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?


Pray in Jesus’ Name

May 21, 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.

 Some people say, “Why is it that there is no place in the Lord’s Prayer where you are supposed to pray in Jesus’ name?”

Do you know how Jesus, all through the Gospels, says, “Pray in my name,” but in the Lord’s Prayer, it doesn’t say anything about praying in Jesus’ name? The answer is it does.

When you say “Father,” you are coming to him in Jesus’ name. What you are saying, when you say “Father,” you’re saying, “Lord God, Jesus is my sin-bearer and I have received him and therefore, I now have received the status of being a son or a daughter. I now have the God-given and the God-invited audacity and authority to call you Father and to expect that kind of love that a father has.”

How does God regard Jesus? How much does he love him? How much does he honor him? How much honor does Jesus deserve? You know what Jesus has done. You know what incredible lengths he went to, what incredible oceans he swam to save us. You know that. How much honor does the Father owe the Son? How much honor and love does the Father want to give the Son? How much love does he have for the Son?

It’s incredible, it’s infinite, and the Bible tells us that God makes no distinction. He loves us with all the love that he loves his natural Son. He loves us to the same degree that he loves his natural Son. That is amazing. I happen to know that you don’t believe it, because I happen to know that I don’t believe it. If I believed it and if you believed it, we wouldn’t be the way we are. We wouldn’t be worried, would we? We would never feel sorry for ourselves, would we?

We’d never feel resentful and angry that we’re getting a bad go in life, would we? You don’t believe that. That’s the reason why your prayer life and my prayer life are so drab. Because you run by “Our Father …” and you get into “… in heaven, hallowed be your name …” and when we get to “Give us today our daily bread,” give me these things, you get down there and then we start to pray with bigness of heart and greatness of heart, and we have run by the fatherhood of God, and that, Jesus Christ says, is the basis for your prayer. Don’t pray and don’t go on until you get that.

The Basis of Prayer

May 20, 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 basis of prayer is “Our Father …”  Do you know that you never have a conversation with someone without a basis? If you try it, it can be pretty difficult. If you walk up to somebody on the street and say, “Oh by the way, could you do something for me?” you have no basis for conversation. Now in a small town in Kansas, it’s one thing, because you can walk up to a stranger in a small town in Kansas and you really do have a basis. You’re both in the same town.

But in a large metropolitan area like Sacramento, there’s no basis and the person will probably turn around and go somewhere else. But if you walk up and say, “Your best friend told me to come see you about this,” they’ll have to listen. Why? Because there’s a basis. On what basis do you approach God? Jesus tells us right here. Very important, very critical. The basis is this. Prayer only works on family terms. If God is only your Creator (and he is your Creator) and he is only your King (and he is your King), prayer doesn’t work.

He doesn’t say, “Start this way: ‘Our King …’ [Though he is a King], ‘Our Creator …’ [Though he is a Creator], ‘Our Sovereign …’ [Though he is].” But Jesus says, “Our Father …” Jesus was the first person to call God “Father” in the Bible. It’s an incredible thing to do, to be that familiar. You know, if you have been ushered into the presence of some chairman of some board or some influential head of government, somebody you’ve been dying to see because you really, really, really need to see that person, you’re honored by it and you’re scared to death that you’re going to mess up.

So what Jesus is saying is, “If you belong to me, then you automatically receive my status.” See, being born again is a wonderful experience, but in itself, it’s nothing. Being born again means you’re admitted to the family of God and now you have power (John 1:12). You have authority. You now can talk to God as a Father. What does that mean? Do you remember a minute ago I just said the thing everybody is dying for is a sense of intimacy with God? Power and intimacy?

This is the whole secret. If you don’t get anything else out of this devotion today get this. This is it. If you say, “My prayer life is boring,” you have never really gotten the hang of what it means to say, “Our Father …” Jesus is saying, “The power in your life and the fire in your prayer life all comes from the degree to which you understand what it means to say, “Our Father”

Daily Devotions 2020