daily Broadcast

Cultivating Daily Connection with God, Part 2

From the series Sacred Rhythms

One of the greatest challenges Christians experience is the practice of heartfelt connection with God through prayer. How do we not fall into the habit of just saying religious words? This program answers that question.

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Message Transcript

We are actually called by Jesus to pray in His name. It doesn’t mean that we just add, “In the name of Jesus” at the end of our prayers, though you can do that and that’s certainly good and we do that from time to remind ourselves of the content of our prayer.

Praying in the name of Jesus is this: any – the name of a person is signified their character and their will. And so, when you pray in the name of Jesus, you are saying, “I’m praying in accordance with the character of Jesus and the will of Jesus.” So, when I say, “In the name of Jesus and I get done with this prayer, I’m saying, Lord, everything that I just said, my prayer is that I long for it to be in the character of Your Son, in accordance to His will. Isn’t that amazing? All of a sudden, that meant so much more.

And we say, “amen” at the end and we don’t know what that means. It just means, “Let it be so.” Like, Let it be so, God, what was just prayed. According to Your will. Let it be so. We invite You to have Your way. Let it be so.

And so, for us to really grow and develop intimacy, first, we have to declutter. It’s not a performance. It’s not these secret code words or secret formulas. So, how then do we develop this intimate, life-giving direct connect with God?

There are a few things here in the text we see. The first is you have to view prayer as necessary, not just a nice idea. You have to view and look at prayer as necessary to life, not just a nice idea.

Three different times you’ll notice, He said in verse 5, “When you pray.” Then in verse 6, “When you pray.” Verse 7, “When you pray.” He didn’t say, “If you pray.” There is this connection and relationship like, “When you pray.” Like this is an expected rhythm of a follower of Jesus.

We see it even in the life of Jesus. Fully God, fully Man, walking this planet. The way Jesus lived out His life is a model for us as followers to live out our lives.

And so, we see from Jesus in Luke chapter 5:16 – 15 and 16, He says this. On one of His big, busy days. “Yet the news about Him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear Him and to be healed of their sickness.” Now, notice Jesus’ rhythm. “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”

If you want to develop intimacy with God, if you want to have a prayer life that is powerful, like when people would get next to you and go, “I want to ask her, I want to ask him to pray, because when they pray, stuff happens.” Fundamentally, your view of prayer has to shift to where you go. It is necessary to life, not just a nice idea.

Prayer is my first response, not my last resort. I love how Corrie Ten Boom said it. She said, “Is prayer the steering wheel of your life or the spare tire?” You go, Okay, God, that issue at work. Instead of me trying to figure it out, I’m going to bring it to You. The relational strife, future of my kids, that sin issue. I’m just going to bring it to you. This is necessary. I can’t go.

See, prayer is to our spiritual life what breathing is for us. And by the way, just as communication is the pathway to intimacy in any relationship, prayer is the pathway to intimacy with God. We would never go, “You know what? I have this amazing, intimate relationship.” How much do you talk to them? “Never. I only call them when I have a need.”
And we have to realize, okay, this is a pattern where we’re going, Okay, God, I just want to meet with You. I want to hear from You. But how we view God and understand Him is so important.

See, we first have to view prayer as necessary, not a nice idea. And then we approach our heavenly Father who loves you.

Let me ask you this: when you pray, who do you pray to? Like, what picture comes to mind? Who are you praying to? You notice that Jesus said, three different times He says, “Pray to your Father, your Father who sees, and your Father who knows.”

We take this for granted. In their day, this was scandalous to call God as Father. You didn’t address God as Father. You addressed God as high, exalted, holy. And that is who He is. And Jesus says, “But when you pray, there is a relational connection that He is your perfect heavenly Father.” And so, you can come with a different access than other people.

Because who you approach determines how you approach someone, right? Like, if I’m approaching a stranger, it determines how I’m going to approach. If I’m approaching a friend, if I’m approaching a good and loving heavenly Father. Who are you approaching? And you are invited in, I am invited in to have a conversation with your perfect heavenly Father, did you notice that? “…who sees you.”

See, for some, when you pray, you pray to an impersonal deity that you have to appease. “Who knows what you need.” For some, when you pray, you pray – you come with this: God is wanting to withhold from you and so you’re like, I just have to somehow get from God.

And I get it. I get it. We all have different images when we think of Father pop up based on our own earthly fathers. And God is a perfect heavenly Father who loves you, who knows you.

In this moment right now, I don’t know if you have been walking around feeling unseen, feeling forgotten, feeling leftover, feeling looked over, maybe passed over on your job and God says, I see you. I see you! It hasn’t gone past My view. I am watching on you with an attentive look and care as a father does of a little child. I see you and I know you. And I know your need. And I’m so attentive to it.

Nobody understands me! God does. Bring to Him what is in you. See, when you pray, you come as a completely accepted, fully loved, cherished daughter or son of a good and loving heavenly Father who delights to hear your voice and give you good gifts.

Did you know that? Did you? Can I just paint a picture for you, because I just don’t think we get it and I just want us to get it. And we’re on the edge of getting it, you know what I mean? We’re just right there, but we’re not quite there. And if we run past this point, you’re going to miss it.

The God of the universe, high and holy, He spoke and all things came into existence. He is the Creator. He is the One who the Jewish people, they didn’t want to utter His name because it was so sacred. And we are invited in into the very presence of God, into the glory of glory, the holiness of holiness and instead of trembling, He says you come as a son. And so all that the Lord has, all that God has is yours. You are adopted, redeemed. And every blessing of God is yours. And you get to show up, not as a beggar but as a son and as a daughter. So you don’t show up lacking confidence. You show up fully confident.

This has been one of those areas that I have really been trying to learn and grow in my own life over a sabbatical. I just had a friend talk to me about this, and it’s just an area of shifting my identity as a servant to a son.

It’s easy to be the servant sometimes. And when I pray, this is the way I pray. I have a journal and it’s helpful for me to write it out. And some of you are like, “I hate journals.” Great, don’t journal. It’s just helpful for me.

And I used to start it out, “Good morning, my King.” Because my identity is in serving You. Because You are the King of the universe. And I don’t ever want to lose that. And shifting my identity as a son, for you as a daughter.

I start out, “Good morning.” That’s right. I greet God every morning. I just say, “Good morning. Hey, I want to welcome You with the morning. I’m up and You’re present with me. Good morning! Hey!”

And now I write, “My heavenly Father.” Because I just want to remind myself who I am approaching and that I don’t approach from a deficit or that He’s down on me. I don’t approach because I’m somehow trying to eek and get His approval. I am a son. I am approved. And I am coming as one beloved, the object of His affection and He delights to give His kids good gifts so I’m going to ask!

And for some, the reality is the lack of power in our lives is a result of the prayerlessness of our lives. He said, “Ask and you will receive. You have not because you ask not.” Come as a son and a daughter.

First, we have to view prayer as necessary, not just a nice idea. Developing intimacy with God. And then we approach our heavenly Father who loves you. Third, you see in the text, we have to set aside a specific time and a sacred space.

“But when you pray,” notice He said, “go into your room, close the door, pray to your Father who is unseen, then your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”

We live hurried, busy, rushed lives. Would you set aside a specific time, just like you would with a good friend. Maybe with your spouse or even with your kids. There’s something powerful about a designated time. And, again, it doesn’t have to be a lot of time. Go, I’m brand new to this. I’m going to just learn on this. I am going to set aside five minutes a day. I’m going to set aside ten minutes a day where, God, You have my attention and my focus. Not my phone. Not my emails. Not Instagram. Yeah, not Instagram. I said it, okay?
Set aside a specific time where you can’t be distracted. And a sacred space. So, with the time, it can be early. I’m an early riser. But some of you are like, “Every time I hear a preacher talk about it, it’s always early! I fall asleep when it’s early.” That’s great. Do it late! Do it midday! Just set aside a time.  Did you notice Jesus had a set aside time? Mark 1:35, “Very early in the morning,” and that’s where preachers go, “Well, Jesus did it early, you should do it early.” Well, come on. “While it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place where He prayed.” Specific time and place. Now, by the way, if you have young kids, your rhythm is changed. And you’ve just got to address that. There is a season where, man, my sacred space is going to be that one minute after they fall asleep and before I fall asleep. That’s okay. Freedom. Freedom.

But would you set aside a time and place? It might be your couch. It might be your car. It might be going on a walk or a run. It might be at a coffee shop. I don’t know where and it doesn’t matter where, but is there a place where you can engage your heavenly Father in a conversation without the clamoring of the world around you, where He can have your attention and your focus, just for even a few minutes? I love what Eugene Peterson says, “I can be active and pray; I can work and pray; but I cannot be busy and pray. I cannot be inwardly rushed, distracted, or dispersed. In order to pray I have to be paying more attention to God than what people are saying to me; to God than my clamoring ego.”

If we want to develop this life-giving, intimate, personal relationship with Jesus, we’ve got to view it as necessary. We’ve got to then realize who we are approaching, that we are coming to our heavenly Father. We have to set aside some and place. But the reality is you do not learn how to pray from a sermon or reading a book. We learn how to pray by – what? Praying. Just pray! Just pray. Richard Foster says it this way; I love it. He says, “The same way a small child cannot draw a bad picture, so a child of God cannot offer bad prayers.”

For some, that has been the hesitancy in your own soul. It’s like, “It’s not right! I don’t know how to do it!” Just pray and you’ll grow.

C.S. Lewis would say it this way, “Bring to God what is in you, not what ought to be in you.” Just bring to Him what is in you. And just go, Okay, for the next twenty-one days, I want to get into the rhythm of praying.

And that’s what I want to close with, actually. Is just for us to pray. Not to talk about it, but to do it.

I just want to lead us through a time, maybe for some for the first time you have had a conversation with your heavenly Father. I want to go through a little bit of an exercise and you can do this at home and anywhere along the way, but I call it “palms down and palms up.”

Get comfortable, take a breath. And we think about our posture. You can be in any posture and pray, but some are helpful reminders to us. And so, we just want to take some postures that will be symbolic and meaningful. Take a breath.  If you’re comfortable, just close your eyes. And with your palms, if you would place them palms down just on your knees, this is simply a symbol or symbolic of your desire to turn over any concerns you may have to God. I don’t know what you walked in with. But would you take a moment as you talk to your heavenly Father and bring Him the concerns on your heart? Maybe it’s the concern that you want to give God your anxiety or anger. Maybe there is hurt or pain that you walked in with. Take a moment. Give God the concerns.

If you would turn your hands palms up, after giving God your concerns, this is a desire for God to receive from Him. You may say, Lord, I’d like to receive divine love for that person that is really hard to love. I want to receive Your peace. I want to receive Your patience in this area, or, Your joy.

Just have your palms open to say the symbol of God, I want to receive from You what You have for me. Talk to your heavenly Father.

After turning over your concerns and asking God to fill and receive from Him, would you just take the next moment and just be silent before Him? See, prayer is a conversation. There is talking and then there is listening. Don’t ask for anything. Just allow God, your heavenly Father, to be with you. Enjoy the silence.