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Cultivating a Life of Faith, Part 2

From the series Sacred Rhythms

Have you ever wondered why prayer is so hard? Why your mind wanders? Why, when you absolutely commit to do what God wants you to do, it feels like everything falls apart? In this program, we'll talk about the sacred rhythm of prayer, and how it really works.

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Message Transcript

Surrender is an awareness that things aren’t as they should be. It’s a longing for heaven to crash into earth. And, by the way, God does this one person at a time.

And when you begin to pray, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done in me as it is in heaven.” Well, how do we do this? Would you invite the King to take His rightful place in your life?

One of the ways that I do this, I have a practice, I learned this from some mentors of mine. And I have a surrender prayer. And you just need to know as I share these things, sometimes you think, This is what Ryan does every day, all day long. No. In fact, this I do probably once or twice a week. I used to have it more of a habit. But I take that Romans 12:1 passage seriously. And I actually get on my knees, because I think our posture is really important and it helps me understand and humble my heart before God.

And then I actually pray through every area of my body. So, I start with my mind. I say, God, this morning, is there anything in me that isn’t of You? I give You my thoughts. May I have the mind of Christ? May my mind be set on things above, not on earthly things. Then I go to my eyes and I go, God, would You give me Your vision? May I see others the way You see them?

I go to my mouth, God, may I speak Your Words today, filled with grace and truth. May I bring life and not death. I go to my ears. God, I want to hear Your voice louder than any other voice. Would You guard me from the lies of the enemy that seep in to try to conform my identity to something that is not true. I want to know You.

Then I go to my heart, God, would You make me a man after Your own heart? Would You allow my heart to beat for the things of Your heart? Would You break my heart for what breaks Yours? I go to my hands, God, would You strengthen my hands? Like the psalmist says, “Establish the work of our hands.” God, would You establish it? Would You give me exactly what I need? And then I move to my feet. It’s just a prayer of surrender, of going, God, okay, today I need You and my whole body is Yours.

You may want to physically kneel or raise your hand. Have you ever wondered why people raise their hand in church? Why do so many people have questions during worship? That is so odd. This person is really excited and got big questions. They are holding two hands up.

We raise our hands in worship the same way a small child reaches for their dad or mom. It’s this cry, “Daddy, help! I want You, I need You and I’m just reaching out and it’s just the posture to remind ourselves of our need before God.

First area of aligning our hearts, developing intimacy is the area of worship. The second area is the area of surrender. And, by the way, I do believe this area is – this issue of surrender is a major reason why many followers of Jesus don’t experience His presence and power in their life, because you have never really surrendered and said, Your will be done.

The third area is this area of request. He goes on to say, “Give us today our daily bread.” Now, think about this! This is amazing. Amazing that the God of the universe says, “Come to Me with what you need. I want to hear it.” In fact, Jesus talks about this a number of times and He says, “Ask, seek, knock.”

I think it’s unbelievable that God doesn’t just want us to talk about Him and just all these sort of things. He says, “You know what? After you begin to look up and see Me and you surrender, by the way, your requests will look differently after that. But would You bring to Me the concerns of your day? Would you bring to Me the stuff that you are going through that’s hard?” Give us today. What are you going through today? Not next week.

Our daily bread. What you need. The things and the issues of your heart.

Well, what is a request? Request is asking God to give you what you need to make it through today. When you wake up and you just go, God, it has been a hard day. It has only been thirty minutes. Yeah, but I am scared to death of the day. I don’t know what to do with our kids, I don’t know how this relationship is going to work out. I don’t – this business, my job is falling apart. And you just bring to Him the concerns and the needs of your day.

The act of asking is a declaration of dependence on God. We often don’t ask because we are more independent or self-dependent than God-dependent. And when you ask God, you go, God, I need You. He says, “I am going to show up in that moment,” and it’s a declaration of my dependency.

Now, I want you to remember this. How did we start this prayer? “Our Father.” You don’t approach the throne groveling, hoping, or wishing. We don’t ask requests like, Oh, God, maybe somehow. You show up to the throne room with bold confidence to say, Hey Daddy.

In fact, a little bit later in Matthew chapter 7, Jesus would say it this way, “If you, being earthly dads,” or sinful dads, “know how to give good gifts to your kids,” then He says this line, this is so good, “how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who are called by His name?”

You don’t approach the God who is holding out. You approach the God of the how-much-more. And so, when you come bringing your requests, that’s why. We’ve got to begin with worship because we realign our heart to who we are talking to, your perfect heavenly Father and you’re going, Man, I have the God of how-much-more. So, you pray differently. You pray with confidence. You pray with expectation. You look forward and go, God, You, as a good Father, want to give me good gifts and You want to orchestrate my day for the best for Your glory and my good. And so, I am coming with boldness.

So, how do you do that? Bring to God the needs and concerns of today. Is it spiritual? Maybe you have been in a dry season, maybe it has been a dark night of the soul. Maybe it’s emotionally. Like, there are just wounds and pains and things that you have been carrying on. Maybe it’s physically – there are some physical ailments that you haven struggling through, or sicknesses, relationally, vocationally, financially. And where you just would begin to bring the needs of the day.

So, it’s these five areas that align our heart with God’s heart that develop intimacy: worship, surrender, requests. And then He moves on to confession. Confession. Jesus says this, “Forgive us our debs, as we also forgive our debtors.”

Far too many people are walking around with guilt and shame that Jesus has already paid for on the cross. There is no room or should be no place for a defeated follower of Jesus, because He said, “It is finished,” on the cross.

But because we do not practice confession, really relationally, very well, we don’t know how to do it with our heavenly Father either. This is why I believe Jesus unpacks it a little bit further. And you’ll see in verse 15 He says this. It’s the only one that He dives in a little bit deeper. He says, “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 sin, your heavenly Father will not forgive your sins.”
And you’re like, Wow, that’s intense. That’s heavy. And actually, there are two different parables. I wish we had time to dive into it to unpack this. Here’s what Jesus is saying: your inability to forgive others is directly connected to your understanding of God’s forgiveness of you.

See, when I understand that I step in, worship high, holy God, and that I am a broken, sinful human. The reality is, man, I deserve death, not life. Definitely not grace. And you have the object, the focus, the tension of the Father. And He says, “I forgive you, I love you, I adopt you. You are fully forgiven, completely redeemed, bought back.”

Everything you have ever done, both past, present, and future – forgiven. Done on the cross. And He says, “If you don’t understand that way, you won’t forgive others,” because you have never really experienced His forgiveness.

And He is saying when you recognize how much you have been forgiven, forgiving people who have wounded you, that’s the little stuff. And you’re like, Man, I have been forgiven much so I can forgive much.

Confession. What is it? It means to agree with God about your sins. It is to say to God, You’re right. Or even better, That’s right. I agree with you. The way You said it and what you call right and wrong, I agree.

And here’s what we do: we, instead of agreeing with God, argue with God. We tell God this, we say, Well, it’s not that big of a deal. We say, It’s not hurting anyone. Now, that’s kind of old fashioned. Everyone else does it. And confession is to go to God and say, No, no. Your way and Your will and my life wasn’t in alignment with it and so, God, I confess it to You.

Now, notice. I want you to think about this and remember this. When you put your faith in Christ, you step in from an old life to a new life. You step from a slave to a son or a daughter. You are adopted into the family of God. And you will not be kicked out of the family of God. And so, we are not talking about confession and forgiveness like somehow your eternity is hanging in the balance. We are talking about intimacy.

See, the minute you’re a part and you’re my kid, you’re always my kid. But there are things you can do that can break our relationship, can’t it? It does not change your standing in the family. It does change our relational connection.

And when we say, “And we confess,” we are wanting to restore intimacy with our Father. Well, how do you do that? Ask the Spirit of God to show any area of unconfessed sin. Holy Spirit, would You show me any area in my life that is unconfessed? Then respond by specifically owning what He reveals and asking for forgiveness.

I want to spend a little bit of time and help us understand that. But first, let’s talk about this. The Spirit of God, when you ask, will bring conviction into your life, not condemnation. Conviction is specific and it is to lead you to God. Condemnation is vague and to push you away from God.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those of us who are in Christ Jesus,” Romans 8:1. And what he is saying is the Spirit of God will bring up an issue in your life. The way you spoke to your wife, that was harsh and mean and you need to ask for forgiveness. The way you responded to your kids. That habit of what you keep putting into your mind on your phone or late at night and it will be specific and it is to bring about repentance to move you to God.

Condemnation is vague. “You’re a screw up. You’re a failure. You’re a bad person. You suck.” And condemnation is like, “I couldn’t come to God with that. I wouldn’t show up to God.” And it pulls us away from Him. The Spirit of God will be so gentle, but specific and convict. And how do we confess?

When the Spirit of God brings that up, you say, Okay, I am going to be specific. Heavenly Father, would You forgive me for the way that I talked to my wife? Now, often, when we confess to God, we have to confess to others as well.

And so, we are specific and then you own your junk. By the way, when you’re owning your junk, you’re not telling people, telling God how they made you do it. If they didn’t do this, I wouldn’t have reacted in anger. That is not owning your junk. I reacted in anger. I am responsible for my emotional response and my words. I’m sorry, God. Would You please forgive me?

And then close the loop. We miss this. Thank You, heavenly Father for forgiving me. 1 John 1:9 says this, “If we confess our sins,” if we agree with God, “He is faithful.” The forgiveness of your sins does not depend on the faithfulness of you but upon the faithfulness of God.

He is faithful and just, it’s based on His character and will forgive us and purify us from all unrighteousness. Meaning in this moment, today, you can walk out of here lighter, freer. And when the condemnation begins to come up, you begin to go, No, no, no. I have been forgiven. That’s not from God. I am free. I am forgiven.

Five areas that develop intimacy with God.

Worship, surrender, request, confession, and then He ends with protection. Have you ever noticed that as you try to get closer to God, everything around you seems to fall apart? It is not a coincidence. This is the reason Jesus ends with protection. He says this: “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”

Jesus is saying, “Pray a prayer saying, God, would You protect me from me? I have a natural bent away from You. I have areas of my sin that are these habitual things, these grooves that I naturally go into. Would You protect me from me? And then I recognize there is a spiritual foe, an enemy that was seeking to destroy me. Would You protect me from him?

So, how do we do this? Pray for spiritual protection and discernment to identify the attacks of the enemy. Protection is all about preserving intimacy with God.

The last part, and I didn’t tell you, when I pray for my feet, I pray this prayer often. I say, Father, would You help me to walk in step with You? Galatians talks about keeping in step with the Spirit of God. As I step through the day, just think about this very literally. As I step, those are – I’m stepping in the steps that You’re going. I want to be in rhythm. I want to be in step with You. But then, God, would You lead me? Would You keep my feet from temptation? Would You protect our home from the evil one?

1 Peter 5:8 talks about: “Be alert. Be sober minded. Your enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” You know when lions attack, right? When their prey is at their weakest or unaware.

I have even rhythms in my own life. I know that after Sundays of giving out spiritually, I know that I am going to have some opposition coming. I know Saturday. Monday can be a Monday blue. Pay attention to those. Going, okay, the enemy, man. He wants to discourage you. Did you have a wave of discouragement come in? Did you pay attention? Did you just think, Man, that’s just me, or it could it be that as you’re taking steps closer to God, your spiritual foe is wanting to discourage you?

You just wonder, Oh, we were doing great in our marriage and all of a sudden we are fighting all the time. What’s that about?

Pray for spiritual protection and the discernment to identify the attacks of the enemy.

Prayer is the pathway to intimacy with God. Relational intimacy takes intentionality. These are the themes that help begin to develop this in our lives. Worship, surrender, request, confession, protection.

When my daughter was young, we used to do these daddy dates together. We don’t do them as much anymore, but we would do these daddy dates and they were just so precious. But, again, I’m not a great conversationalist. And so, we would go down to Peete’s or to the donut shop and hang out. And we had this little book.

And it just, the little book was Just Dad and Me. And it was just a little guide for us that guided our time. And in it it would have questions and little activities for us to do and it was something for us to help just go a little bit deeper together.

The Lord’s Prayer is just your Dad and Me guide. Your heavenly Father wants to spend time with you. He wants to meet with you. He wants to have these moments. And this is just a guide to help you go a little bit deeper together.