About the Author

Thomas Ray Floyd was born in 1953 in Simpson County, Mississippi, the son of Roy Thomas Floyd and Lina Sue Shows Floyd. Thomas Ray's mother was a member of a Primitive Baptist church, and he cut his teeth on the doctrines of distinguishing grace.

When he was a small boy, his father was converted to Christ and became a member of a Missionary Baptist Church. Thomas Ray joined the church of his father when he was 13 years old, and thought of himself as a Christian. The doctrines of grace that he had heard as a child continued to be precious to him and when he became an adult, he joined a Primitive Baptist Church. When he was 27, Thomas Ray made his first effort to preach the gospel in public and was ordained to the full functions of the ministry in 1985. In 1986 he was convinced under the preaching of Rolfe Barnard (by tapes from Mt. Olive Tape Library), the written sermons of Spurgeon, and the ministry of Elder Zack Guess that he had been a false professor and cried out in agony of soul to the Lord Jesus Christ to have mercy and truly save him. And He did! Floyd then began to preach the gospel as he had been taught of the Lord.

Floyd has pastored churches in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Tennessee and until recently was pastor of a church plant known as "Particular Baptist Fellowship." He and his wife Brenda presently attend Zion Baptist Church at Polkville, Mississippi, pastored by Elder Glen Hopkins. The pulpit ministry of Zion Baptist Church can be heard at Sermonaudio.com.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

When Ye Pray

(Article for publication week of 5-13-2009 AD)

“And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.” (Matthew 6:5).

Those of you who are our regular readers will remember that we have been for over three years writing on the New Birth with John 3:1-8 as our starting place. In that passage, our Lord Jesus Christ told Nicodemus of the necessity, mystery and evidence of the new birth. For the last several months we have been showing the vital evidences of the new birth. For the past several weeks we have been showing that the practice of righteousness is one of those vital evidences (I John 2:29; 3:7). In Matthew 6:1-18, we learn the practice of righteousness may be considered under three general heads- giving, praying and fasting. We come now to consider the practice of prayer.

Note well that our Lord says, “when ye pray” not “if.” There is a sense in which prayer comes automatically to the believer. Prayer is to the soul, what breathing is to the body. No one has to tell you to breathe, you just do it. And so no one has to tell you to pray if you are a Christian. Prayerlessness is a sign of spiritual death. And true prayer is a sign of spiritual life.

Although prayer comes automatically to us when the Holy Spirit imparts new life into us, we do have to be taught to pray intelligently. We know not how to pray as we ought. This is the reason our Lord in His grace and mercy gives us a model prayer in Matthew 6:9-13 and also in Luke 11:2-4. What we call the “Lord’s prayer” is in reality the “model prayer’ or the “disciples prayer”, for it is an outline to guide us in our prayer life that we may not pray amiss. Keeping to the analogy between prayer and breath, a living person does not have to be taught to breath, but we may be taught to breathe better, or be given breathing treatments when we are ill. And so those who have spiritual life may be taught to pray as they ought.

Now there is a vast difference in praying and “saying a prayer”. Many people “say ‘ their prayers, but they never really pray. Such persons are not Christians and are still in the “gall of bitterness, and the bond of iniquity”. In Acts 9:11, we read for the first time of Saul of Tarsus, “behold he prayeth”. No doubt he had always “said his prayers”, but after the Lord struck him down on the road to Damascus, he began to pray for the first time in his life. And his first prayer was “Lord what wilt Thou have me to do?” Hypocrites and heathens may “say a prayer’, but only a regenerate person can truly pray.

Our Lord is not forbidding public prayer in our text. We know our Lord often prayed in the presence of others (Matthew 11:25-27). Paul the apostle prayed in the presence of others (Acts 27:35). We are taught in I Timothy 2:8 that men are to pray “everywhere.” Public prayer is a vital part of the corporate worship of the church (Acts 2:42). So our Lord does not forbid public prayers here nor anywhere else in the scripture. But what our Lord does forbid is the hypocrisy of praying simply to be seen of others. When we pray we are to remember that our Heavenly Father sees in secret, but rewards openly, and that He knows what we need before we ask (Matthew 6:8).

May the Lord bless each of you with sweet communion with Himself in your prayer life.

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