We can only stand our ground in life after being swept off our feet by God. And something like that should happen in worship.
I’m not talking the “Wizard of Oz.” God didn’t summon Isaiah to His throne to scare the…Stamina out of him. Rather, God calls us to worship, and there wants to display His might because He knows we’ll face things in which we need to act mightily.
“Lord, teach us to pray.”
The request is not HOW to pray, though Jesus does teach us how. Neither is it WHAT to pray, though He does teach us what. We know how to pray and what to pray better than we pray.
“Lord, teach us to pray.”
We are tempted to let other good things displace prayer. As a result, we spend hours, days, and weeks for other things but only minutes for prayer. Knowing how and what isn’t sufficient. We must take time to do it for God works in answer to prayer, and God at work is our greatest need.
The seven closing words of James 4:2 (“you have not because you ask not”) contain the secret of the powerlessness of the average Christian, of the average minister, and of the average church. We ask, “Why is it that I make such poor progress in my Christian life? Why do I influence others for Christ so weakly?” God answers in the words of the text: “Neglect of prayer. You have not because you ask not.”
Many ministries ask, “Why is it that I see so little fruit from my ministry? Why are there so few conversions?” And again God replies, “You have not because you ask not.”
Guess what I’m asking for this morning?
Sin is not something which began on earth. Before the Fall there had been a previous fall. Satan was a perfect, bright, angelic being dwelling in the heavens and he fell before the Fall.
It is fallacious to think of sin only in terms of actions. Sin is essentially a disposition. It is a state of the heart. Sin is ultimately self-worship and the terrifying thing is that it rears its ugly head even as we try to worship or pray to God (see Matthew 5). So even sometimes people may be persuading themselves that they are worshiping God, but actually worshiping themselves and doing nothing more.
Prayer is a mystery and an effort. So many petitions seem to remain unanswered. The most disheartening barrier lies in the moral difficulty: Why should we have to pray to a loving and merciful God? A parent doesn’t wait until a child is lying on a bed of pain crying out for his sympathy and healing. When our poor human hearts love, they do not wait to be begged that they may supply the needs of those they love. Why should prayer on our part be the indispensable condition of the working of God?
First, prayer makes us more deeply conscious of God. In the rush and stress of life we tend to lose a sure and clear consciousness of God. In the busy world, the mind is filled every morning with all of the news to the ends of the world. If we will not sometimes think of God, He will merely become a name to us. It is in prayer that we have the sure consciousness of God.
Second, prayer helps us to see through God’s eyes. It’s sad how most evils go unnoticed, wrongs unremedied, poor unpitied and unhelped, miseries uncomforted, not because we don’t know, but because we do not sympathize. We haven’t looked at the world through God’s eyes.
Third, prayer surrenders us to the energy of God. The highest attitude in prayer is not desire or praise. It is surrender. In surrender we open our whole being to God as a flower opens itself to the sun, and we are filled up to our measure with His divine energy.
God has chosen people as a means of His power and grace in the world. And if people will not work the works of God, the works of God remain undone. We limit God by our prayerlessness. Because we are not surrendered to God in prayer, the might of His energy does not pass into us.
Romans 12:1b (The Message):
Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him.
I like that word “embrace.” People “accept” Jesus as their Lord and Savior but that seems like we’re “allowing” Him rather than really “embracing” that reality. It also sounds more familial.
And just imagine: God returns the embrace! Our God is Lord and Nurturer (Comforter). He is our Counselor, our Peace, our Joy.
…our plans don’t go as planned and we are forced to make a decision:
complain, grumble, ask why?
pray and find an alternative plan.
That’s when God steps in, when we DEPEND on Him. When we depend in our own plans why should He step in?
God is love. God loves you. God loves everybody.
But do we ever step back and see Him as a real Lover, Someone who puts His heart on the line for those He loves?
God is love.
Somehow when we throw those words together we often forget the emotion, the passion wrapped up in His love.
Read Jeremiah 2:1-8 in the Message:
God’s Message came to me. It went like this: “Get out in the streets and call to Jerusalem,
I remember your youthful loyalty,
our love as newlyweds.
You stayed with me through the wilderness years,
stuck with me through all the hard places.
Israel was God’s holy choice,
the pick of the crop.
Anyone who laid a hand on her
would soon wish he hadn’t!’”
God’s Decree.4-6Hear God’s Message, House of Jacob!
Yes, you—House of Israel!
God’s Message: “What did your ancestors find fault with in me
that they drifted so far from me,
Took up with Sir Windbag
and turned into windbags themselves?
It never occurred to them to say, ‘Where’s God,
the God who got us out of Egypt,
Who took care of us through thick and thin, those rough-and-tumble
wilderness years of parched deserts and death valleys,
A land that no one who enters comes out of,
a cruel, inhospitable land?’
7-8“I brought you to a garden land
where you could eat lush fruit.
But you barged in and polluted my land,
trashed and defiled my dear land.
The priests never thought to ask, ‘Where’s God?’
The religion experts knew nothing of me.
The rulers defied me.
The prophets preached god Baal
And chased empty god-dreams and silly god-schemes.
Read them until you feel the pain God felt when His first love turned their back on Him and started messing with other lovers. What would you do in His shoes? What then does it mean to LOVE HIM?
When troubles come, as indeed they will, it is in prayer that we “get above” them and assert our sovereignty in the power of the risen Lord.
We use a familiar phrase which is very suggestive. We say, “Under the circumstances….” But why should we be UNDER them? Why shouldn’t we be ABOVE them? Why slaves and not masters? It is through prayer that we get our circumstances beneath our feet.
See Psalm 91:13; Luke 10:19; 1 Corinthians 9:27
When God created the world He merely “spoke” it in to existence. I wonder what the inflection was in His voice? I bet we would detect JOY!
Making everything was not a chore but a labor of love. It had to be great fun for God. You can almost hear Him laugh and sing as He spins the stars like a top in the Milky Way and paints the rings around Saturn.