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Mosaic Spokane

Meeting With Jesus In Prayer

Meeting With Jesus in Prayer

Matthew 6:9-15

March 10, 2019

INTRO:  What’s the difference between…

1.) Your boss, teacher or parent telling you, “Joe, there is this mandatory food training/ assignment/task that you need to complete by next Friday. You need to get cracking!”

2.) Your boss, teacher or parent inviting you, “Hey, Joe, I’ve got a $50 gift card to the Davenport.  How would you like to do lunch or dinner there with me sometime this week?”

[Duty vs. privilege; assignment vs. option; demand vs. invitation]

            So rather than tell/order/command/cajole you into our theme for the morning, I just want to invite you into an experience that I believe God wants to bless us with on a regular and frequent basis.  You don’t HAVE to pray…but you get to.  It’s the difference between saying, “You don’t have to experience God on any given day…but you get to if you want. You don’t have to

Wednesday was the first day of the 2019 Lenten season.  It marked the beginning of the 40 “fast days” leading up to Easter.  (There are 46 days from last Wednesday to Easter…minus the 6 Sundays [non-fasting days] leading up to Easter.)  As I have mentioned earlier, as I’ve been asking the Lord what He wants us to focus on in Mosaic, I’ve been impressed, I believe, by the Holy Spirit to focus on PRAYER. 

WHY? 

  • We are attacking some of the strongholds of Satan in our city: at-risk youth, underchurched urban core,
  • We have a significant role in the church of Spokane that is greater than our size: THS Academy, Saturate Spokane, HUB, individuals who touch Spokane and the nation through politics, film, business and education.
  • We are in the midst of seeking to develop new ministries that better serve our youth, our young couples and those heading to cross-cultural ministry.

I’m convinced that unless prayer is the furnace of this ministry, we will fail at every turn. 

So for the next 3 weeks, we’re going to be focusing on the experience of interacting with God through two aspects of prayer:  spoken communication with God (what we often call “prayer”) and sung communication with God (what we often call “worship”). 

So this week we’ll be studying “The Lord’s Prayer.”  Next Sunday Andrew will focus us on worship (which is an critical component of any praying).  Then March 24th we’ll be diving into Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians which at the very beginning is all about prayer.

The most complete version of the Lord’s Prayer that we have is found in Matthew 6.  It’s actually part of the Sermon on the Mount that runs from Matthew 5 through Matt. 7.  Jesus has just finished talking about giving to the poor.  He essentially said, “WHEN you give, don’t make a big show of your generosity.  Just do it quietly and privately to bless the poor and to help you connect with God more.” 

In Mt. 6:5ff Jesus comes to the topic of PRAYER.  He starts by saying basically the same thing:  “Don’t treat prayer as something you use to ‘show off’ your supposed spirituality.  Just do it in private as something that connects you with God, not as a display to people.” 

In preparation for worship in music today, listen to how Jesus invites us to START our prayers!

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name…..”

The Jesus’ Prayer begins with worship.  That alone tells us something about real God-connecting prayer.  It’s WORSHIP!  Worship is simply praise and exaltation of God, focusing our thoughts first and foremost on the nature of the God we are talking with. 

What does Jesus encourage us to fix in our thinking about God before we do much of anything else in our interaction with Him?  We are invited to focus on…

  • How PERSONAL God is. What KIND of God are we spending time with? He’s the Father-God! He’s not some distant, aloof, unfeeling being.  We’re talking to our Daddy…our Father…our Papa!  His father’s heart that delights to have his children come running and crawl up into his lap and snuggle into him. 

Sound too childlike?  Well, it is!  There is nothing that melts a daddy’s…or Grandpa’s heart…like little arms and eyes and voice reaching out saying, “Can I sit on your lap and just be with you, Daddy…Papa?”  And there is nothing in our prayers or our worship that will help us pray more than getting our focus right about God being our Father.

  • WHERE He is: He’s IN HEAVEN!  Why is that important?  What difference does that make?  Therefore, He is above, over, overseeing, directing, powerful over everything I will ever think of or talk to Him about in my prayers.
  • HOW He is: He’s HOLY! His very name is holy.  He rules supreme and in the best, most righteous, most morally sound way possible.  His kingdom will triumph over every king, premier, president, governor, and kingdom.  His will is the only will that cannot be thwarted in this universe.  He is able, willing and anxious to have His will prevail in the very world we live in. 

            That’s why we use musical worship to help us pray when we come together.  That’s why we sing songs about God’s greatness, his holiness, his power, his will, his love…in short, HIM!  When you and I sing these songs, it is like praying the opening lines of this prayer.  Worship must be supremely God-centered, truth-driven and heart-engaged if it is to help us both connect with God and experience Him.   

            To help us remember the 5 invitations in the Lord’s Prayer, I want to suggest that you and I engage in 5 postures of prayer.  Every one of them is biblical.  Every one of them is to be a bodily expression of a spiritual experience with God.  So for WORSHIP that is God-focused, may I invite you to STAND with HANDS LIFTED.  (You can lift them 3 inches…or 3 feet!) J Let your bodily posture be what a little child does when they want to be close to their mommy or daddy.  

[Worship Set]

___________________________________________________ 

[Dismiss kids]

So the first posture of prayer is WORSHIP.  It is little wonder that one of the most frequent postures Jesus took when praying publically was with his eyes lifted to heaven.  Reminding himself that His Father was in heaven was something that shaped the way Jesus prayed. 

He prayed with His disciples.  He prayed in the midst of His sermons like this one, the Sermon on the Mount.  He prayed over meals shared with thousands and out in the fields.  But it was not for show.  It was not to impress others.  It was to help others make the connection between healings and deliverances from demons and provision of food and life as it is WITH God as He is. 

But those prayers flowed out of His private, personal prayer-connection with the Father.  We have lots of examples of Jesus praying alone…in the Garden, before it was daylight, on the mountain, all night long out in the hills. He apparently spent so much time praying alone that his disciples at one point, after he returned from a whole night of praying, were compelled to ask Him “Lord, teach us to pray.”  That was in Luke 11, and that request by the disciples prompted Jesus to again model the Lord’s Prayer to them.  It’s the only other Gospel account that we have of The Lord’s Prayer. 

            That is what I would like to invite ALL of us to experience this year during Lent.  I’d love for the personal and private prayer experience of every one of us to be impacted so much this Lent that our together/corporate/shared experiences of “worship services” are radically changed and become even more powerful, deeper experiences of relating to God.   

            Prayer is first and foremost a connection you and I have personally with God.  It is first and foremost a relationship we cultivate in private. It’s like the intimate talks two lovers had that led them to marriage.  Remember how “easy” it was to talk to your sweetheart?  Weren’t they amazing for just letting you pour out your heart and listening to you.  Isn’t God like that? 

ILL:    You can tell when two people are “in love,” can’t you? When Sandy and I were on our honeymoon, we spent several days in Banff, Canada.  Much of our trip was spent camping in an old VW pop-up van.  But the one big “date night” we had that whole week was to get all dressed up and go out to dinner at the Banff Springs Hotel dining room.  I still remember a couple stopping at our table as they left just to ask us, “Are you newlyweds?”  It was that obvious just watching us sit across from each other over dinner.  Quite different from what you see so many couples looking like after 15 or 30 years when they go out:  bored, texting, non-communicative.

            Prayer is the love language of a heart hungry for God.  God is inviting each of us, “I invite you to get to know me in the private closet of personal prayer.  That’s where you and I can have our best conversations, our best bonding, our best interaction with each other.”

So I believe that God is wanting ALL of us to experience more of Him in our personal and private prayer times with Him.  I’m not just talking about praying on the run, in the car, over a meal.  Jesus modeled frequent and sometimes extensive prayer connections with the Father to His disciples.  I don’t think He did that because he felt obligated.  I think He did it because He felt compelled… He had a longing…a drive…a passion to be with the Father through prayer…not unlike the passion, longing and drive two lovers have to be together. 

            Last week Arty challenged us about being truly hot or cold for Christ.  He addressed trading lukewarm apathy about Jesus for passionate fire.  Prayer is, frankly, one of THE BEST WAYS I know of to fuel that spiritual fire and passion.   

APP:  So here’s my invitation to all of us today.  What is God nudging you…inviting you…calling to you to change about your private prayer experience with Him? IF you want to accept His invitation, the 1st step in implementing any change in our prayer life will probably have to be to decide WHEN in your schedule prayer/communing with God verbally will have the uninterrupted priority it needs…and PUT it IN your SCHEDULE! (Start with 5 minutes if you are at 0 now…or 10/15/30 minutes…whatever you want in order to connect more personally with God on a daily basis.)

STOP:  [Take 60 seconds to ask God WHEN works best in your daily schedule, take out phones/paper calendars and WRITE PRAYER IN!]

So what’s the posture to remind us to WORSHIP?  (Standing with hands lifted up…or just hands lifted up.)

#2.  Now, there is a place where every-thing is as it should be:  just, right, beautiful, holy, kind, loving, healthy, etc. 

Q:  WHERE is that?  [Heaven]

Q:  Do you know WHY that is?  [God’s will is fully and completely carried out there; evil has no dominant, influential or lasting place there.]

That is significant because it has everything to do with the 1st request Jesus invites us to make in prayer. 

Vs. 10—“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” 

This is, in my opinion, one of THE most expansive prayers we are ever invited to pray in Scripture! Jesus is encouraging us to pray nothing short of everything wonderful about heaven becoming a real experience here on earth. 

            At the same time, He is calling us to recognize and submit to God’s kingdom plans and kingdom will. To pray that simple little phrase is to say to God, “Daddy, no matter what your will is for whatever I’m going to be talking to you about today, MY desire is that YOUR will dominate. MY prayer is that YOUR design for world and personal history prevail.  I want YOUR WILL to be implemented in everything I pray right now.” 

            So let’s think about what that might sound like on some very real, practical issues:

  • Someone who is terminally ill? (Will there be illness in heaven? No.  Do good and godly Christians die of terminal illness?  Yes…ALL!)
  • Someone who is homeless? (Is there housing in heaven?    Did Jesus promise to always provide us housing?  No)
  • Your desire to marry a certain person? (Is there marriage in heaven?  Yes—Christ and the Church!  Does God force people to marry?  No…and He gives us a ton of freedom about who we can marry and a lot of wisdom about who we should not)
  • Our desire to see lost people in our lives come to faith in Jesus? (Are lost sinners in heaven?  You bet!  Is the salvation of the lost God’s desire?  You bet!  f. 2 Pt. 3:9; Mt. 18:14—“little ones”.  Are all lost people in heaven?  No.  Does God give humans freedom to reject Him now and for eternity?  Yes.)

Q:  So what does this kind of praying require?

  • Growing knowledge of God’s will.
  • Clear grasp and grip on the Word of God.
  • SUBMISSION to God in everything we don’t know or understand clearly.
  • Perseverance in prayer, sometime for our entire lives. (Stories of people coming to Christ well after some prayer warrior died who had been praying for their response to Jesus.)

Q:  What could be the POSTURE of SUBMISSIVE KINGDOM-Will praying? 

  • Suggest KNEELING with head bowed?

APP:  We Evangelical Protestants are not very big on KNEELING in prayer.  For some of us who are getting older, that may be because if we go down, we may not get up! J  But for many of us, it’s simply because we’re “not used to it”!  That’s a pretty poor reason not to do it. Most of Christendom uses kneeling in prayer as a clear expression of submission, of humility and of someone of lesser power and authority appealing to/crying out to Someone of greater power and authority. 

            So before we kneel…or try to for about 60 seconds…I would like to invite us to think about 2 or 3 people or issues in your life where you want to see God’s will be done, right here on earth…in your home/place of work/school/neighborhood/church… as it is being done right now in heaven.  That can be anyone and anything. 

  • Someone struggling with mental or emotional challenges.
  • Someone terminally ill or chronically in pain.
  • Someone without Christ.
  • Someone struggling in a marriage or family issue.
  • Someone needing direction.

[Take 60 seconds to invite people to kneel and silently/in a whisper pray for these people.]

  1. Third posture: sitting with hands cupped as if to hold water. 

Vs. 11—“Give us this day our daily bread.” 

This is about the easiest posture of all, right?  But it actually involves more than the prayerful sitting and waiting we do may indicate. 

Q:  HOW does God normally provide “daily bread” for us?  

A:  Through jobs, work, stewardship of money…or all/any of that from someone else (for children, teens, dependent adults, infirmed, disabled, etc.). 

Q:  WHAT constitutes “daily bread”???

A:  Bread was THE most basic expression of food in the ancient world.  It still is.  If you are reduced to a diet of bread and water, what does that indicate?  (Incarceration.  Poverty.  Punishment?)

I think Jesus is inviting us to ask for whatever things we need or even think we need on any particular day in order to enjoy life that day. 

What kinds of things are that?

  • Health/energy/stamina
  • Food
  • Work/employment
  • Parents/spouse/care-giver’s stability and employment
  • Peace of mind/emotional health/mental health/courage/ etc.
  • Spiritual/godly understanding of life
  • Safety/security
  • $ for bills

Story:  Local friend of Mosaic couple—very competent, high-level, CEO-type business person…lost job…got behind on mortgage… threatened with foreclosure.  On the floor, crying out to God.  Got very specific:  a job that works with children and helps children & a 6-figure income.  Mail the next day:  An offer by a private corporation that contracts with the government for a position to oversee the processing of all the child immigrants in the country.

APP:  Choose a couple of those items that most impact your daily life.  Take 60 seconds to prayerfully lift those desires/needs to God.

REVIEW Postures:  Worship…Submission…Need...and….

4th Posture:  Standing with hands clasped/or arms open wide.

Vs. 12—“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”

Prayer is all about relationship.  We tend to think it’s just about us and God.  But it’s not.  God knows far better than we do that our vertical relationship with Him is directly influenced by our horizontal relationships with others. 

            Not every relationship can or should be close or personal.  Some should be ended.  Some should be given clear boundaries.  But NONE should be allowed to lead us into hatred or bitterness or backbiting or violence…NONE! 

            This very passage (Mt. 5-7) doesn’t just speak one or twice about this need to be forgiving of others who have genuinely wronged us.  Chapter 5 tells us not to harbor anger towards anyone or speak words of contempt (“Raca” in Aramaic) in 5:21 &22. 

In 5:23-24 it tells us to even interrupt our worship if, while we’re worshiping, we remember that we’ve sinned against someone else and not made it right yet. God doesn’t want our singing or giving or preaching or serving when we haven’t done what we can to reconcile broken human relationships.  (NOTE:  mending them is not always in our power.  But apologizing and asking forgiveness is.)

Chapter 5:31 & 32 goes on to talk about the immorality of divorce—marriage relationships that become so damaged that one or both spouses ends it.

5:38-41 asks us to “turn the other cheek” in a personal offense and “walk the extra mile” when others are making unreasonable, authoritative and inconvenient demands on us. 

The chapter ends in 5:44 with the call to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”  We who are God’s children are called to relate on a personal level just as God does—giving blessing and good gifts to people who hate and revile Him. 

Then in chapter 6, immediately after the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus pounds home the need to exercise forgiveness to everyone with these words, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”  Those are strong words. 

Forgiveness means to release from a debt.  God is telling us that He’s not going to release us from the weight of our sins unless we engage in releasing others from the weight of their sins against us.  Our relationships with each other on the human plain have direct implications and consequences for our relationship with God on the vertical plain.  To fail to embrace the forgiving, merciful and gracious heart character of God once we’ve experienced His forgiveness will stop us cold in our tracks of growth in Jesus.  But daily practicing releasing of others from their sins against us will open us up to amazing freedom from our own sins.  Keeping short accounts with people will help us keep short accounts with God. 

ILL: Several years ago I had someone who I had known in a different church come to me asking for help financially.  He was asking for a few hundred dollar “loan” so his utilities wouldn’t be shut off.  We had been pretty good friends before and I felt somewhat obligated to help him.  But I told him that it was God’s money and that as far as I was concerned, I was giving it to him.  If he wanted to pay it back, great.  If not, that was between him and God. 

You know, it’s a lot easier to say it doesn’t matter if you ever get money back than it is to actually do it!  J  There were times I would find myself driving by where I knew he lived and I’d think, “Man, is he ever going to pay that back?”  Then the Holy Spirit would remind me of what I had said…and I’d pray, “O.K. Lord.  Your money.  I let go.”   

About two months ago, I received a letter in the mail here at church from this gentleman.  In it he asked if I remembered loaning him many way back.  “Loan?  What loan?” J  Yah, right!  If I was really godly I would probably have completely forgotten but…. He asked me to accept the enclosed money order for the amount as repayment of a long-gone debt. It was a nice surprise that I really had not, by this time, ever expected to get back.

But imagine what my life would have been like if I had held onto that “debt”?  Angry…miserable…negative on humanity …resentful…stingy….  That is the nature of unforgiveness:  it holds us captive to the very person and situations that we want to forget about or improve.    

APP:  Some part of our praying should be getting quiet enough to ask God, “Is there any relationship I have you want me to pray about…and “enemy”?  Someone who is hounding, harassing or persecuting me?  Someone who has hurt me?  Someone who has wronged or defrauded or damaged someone I love?” 

            And when God brings that relationship to mind, it’s an opportunity to a.) consciously choose forgiveness again, and b.) specifically pray good and blessings into their lives. 

            Take 60 seconds to listen to God about your human relationships…and then pray forgiveness about them and blessing over them. 

REVIEW of Postures:  worship, submission, need, relationships and….

  1. The Prayer Posture of Spiritual Battle=WALKING, 5:13

‘And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’

For this one you will need to walk around a bit.  The request here is two-fold but I believe overlapping.

“Lead us not into…” is a different way of saying “steer us away from…”  So we are asking God to lead away from temptation. 

The NT idea of temptation with this Greek word (peirasmos) combines two issues: ‘Trials’ (Lk. 22:28; Acts 20:19; Jas. 1:2; 1 Pet. 1:6; 2 Pet. 2:9) can be the work of either God and the devil. They are testing situations in which God’s child faces new possibilities of both good and evil, and may be exposed to various inducements or encouragements to prefer the latter, i.e. evil. Temptations are always Satan’s work. 

But Satan is God’s tool as well as his foe (cf. Jb. 1:11f.; 2:5f.), and it is ultimately God himself who permits Satan to try to seduce us BUT for good purposes God may have in that as a trial for our strengthening and benefit.

However, though temptations do not overtake us apart from God allowing them, the actual prompting to do wrong is never of God (Jas. 1:12f.). The desire which may move us to sin is not God’s, but our own sinful flesh giving way to old-nature desires (Jas. 1:14ff.).

Christ here is teaching us, his disciples, to ask God not to expose us to temptation (Mt. 6:13), certainly ones that would overpower us rather than strengthen us.  Jesus, at the end of His life, in the Garden of Gethsemane the night of his arrest before His crucifixion, told his disciples to “watch and pray,” lest they should ‘enter into’ temptation (i.e. yield to its pressure) (Mt. 26:41; Lk. 22:32).

So what do you think Jesus is telling us needs to be a part of our prayer-connection with Him?  Spiritual warfare?  Recognition of real temptations to evil flirting with our souls? 

Essentially we need to pray 2 things:

1.)  Lead us AWAY FROM things that will cause us to fail.

2.)  In trials or temptations, make us stronger in spirit, character, disposition, perseverance, etc. 

Sometimes with #1 (temptations that could cause us to sin), we need to just pray that generally, frequently.  But if we know that we’re going to be hammered with a specific temptation to sin, that should also inform our prayer life. 

  • If I know I have an appointment with someone who gets under my skin and causes me to get angry more often than not, I need to pray specifically for that encounter or meeting and specifically about my anger. (Personal Ill: confrontation of a very critical and destructive person in a church.  They knew how to push my buttons…and they did…and I took the bait and threatened them with church discipline…but I did it in anger.  Calmly would have not sucked me into sin.)
  • If we’re in an office or dorm or even church situation where we’re the world, the flesh and the devil are tempting us to compromise our sexual integrity, in or outside of marriage, it’s time to face it for what it is and make it a matter of prayer…and not with the person whose the temptation! J
  • If we know that we’re going to be dealing with a business deal that is going to pressure us to cut corners in order to make the deal, that should be a matter of prayer.
  • If you know you have a problem of cheating on tests in school and you know you have a test that day, guess what should become part of your conversation with God that day?

This is simply praying about whatever the spiritual battle looks like in your life and mine any given day…honestly, regularly and directly. It’s getting ready for the very real battle for our souls that day. 

God will probably also lead you to pray for someone else’s spiritual battle.  Jesus did just that in the Garden for all of His disciples.  He told Peter, despite his failure to stay awake and pray and specifically regarding his impending denial of Christ, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat.  But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.  And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:32-33)

APP:  Let’s take a moment and ask God where we are being tested and tempted AND where we need to ask Him to strengthen us against that temptation so that we don’t sin but rather walk in renewed strength and character. 

NOTE:  This is a good place in prayer to move around, turning away from something as a bodily expression of our soul’s desire to forsake that temptation while turning towards God and His provision of power to overcome and resist temptation.    

REVIEW the 5 Postures:

  1. Worship (Standing, hands lifted in praise)
  2. Submission (kneeling)
  3. Requesting (hands cupped to receive)
  4. Forgiving (hands clasped)
  5. Spiritual Battle (walking)

Prayer INVITATIONS: 

  1. Start with 1 minute on each of these every day this week.
  • You’ve got the HOW right here in the Lord’s Prayer!
  • Got the WHEN?
  1. Seek God for the City daily prayer guides for Lent: on back table and foyer table; $3.00 suggested donation.
  2. Spokane Prayer Initiative sign-up (table): join others in praying 1//2 hour each month on the 2nd Wed. of the month.
  3. Join one of the 2 prayer groups we have weekly: Wed @ 7:00 p.m. or Thur. at 6:30 a.m. 

Benediction:  Over these next 36 days of Lent, may we all experience daily the work of the Holy Spirit drawing us into refreshing times of prayer with Jesus our Lord & Savior.  May the loving presence of our Heavenly Father draw us irresistibly to Him in prayer.  And may we experience the will of God being done in and around us this week…on earth, just as it is done in heaven.  Amen!

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