Introduction: Welcome to Calvary Albuquerque. We pursue the God who is passionately pursuing a lost world; we do this with one another, through worship, by the Word, to the world.
Nate Heitzig: Turn in your Bibles to Matthew, chapter 6. We're going to be in verses 5 through 10 this morning for a message titled "The Promise of Prayer" as we look at the role of prayer within a believer's life and the promises that God gives us through prayer. But right now let's open up and do what we're going to be talking about and let's pray.
Lord God, we come before you right now expectant, Lord, expectant because we want to hear from you. We want to learn something from you, Lord. And just as we come and we are talking to you, Lord, we expect and we know that you want to talk to us as well, you want to reveal yourself to us, you want to speak truths into our lives. So Lord, we come and ask that our hearts and our minds would be open to your Word and that you would change us. In your name we pray, amen.
Hey, question: Who in here remembers the first time that you ever prayed, the first time that you ever prayed? Does anybody remember that? Man, I---I'll be honest, I cannot remember that. I was probably a really little kid. It was probably really cute, something like: "Lord, I thank you for superheroes and Jell-O." I don't know what it was. But I have no idea when it was. For many of you, you were probably a really little kid the first time you prayed. Maybe some of you it was more recent. Maybe you came forward in altar call, and you said a prayer asking Jesus Christ to come into your life, to forgive you of your sins.
Another question: Who in here remembers the first time that you prayed publicly in front of people? Anybody remember that? Okay, more hands, because that's scary, right? You, like, might have night terrors about that. You wake up in a cold sweat, "I don't want to pray! I don't want to pray!" We remember that because it's terrifying the first time you've prayed in front of a person, secretly hoping for a few amens, right? It's okay. Can I get an amen? You're sitting there, you're praying, "Lord, you are so great," pause. "I didn't get it. I gotta go a little deeper.
"Lord, you are magnificent. You are omnipotent. You are reigning from the beginning to the end, God Almighty, amen. Okay, I got it. I can finish now." The first time you prayed in front of a person. Now who remembers the first time that you received an answer to your prayer, you received an answered prayer? You've been praying something for a long time, you finally got that answer. How incredible that is, right? How awe-inspiring that is, faith building. You know, it's funny to me, as Christians God will answer a prayer, and then two weeks later we're in a time of fear, a time of trembling, a time of stress.
And all of a sudden it's, "God, where are you? Why did you leave me?" Two weeks later he was answering your prayers. How quick we are as Christian to forget. Maybe lately in your life it seems like the only answer you're receiving in prayer is a 'no'. Or worse yet, maybe you're not receiving an answer at all, and you say, "Where is God? What am I doing wrong? How can I pray more effectively?" Without a doubt we as Americans have a fundamental misunderstanding of what prayer is all about. We're confused on what prayer really is.
A major news magazine did an article on prayer among Americans and it said this: "The majority of people interviewed prayed, doing so in a rather superficial manner. Prayers were usually prayers of petition, rather than prayers of thanksgiving, intercession, or seeking forgiveness. God, for some, is viewed as a divine Santa Claus." I don't think I could find a better description of what many Americans view God as, just some big, fat guy in the sky who gives us stuff we want. We write to him a list once a year and we expect God to give us those things.
For many people that's what prayer is all about, just a big wish list. You only pray when you really need something. Your prayers are only fervent and heartfelt when you really need something. "Lord, I really need more money." And when you really need money, you're praying as hard as you can. When you're done, everything's good. "Lord, I really, really, really need this job." "Lord, I really need this car." "Lord I really, really need this smoking hot girl to like me." Man, you pray a fervent prayer. Prayer for some has become an idol factory.
You say, "Nate, how is that possible? How can prayer be idolatry?" When prayer ceases to be about God, and it becomes about you, when prayer ceases to be what God wants for your life, but it becomes what you want for your life, prayer is idolatry. And because when God doesn't answer our prayers the way that we think he should, because that happens, we become frustrated. And for some we just stop praying entirely. I talked to a guy and when I asked him how his prayer life was, he says, "You know, I'm not really praying anymore."
And when I asked him why, he said, "Because God hasn't been answering my prayers, at least not the way that I want him to." And so some people take that mentality and they just cease praying. Jesus tells us to "pray without ceasing, for this is the will of God concerning you." We're like those men who wanted their disabled friend to come into contact with Jesus. They believed he was God. They believed he was good. They believed he was powerful, that he could do it. They just couldn't get access to him. They couldn't get close enough to him.
They said, "Lord, if we can get there, we know you can do it, we just can't get to you." See, we believe in the Lord. We say, "Lord, I believe in you. Lord, I trust in you. Lord, I know that you're good. I know that your plans for me are awesome. But where are you? Why can't I get access to you? Why don't you respond to me?" One thing that shines through the pages of Scripture is the fact that even in the darkest circumstance the power of prayer can dramatically revolutionize your situation. The power of prayer no matter what you're going through, no matter what you're facing can change the circumstances, can change the tide.
Life's pain always point to the Lord's promise. I'll say that again: life's pain always points to the Lord's promise. We often forget the lessons that can be learned through pain, the lessons that can be learned through hardship. See, pain drives us to our knees. And it's at our knees as we seek out the face of God that we see the promises that he has for us; promises to give us "a future and a hope"; promises that his thoughts towards us are good, not evil; promises that if we are weary we can come to him and he will give us rest. "Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
Have you ever needed that promise to be a part of your life? Liars. We've all needed that. You're like, "Nope. I just need my cup of coffee in morning. I'm good." We've all needed rest. I know I have. I know I've hit times where I'm just downhearted, I'm distraught, I'm depressed, and I just need rest. And it's times like that where promises of God shine clearly. "In everything through prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts through Christ Jesus." Who's ever needed that promise in your life?
Come on, put your hands up. We've all needed that. We've all needed that peace. Isn't that beautiful? Come to God through prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, not with a list of all the stuff you want. "Come to me through prayer and supplication, with all the things you want, and I'll give you peace." No. "Come to me," come to God, "with prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving." Thanking God, not just for what he has done in your life, but agreeing and thanking God for what he is going to do, what he has said he would do, what his future plans for you are.
Praying is about agreeing with the plan and the will of God for your life, thanking him for where he's taken you and where you're going. The Bible is full of stories demonstrating the power of prayer in even the darkest circumstances. A man named Elijah prays and the rain stops. He prays again and then it's on. It's like off, on, off, on. It's like a sprinkler system. He's like, "Hey, the water bill is getting a little high. God, could you make it rain?" Then a second later he says, "Hey, Lord, would you send fire down from heaven?" And God does it and consumes the prophets of Baal on top of a mountain.
Can you sign me up for that? Doesn't that sound nice, like, "Hey, Lord, could you make it rain? Okay, thanks. Now could you make it stop?" "Hey, that guy just cut me off, could you have fire consume him?" That'd be nice. [laughter] That's why God doesn't give me that power, because there'd be a lot of scorched cars around. And we look at it and say, "But Nate, these are the great men and women of the Bible. These are the people that we have posters in our rooms when we were little kids. These are the people that our kids now dress up like for Hallelujah Festival. These people are, like, the superspiritual.
For you homeschoolers, you don't get to, like, be part of Superheroes, so it's superspiritual. These are like the superspiritual heroes. These are the guys. These are the guys that song was written about: "I'm in the Lord's army. Yes, sir!" Right? They got the artillery, they're flying into battle. And we say, "That's not me. That's not me, Nate. I don't have that kind of faith. I don't have that kind of relationship with God. He doesn't answer my prayers that way." But what does the Scripture say about Elijah? James 5:17 says about Elijah, this great man, "Elijah was a man with a nature like ours." Elijah was just like you.
And I look at that and I say, "Yeah, maybe the part where he's running away scared for his life wanting to commit suicide. I can relate to that part. But the fire from heaven? No. That's not me." No. He says, "Elijah is a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit." Church, you have the power that Elijah had. Where was his power found?
Through prayer. "He prayed earnestly," heartfelt, believing in the power of God, believing that God could do what he said he would do, and he did it. Preceding that verse we're told, "If anyone among you is suffering, let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing songs. Is anyone sick? Let him call on the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick." He continues on, at the end he says, "The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much." Do you see the power in that verse? Do you see the strength found in prayer?
I was having a conversation several weeks ago with a lot of our pastoral staff and with my dad about the Holy Spirit and the role he plays in a believer's life, and recognizing that many of us, even though we love God deeply, even though we serve him and follow him, many of us lack in faith. We don't really believe that God can do the things he said he will do. We don't really believe he has the power that he says he has. And so this leads some people to say, "Well, you know, the gifts in the New Testament were just meant for that time. And they just gotta stay there. We can't, you know, play with them, because that's scary."
And why? Not because it's not real, but because they don't have the faith, because they're scared. Now, I'm not up here advocating that, "Man, you know, we gotta start having healing services, Calvary." And I'll get this guy in the back: "Pretend you have a broken leg, come up here, and I'm going to heal you. And people are going to, like, cry. It's going to be awesome." It's not what I'm advocating. But I am saying that the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the power of the Holy Spirit used in the proper place for the glorification of God is very much alive.
I've had conversations with K. P. Yohannan out in India and his son Danny about the fact out in India today, in this time, many signs with wonders are still happening. People are getting healed of sickness. People are getting restored. God is doing incredible things. When I was a little kid, I was on a mission trip to Mexico. We were there, and I was with this girl, and I just gotta tell you, this girl was white. I mean, like, white. Like, she would say, "tayco"; it was "tayco," not taco. It wasn't guacamole, it was "gwack-a-mole." I mean, she was white as white can be.
Well, we were out there, we were on this mission trip, and we were doing some dramas in the street. And we were praying over the dramas, praying that God would use them to impact the people that we were performing them for, that people would get saved. And at the end of it this girl who had never spoken a lick of Spanish stood up and fluently spoke Spanish and delivered the gospel, and many people came to faith in Jesus Christ. God still does incredible things. The God you serve is a powerful God. Do you realize that, church?
The God you serve is a great God. He can do great things for those that trust in him. So my question for you this morning is: What is it that you're up against? What is it that's so big, that's so hard that you say, "If I just had the faith that those people in the Old Testament had, I know that God could do it. But I don't." My question is: How much time have you spent earnestly praying, earnestly seeking God, and trusting in him through faith that he can deliver you? Now, I'm not saying that whatever you ask, it's going to happen.
And you're like, "Okay, God, we're going to arm wrestle. If I win, I get the Ferrari; if you win, I'll drive the Pinto. You ready? One, two, three." God's always going to win. Don't play that game, otherwise you're going to be in a Pinto all your life. [laughter] What I am saying is that God is powerful. We have to believe that. Again, God isn't Santa Claus. You don't give him your wish list and he says, "Well, you've been pretty naughty this year, so I'm going to deliver you from sickness, but you're not getting the girl. Sorry. You were good, but you're not that good."
That's not how it works with God. It's clear that we are to pray, but it's also clear that many of us don't do it right. So who's a better example than Jesus Christ himself? Let's turn to Matthew chapter 6 verse 5 and see how Jesus told us how to pray. "And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
"And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things that you have need of before you ask him. In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Let's stop there. We're going to cover the first part of the Lord's Prayer looking at our place in glorifying God through prayer this morning.
You know, really quick before we move on, I just think it's ironic, I think it's funny, I want to point it out that in this verse Jesus says, "Hey, don't pray in vain repetitions," and then two verses later is a prayer that millions repeat vainly on a daily basis. Is that not ironic? He's like, "Hey, hey, don't repeat things." "Okay, whatever you say next, we're going to repeat forever." Uh, hello?! You know, it's tragic, but sin knows no boundaries. Sin doesn't stop when you're on the ground, instead it kicks you. Sin doesn't stop when you walk into the church.
Sin doesn't stop when you're reading your Bible. Sin doesn't stop when you turn on Hillsong United in your car and that magical song comes on that makes Satan pee his pants and run away. That song doesn't exist. You're not going to find it. Sin doesn't stop when you're trying to live a good life. As a matter of fact, the closer you get to God, the more sin and temptation will try to creep into your life, the more sin will try to take you down. It doesn't just affect us when we're far from God, it's at the very throne of God that Satan wants to snag us.
Would you ever think that doing something as spiritual as an act of prayer, you could be capable of sin? You know, a lot of people think that if they come to church every day, if they serve in as many ministries as possible, if they tithe exactly 10 percent, and if they wear a "What Would Jesus Do" bracelet, they're going to be free from sin. But if that were the case, then how did Judas fall? Man, he was close to Jesus. He only had Christian friends. He only spent time in fellowship with the Lord. He was as close as you could get, and yet he fell.
So I don't care how involved you are, I don't care how close you are, I don't care how much you come to church, take heed, Christians, lest you fall. Take heed, because even in the pews and the seats of a church we can be guilty of hypocrisy and sin. Jesus is showing that not only is this possible, but it can be a problem within our lives. The primary problem with prayer of that day is that it was done to impress others with one's devotion to God. And let's be honest, hasn't changed very much today. We've all been there. You're in a prayer circle, that guy starts praying, it's a good prayer.
You're clocking it. It's like a minute thirty. He uses some Scripture verses, and you're sitting there thinking, "Man, I'm going to blow this prayer out of the water. I'm going to use the word 'propitiation,' [laughter] because that, it's a shoo-in. People don't know what it means, but God really likes it. When I say that word, God likes it, so I'm going to win. I'm going to say this prayer, it's going to be the best prayer." And it's a prayer competition; each person praying and one-upping the next. They were focused on the attention of who was praying, rather than that on the prayer that was being offered.
Their prayers were ritualized, repeated over and over, no attention paid to what was being said. They thought the longer it was, the more spiritual and pleasing it was to God. Understand this: prayer isn't a parade of divinity, prayer is a display of humility. Prayer isn't a parade of divinity, saying, "Look how much like God I am. I'm going to repeat these words." Look, God doesn't need a theology lesson when you pray to him. He knows who he is. He's pretty confident in that. Prayer isn't a parade of divinity, it's a display of humility.
Coming and bowing yourself and your desires before the only One who truly is great and good, and acknowledging: "Lord, you know what I need better than I do. You know what I need better than I could ever know." Prayer isn't a parade of divinity, prayer is a display of humility. Are you humble before God? Do you trust the future and the plan that he has for you? You know, this is one reason why I really hate prayers that are repeated over and over again. There's no heart behind it. Let's get an analogy of this. Today when you're done, you're going to go eat somewhere. You're going to go have lunch.
When you pray and you say, "Thank you for the food," what does it mean to you? Are you truly thankful, or is it just something that you say? Is it the same prayer every time? "Lord, thank you for this food, I pray that it will bless our bodies, in Jesus' name, amen." And why do you say it? Because if you don't, halfway through the meal someone's going to say, "Gasp! We forgot to pray! Lord, don't strike us down!" Like, "If you don't pray before your meal, I'm going to make that food turn to maggots." [laughter] Why do we do it? Are we genuinely thankful, is it heartfelt, or is it just something we do every single day?
Who in here is married? Raise your hands in you're married. Okay. Raise your hands if you're single. Keep them up. Look around, get your prospects in mind. Next week I want to see more married people. [laughter] How would you like it if your spouse woke up every day and said the same thing? If they said, "I love you, sweetheart, and I'll think of you all day long." And they said that every single day for three years. The girl's like, "Oh, that's so romantic." No, it's not. This isn't Princess Bride. It's not romantic in real life. It's lazy, all right? No. You'd be like, "Who is this person?"
You'd be opening their neck up to see if there's wires. "Are they a robot? Is this Stepford Wives? What's going on? What's happening here?" You'd be freaked out. And then every night they'd say, "Good night, I love you, and I'll dream of you tonight." You'd be like, "I'm not closing my eyes, because you're going to stab me tonight is what's going to happen. I don't trust you." [laughter] It doesn't mean anything. You'd say, "Why don't you try talking to me? Or better yet, why don't you listen to me for like half a second. Have a relationship with me instead of saying the same thing over and over again til it means nothing."
This brings into the context Amos 5:21 where he says, "I hate all your show and pretense. Away with your songs of praise! They're just noise to my ears." A modern understanding of that is: "Your songs that you sing to me are like nails on a chalkboard. I can't stand it. I hate it." So when we come to God with show and pretense, just doing it because we think we're supposed to, just doing it because it's the way we've always done it, God doesn't just not like it, he hates it. He can't stand it. He doesn't want to hear it. Now, this isn't to say that prewritten prayers are in and of themselves wrong or sinful.
I have a book by Charles Spurgeon called---the prayers that he would pray before he went and did different sermons and different messages. And I find it greatly encouraging to read those prayers and see the heart of a man who loved Jesus Christ, who loved God. And I find it strengthening for my faith. But I don't wake up every morning and open up that book and say, "Okay, which one of these prayers is my prayer today? I'm going to pray it ten times today to honor God." I don't do that. And if the majority of your prayer life is consisting of those prewritten prayers, then you lend yourself to being a part of the "vain repetitions" that Jesus warns of here.
Look at verse 8, the second part. Jesus says, "For your Father knows the things that you have need of before you ask him." Jesus now answers why there's no need to say vain repetitions. Number one, because you don't need the same thing every day, do you? So what's the point of saying the same thing every day if you don't need the same thing every day. But he takes it a step further and he says, "Before you pray, I already know what you need." Here's the truth, the insight into prayer: Daddy knows. Daddy knows. Your Dad knows what you need. Your Dad knows what's going on in your life.
Your Dad knows why you cry yourself to sleep. He knows why you deal with anxiety. He knows why you can't get through one day without dealing with that sin. Dad knows and he loves you. He delights in giving you pleasures. It's in that context that we realize the purpose of prayer isn't to inform or instruct God on what we need; the purpose of prayer to come to God and ask him, "Lord, what do I need?" It's all about aligning our will with God's. He knows what you need before you need it. So when you come to him, it's not about telling him, it's about asking him, "Lord, what do I need in this circumstance?
"Lord, what do you know that I need? Give that to me." Understand something: God only honors, God only answers the requests that he inspires. God only answers the requests that he inspires. Jesus gave an incredible promise on how to have answered prayers. This is the secret, this is the hidden ingredient of how you can have all your prayers answered. Right? This is every little kid's dream. Like, "Oh my gosh, I can finally live in Jell-O land. This is going to be fantastic." This is the secret, okay? So write it down: John chapter 15 verse 7, Jesus tells us, "If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you will ask whatever you desire, and it will be done for you."
Literally he---the understanding is, "I command you to ask at once for yourselves, whatever you want it's yours." Read the small print though: "If you abide in me, if you find your permanent dwelling place, if you find your permanent relationship with me as the stronghold of your life, if you abide in me and my words abide in you, then you'll know God's will and you'll ask for it." When I was graduating, Pastor Jon Courson whispered in my ear right when was graduating. It was kind of ominous. It was kind of creepy. Like, on stage and he's like, "Hey, I have a secret." "Okay." "Do you want to know the will of God for your life?"
And I was like, "Yes, Jon," thinking he has some prophecy. "In ten years you're going to have two kids, Seth and Kaydence, you're going to have a wife named Janaé." I was ready for this big prophecy, and this is what he said, "The will of God for your life is that you love him with all your heart, your soul, and your mind, and then do whatever you want." And I was like, "Whoa! Pastor Jon, you just ninja'd my mind. What does that mean?" And I thought about it and I realized the truth in that. If we are truly 100 percent devoted to God, loving him with everything that we have, completely devoted to him, then the things that we want will naturally be the things that he wants, because we're in line with his will.
Carry this truth into prayer. You want to know how to have an effective prayer? Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, be completely devoted to him, abide in him, let his words abide in you, then the things that you pray will be the things that he wants for your life, and whatever you ask you'll receive. But it's contingent upon you abiding within him. This truth could revolutionize your prayer life. This secret of prayer isn't the petition, but it's the position. The secret of prayer isn't what you're saying, but it's where you're staying. It's not about what you're saying, it's not about the words that you're saying, it's about where your heart is.
Understand this: your words can be righteous, but your heart might be wicked. Your words can have truth, but your heart can be deceitful. It doesn't matter what you're saying, it's where you're staying. Are you staying in the will of God? If you are, then your prayers will be in line with his will; if not, it doesn't matter what you pray, it doesn't matter how good your prayer sounds, it's useless. It means that we can say the right things over and over again, but if we aren't staying in the presence of God, then our prayer is useless. You realize the gravity of that? That means that you can pray the right things and it won't get answered unless your heart is right.
That means that maybe the reason your prayers haven't been answered has nothing to do with what you're praying, but instead it has to do with where your heart is. You've been looking in the wrong place. You've been blaming God for not answering your prayers, when all the while it's been because of a hidden sin, a secret sin in your life you've been unwilling to give to him. To abide means that we are maintaining and living in continual fellowship with Jesus Christ, like two friends who never want to get away from each other. They to want spend every waking moment with one another. And they don't have to be doing something.
You know, I have very few friends that I can just sit with and not do anything. I don't have to go do something, I can just hang out with them. One of those friends that you can just spend time. Jesus wants to be that friend within your life that he can just spend time with. This brings clarification to what Jesus meant when he said, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. Anyone who opens the door, I will come in and I'll dine with him." modern translation: "I want to hang out with you." Jesus wants to hang out with you. He wants to chill with you. He wants to relax with you.
He wants to be that guy who can come to your door at eleven o'clock at night, knock at the door, and say, "Hey, what's up? Let's hang out. Let's sit on the couch and eat Funyuns and play Xbox. I don't know if Jesus eats Funyuns or plays Xbox, but if he did, he'd beat you, so you wouldn't want to do it. [laughter] "What did you learn today?" "Don't play Xbox with Jesus." [laughter] He wants to just spend time with you. He wants to relax with you. He wants to be your friend. Understand this: he just wants you. He doesn't want anything from you, just you, all of you, no strings attached. It speaks of intimacy, closeness, friendship.
Now this has to be doused in a healthy amount of reverence and awe for who God is. We can never come to God too cavalier or casual. We have to understand not only is he our Father, but he's also the Almighty God who is to be revered, worshiped, and obeyed. Obeyed. Say it again, obeyed. He has to be obeyed. When Jesus says we must abide in him and his Word must abide in us, it speaks of his Word being at home in our hearts. Your prayer cannot be divorced from your lifestyle. Your prayer needs to flow out of your walk with God. If your life is not pleasing to God, neither will your prayers. David said it this way, "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me."
Church, that's scary. That means that if you have sin in your heart, if you have iniquity, if you have hidden things within your life, when you come and when you pray, God will not hear you. Or literally: "He's not listening." According to Amos, not only does he not hear, but he hates it, because it's false. It's a pretense. You're saying one thing that's not true within your life. It's just a show. First John 3:22 further clarifies it when it says, "Whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments." Here's the next truth for your life: How you respond to God affects how God responds to you.
How you respond to what God has to say affects how God will respond to what you have to pray. So, if you want God to respond to your prayers, you better respond to what he's said in his Word. If you want God to answer your prayers, you better answer the call that he has placed upon your life according to his Word. How you respond to God affects how God responds to you. Now, you might ask, "Nate, if this means that God knows what's in my heart, if he knows my prayers, he knows my desires, then what's the point of even praying? Why should I bother?" I'm going to give you a few reasons.
Number one---and this is, well, the main one. I could walk off the stage after this, drop the mic like a vandal, and go home, because that's all I need to say---because he said so, because he said so. Why should you pray? Because he said so. Luke chapter 18 verse 1 says, "Man always ought to pray." Is there really a better reason? "Because I said so." You know what? My son has a dirty room. I'll say, "Seth, go clean your room." And inevitably he'll say, "Why?" Now I could spend twenty minutes giving him the top-ten reasons why good boys and girls should clean their rooms, but I don't do that. I do this: "Because I said so." And then I say, "And if you don't do it, I'm going to tan your hide."
No. I don't say that, but I think that in my heart. No. But I tell him, "Because I said so." Do it because I'm dad. I don't care what reasons you have to not want to do it. You don't need reasons from me of why to do it. I'm dad, so do it." The same is true with our lives. When Jesus tells us to do something, we do it because he said so. It's not so much about what is being said as it is about who's saying it. Right? That's where power is. It doesn't matter what's being said, but who's saying it. That's not even to mention the blessings that come from prayer. Even if it were a hard thing to do, which it's not, even if it were unpleasant, which it's not, we do it because he said so.
Number two, we should pray because prayer is God's appointed way for obtaining things in accordance with his will. Again, this must be measured in accordance with his will, with his leadership. But James 4:2 says, "You have not because you ask not." So you might ask, "Nate, why is it that I never know what the will of God is for my life?" "You have not because ask not." "Why is it that I never have the opportunity to share and lead people to the Lord?" "You have not because you ask not." Why am I always just scraping by, never having enough hope and satisfaction for life?" "You have not because you ask not."
Number three, prayer is a way by which God helps us to overcome anxiety and not to worry. Modern vernacular: prayer is your Prozac. Philippians 4:6, "Don't be anxious for anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God; and the peace of God, that surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts." We already said that, but it's so true. Verse 9, Jesus continues and he says, "In this manner, pray." I want to point out there's no occasion in the New Testament apart from this where this prayer is repeated by anyone, by Jesus, by the disciples.
We don't see the disciples coming together in a huddle before they go to evangelize: "On the count of three; one, two, three, say the Lord's Prayer. Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name . . ." It doesn't happen. It's not repeated. This is a model. This is a pattern. It covers every aspect of prayer. Verse 9 he continues and he says, "Our Father who art in heaven." The beginning is noteworthy because it doesn't begin with, "Lord, give us this day our daily bread. Provide for us all our needs and our wants." No. It doesn't start with our needs, it starts with the magnitude of Jesus Christ and honoring him. It doesn't start with our problems and our needs, but it starts with God.
Before we can lay hold of God's mercies, we must acknowledge his magnitude. Before we lay hold of God's mercies, we must acknowledge his magnitude. You know, for many people they just rattle off petitions and problems in their prayer life. And then nothing happens. Look, God is not the government. He's not there for you to just complain to him about all the things you don't like. You have to pause before you speak to him in prayer, contemplate who you're speaking to. As I already mentioned, he's our Father, but he's also a great and awesome and holy God. He is all-powerful, all-knowing. He is present everywhere. He is ignorant of nothing, unlimited in power, not bound by time or space.
He is just, he is good, he is righteous, he is holy, and he is loving. That means his decisions and his purposes are always right. They come out of pure goodness and love for you. The fact that you can even talk to him is incredible. Imagine if you called up Apple and the CEO picked up the phone. "Hey, this is"---the other guy who replaced Steve Jobs. I don't know his name. "Hey, what's up? How can I help you?" That'd be crazy; he's the boss. The Boss is who you can talk to, the "big man" is who you have a relationship with, you get to approach. And Jesus doesn't say come to him and say, "Our almighty Creator, ruler of heaven and earth, the omnipotent One, without time or space."
No. He says, "Say, 'Dad, Father, this is what's going on.' " The all-powerful, all-knowing, omnipresent, holy, righteous, good, and loving Creator of the entire universe is your daddy. By the way, this is the ultimate trump card. When we were little kids we liked to play that game "My dad's better than your dad." "Well, my dad's taller than your dad." "Well, my dad has bigger muscles than your dad." "Well, my dad has bigger guns than your dad." And we love to play this game. This is the one to win them all. "Yeah, well, my dad, he's God. He created heaven and earth. He created you. I win." [laughter]
Your God that you serve, your Father in heaven who is the most powerful in the entire world, in the entire universe, is your dad and he loves you. Hallowed be thy name. Hallowed be thy name. "Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name." This means that in our life, in our character, we want to set Jesus Christ as the preeminent One to live a holy life. In all of our ambitions, in all of jobs, in all of our hobbies, in all of our accomplishments, we want to be able to write over that, "Hallowed be thy name. Lord, you are glorified within this." Question: In all the areas of your life, can you say that God is glorified in those things? If you can't, then that means that there's some things that you need to change.
What about the career choice you make, the business decisions you make, the friends you choose, is God glorified in those? He continues and he says, "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done." This is where we're going to close. "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done. "We repeat these words, but we don't realize what they mean."Your will be done." The will of God is the most important thing that we could ever accomplish with our lives. Pastor Skip phrased it beautifully last week when he said, "The will of God for your life is the best part about your life." The leadership, the reign and rule of God is the best part about your life.
Prayer isn't rerouting God's GPS for your life, it's sitting in the backseat and saying, "Are we there yet?" See, a lot of people want to sit and they want to tell God, "Lord, you gotta make a U-turn there. You missed the left turn. You're going the wrong way. God, the career, the things that I want, it's that way, not this way." That's not your job. Your job is to simply sit back and say, "Lord, are we there yet?" The real purpose of Jesus' life is found in John 6:38. He says he "came down from heaven, not to do my will, but to do the will of him who sent me." Doing the will of God can be hard sometimes. It can be a struggle. But your job isn't to tell God that he's going the wrong way.
Jesus prayed, "Not my will, but yours be done." The model prayer of Jesus begins with acknowledging the greatness and magnitude of God, realizing the special relationship that we have with him, and then asking for him to drive, asking for him to lead. Look it, you're not the driver, you're not the copilot, you're not even the GPS, you're just the little snotty kid in the back on their way to Disneyland asking, "Are we there yet?" Let's get an accurate realization of who we are in this process. We're just the little kid: "Dad, are we there yet?" "No." "Okay. Let me know when we are." Prayer isn't rerouting God's GPS for your life, it's sitting in the backseat and asking, "Are we there yet?"
So my question for you is: What problems are you facing right now? As I asked you in the beginning, what problem seems so big, so scary is that you just don't have the faith that God could ever deliver you from that? What is it that you're terrified of that you're facing right now? A troubled relationship? "Lord, are we there yet?" "Not yet, but soon." Health problems? "Lord, are we there yet?" A need for provision in your life? "Lord, are we there yet?" Direction for the future? "Are we there yet?" The salvation of a loved one? "Are we there yet." It's time to trust that God knows where he's going, God knows where he's leading you. And you can either sit in the backseat or the trunk.
It's up to you, but you're going there either way. It's time to pray. Don't ask God to change your circumstances, ask God to change you through your circumstances. Don't ask God to change what's going on in your life, instead look at what's going on in your life and say, "Lord, what is it that you want me to grasp from this?" Scriptures tells us to "cast all our cares upon him for he cares for you." Or as King Jehoshaphat said, "We don't know what to do, but our eyes are on you." Hosea would end it by saying this, "It's time to seek the Lord." Church, it's time to seek the Lord. It's time to humbly submit ourselves to the rule and the reign of Jesus within our lives.
It's time to realize that when we come to him in prayer, we're not telling him what we need, we're asking him what we need. And it's time to sit in the backseat and enjoy the ride. You ready for that? Let's pray. Lord, we thank you so much for your leadership and your rule within our lives. We thank you for the opportunity that we have to be on this ride with you. Lord, we trust your leadership, your direction. We trust your leading us, God. So we ask you that no matter what we're going through in our lives right now that you wouldn't just change our circumstances, but you would change us through our circumstances, God. Lord, we want to have a real relationship with you, firmly grounded upon who you are and what you've done for us. In Jesus' name we pray, amen.
Closing: What binds us together is devotion to worshiping our heavenly Father, dedication to studying his Word, and determination to proclaim our eternal hope in Jesus Christ.
For more resources from Calvary Albuquerque and Skip Heitzig visit calvaryabq.org.