prayer

  A) A Prideful prayer

  • This is a prayer of someone that has to use the right words (corrected grammar), eloquence, thinking of what you are going to say well in advance.
  • This is also a prayer that maybe someone has practiced over and over to make sure they say the right thing.
  • There is nothing wrong with making sure you speak clearly, and use the correct grammar and all of that…nothing wrong.
  • It is wrong when you make that your main focus. The main focus is God.
  • God doesn’t care what you sound like, what position you are in, where you pray, what words you use…It must come from the heart with reverence to Him.

IV. Preaching/Announcement Prayers

  A) Preaching prayers

  • These are prayers that are said when you want someone to know something so you mention it in a prayer.

EXAMPLE: “Dear Lord, as I pray with my husband now we are wishing your blessings upon us but please help my husband to not be such a grouch, and always picking on me.”

EXAMPLE; “Our Father in Heaven, we are gathered here at church this morning with many members absent. We pray that they will get convicted of their sin in “forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as the manner of some is.”

  • These are prayers that are bad because it is not your duty to make people feel bad or convicted by your prayer.

B) Announcement prayers

  • These are prayers that announce something that you have been dealing with for some time and want to tell everybody about it hoping it will help or make it go away.

EXAMPLE; “My Father, I am asking you to help my wife whom I love dearly to pick her clothes up off the floor so I don’t trip going to the bathroom.”

EXAMPLE; “Father, I pray for my husband because he is lazy and won’t find a job.”

EXAMPLE; “Father you know we are getting ready for next Sunday’s dinner on the grounds, and I ask that you help everybody to remember to bring enough food for others and not just for themselves.”

  • These are prayers that announce something that God doesn’t necessarily thinks it is needful.
  • Just because you think it is important, doesn’t mean it is important.
  • Now these above prayers are not considered really bad prayers if you are by yourself praying. They are bad prayers when you do it in front of others that you feel need to hear what you have to say.
  • What makes these prayers bad is that they are “people prayers,” not God prayers.
  • Prayer is a part of our worship to God. It’s about Him not us or other people and their behavior that we don’t appreciate.

V. Babbling Prayers

  A) Totally worthless

  • These prayers are those we may say with “heart disease.”
  • It does not come from the heart, but rather from the lips.
  • Note what Jesus said in our text verse of Matthew 6: 7…But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
  • The words “vain repetitions” means… to recite the same words over and over again.
  • Jesus said the “heathens (Idol worshippers) do this.
  • In an article from “Hinduism Today” (Back in 1995) it read this…


The robed and bearded Buddhist monk who serves 24 hours a day in Yokohama Central Cemetery in Japan raises one hand in prayer while beating in rhythm with the other and always says the right prayers at the right time. The computer driven robot was created 2 years ago by a man who saw a need for priests, and filled the need, noting that fewer young people are becoming Buddhist priests these days. Price tag $400,000.00. Here is one priest that won’t complain about long hours or beggars gruel.

  • This is a robot that looks like a Buddhist priest and says “vain repetitions.”
  • Babbling prayers (vain repetitions) are also the prayers of people who come down front to the altar and pray for sins committed knowing they will go home and repeat the same sin week after week. It’s worthless, it’s vain. You are just moving your lips with no heart behind the prayer.
  • It could easily be called a “Band-aid prayer.” It makes you feel good on Sunday that you are clean again but then you remove the cover of Christianity to start bleeding sin again.


VI. Prideful Prayer

  A) I am better than others

  • This prayer is like that mentioned in Luke 18:9-14…The Pharisee and the publican.
  • We all remember this one where the Pharisee was prideful thinking that he was better than the publican because he stood up while he prayed and the publican dirtied his knees.
  • The Pharisee also bragged that he fasted twice a week and gave 10% of everything he earned to the Lord. BIG WHUP DE DO!
  • These kinds of prayers make God puke.
  • Each one of us are more sinful than others and yet we pray a prayer like that, God help us.
  • This too is a bad prayer.
  • We all know what God says about pride right?
  1. Proverbs 11:2…When pride cometh, then cometh shame:
  2. Proverbs 16:18…Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.
  3. Proverbs 29:23…A man’s pride shall bring him low:
  4. I John 2:16…For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

VII. Selfish Prayers

  A) The “I” irritant

  • A play on words with the “I” or “eye” to say that there are certain things in this world that irritates our eyes. Right off hand I would say smoke, tear gas, sweat, dust, just to name a few.
  • Don’t you think there are certain things that irritate God’s eyes? Bad prayers are one of them. A selfish prayer is against the very nature of God.
  • This is a person’s prayer when they pray only for themselves and their needs.
  • I believe that this is a prayer that irritates God’s eyes.
  • God wants to see His children’s prayer as a plea for others rather than of self.
  • This person always has the “I” syndrome.

EXAMPLE; “Lord I come before your throne today in request of all my needs and desires and wants and I need you to give me these items because I have been a good boy this week. In fact Lord, you know I have been above average all month.”

  • A selfish prayer is always prayed to the prayer’s benefit.


VIII. Dishonest Prayers

  A) Prayers of no intention to carry them out

  • These dishonest prayers are those prayers offered up to God with no intention of following through with whatever you pray for.

EXAMPLE; A student in college is getting ready for an exam tomorrow and hasn’t studied all week. He gets on his knees and prays… “Lord, You know I have a test tomorrow and I ask you to help me study tonight so I can pass the test tomorrow.” Later that evening some class mates stop by and ask him to go to a party. The next morning exams are given and he prays “Lord you know I studied this week and I ask you to help me pass this test.”

EXAMPLE; I come to the altar in church this morning Lord to ask you to help me stop stealing things from my employer. I know I have done it for a long time, but help me to stop. The next day the person goes to work and steals more stuff without even a hesitation for thoughts on the matter. I come to the altar in church this morning Lord to ask you to help me stop stealing things from my employer. I know I have done it for a long time, but help me to stop. The next day the person goes to work and steals more stuff without even a hesitation for thoughts on the matter.

  • These are prayers where you are not honest with God. You never really intended to do anything at all towards improvement spiritually but you want God to think that you “Mean well by your intentions.”
  • Have you heard of the old adage “The road to heaven was not paved with good intentions.”


IX. Prayers Without Forgiveness

  A) Asking for forgiveness

  • Up in our text of Matthew 6, look at verse 12 again…And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
  • We talked earlier about this verse meaning a personal debt we owe to God and that is true. But we should also note in this verse the words…
  1. “forgive us” – We should always keep in mind when praying to ask God to forgive us our sins. Many prayers are offered to God in a pious attitude and never once ask for God’s forgiveness for sins committed against Him.
  2. “As we forgive” – The main focus on our life should be to “fear God, and keep His commandments (Ecc. 12:13). In our fear of God doing as He commands us we should forgive others easily and not carry grudges.


  • Many Bad Prayers are said that do not include forgiveness of their sin or forgiveness from God. They are self dependant prayers of people who do not need God.

X. Prayers Without Faith

  A) They do not please God

  • When I hear the two words “faith and impossible” one verse comes quickly to my mind…Hebrews 11:6 …But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
  • Prayers without faith are Bad Prayers. They do not please God because they contain no faith from the prayer.
    EXAMPLE; A person is informed by a physician that they have terminal cancer. The cancer victim prays for God’s healing, but in their mind they rely on what is known of cancer patients always dying so their belief that God will cure them is limited or possibly non-existent.

EXAMPLE; A married couple sit down to figure their budget for the month and find out that they have no money left after getting paid. So they go to the Lord in prayer and ask Him to supply their needs for the rest of the month. The month goes by, day by day they continually do not see any possibilities of God answering their prayer as they wished. So they pray again.


The Model Prayer For You To Pray

  • The “ACTS” Prayer
  • This is an idea I got off the internet. I believe it will help us to easily remember the way for us to pray.
  • The word “ACTS” is an acronym meaning this….

A – Adoration towards God. Honor him by acknowledging Him as Lord of our life. Telling God how we feel about Him, how wonderful He is and etc.

C – Confession. Confession of our daily sins. Also confessing to God the fact that we fail in our efforts of trying to be holy as He is holy.

T – Thanksgiving. Thanking God for His grace towards us. Thank Him for the sacrifice of His Son Jesus on the Cross. Thank Him for our needs, etc.

S – Supplication. This is a plea or begging towards God on your behalf or on the behalf of those you are praying for.