In this message, we’re reminded that who we pray to is more important than how we pray.
Hi friends, how’s everybody doing tonight? When I told you we were going to create space for God to move, that’s what I was talking about. Okay? We want to get out of the way sometimes, so God can do what He wants to do. And I believe the Lord was just ministering to some people in that moment as we were just singing and worshiping, and just pressing into the Lord. Seek first His kingdom in His righteousness, and everything else will be added unto you. You start 2014 by putting Jesus where he belongs at the center of your life. He will take care of everything else through the rest of this year. And I’m believing that this is going to be a great year for our church, a great year for you. We’re going to take next steps together, and we’re going to start this year with 21 days of prayer and fasting starting tomorrow. Who is ready to pray and fast? [Laughs]
Did you go out for a big cheeseburger today? Okay. If you didn’t go out for one tonight, we’re going to start 21 days of prayer and fasting. And we talked about it last week and we just said fasting is just creating space in your life for God to move. It’s reordering some things. It’s having a new lifestyle, so God can pour new life inside of you. In a sense, it’s disconnecting from the world, so you can connect with God and be in tune with who He is and what He wants to do in your life. And so for the next 21 days we’re going to do that together as a church. For those of you that have never done this before, you can do it. I promise you. Some examples might be just giving up your lunch every day during worktime and just going for a walk and talking to the Lord. Or maybe it’s giving up some social media, or maybe it’s giving up some sugars or some different kinds of things. I don’t know. Ask the Lord. But it’s just about creating space in our life for God to come. We’re all going to do it together. And so when you came in, you should have got one of these little handouts. I want to encourage you to take this with you. It’s got some information just on fasting there for you. We’re going to read through the book of Luke together every day for the next 21 days. Let me encourage you. Just read one chapter a day.
Create space in your life to have a conversation with God. Believe He is going to speak to you, even if you’re not familiar with the Bible or scriptures. Just 21 days, just read one chapter a day. It will take you about 5 minutes to read through a chapter. And we’re just believing God is going to do some great things. And you will see on the front there. We’re going to put it up here on the screen. I want to invite you to take out your phone and if you text the number 41411 and you text “VCC fast” to that — you don’t have to do it, just if you want to — we’re going to send you one text message for the next 21 days. Every day we will send you one text. It might be a scripture. It might be one sentence. It’s just going to be something to encourage you on this journey. [Laughs] Listen, by about day three when you’re craving that cheeseburger or you’re craving that Candy Crush game that you gave up to play —
Some of you I know, that’s what — you’re going to struggle with that one. By day three you’re going to need some encouragement and some accountability. And so you can just be reminded that thousands of other people are doing this too. We’re doing it together. We’re walking with the Lord, and we’re going to believe God for some incredible breakthrough over these next 21 days. I’m telling you, God wants to do something good. He is rewarder of those who earnestly seek Him. Put Him first at the beginning of this year and watch what He will do. So if you want to text that, go ahead over the next few minutes. You can whenever you want. If you’ve got your Bibles, turn with me to Matthew 6 and John 14. And we’re all kind of getting our phones taking care of it and Bibles out. Let me just remind you. We’re in this series called ‘Conversation, Prayer, Talking with God’ and we’re just walking through this series, talking about the mystery of prayer. What does it mean to pray? How do we pray? What does prayer really look like? We talked about this last week that we all kind of struggle with prayer, that most of us are disillusioned with our prayer lives. We’re unfulfilled. We want it to be better. And so last week we just kind of defined prayer and we said that prayer is a conversation between two people who are in love with each other, that it’s a dialogue where you both talk and listen. And we said that prayer is not just about asking for things. It’s more about talking about things.
It’s not this endless request that you’re just throwing up to God. It’s a conversation where you dialogue and process life with Him, and it’s about getting to know His heart and it’s about God getting to know our heart. And in Luke 11:1 that was the main verse we looked at. And the disciples asked Jesus — they say, “Lord, teach us to pray.” And we said that that’s really a verse for Valley Creek Church in 2014, that this is going to be a year He is going to teach us to pray and Jesus is going to be our great teacher. And so I want to encourage you for these next 21 days as you pray and fast, take that one verse and pray that verse every day. I’m going to pray that one verse in my own life for 21 days. Lord, teach me to pray. Last year if you were here with us when we did it, we were in the Holy Spirit series. We said, “Lord, fill me with your Holy Spirit.” 21 days we prayed the same prayer together. For 21 days, Lord, teach me to pray, and watch as He begins to teach you to pray over this next season in 2014, especially over these next three weeks. Okay? So the disciples asked Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray”, in Luke 11. Jesus responds back to them, and we’re going to look at his response here in Matthew Chapter 6. Matthew 6, Luke 11, it’s the same response that he gives and we’re just going to look at it in Matthew 6. And Jesus responds to them and he gives them the secret to have a personal, powerful and passionate prayer life. Does anybody want to know what the secret is? Okay? Three of us want to know what the secret is?
I’m going to tell you tonight what I really believe the secret to a personal, powerful and passionate prayer life is all about. That’s how Jesus responds to the disciples. So pick it up with me in Verse 9. He is now teaching them how to pray, responding to their questions. He says, “This then is how you should pray.” So again, just the understanding from Jesus. He doesn’t say, “If you pray.” He is saying, “When you pray.” He is assuming that they are going to pray, that we will pray. In fact, you’ve got to ask yourself this question. How are you going to follow Jesus if you never talk to him?
How are you going to get to know somebody that you don’t ever talk to? How are you going to become like someone that you never process anything with? Jesus assumes that we will pray. It’s not an ‘if’. It’s a ‘when’ we pray. This is how you should pray, and he gives them the Lord’s Prayer. You’re probably familiar with it. Let me just read it to you. It says, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” Okay? That’s how Jesus responds to the disciples. You’ve heard it before. Most of us have heard it, and we think what Jesus is saying is have this prayer where you just vainly repeat it over and over and over again. Use the exact words. Just say it. Some of you have been in families where you’ve grown up and you’ve said this thing your whole life. Well, Jesus isn’t saying, “Just repeat the same words over and over again.” He is giving us the how. He is giving the disciples, “Here is how you should pray”, or some principles based on each line of how we should pray. And what I want to do is I just want to quickly — I’m going to line by line, break these principles down for you. You can take notes if you want. I’m going to go fast. Stay with me because I want to bring you to the secret of what a powerful prayer life is all about. Okay? Are you with me on that so far?
Okay? So just walk with these with me. It says, “Our Father in heaven” — in heaven. Principles — Jesus says when you pray the whole point is to get a heavenly perspective. When you’re praying it’s about getting a heavenly perspective of life. God’s perspective, God’s view, God’s understanding. You see, the higher you go above something, the more clearly you can see it and understand it. You have a much better perspective of an anthill than an ant does. Do you agree with that? God has a much better perspective of your life than you do. And when we pray what we’re doing is trying to get a heavenly perspective of our life and the situations around us. That’s why Second Corinthians 4:18 says, “Let us not fix our eyes on what is seen, but what is unseen.”
Prayer is about getting our eyes off of all the stuff we can see in the world around us and getting God’s picture, God’s perspective, God’s understanding in the spiritual realm of our life. So when your marriage or your kids or that job or that situation is falling apart and all you can see is chaos in front of you, what Jesus is saying is, “Pray, Lord, give me a heavenly perspective. Help me see this situation or this person the way that you do.” Okay? Heavenly perspective. He then goes on to say, “Hallowed be your name.” In other words, Jesus says prayer is all about worship. It’s about declaring the goodness of God over your life. It’s about saying, “Lord, you are higher than anything else. You are mighty. You are in control. I honor you. I love you, and I declare that you are above everything else in my life.” In fact, when you start worshipping God, you stop worshipping yourself. You know that, right? When you start worshipping God, you stop worshipping yourself. We’re all worshippers. We’re created as worshippers. So you’re going to worship something. The question is just, what in this life are you worshipping? Well, Jesus says, “When you pray, worship God because when you put Him first and you declare his praises, all of a sudden it’s not about you anymore.” And you’d be amazed that how your prayer life starts to change, because you won’t be praying all things about you. You will be declaring His goodness over your life. In fact, the Bible says that God inhabits the praises of His people. So when we pray and worship and give Him praise, He literally shows up in a tangible way. And when God shows up, I’m telling you, everything changes. In fact, most of our prayer life should be around praise and worship. We talked about this last week. We reverse it. We think most of your prayer life is asking God for things. Listen, if you’ve got 5 minutes to pray in a day, 4 minutes should be declaring the goodness of God over your life. One minute should be about asking Him for things, because when you declare His goodness He shows up and He will take care of all that other stuff. Don’t worry about the stuff. Worship Him. Honor Him in the good times and especially in the bad times.
You see, the interesting thing about when we gather in a place like this tonight, it’s really hard to praise God publically if you’re not willing to praise God privately. It’s really hard to come into a room like this and, see, Ben extended the worships out a little bit because God is here, and get into it and worship and praise God publically if you’re not worshipping and praising Him privately. Your worship life, it always comes from the secret place first. It comes from the closet being with the Father. It comes from inside of the heart. If we’re ever going to become that worshiping church that we desire to be, it’s going to come out of all of our own personal prayer lives, worshiping and praising God outside of when we gather together, so that when we come it’s an overflow of what’s already happening inside of here. Okay? And listen, I really believe this is going to be the year some of you start to sing a new song to the Lord. The Bible says, “Sing a new song to the Lord.” I think a whole bunch of us had been singing an old song for a really long time. It’s probably a country western tune.
Full of depression, defeat, discouragement and despair. Can I tell you? This is going to be your year for a new song. And that song, He is going to put a new hymn of praise in your mouth and it’s going to be a song of celebration, a song of victory, a song of being an overcomer. When you start praising Him with your own mouth first, He will put a new song back into your life. Okay? So hear for a new song. He goes on. Are you with me so far? Stay with me. Let me take you somewhere. “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” In other words Jesus says when you pray, declare his lordship over your life. Say, “Jesus, you rule and reign, Father. Your kingdom come, I want to submit to you. I want to be in alignment with you. Whatever you think is best, your plans and purposes for my life are better than mine. And so I submit to you. I want your Lordship in my life.” And it’s our job to literally bring heaven to earth.
We’re his partners. We’re his ambassadors. He has entrusted us with the ability to bring heaven to earth. In fact, the church and only the church, Jesus says, had been given the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Which means, we have the authority to access the resources and the riches and the wealth and the wisdom and the love and the grace of heaven. It’s our job by faith to release heaven all over this earth. That’s what Jesus says happens in prayer. So in other words, if you see something in your life that would not be in heaven, that’s the thing you want to pray over. There is no fear. There is no bitterness. There is no rebellion. There is no pain in heaven. So you see something in your life, you see some pain, you look at that and you say, “Man, Lord, there’s no pain in heaven. And so I pray that your kingdom would come in that situation, that heaven would be released right now and the love and the joy and the kindness and the healing of heaven would come into that situation right now in the name of Jesus.” That’s what he is talking about. It’s our job to bring heaven to earth that it would align itself with the rulership of God. Okay, Verse 11 — I’m going fast, I know, but just stay with me. It says, “Give us today our daily bread.” In other words, ask for provision. So it is okay to ask God for some things, right? But it’s not the main part of what we do. It’s one little verse tucked in there, but he says go ahead and ask. Ask God for big things. Ask God for what you need. It’s okay to ask for provision. But what I think is really interesting is that he says, “Give us today our daily bread.” Does anybody wish he would say, “Give us today my yearly bread?”
Or, “Lord, give me today my lifetime supply of everything I will need. Put it in a cupboard for me.” But that’s not what he does. Why? Because he wants you to daily be dependent upon Him. He wants you to walk in the spirit, which means every step that’s there in front of you, you’ve got to talk and process and listen and be engaged with Him. He doesn’t want to tell you 10 years from now. He wants to tell you your next step. And exactly what you need next is what He wants you to ask Him for and He will provide it to you.
In fact, if you jump up to Verse 8 it says, “The Father already knows what you need before you even ask Him for it.” He is going to provide for you. He is going to give it to you. Go ahead and ask Him, but it’s not way out there. It’s right here. So it’s okay to ask. And what I love about this verse is I think there’s a deeper revelation hidden within it. This is Jesus telling us to pray, right? It says, “Go ahead and ask. Give us today our daily bread.” Here’s my question for you. Who is the bread? Jesus? So John 6:35 — Jesus says, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry. Whoever believes in me will never go thirsty.” Here’s what I think Jesus is really saying. He is saying, “Ask the Father every day for a fresh revelation of Jesus Christ.” Ask the Father every day for a new encounter with the risen Christ. Ask Him to give you eyes to see and ears to hear who Jesus really is, that he would be uncovered or revealed before your eyes. You see, when we feast on Jesus we find ourselves truly satisfied and fulfilled to the deepest longing parts of our hearts. All of the needs we have are found in Jesus Christ. I think he is saying, “Ask every day for a fresh revelation of Jesus.” That’s the bread we really need. Okay? So a little bit deeper there. Verse 12 — “Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors.” In other words Jesus says, “Come and talk to God about your forgiveness. Don’t come and be reminded of your sins. Come and process with God the greatness of your forgiveness. That you are fully redeemed, that you are fully forgiven, that He has forgiven your wickedness and remembers your sins no more. That there is no condemnation. That you are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.” He is not saying, “Come and process all your sins.” He is saying, “Come and understand the fullness of the Cross of Jesus Christ.” And when we understand that we have been forgiven much, we can love much. It’s in learning how much we’ve been forgiven that we can start to release forgiveness through prayer to all those people that have offended us or hurt us or we have bitterness towards. It’s about processing our righteousness with the Lord.
And the last one says, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” In other words Jesus says, “You’re in a daily battle, but the victory is already yours. It is finished. You’re an overcomer. You’re not fighting for victory. You’re fighting from victory.” Which means, no matter how bad it may get God has already won the battle for you. So you can stand firm and strong. Okay? That’s the Lord’s Prayer. Really fast — that’s the Lord’s Prayer. That’s what he tells them on how to pray. Principles — not rote memorization; principles of how to pray. But that’s not the secret. In fact, I think some of you are listening to all those and you’re like, “Yeah, that’s all great, but if I struggle with my prayer life, that probably didn’t help me all that much.” You’re probably right. You see, the secret is found in the first two words that I did not use. The secret is “our Father.” The secret is who we pray to, not how we pray. Who we pray to is more important than how we pray. Who we pray to is more important than what we say. What Jesus is saying to the disciples is, “Guys, if you want me to teach you to pray and you want to learn the secret to praying, then you have to understand who it is that you’re actually praying to.” He says, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be thy name.” In other words Jesus says, “Hey Dad, you’re a really good dad.” That’s how he starts it. The prayer is a conversation with our Father. And notice he doesn’t say, “When you pray, say ‘a father’ or ‘the father’.” Or, “When you pray, talk to God or Lord or master.” He says, “When you pray, say our father”, which makes you a son or daughter, which means you’re in a loving relationship, which means you’re praying based on your position, not your performance. Do you understand that changes everything in prayer?
He says, “If you want to know how to pray, you have to understand who you’re praying to. Who is more important than how. Who is more important than what.” You get the who down, the how and the what of prayer will absolutely take care of themselves every time, because it’s not about what you say; it’s about who He is, our Father. That’s the secret Jesus says. So with that understanding, think about the Lord’s Prayer again. We’ve heard all those “hallowed be your name” and all that stuff. Think about it again. Here’s what I think Jesus was really saying to the disciples. “Hey guys, when you pray talk like this. “Hey Dad, you’re a really good dad. And you have a great perspective on life, dad, and I want your perspective. And dad, you are awesome. And I love you and I’m grateful for you, and I want you to know that I couldn’t do this life without you. And I know dad, your plans and your purposes for me are better than my plans and purposes for me. And so I want you to know that I want to obey you and walk with you and submit to you. And not only that, dad. I want to help see your agenda come to pass, not only in my life but in the lives of the people around me. So I’m going to help you with that, dad, and walk with you on that. And dad, I know that you love me so much that you’re going to take care of all my needs. You’re my dad. You’ve already taken responsibility for me, so I know you’re going to give me everything I will ever need. I don’t have to be afraid or beg or be stressed out or be fearful, because you’re going to take care of me. And dad, thank you for just loving me so much that even when I mess up you forgive me. You don’t remember it. You don’t hold it against me, but you help me break through and move forward. And because you love me so well, I’ve learned how to love other people well. And I know, dad, that no matter how bad life may be around me you are going to stand up and protect me because you’re my dad. You’re a good dad.””
That’s the Lord’s Prayer. That’s what he is saying. Do you see how that changes everything? You’re not talk to some God somewhere. You’re talking to your Father, who is pleased in you because of Jesus Christ. You see, your view of God will always determine how you pray. If you see God as distant, angry, wrathful, judgmental, a police officer, a lawyer, frustrated, ambivalent, somewhere out there, it’s going to certainly shape how you pray. But if you see him as a good father right here, it changes everything. In fact, I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about this or not, but Jesus came to this earth to reveal God to us as father. Think about this for a second. Out of all of the characteristics and attributes of who God is, Jesus came to teach us that God was father. He didn’t come to show us that he was creator or healer or provider or deliverer. Those are all characteristics of what He does. Father is who He is. Contained within the Father’s heart are all the other attributes of God. Jesus came to show us God as father. In fact, look at this In John 14 with me, Verse 6. This will help you try to grasp this whole thing what Jesus is talking about. He says, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him.” Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Jesus answered, “Don’t you know me, Philip? Even after I have been among you such a long time, anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say show us the Father?” Jesus showed up to reveal to us God as Father. And he says to the disciples, “Guys, you want to know what God is like, the Father? Just look at me. I’m the exact representation of who He is. You want to know how the Father behaves? Look at how I behave. You want to know how the Father thinks? Look at how I think.
You want to know how the Father talks? Listen to how I talk. You want to know how the Father acts? Look at how I act. I am the exact representation of the Father. I came to show you who He is, and not only that. I’ve come to give you direct access to Him. No one gets to the Father but by me. Jesus says, “I’ve come to open the door, so you can run right in and jump on your Father’s lap.” In fact, think about this. When Jesus says “our father”, who is the “our”? Think about it for a second. Who is the “our”? We think about it as the Christian community, the communal aspect of the church. It’s not really what Jesus was talking about. The “our” is you and Him. He says, “our Father.” In other words, when we go and approach the Father we always go with Jesus. He says, “I’ve come to be your brother, to change it all, and when you come you’re coming with me. Come on, brother or sister. We’re going to see the Father together.” And when you walk into the presence of the Father you’re there based on Jesus’ performance, Jesus’ authority, Jesus’ achievements. You’re not there based on your righteousness. You’re there based on Jesus’ righteousness. It changes everything on how you walk in to see the Father, doesn’t it? In fact, think about it like this. Where is Jesus right now? He is seated at the right hand of the Father. Which means, every time you go to approach the Father, every time you go to meet with God, Jesus is right there. You never go into the presence of the Father by yourself. Jesus is always right there. And when he sees you come Jesus says, “Come, come let’s talk to the Father.” And you come and in you start praying and you say those prayers. Jesus is right there with you. And what it means is no one gets to the Father except through Jesus, which means every prayer you pray goes through the Cross, goes through Jesus. So it’s as if the Father is hearing it coming from Jesus’ mouth himself.
“Our Father”, he says. “Let’s go do this together.” Jesus came to be the son of man, so that we could be sons of God, so that we could go right in and talk to the Father. Are you catching that? Do you understand how that changes everything?
Listen, I know I’m trying to explain it to you fast here, but I’m telling you, if you catch this, it changes your whole confidence level on how you talk to God. Because you’re not there based on you saying the right words or having your act together. You’re there based on what Jesus has done. You pray through him. Father, here’s your prayers through Jesus, and the Father answers your prayers back through Jesus. [Laughs] Man, that changes it all. And what you have to understand is this where it shocked the disciples, because they never saw God as Father. Their Old Testament, they see God as distant, as someone they have to perform for or achieve or earn His favor. They never saw God as Father. In fact, in the Old Testament there’s three names for God — Elohim, which means creator; Adonai, which means master; and Yahweh, which means covenant keeper. Three main names the Israelites knew God as was creator, master, and covenant keeper. That’s what the disciples thought about God. They never saw him as Father. That’s why they didn’t know how to pray. That’s why they had to say to Jesus, “Teach us to pray because we don’t know how to talk to a creator, master and covenant keeper way far out there, who we’re not even sure if He met us or not met us today. We have no idea how to pray.” Because they didn’t see God as Father. So when Jesus says, “When you pray, say “our Father”, go right in and see him”, the disciples — I’m telling you, they didn’t hear anything past “our Father”. None of it. It shocked them and they thought, “That’s it. That’s how Jesus prays the way he does. That’s how we can pray.” That changes everything. You see, your view of God will always determine how you pray.
Think about for a second. If you’ve been in church or around religious people think of how ridiculous people pray. You know this is going to be good, so just think about it for a second.
Okay? So you have your own examples. Here’s some of the ones I think of — a loud prayer. You all know the loud prayer, right? You’re all wherever you are and all of a sudden the loud prayer is going to pray and they’re like, “Lord Jesus! We come to you in your name and we ask you for big things today! And Lord, would you come and would you move!” You’re like, “God, calm down.”
It’s like my kids. They come running into the room and they’re like, “Dad, dad, dad.” I’m sitting right there and I’m like, “What Emma? What? Shush baby.” What does it communicate when we scream and yell to pray? [Laughs] That we think God is somewhere way out there and needs to be woken up?
How about the quiet prayer? It’s time to pray and all of a sudden the quiet prayer — [Whispering].
Your voice gets real weepy and quivery. They never talk like this anytime else. But, “Lord, we just come to you today Lord.” What is that communicating? They think they’ve got to walk on eggshells? [Whispering] Like, “Maybe today is not the day, Lord. I’ll come back tomorrow.”
[Laughs] Come on. Right? How about the King James Version only prayer? This is your favorite. This is your favorite, right? “Dearest Lord, we beseecheth thee on this day, for thou art holiest, O Lord!” They never speak like that in normal life, but when they pray 16th century Old English comes out. And it communicates that must be God’s primary language.
f I don’t speak that, he may not understand me. Or, here is my personal favorite, the repetitive prayer. “Lord God, I come to you today, Lord God, Lord God, because you are a good God, Lord God.”
“And Lord God, I ask you Lord God that you just heal my mom, Lord God, because Lord God, I know you can heal Lord God, if it’s your will today, Lord God, Lord God.” Imagine if I talk — “Hey Colleen, Colleen, what do you want to do after church, Colleen? You want to take the kids home, Colleen? You want to go get something to eat, Colleen?”
“Maybe the kids are hungry, Colleen. And maybe we can turn the football game on, Colleen. What do you think, Colleen?” She’d be like, “What are you doing?” I’m not a robot. That’s creepy, man.
Right? No one talks like that. How about the person that’s afraid to pray out loud? What does that communicate about what they think about God? That they think it matters more what the people around them hear? Not really sure that they’ve got to use the right words to connect with God? See, when we pray out loud what we’re saying is God is real and He is here and He is good. How about the person that doesn’t believe in prayer or just never prays? What does that communicate about what they believe about God? Probably communicates that they’re really living an orphan lifestyle, that they don’t believe He is a Father. So they have to do it all themselves. And so my question for you is, what does your prayer life communicate by what you believe about God? If what your view of God determines how you pray, then your prayer life reveals what you actually think about God. I think prayer more than anything else actually communicates what we really believe about who He is. We can talk a big game and do the church thing, but when you pray what’s coming out — the mouth speaks of the overflow of the heart, Jesus says in Matthew 6:21. That’s what we really believe about God. So what does your prayer life communicate to you about how you view Him? You see, I want to learn to pray like a son. I mean, just talk to the Father. A father doesn’t ask his children to use perfect words, perform, get it right, have a formula. A father says, “Just pour out your heart to me.” Listen, the best illustration I can give you for this is this.
Growing up, my dad had his work office in our home. As far back as I can remember as a little kid, he was always — he had work office in the home, even to this day. And so growing up, his office would be there and the door would always be open. And at any point in time we were welcome to walk into my dad’s office. So whether we were 5 or 10 or to this day if I’m back visiting my parents, his door is open and we can walk in at any point in time. And when we would walk in, my dad would literally put his pen down and he would look right at you and he would engage you. He was always available. He was always accessible. The door was always open. And I always knew where he was. If I needed to find my dad, I knew where he was, exactly where his office was. I could just go and meet with him. And I never had to clean up to come find my dad. I could remember times coming home after lacrosse practice and being sweaty and nasty, just walk in right in his office, sitting down and talking to him. I could remember coming him after being all muddy from outside work job or something like that, and it just didn’t matter. You just walk in or disheveled or a mess or crying. I could just walk into my dad’s office at any point in time, and we would sit down and we would just talk. And we could talk about anything and he would be totally engaged with me. And I’m telling you, I remember so many — I can see it, I can feel it right now. I can see where his desk was and he had this little table and chairs. And I would sit down and we would just talk, sometimes about everything. Sometimes we talk about nothing. I just wanted to be by my dad. And I can remember times sitting in that office — I can remember sitting there with a broken heart and listening to my dad as he brought comfort and encouragement back into my life. I can remember going in there to meet with my dad to say, “Dad, should I change colleges? I don’t know. Should I transfer? What do you think? I need your wisdom.” And my dad gave me wisdom. I can remember going in and asking him for help, for resources to buy a car, because I needed to get a car. “And can we talk about that, dad? And what does that look?” I mean, I could go in and talk to my dad about anything at any point in time. And I didn’t always get what I wanted, but I always left feeling loved. I think that’s prayer.
You see, your Father sits in his office, which is the heavenly throne room. And contained within his office are — all the resources, all the riches, all the wisdom, all the provision, all the forgiveness in the entire universe is contained in your Father’s office. And at any point in time you know where He is and He is available and accessible, because Jesus came to this earth to die, because no one gets to the Father without Jesus. Jesus came to open up that door, so it is permanently opened. And at any point in time you can run in and jump on your Father’s lap and just talk to Him like a child. You see, you don’t have to clean up to go meet with your Father, is what I’m trying to tell you. Hebrews 4:16 says, “Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace boldly in our time of need, so we may find mercy.” Okay? If you’re in need and you need mercy, that means you’ve not got it all together. You want to agree with that?
You need mercy because there’s some stuff going on in your life, and yet He says, “Boldly.” Walk right in, right up to your Father and talk to Him about what’s going on in your life, because you’re not there based on your righteousness. You’re there based on what Jesus has already done. He is sitting next to the Father saying, “Come. You’re here based on my performance and my achievement and what I have done.” And do you understand how different that is? The angels can’t even do that, because the angels are servants. Servants are not allowed to walk up to the Father, master, at any point in time they want. Only sons and daughters can walk right up and say, “Hey dad, can we talk?” And you won’t always get what you want. You will always leave feeling loved. Who is more important than the how. We spend all this time, “How do I pray? What should I pray?” Who are you praying to? A good Father.
You see, if you’re not praying, you shouldn’t feel guilty. You should feel lonely because you’re not connecting with your Father who is saying, “Come on. Come talk to me. Let me share some secrets with you. Let me tell you about my plans on this earth. Come in here and share with me what’s going on with you. Let me resource you and give you some wisdom.” You shouldn’t feel guilty. You should feel lonely and distant. He is saying, “The door is open. Come on. Come on, I’m inviting you in.” And listen, I realize in a room like this, there is a whole lot of you when I talk about God being a good Father, that’s what Jesus came to reveal, you can’t get there because you have father figure wounds in your life. You had a dad that abandoned or abused you or was passive or was nonexistent or a father figure somewhere that did something. Do you understand? Satan, one of his greatest ploys on this earth is to destroy father figure relationships in our lives. So we hold a grudge and have an inaccurate view towards God as our Father, because Satan understands how powerful it is when we actually choose to live like sons and daughters and walk right in to our Father and just let it fly and receive what He wants to do in our lives. So he will come after that with everything he has got. For those of you that have those wounds, can I tell you? He is a good Father, and that’s not how He behaves. Psalm 68:5 says, “He is a father to the fatherless.” Some of you, today is the day He wants to become your father. In fact, John 17, Jesus says this. He says, “The same love the Father loves me is the same love the Father loves you.” Do you know what that means? That means you’re His favorite. I’m serious. Listen, I think that’s a prophetic word. I really felt like the Lord was showing me. Somebody in here, you’ve been wanting to be the favorite your whole life and you’ve always felt like you’re in second place. I’m serious. You are your Father’s favorite.
Favorite — no second class. You’re not pushed to the side. You’re His favorite. You’re His son or His daughter in whom He is well pleased because of Jesus. You see, our struggle with prayer, it’s a faith issue. And it’s not that we don’t believe that God has the power. I think we have plenty of faith that God has power to do things. I think we just don’t believe He is a good Father. That’s really where we lack our faith. That’s really where we struggle. We just can’t get our minds there. Jesus says that’s the key — our Father, our Father. Jesus came to reveal to you what a good Father looks like, behaves like and acts like. Don’t trust in the power of your words in prayer. Trust in the goodness of your Father’s heart. And when you understand who He is, a good Father, you will understand who you are, a beloved son or daughter. And that will determine what and how you pray every single time, because a son or a daughter does not have to formulate words, does not have to perform, does not have to stand on one foot and do jumping jacks at the same time to get a message across. You just say, “Hey dad, you’re a good dad and I’m hurting today.” So as we start this 21 days of prayer and fasting can I just encourage you? Talk to your Father and know that right there with you is Jesus saying, “Come on, let’s go talk to dad. And don’t worry, I’ve taken care of everything. I cleaned up your room for you.”
“Let’s go.” It changes it all. So will you close your eyes with me and bow your heads? Let me just ask you, man. What’s the Holy Spirit just whispering to you tonight?
What’s he encouraging your heart with or inviting you towards? You see, every person on earth is not a child to God. We become children when we place our faith in Jesus Christ. The Bible says that to all who believe on him, Jesus, he gave the right to be called children of God. We are orphans in this world and some of you know what that orphan life feels like. You’ve been living it your whole life. You’ve got to get the grades. You’ve got to perform. You’ve got to earn the money. You’ve got to achieve. You’ve got to hold your marriage together. You’ve got to make your kid behave. You’ve got to pay the bills. You’ve got to figure it out. That’s orphan living. And tonight Jesus is saying to you, “Come on. Trust me and we’ll go to the Father together, and you will be adopted into this family and the Father will treat you as His favorite because of what I did on the cross.” If that’s you, it’s as simple as saying, “Lord Jesus, I trust in you. I believe in you. That you died, that I might be redeemed. You died so I could come to life, the forgiveness of my sins. I now stand based on your perfection and your performance before a Father who is now pleased in me because of you, Jesus. I believe it and I receive it. And now I’m a son and I’m a daughter.” For others of us, there’s this sense of, man, as we think about our prayer life we realize, “I’m not praying to a father. I don’t even know who I’m praying to.” Spend some time this week. Talk to the Lord just about even the way you pray. Reflect on it. Jesus says, “The secret is our Father.” Who, not how. And He will reveal to you what a good Father is all about. That changes the game.
So Father, thank you that you sent Jesus to show us who you are. Thank you for revealing your Father’s heart to us, that you loved us so much that you gave us the greatest gift you ever had, to adopt us and bring us home. And so Father, I just ask for these next 21 days as we pray and as we fast together as a church. Would you teach us to pray? Would you lead us? Would you bring breakthrough in our lives? Would you lead us to new pastures, to those paths that drip with abundance like we talked about last week? Would you release your goodness and your favor all over our lives? Would you help us experience and encounter you in new and deeper ways? We love you tonight and we say, “Dad, you’re a good dad. Thank you for what you’re doing in our lives.” If you’re here and you need prayer for anything, we’ve got people we want to pray with you. Maybe you need prayer — well, this is 21 days. We’re believing God for miracles in this room. You need a miracle? You need prayer? Come let these people pray for you. If you’re new to Valley Creek, I’d love to invite you to Guest Central. It’s right out here. As a reminder again, we moved our giving to the end of services. For those of you who are giving your ties and your offerings, there’s boxes at every one of the doors as you leave, as a response to the Lord. Otherwise, may you go with your good Father as you go. Love you. Blessings.