Yesterday, I did not put out a normal Who Am I? post. My reason was that I was too busy putting the last touches on a sermon I was privileged to preach at another church. That was my first time ever preaching from a Gospel. *GASP* Yes, I know that sounds crazy, but for a young man who is in the first year of his internship I have only preached a little less than 20 times. Each time I have preached, until yesterday, has been in an epistle. Either 2 Timothy or 2 Peter. That is my comfort zone. I love to preach what the apostles say to believers. But, when it comes to the words of Christ himself, I find myself in new territory. So, the experience last night was odd, but a good toe dab into a pool of new experiences. I still have much to learn and am excited to preach more from the Gospels!
Now, on to what you came here for, your identity dose of the day! Who are you? Who am I? We are heard and understood by the Savior.
In Christ, there is a magnificent opportunity to both communicate with God and be completely understood by him. What I mean is that you can pray to him and he listens and understands what you are asking, even if you do not, AND Christ sympathizes with our weaknesses. So, I am not just talking about prayer. I am also talking about when we are struggling to keep our head above water, thrashing about in the dark wondering if anyone cares or understands exactly what we are going through (this will come in another post later).
Let me talk about prayer first. There has been much said about prayer over the centuries so I will not be writing an all inclusive post on prayer. That would be well over 100,000 words. Ain’t nobody got time for dat. What I hope you have time for is a look at just one prayer in the Bible. Ask anyone on the street and they could probably recite part of this prayer. It is the Lord’s Prayer.
Matthew 6:9–13 (ESV)
9 Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
Jesus is not giving us an exact prayer to keep praying over and over again as if we wave a magic wand and God appears to solve life’s problems. What Jesus is giving is a sort of pattern to follow. Not a regulation to pray in the same order each time we pray, but a way in which to communicate our needs, desires, and praises to God.
Each morning I read through 5 Bible passages. I used to do 5 Psalms a day for a month and would get through the whole book each month. Now, I pick a Psalm, another Old Testament book, a Gospel, and two epistles. Right now I have made it through the Gospels and am working through Acts. But, I don’t simply read those passages. I pray them. After I read them I look at it again quickly to see if there is anything I can think to pray for myself, someone else (Family, Church Family, friends, etc.), and several praises to God, confession of sin, and renewal. They certainly are not long prayers. Once I am done reading and praying it has only been about 30 to 45 minutes, but that is enough to get me charged for the day.
I think that if I were to go without that time in the morning I would still get through my day the same, but I can tell you from experience that without that time my spiritual life suffers.
What can we learn from the Lord’s prayer? Well, we learn that we should honor God as holy (hallowed by thy name), we should request that his will should be done (your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven), we should depend on God to supply our needs (our daily bread), we should ask him for forgiveness, but only after asking others to forgive us first, and then we should ask for deliverance from evil.
That is a simple prayer time really. You think of one thing to praise God for in your life, you honor his name as holy, you ask that God’s will would be done in your life and others, you ask him for everything including forgiveness, and you depend on his goodness to carry you through trials.
Again, this is not all inclusive, but what I want you to notice is that if Jesus is teaching his followers to pray, then it is fair to assume that God will listen to your prayers. I will make another post in the near future about God listening to our prayers, so look for that in the near future.
So, let me leave you with this. You are heard by God. The Lord may not be obligated to listen to the prayers of a nonbeliever (that is again, another story for another post), but he is obligated to tend to his flock, his children, the sons and daughters of the kingdom.
Luke 11:5–13 (ESV)
5 And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, 6 for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7 and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? 8 I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. 9 And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
It is as simple as asking God. He might not always give you what you want, but you can rest assured that he will give you what you need. Or he will withhold things that you do not need. So, when you have prayed for something and it hasn’t been given to you, it is not that God does not hear you. It is that you either are not ready for what you ask, you are already getting what you asked in another way, or it is not in line with God’s will.
Again, I have run out of time/space to write. So, I will continue this idea in a future post. Hopefully, making it more clear and theologically sound than what I have just written!
Remember until then that you are heard by God. Your cries, requests, needs, and anything else does not go unnoticed by the omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent God.