home > Pastor’s Desk > 2022 June 17 Praying Prayers

PRAYING PRAYERS

The amazing thing about prayer, is that nearly everyone does it – but hardly anyone thinks they do it well. If you visit any Christian bookstore you will notice that the largest display of books is about prayer. And it’s not just Christian bookstores where you’ll find books on prayer. Regular bookstores also sell a wide range of books on prayer (even if they do classify them as books on ‘meditation’!). One of the most frequently searched questions on Google is, “How to pray” (which then points enquirers to over 2.3 billion web pages answering their question). But in all of human history – and two thousand years before anyone but one had ever heard of Google – there was just One person who was supremely qualified to answer this question. And fortunately for those of us who really want to know the answer to this question (without having to peruse more than 2.3 billion web pages!) He gave us the answer.

¶ Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when He finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”
Luke 11:1

WHAT IS PRAYER?

Put simply, prayer is talking to God. It can be done by speaking audibly to God. It can be done silently. It can be done in writing. For those who do not understand what prayer is, it is – at least what they think is – a way to make God do what they want. While it is true that we can submit our requests to God in prayer (Phil. 4:6), true prayer actually begins by submitting ourselves to God first (Rom. 12:1). The person who begins to pray by telling God what to do is bound to be disappointed with God when they eventually discover that it is God who wants to tell them what to do! Perhaps this is why “unanswered prayers” is offered as one of the main reasons why atheists do not believe in God (even though it reveals the gravitational pull on every human soul to seek and connect with God).

Prayer is a mystery. Why does the all-powerful Supreme Being invite us, His creatures, to have direct access to Him through prayer? This is astounding! But even more astounding is that He invites us to share in His government over our world through prayer to Him! Notice the opening lines of the Lord’s Prayer:

Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come,
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Matthew 6:9-10

It is almost like the parent who has not only provided their growing child with a comfortable bedroom in a comfortable family home that they can call (and to some extent, make – by their decorations and furnishings) their own, who then must ask their child for permission to enter. Even after they have told their child to tidy their room, the parent still enters after their child has left for school and does the last of the tidying up that their child didn’t notice (and still doesn’t even afterwards). There are times of course, when the child may be overwhelmed by the task to tidy their room. In those moments they may call out to their father, “Can you help me?” I sometimes see this as being like our prayers to God. He has given us our lives; He has given us our world; He has told us to keep them tidy; and, there are times when it is just too overwhelming to do it. It is in these times that we call out to Him for help. And just as our earthly parents love to help their children, our heavenly Father loves to help His children who call out to Him for help. 

Our prayers express our trust in God. When we pray to God we are acknowledging our dependence upon Him. The highest prayers we can pray sound very similar to the highest prayers ever prayed which were recorded by the Gospel writers, Matthew (Matt. 26:39) and Luke, who recorded what Christ prayed just prior to Him entering into His suffering for the sins of the world:

[Jesus knelt down] saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from Me. Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.”
Luke 22:42

This is the greatest example of a prayer ever prayed. It models exactly what prayer is about – 

  1. surrender to God “not My will” (this is the essence of worship); 
  2. trust in God “but Your will be done”;
  3. talking to God “Father…”; and 
  4. then submitting a request to God “remove this cup [of suffering] from Me.”

 

HOW NOT TO PRAY

Jesus taught His followers how not to pray. 

¶ “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.¶ “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.
Matthew 6:5-7

Praying is talking to our heavenly Father. It is not done merely to impress others. Jesus called this type of praying hypocritical. It is not a matter of having the right words, more words, long words, or even many words. Our praying should come from our hearts to God. Because praying is firstly an act of our surrender to God, we do not pray with a tone of telling God what He must do or how He is to do it. When we pray, we are not talking to the devil or any evil spirit – we keep addressing our heavenly Father when we pray. And when we are praying we are addressing the Only One who declares and decrees what will be, therefore we do not declare to the air what things must happen or how they are to happen.

 

PRAYING LIKE JESUS

Jesus praying.Jesus spent time by Himself and prayed for certain people. This is remarkable. Jesus told Peter that He had been praying for him that his faith would not fail and that after he had been restored he would be able to strengthen his fellow disciples (Luke 22:32). How much more then, should we be praying for one another? When Jesus reached the tomb of His dead friend Lazarus, His praying for this moment had all been done. Thus, His prayer before raising Lazarus from dead was remarkably short:

So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that You have heard Me. I knew that You always hear Me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that You sent Me.”When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
John 11:41-44

It’s also amazing to me that as well as Jesus praying for Peter – and each of His other disciples (John 17:9-11) – He also prayed for all future believers yet-to-be-born!

¶ “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word, that they may all be one, just as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that You have sent Me.
John 12:20-21

This tells me that I can pray for my great great great grand-children who are yet to be born to love God and walk after Him with all their heart. It also tells me that I can pray for our church family who, in two or three or four hundred years time, will be a witness to their community just as we are being a witness to ours now.

And He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into His harvest.
Luke 10:2

Jesus often spent time on His own praying (Luke 5:16; 6:12; 9:18; 11:1; 22:41). He prayed for the will of God to be done and taught His disciples to do the same (Matt. 6:10). Perhaps this may mean that praying to God does something profound to us in the process. Quite possibly, praying for God’s will to be accomplished in the earth transforms our hearts and minds to be conformed to God’s will in the process. If this is the case then it might be worth our while examining the prayers that were prayed in the Bible – particularly by Jesus and His apostles as recorded in the New Testament epistles. By praying these prayers we may also become conformed to them and discover two beautiful things. Firstly, our hearts enter a rest with our Saviour even in the midst of any turmoil we may be encountering. This is what we see Jesus doing in Gethsemane on the night He was betrayed. Secondly, our souls find peace with God as we openly and transparently commune our petitions to Him and ask our Daddy to join us in our moments of overwhelming mess to help us to clean up what we could never manage on our own. This is why we should pray these prayers. Let’s pray.

Your Pastor,

Andrew

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AMAZING ACCESS

Anyone who has attended a large event such as the recent Will Graham Outreach event that was held at the Launceston Silverdome would be familiar with the varying levels of access that are provided to staff and volunteers associated with this type of event. The security system used included identification in the form of different coloured shirts, prayer volunteer cards, and all access cards that permitted access to the entire venue with no questions asked by security personnel. This is like the access level that God has to our lives. Being omnipresent, He has unhindered access to every aspect of our lives. He knows our innermost thoughts, sees all that we do, hears all that we say. God has the ultimate ‘all access’ card.

WHY FINDING TRUTH MATTERS

How can we determine whether a claim is true or false? Some people think there are different kinds of truth — my truth, their truth, and your truth. But how do they know that their assessment of truth is true? After all, their assessment – that there is my/their/your truth might just be based on their truth rather than the truth. Truth has certain qualities that distinguishes it from what is false-
 Truth corresponds to reality.
 Truth is verifiable (that is, if it is true, it can be evidentially shown to be so).
 Truth is falsifiable (that is, if it is false, it can be evidentially shown to be so).
 Truth is sometimes testable (that is, claims that are experiential can be tested by experience – including scientific claims, historic claims, and existential claims).
We have good reasons for the believing that the Bible is true because it is the divinely inspired, reliable and authoritative Word of God which has been superintendedly preserved by the Holy Spirit (read more about this).

THE 5 MOST IMPORTANT YEARS OF ANYONE’S LIFE

Parents, Kids Church leaders, and Christian school teachers should be intentional about shaping children to be fully devoted followers of Christ who have reasons for believing Christianity is true – which shapes them into virtuous contributors to society and to find their role in God’s Kingdom. This will be one of the necessary and indispensable means for the Church to fulfil the Great Commission of Christ.

TIME- YOU CAN’T CONTROL IT – BUT YOU CAN LEARN FROM IT

We live in a fast paced world. We expect things to happen quickly. None of us like to be kept waiting. Even when we order something online we expect it delivered straight away. Some of us having to work two or even three jobs just to be able to pay the bills. We describe ourselves as time-poor. Yet, we all get twenty-four-hours in a day. Sixty-minutes in an hour. And sixty-seconds in a minute. Most of us need to adjust how we see, understand, and treat our time. This will involve, what will be for some, adopting a foreign and largely unaccustomed view of time that involves worship, sabbath, and deepening relationships. From this biblical perspective we will come to see time as a gift from God, not a curse, or source of frustration. Within this gift of time God teaches us how to worship in those times when it is difficult to do so. Rather than thinking this divine gift of time is ours to do with what ever we want, God uses this gift to teach us that we should gift it back to Him beginning with (but not limited to) treating Sunday as a sabbath to come together to recommit our hearts, voices, minds, and presence with God’s people, back to God. God gives us passing time to learn to deepen relationships – especially with our kin, and our friends. Time is meant for relationship building. 

I AM WHO I AM BUT I AM NOT WHO I USED TO BE BUT I AM NOT YET WHO I WILL BE

One of the greatest lies that the would-be enemy of all our souls attempts to perpetuate is that we are what we are and we can never change. This lie is whispered into the ears of many people’s invisible ears so imperceptibly that they actually think it originated with them. “You were born this way – and you can never change”, “This is who you really are – and you can never change”, “There’s no hope of anything ever changing for better – so you might as well just kill yourself” and so on. But these sly alien voices inside the heads of the vulnerable are lies. People can change. People do change. Some circumstances were always going to be temporary and were always going to change. I know this is true because I am living proof. I am who I am but I am not who I used to be and I am not yet who I will be.

WHO DOES THIS EPHESIANS FELLA THINK HE IS?!

It may well still be the best-selling book of all time – and continues year-by-year to be so – but certainly is not the best-read of our current times! If there was ever any doubt about this, the events this week in Hobart, at St. Mary’s (Catholic) College Girl’s School, should remove all doubt! A furore erupted over the news that the prescribed Scripture reading for the year-end graduation celebration, which incorporated a Mass, was “Wives submit to your husbands” taken from Ephesians. Callers into ABC radio’s breakfast program decried this assault against women – especially young, vulnerable girls. One caller, responding to the news that the text being used was a citation from Ephesians, denounced Ephesians and apparently demanded, “Just who does this Ephesians bloke think he is?!” Another caller stated, “Why are they quoting ancient Roman philosophers in the twenty-first century?!” And yet another caller somehow linked all religious wars to passages like this one in the Bible! He remarked, “I’m an atheist. All wars are started by those who are religious! No war was ever started by atheists!” (Perhaps he had never heard of Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, Vladimir Putin, who were collectively responsible for the deaths of over 20,000,000?) This furore led to the Archbishop conceding that the Ephesians passage did not have to be used at the graduation ceremony. But this furore has highlighted just how unaware many Tasmanians are about what the Bible is, what is actually says, and why it says it. And I am now about to correct this deficiency.  

THE LORD IS MY ROCK

Of the many tributes paid to her majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, was the often noted reflection that during her reign the world underwent a series of rapid changes that were dramatic and unprecedented in human history. There were technological inventions that revolutionised the way people could access international travel options enabling them to be virtually anywhere in the world within a matter of hours. New forms of communication emerged with the development of a global satellite communications network enabling people to watch Neil Armstrong take his one giant leap Live on their black-and-white TV screens (as I did in the corridors of Corio Primary School in 1969). Space exploration, the stuff previously just in the realm of science fiction writers, became a reality with manned and unmanned voyages to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. But the past one hundred years have also been a time of great upheaval with empires crumbling, governments toppled, wars waged, genocides committed, pandemics raging, nations birthed, rulers assassinated, and massive refugee movements from oppressive Islamic and Communist regimes. Added to this has been the demise of professional journalism and the rise of internet-citizen-journalism where it is now common for TV News reports to feature footage taken from someone’s cell-phone which was posted on social media rather than the more expensive option of sending their own film crew there. And while we’re mentioning the internet, let’s not forget to mention – the internet. This alone has possibly been the most monumental change in the way people communicate, work, learn, and shop. But while it was noted that the Queen had witnessed all of these many changes, it was also noted that the Queen herself was an unchanging constant during all these upheavals who brought about a sense of stability, peace and reassurance. To millions of people around the world, she was their rock in a world of turmoil and change. Yet this was only possible because she herself had an immovable, dependable rock upon which she had built her life.

WHO BUILDS A CITY ON A HILL?

home > Pastor's Desk > 2022 > October 7th > Who Builds A City On A HillFor those who don’t know, I was born in Geelong, and have always been fan of the Geelong Football Club. But I’m not just a fan, I’m a paid-up member of the Club. In fact, I’m a student...

5 INDISPENSABLE GUIDELINES FOR NEW PARENTS

This is not for everyone. If you are already a parent, this is not for you. Instead of reading this I suggest you read one of my other more abstract Pastor’s Desk articles. If you are not a parent and have no intention of ever being a parent, this is not for you. Instead of reading this I suggest you read one of my more weighty articles on FindingTruthMatters.org. If you are not yet a parent and one day hope to become a parent, this is for you. Find a quiet place, take the next six minutes thirteen seconds and use the reading of this article as an investment into your future parenting strategies. I did not invent these guidelines. Like many parents who have also discovered the value of these guidelines, once discovered, they seem obvious. These successful parents probably grew up with own parents who inculcated these guidelines almost intuitively. However, my suspicion is that this is becoming increasingly rarer. As with all true guidelines they are adaptable, flexible, and are not a guarantee of parental success — but if ignored they become the point in the mathematical problem solving where you can see you made an error in your working out. In other words, while these guidelines may not guarantee success, if ignored their neglect almost certainly leads to frustration and disappointment. Here are five indispensable guidelines for every prospective new parent.

WHAT WOULD IT TAKE FOR ATHEIST & MAGICIAN PENN JILLETTE TO BECOME A CHRISTIAN?

I’ve been praying for Penn Jillette for some time now. It began when I first heard him ridicule the Bible and Christianity. My fascination with Penn (and Teller), and other world-class magicians, has been due to my pursuit to develop my craft of preaching. There are a lot of similarities between preachers and magicians (just as there is also a lot similarities between solo musicians and preachers). I seek to learn from magicians about how to keep an audience’s attention, how to tell a story, and how to make a point by employing the element of surprise. But there are some significant differences between what magicians do and what preachers do though. A magician is deliberately deceptive. A preacher is striving to uphold truth in an honest way.