The Essence of Prayer

May 23, 2020

Matthew 6:9–10

“This, then, is how you should pray:

‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,

10 your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

The other thing Jesus teaches us is that you must start with praise. Prayer has to begin with praise. The essential prayer, the primary prayer, the first prayer is praise. If you notice, there are only three little petitions in the Lord’s Prayer. Three. “Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” Three. Everything else is about God.

Every prayer you ever see in the Bible is full of adoration and praise … 50 percent praise, 70 percent praise, 90 percent praise. Look at your prayers. Is that how your prayers are? I’ll tell you what my prayers are like. They’re much more like a grocery list. As a result, our prayer life stinks because we’re not following the pattern.

Here is a quick example. Do you know what was really wrong with Job? You know, Job had a lot of problems in his life. Into his life came problems. His children were killed. His career was ruined. He got sick.

He rushes into the presence of God and starts to pray like this.

“Oh Lord, why did you do this? What’s going on?

You have to do this for me. You have to get me out of this fix.

You have to do this. You have to do this.”

That’s not praying. That’s ventilation. That’s demanding. Then there’s a place in the book of Job where God comes and starts just talking about himself. He says, “Job, where were you when I stretched out the foundation of the earth? Where were you when I stretched out the heavens like a garment? A ray from my eye can destroy galaxies. I hung the stars.”

What in the world is God doing? It’s very confusing, and not only that, it gets confusing when at the end it seems to have healed Job. Job stops his complaining. Job humbles himself. Job quiets his heart. Why? What God is doing is he’s making Job go back over. Job rushed in and started with petition and started with all kinds of requests, and God insisted he go back and start with adoration, start just remembering who God is, just start recollecting the greatness of God.

All of his worry drains out of Job, because our worry comes from forgetting God’s goodness, that he’s good. All of his resentment drains out of him because he forgets that it’s all of God’s mercy.

The only thing that can heal us is adoration. When you adore, you remember his grace and you heal yourself of the tumor that blinds us. Our anxiety, our anger, our worry, all come from that distorted belief, and adoration alone can heal it.

Jesus said, “I want you to pray all the time so you don’t faint.” Those are the only two alternatives. You can pray or faint. What’s your choice? Some of you have been fainting this week. Well, what else do you call what you’ve been doing this week? You can pray or you can faint. What’s your choice?

 


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