Prayer is an important part of our lives, but we often see it as mysterious, confusing, or we feel unqualified and ill prepared to pray. Instead of talking with God we often lean away from it all together. The disciples also wanted to learn how to pray! In the Lord’s prayer, Jesus gives us both the principlesand the secret to an effective prayer life. Let’s look at what we learn from Jesus about talking with God.
Alright, everybody. Welcome to Valley Creek Church. We are so glad that you’re here with us today and we want to welcome all of our campuses. Whether you’re in Denton, Flower Mound, Lewisville, the Venue, at one of our extension sites, or watching online somewhere in the world, can we just welcome each other together for a moment? We are so glad that you are here with us and we are one weekend to 21 days of prayer and fasting. 21 days where we’re disconnecting from the voices of the world, to tune into the voice of God. And we said that the thing that we feel like God is inviting is to fast together as a church is social media and you made it through week 1. You’re still alive, you’re probably happier than you’ve ever been, smiling, full of faith, with enjoyment, you’re content with your life and what God has given you. You’re like, “No, because I didn’t fast it.” That’s okay, dude. It don’t really matter. We’re really glad you’re here and we’re glad you’re a part of what God is doing in this place. I can’t believe how many times this week I reached for my phone to check. And then, as I reached, I was like, “Oh.”
And I stopped and thought, “God, this is exactly why we’re doing this because I want to reach for you.” I want to reach for you. And we’re praying one prayer. Jesus, give my heart the desire to seek you this year. And God is moving and he’s doing some profound things. You see, we’re in a series in a season where we’re talking about getting rooted in Jesus so we can flourish in life. Simply going back to the basics of actually building a relationship with God. And to be really honest with you, it’s really refreshing. Like I don’t know if you’ve felt it yet, but I think what God is doing in this is, there is a refreshing that comes with just simply going back to the basics, putting everything else down, and reminding ourselves what really matters. One of the theme verses that we’re using is Ephesians, Chapter 3. There’s only two places in the bible where it talks about getting rooted. Colossians 2 and Ephesians 3. It says, “For this reason, I kneel before the Father, from whom His whole family in Heaven and on Earth, derives its name. I pray that out of His glorious riches, He may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner bearing so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the saints to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
He says, “May you get rooted in love.” Remember, love is not an action, it’s not a concept, it’s not a feeling. Love is a person and his name is Jesus. And he says, “You will never know how wide, how deep, how long, how high is the love of God for you.” In other words, there is no limit to how deep you can get rooted in Jesus. Deep roots lead to a wide life. Strong roots lead to a healthy life. And so, what we’ve said is that, there’s five roots that we’re looking at, five pathways of connection, of getting rooted in Jesus. Engaging the scriptures, talking with God, building godly relationships, meeting the needs you see, investing your time. This is our theme for the whole year. And last week, we talked about engaging the scriptures. And today, we want to talk about talking with God. Prayer. If we’re honest, prayer is a really interesting part of our lives. It’s not nearly as easy as we think it should be or we want it to be. It feels mysterious, it’s often confusing, we kind of feel ill-equipped or unprepared, we’re not really sure how to do it, we’re not sure if God even really hears us. And so, we’re often left with all kinds of unanswered prayers. And so, instead of leaning into prayer, what we often do is we push away from it, and if we’re honest, we just want someone else to pray for us so it might get the results that we’re hoping for in the end. And we’re not the only ones that have struggled with this. I mean, Jesus’ disciples did as well.
In Luke 11, it says, “One day, Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray’.” In other words, Jesus’ prayer life must’ve been so personal, so profound, and so relational that when the disciples watched him pray, they’re like, “I want that.” And so, they said, “Jesus, would you teach us how to pray like that? Because this whole prayer thing, it’s really confusing to us.” In the very next verse, it says, “Jesus rebuked them and said, ‘No, figure it out yourself’.” No. Jesus taught them how to pray, and he removed the barriers that kept the disciples from praying, and he removes the barriers that keep us from praying. And so, I want to give you a few thoughts today on what it looks like to get rooted in Jesus through this root called Talking with God so we can flourish in life and get rid of the barriers that keep us. And so, if you’ve got a bible, flip with me to Matthew, chapter 6. Matthew, chapter 6. Jesus is teaching the disciples how to pray. He’s answering their question and he gives us both the principles and the secret to a powerful prayer life. And maybe you’ve heard this before. It’s simply the Lord’s prayer. Verse 9. This, then, is how you should pray, ‘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. Jesus teaches them how to pray and he breaks it down. And so, I just want you to break this down with us. The first question is just Jesus says, “This is how you should pray.” In other words, he assumes that followers of Jesus will pray because it’s really hard to be in a relationship with someone you never talk to. He says, “This is how you should pray, ‘Our Father in heaven’.” In heaven, in other words, what he is saying is that prayer gives us a heavenly perspective. Prayer is about getting our eyes off of what we see in the earth around us and getting God’s perspective or God’s view on the realities of our lives. The higher you go, the better you can see things. In 2 Corinthians 4:18, it says, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, what is unseen is eternal.” Prayer is about getting God’s perspective on your situation, your marriage, your life, whatever else is going on. He says, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” In other words, prayer is all about worship. It’s about declaring the goodness of God over your life. It’s about telling Him who He is and lifting up the name of Jesus.
Psalm 136:1, it says, “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good. His love endures forever.” So when we pray and we give thanks and we worship, what we’re doing is we’re reminding ourselves that God is good and we’re allowing His perfect love to drive out our fear. So much of what prayer is just declaring the greatness of God over the brokenness of the situations of your life. In fact, if you only have ten minutes to pray, what Jesus is teaching us is that really, nine minutes you should spend worshipping and 1 minute you should spend asking for thanks. Because when you lift up the name of Jesus, everything changes. He goes on to say, “Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” In other words he’s saying, “Hey, when you pray, declare the Lordship of Jesus over your life. Invite God to come and rule and reign over the situations and circumstances and brokenness.” In other words you have the authority to invite heaven to earth. You’ve been given the keys to the Kingdom of God, you’re an ambassador of heaven and he’s saying whatever is not — whatever is in earth that’s not in heaven should be changed.
In other words, if you look out in the world around you and you see sin and rebellion and sickness and brokenness, those things don’t exist in heaven. He’s saying, “So pray the realities of heaven into the brokenness of the circumstances around you.” He goes on to say, “Give us today our daily bread.” In other words, you can pray and ask God for provision. Daily dependence for the things that you need in your life. “And then forgive us our debts as we forgive those who have sinned against us.” In other words, prayer is about reminding ourselves that we’re fully forgiven in Jesus. It’s bringing things out of the darkness into the light so they no longer have power over us. Hebrews 8:12, “I will forgive their wickedness and remember their sins no more.” Confession is just bringing things out of darkness into the light and agreeing with what God has already said that’s he’s already fully forgiven you and you can now live free. And because he’s forgiven you, you can forgive others. “And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.” Prayer is a reminder that we are in a battle but the victory has already been won. We don’t fight for victory, we fight from victory. Okay.
And so Jesus teaches us how to pray. And he gives us these great principles and just kind of how we can walk through it. But what’s really cool is if you go a layer deeper, what Jesus is really saying in this moment, he’s saying, “Hey, when you pray, you should ask the father to give you me.” The Lord’s Prayer is actually about Jesus. He’s saying when you pray, you should say, “Father, give me Jesus.” Because you understand everything that’s in here, is Jesus. Just think about it. “Our Father in heaven.” Jesus is the gateway of heaven. “Hollowed by your name.” Jesus is the name above every name and at the name of Jesus every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. “You are Kingdom come, you are will be done.” Guess what? Jesus is the king of the Kingdom and Jesus is the father’s will on this earth. “Give us today our daily bread. “ Jesus is the bread of life who has come to supernaturally satisfy and sustain his people. “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those around us.” Jesus is the forgiveness of the nations. “And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.” Jesus is the great deliverer who has won the victory in all authority and heaven and earth belongs to him. He’s saying — When you pray, say, “Father give me Jesus.” Dad, give me Jesus. Come on that’s good. That’s exciting. When the Lord showed me that this week, I was like, oh my goodness, Jesus is saying, “Just ask the father to give you me.” So prayer is all about getting rooted and built up in Jesus. It’s a root because we’re resting on, receiving from and trusting in him. We’re drawing the life of Jesus into the realities of our world.
Dad, give me Jesus. Those are the principles of how we should pray but it’s not the secret. You see the secret is found in the first two words that Jesus tells us when he says, “Our Father.” That’s the secret of prayer. You see, who you pray to is more important than how you pray. Who you’re praying to is more important than what you say. This was the secret of Jesus’ prayer life. He just talked to his father, so it wasn’t complicated. And notice when Jesus says — when you pray say, “Our Father.” He doesn’t say “A Father” “The Father” “My Father” he says, “Our Father.” And he’s not just talking about the disciples, he’s talking about us which means we are beloved sons and daughters to the same level and degree as Jesus. John 1:12, “To all who believed in him, who received and he gave the right to become children of God.” When Jesus hung on the cross he said, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” In other words, the father became a distant God to Jesus so he could become a loving father to you. Or how about the John 20, the resurrected Jesus. Jesus says, “Do not hold to me, for I have yet to return to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'” In other words, Jesus came to bring you home.
Who you are praying to is more important than how you pray and this changes everything. You see, however you view God will determine how you pray. Say it another way, your prayer life will reveal to you exactly what you believe about God. Like if you don’t pray, then you probably see God as angry and distant and judgmental. If you’re afraid to pray, then maybe you see God as stoic or demanding and then harsh. If when you pray all you really do is ask him for things then you see God as the creator, provider, a healer or a deliverer. And while he is all of those things, what he primarily is he’s a father and it’s because he’s a father that he delivers and heals and provides and takes care of. In fact 2 Corinthians tells us he says, “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters.” We’re just talking to our dad. And you have to understand how shocking this would’ve been for the disciples. It’s the secret to a life of prayer and it would’ve totally blown them away because they didn’t see God that way. They saw him as Elohim, as the Creator. They saw him as Adonai, the master. They saw him as Yahweh, the covenant keeper. They saw God as a distant God and it’s really hard to pray to someone who feel like is distant.
But he’s not distant, he’s right here. It changes everything. I mean, I remember growing up — and my dad as we grew up, he had his office with — in our house. And so all as kids, we always remember, I mean, my dad whether it was early in the morning, late at night, he was often in his office in our house. And what was so cool about having his office in our house is, we can go in and talk to our dad anytime. It didn’t matter what was going on, it didn’t matter what was happening, we didn’t have to get an appointment, we didn’t have to knock, we didn’t have to get permission. I could just open up the door and walk right into my dad’s office and talk to him about anything. And he would sit at his desk and he had this little table and chairs over here where he’d have meetings with people and I would be coming and I would just sit there and I can talk to him about anything. I can ask him for help, I could just hang out with him and shoot debris, I could get wisdom, I can ask him what was going on, tell him what was going on in my life. And we would just have these great conversations together and I didn’t always get what I wanted but I always left feeling loved.
Okay, Hebrews 4:16 tells us, therefore, “Let us boldly approach the throne of grace in our time of need that we may find mercy.” Notice it’s called the throne of grace. It’s not called the throne of judgment, condemnation or anger, it’s called the throne of grace. And we can boldly approach it because our Father’s office is the throne room of heaven. And you don’t need an appointment, you don’t need permission, you don’t have to wait in line. You can boldly walk right in and talk to him because Jesus says, “It’s now our Father.” Our Father. Why? Because I’m now included in Christ. So everything that’s true of Jesus is now true of me. So I can walk right into the Father’s throne room, right into his office, based on what Jesus has done, not based on what I have done. In fact, you know, when we pray, when people pray and we’re saying that, we usually say, “In Jesus name, amen.” Like, do you ever know why you actually say that? There’s so many things we do in church and religion that we ain’t got no idea why we do it. We say, “In Jesus name, amen” because what we’re saying is I’m coming into agreement with what Jesus has done and I am now praying this based on his performance, not mine. So, what it’s saying is, “Father you’re going to hear this as if Jesus himself was praying it, because Jesus has grab me by the hand and brought me into the throne room of heaven based on what he has done, not based on what I have done.
That changes everything. In fact, James 5 tells us, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” And I know you’re sitting there and you’re like, “Yup, see, this is why I don’t pray because I’m not righteous.” I’m making all kinds of mistakes. If you knew my life, “hoo-wee”. All right. Maybe your behavior is not righteous, but we have a righteousness that comes through us by faith. God made him who knew no sin to be sinned for us, so that in him we may become the righteousness of God. Guess what, if you believe in Jesus, you are the righteousness of God which means your prayers are powerful and effective. They go right to the Father. Our problem is we don’t believe that. Romans 10:17, “Faith comes by hearing, hearing by the word of God.” The more we hear about who Jesus is and what he has done, the more we actually believe it. That’s why we talked about this last week. So in John 15, Jesus says, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given unto you.” In other words, there’s an order. When we start to engage the Scriptures, we start to actually have a faith that we can now and go and talk to God, and that he hears us and responds to us. Who you are praying to is more important than how you pray. And you could take the Lord’s Prayer and modernize it. If Jesus was teaching this to us today, I think he would say something like this, he would say, “Hey, when you pray, pray like this, ‘Hey, dad, you’re an awesome dad. You’re a really good dad and you have a great perspective on life. And I want to see your plans and purposes for my life accomplished. And I want to be a part of seeing your plans and purposes for the world come to pass. And I know dad that you’re going to take care of me no matter what’s going on in my life. And even when I messed up, you’re going to forgive me, and because you’re so good to me, I can be good to other people. And I know you’ll never going to leave me in the bad places which you’re going to protect me, and fight for me, and keep me safe. You’re a great dad, dad.'”
That’s what Jesus would say. Who you’re praying to is more important than how you pray. Are you with me on that? Okay. Second thing is this, prayer is a conversation, not a religious ritual. You see, too often, I think we see prayer is a religious ritual or this performance for God. Like the Lord’s Prayer is really powerful, but when religion grabs a hold of it and we just incessantly recite it without even understanding what we’re saying, it kind of kills the whole thing. In fact in Matthew 6, Jesus says, “And when you pray, do not keep babbling on like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” In other words, Jesus says, “There are no bonus points for length, complexity, or religious jargon.” And everybody say Amen to that? There are no bonus points, people, for being complex, for being long, or religious garbaleego. He says, “Just talk from your heart.” Prayer is a conversation with someone who is already madly in love with you.
I mean, if you just think of my kids for a moment, there are no barriers between me and them. At any point in time, they’ll run up and jump on my lap, and they’ll sit there, and they’ll just talk to me, and they’ll talk fast and they will just say all these kind of stuff. They don’t think about it. They don’t position it. They don’t try to go clean their room first and then come talk to me as if that’s going get them some bonus points. They don’t use adult words. They just jump on my lap and say everything that comes to their mind, and then they sit there and let me respond. Okay, let’s be honest, our prayer lives don’t really look like that. I mean, if you ever been hanging out with people, you’re at something to dinner, to an event, to party, whatever, everyone’s laughing, having fun, they’re hanging out and then it’s time to pray and all of a sudden everybody goes, “hmp” and like this awkward formality just takes place. I mean, listen, as a pastor, every event or environment I’m in, people always say, “Everybody say, ‘Hey.'” Then it’s time to pray and they’re like, “Okay, you pray for us.” And then I’ll just — it’s like so awkward. I’m what, why are folding your hands? Where did you get that? It’s an interesting question in it. Why are your eyes closed? Why is your head bowed? Like, I’m the only with my eyes open and my head looking around. All right. Okay, Jesus glad you’re here with us. You know what I’m talking about? Or how about this, do you have a prayer voice?
If you don’t have, I bet you know someone who does. Like the loud prayer, you know the loud prayer? “Lord God, we come to you today, Lord because we know you want to do great things for us.” Okay, why are you yelling? He’s right here. He can hear you. Or how about the quiet prayer? You know the quiet prayer? “Oh, Lord God. We’ve come to you today to ask you to move on our behalf.” Okay, okay. I don’t know it’s Irish or something. He’s not a baby. You don’t have to worry about waking him up, and that voice is creepy so stop it. Or how about the King James Version prayer, right, you know that guy? “Oh, Lord as Godeth, we cometh to thy todayth because you are sovereignteth and you are here to sanctifyth us and justifyth us, Lord Godeth.” Like, okay, listen, he’s timeless. He doesn’t just speak 16th century English. He knows the language of today. Or the repetitive prayer, you know the repetitive prayer? “Lord, God, Lord, God, we come to you today, Lord God, Lord God. Because Lord, God, you’re good Lord, God. And Lord, God we know you love us Lord, God because you’re Lord, God, Lord God.” Like, “Hey, Bill, Bill, can you hand me my cup of coffee, Bill? Because Bill, I’m thirsty today, Bill. And it’s really nice to see you, Bill. Bill, you want to hang out after church, Bill?” He knows his name. He knows his name. Okay. I could keep going but you kind of get the point, right? Why? Because we think prayers are religions formula.
So the very fact that we change how we talk to God and it’s different than how we talk to people, tells us we’ve got brokenness in our prayer life. Because God didn’t want you to perform, he didn’t want you to do these special words, he just wants you to talk to him. Like, 1 Thessalonians 5 says, “Be joyful always, pray continuously, give thanks in all circumstances. This is God’s will.” God’s will is that you would have a conversation with him. Colossians 4:2, “Devote yourself to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” God is saying, “Hey, would you just devote yourself to just talking with me? Let’s have a conversation.” And if you notice, the root doesn’t say, “Talk to God.” It says, “Talk with God,” because prayer is not just about asking for things. Prayer is about having a conversation. I mean, can you imagine if all I ever did when I talked to my wife, Colleen, was I just asked her to do things for me? Like, “Hey, Colleen, can you make me a cup of coffee and can you make me some breakfast? And then, can you take the kids here? And I need you to take this to the bank and make sure you get this done.”
And can you buy me that? And can you bring this home for dinner?” Like how many of you think that’s going to go really well? I wouldn’t call that a marriage. I’d call that slavery. For some of you, there’s a good marriage counsel right there to make sure you’re in tune with that. But that’s what we do with God. Listen, prayer is not a vending machine. It’s a conversation. God is not a genie in a bottle. He’s a Father. Prayer is not about asking for things. It’s having a conversation with someone. The biggest problem we have in prayer is we think prayer is about asking for something instead of connecting to someone. That’s it. If you get nothing else out of this, that is the number one problem we have in prayer. We think the whole point of prayer is asking for something instead of connecting to someone. And until you realize that prayer is about connecting, you’ll never have the faith to ask God to move the mountains. Our lives are full of unanswered prayer because we have somehow bought into this lie that we believe that prayer is about changing my circumstances not realizing that prayer is about changing me. It’s not connecting with God. And when I connect with Him, I’ll have the faith to ask of Him. There’s an order.
Like 1 John says it like this, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” He’s saying, “Hey, if you’re connected to God’s heart, you’ll have the faith to ask God to move His hand.” That’s why we don’t have faith to ask and that’s why we get all confused and all knotted up because we’ve thought this whole thing is a vending machine and when we put our quarters in and we didn’t get the candy bar we chose, we get frustrated and we bang on it and we say, “It doesn’t work. Call the janitor.” This is the whole point, man, and this is why it’s a root. When you get rooted in here and you start talking with God, guess what? The fruit of answered prayer, the fruit of the life of Jesus which is what you’re really praying for anyways, just starts to naturally show up in your life. It all changes. Does that make sense to you? I mean, it’s a totally different way of thinking about it, but in a sense, it’s a very freeway of thinking about it because if you think about it like this, Matthew 12:34, Jesus says, “The mouth speaks of the overflow of the heart.” In other words, whatever is coming out of your mouth tells us what’s going on inside of here. And so, when you listen to people talk, you’re discovering what’s in their heart. So when you talk with God instead of just to God or at God, what’s happening is He’s getting to know you and you’re getting to know Him. You’re sharing the secrets of your heart.
In fact, John 15, Jesus says, “I no longer call you servants because a servant doesn’t know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends for everything I’ve learned from my Father, I have made known to you.” Prayer is not just about getting things. It’s about discovering the secrets of life. And when we think it’s all about trying to get something from God, guess what? We miss out on the very thing that He is telling us He wants to share with us the mysteries of the kingdom of God which is better because it will probably take care of what everything you think you need in the first place anyways. John 17:3, Jesus says, “This is eternal life that they may know you.” In other words, eternal life is not getting to heaven someday. It’s about discovering and connecting with the heart of heaven today. How can you be connected to someone you never talk to? So if you don’t pray, here’s the deal. God is not mad at you. He misses you. And if you don’t pray, you shouldn’t — you don’t have to feel bad. You probably feel lonely because it’s a conversation with someone who already loves you. And then, the last thing is simply this, “Prayer is a lifestyle, not a last resort.” Here’s the really good news. Every person in this room, you already know how to pray. You already know how to pray. You say, “I do.” Yes, you do because when we’re on an airplane and all of a sudden, turbulence starts and we think it’s going down, “Oh, Lord, God, please get us on the ground.” When we talk into that interview and we don’t think we’re going to get that job, “Jesus, please I need you to provide for me. I need this job.”
When you show up to school and you haven’t studied for that test, you all get, “Oh, Jesus, please help me guess well. I think it’s C, but I’m not sure. But I know you’re going to come through for me, right?” Or it’s the fourth quarter and your team is losing, “Jesus, please help them win. I promise you I’ll do anything. I’ll give that thing up and show up to church next week. We’ll make all these bargains.” Or on a more serious note, when a loved one gets diagnosed with cancer,” Jesus, please heal them.” When there’s chaos or crises, it’s amazing how we pray and we’re so good at it. We’re so good at it. Why? Because all of the religion and the formulas go out the window and we just talk to God from our heart. That’s why it’s good. And you know what? God has answered a whole lot of your last-resort prayers. That’s why you’re sitting here today. I mean seriously, how many last resort prayers has he prayed — he answered for you? And yet those last resort prayers don’t build our faith do they? Why? Because it was a last resort and we didn’t really expect God to come through in the first place that’s why it wasn’t part of our lifestyle.
But if you look at the life of Jesus, you discover prayer was his lifestyle. I mean, Luke 5:16 it says, “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places to pray — in other word to pray.” In other words he turned off social media and went and talked to God. Luke 6, “One of those days Jesus went out on the mountainside to pray and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose 12 before he had to make a major decision he went and talked to God.” When he was about to go to the cross in Matthew 26, he goes to the Garden of Gethsemane and he prays. When he’s hanging on the cross he says, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” I mean everywhere Jesus went, prayed. In fact in John 11, he says, “I know you hear me.”
It was his lifestyle. He was constantly connected to the Father. And yet if you look at Jesus’ life, he had a way harder life than you. His family thought he was crazy, the Pharisees wanted to kill him, his disciples betrayed him, the crowd left him and he had to go to the cross. And yet he walked through all of those circumstances with victory. How? Because he got rooted in love, so he flourished in life. He was constantly drawing from the love of the Father, so he was able to walk in victory in a broken and hurtful world. Same is true with you. Prayer is simply becoming aware that God is with you and God’s for you. It’s inviting him into the details of your life. Prayer is a root because what it is doing is in the saying, “I want to draw on the life, the love and the nourishment of Jesus.” It’s all prayer’s doing is literally drawing. That’s why Jesus says, when you pray, “Say Our Father, give me Jesus because what you’re saying is, I need the life, the love and the nourishment of Jesus in the brokenness and the pain of my world.” Prayer anchors your heart and love in the midst of a stormy world.
And yet it’s so embarrassing that I think, “Why do I wait so long to pray?” “Why do I wait until my life is red lined before I call out to God.” It’s like things have to get so desperate before I invite him into the circumstances. But here’s the deal, if prayer is just a conversation with our father then you can pray anytime, anywhere, about anything. When you’re driving in the car, you can literally just say, “Jesus, I’m having a really bad day today. Can you help me change my attitude?” But when you’re sitting at work and you’re in a meeting and you’re like, “Man, I don’t even like this job.” You can pray and say, “Jesus, I don’t even like this job. Can you just like, “Thank you that you gave it to me. Can you help me engage? Just give me the energy to get through this meeting.” You’re sitting in school and you’re bored with whatever is being taught. You can literally sit there and say, “Jesus, what do you want my future to like? What’s your plans and purposes for me? You were in a group of people and you feel lonely and you’re surrounded by people, you can literally say, “Jesus, thank you.” And even though I feel really lonely right now I know you haven’t left me nor forsaken me. When life is good you can say, “Thank you God for what you’re doing.” When life feels like it’s flying apart, you can simply say, “Jesus, thank you that you’re holding me together.” When you wake up in the morning, “Jesus, thank you that you’re here, good morning.” When you go to bed at night, “Jesus I’m turning the heart of my affection and my heart towards you as I sleep tonight.” Anytime, anywhere, about anything.
Philippians 4 says it like this, “Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about a thing. Be saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude. Tell him every detail of your life then his wonderful peace that transcends human understanding, will make all the answers known to you through Jesus.” In other words, what if we talk to God as honestly and daily as we do in crisis? The paradox is you wouldn’t have to pray last resort prayer as if prayer became a lifestyle. Jesus never prayed last resort prayer. He prayed lifestyle prayers. Because it was connection and he was drawing from the love of God. Prayer is not about doing something for God, it’s receiving everything that Jesus has already done for you. That’s why it’s a conversation. And so as we start this rooted journey this year together as a church, I realized that this is like an awkward topic for a lot of us so I would just say to close this as this. Just ask God to give you a desire and a faith to pray. If you’ve never prayed, just ask him, say, “Jesus, give me a desire to pray.” And if you’ve lost the faith to pray? Ask him to give it to you.
If I’m super honest with you, I’ve been praying a couple of various specific prayers for about 10 years and they haven’t been answered the way that I want them to be answered. And so without even realizing it, I feel like this root and my own life has kind of withered. Remember when I’ve been telling you in the series, I feel like our hearts have drifted? Listen, I’m in this thing with you, we’re on this journey together, we’re a community of Jesus’ followers going on this journey. And I’ve realized that as this root has withered, it’s showing up into some different fruit areas of my own life. And so I want God to give me the faith to go back to praying those kind of prayers. I used to pray even though they haven’t come to past the way I wanted them to. Maybe that’s you. So ask him to give you a desire and a faith and just share your heart. Just be honest. Tell him what you’re struggling with, how you feel, what’s going on, your dreams and your desires, your hopes and your fears. If you want to look encouragement, read the Psalms and look at David. He’s like schizophrenic. “Oh, God, I’m about to die. You’ve left me in a hole.” And the very next words, “God, you’re amazing, you love me and you’ve lifted me up and put my feet on a rock.” You’re like, “That ain’t the same guy”. No, that’s the same guy. He’s just honest, which very few of us often aren’t with God.
And then listen to His voice. Just listen to what he wants to say to you. So, here’s what I want to do. I want to give you a minute to talk with God. So, will you close your eyes with me, not because it’s religious or you’re getting something, but because it removes distractions. So you close your eyes with me and I’m going to give you two minutes to just talk with God. And our keyboard players are going to come back out at all our campuses, and they’re going to play to fill the space. And here’s all I want you to do, just take a minute and talk with him. Maybe you start by just saying, “Jesus, I don’t know how to do this.” Maybe you say, “Would you just give me a desire and a faith to pray.” Maybe you’ve got something super specific you want to talk about. Maybe there’s something you want to bring out of darkness into the light. Maybe there’s a question you want to ask. You’re just talking to a good Father who’s right here, right now with you. I feel like the Father is asking me to tell you that he’s missed you. And he’s so glad you’ve come home. You don’t have to perform, or strive, or achieve. You don’t have to say the words just right, because of what Jesus has done, you can just talk to him.
And you can even feel it, as that root pushes down and talks with God, it starts to absorb the supernatural nourishment of your soul. You can probably feel it moving through your body. A rejuvenation of hope, of faith, of love, of forgiveness because you’re connecting with the author of life. So, Jesus, will you teach us how to pray. Father, thank you that we can walk right into your throne room because of what Jesus has done. And we ask that you would give us Jesus, that you would give us the fullness of who he is, and what he has done, that we would learn to connect with you and talk with you and be with you, and allow your life to flow through our veins. Today, we choose to repent, to change our thinking on what prayer is all about. We repent that we’ve been afraid to pray, or made it religious, or that all we’ve done is ask for things. And today, we choose to come into agreement to say this is a conversation with a good and loving Father, who wants to do great things for us, and give us a lifestyle of freedom. We love you, Jesus. We come into agreement with your performance and say we know the Father has just heard us, and we have heard him because of what you have done. We agree with that, in Jesus’ name we pray, amen.