Real Jesus: Passionately Prayerful
I’m glad you’re all here this morning, I hope not too many of you got here an hour ago having forgotten about the clocks going back.
The scary thing for me now is that my phone and alarm and everything, they all change over automatically, and so I’m left confused whether or not they did really change over or something was wrong, what if my phone forgot to change it’s time automatically?
I don’t know, but it is a changing world we’re living in at the moment, I may be younger than many of you here, I accept that, but I’m just as amazed and overwhelmed about the increase of technology as I imagine many of you are.
To think what the world was like only even 10 or 15 years ago!
I don’t think it’s possible for any of us to stay fully up to date with electronics nowadays, especially these smart phones where there seems to be new ones coming out every week!
Somehow, now we have the ability to communicate instantly with friends all around the world, and it’s free.
It’s become so easy to talk to people over the phone, a lot of my friends nowadays probably spend more time talking with their friends over that than in person, crazy!
You know what? Sometimes I used to wish that we could chat to God in the same way, now I grew up learning about God, knowing the Bible, and my parents taught us that prayer was very simply talking with God.
How is it now though that we find it so easy to talk to other people, but talking to God, prayer has almost become something that we just save for sundays, or only quickly at the end of a meeting.
How is it that many non christians seem to think that prayer is only for vicars or important holy people.
I’m reminded of the song “One of Us” by Joan Osborne which mentions this:
What if God was one of us
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Trying to make his way home
Back up to heaven all alone
Nobody calling on the phone
Except for the pope maybe in Rome.
As funny as that may be to hear, actually there’s an element of truth in that, that I think we’ve all been guilty of from time to time, not looking to God in prayer.
We’ve got a device that is so much better than a phone, it never runs out of battery, never loses signal, is instant, and always gets through to the sender!
That’s right, it’s Prayer!
Looking back throughout Biblical history, there are so many people who come to mind who were warriors of prayer, especially in the old testament, David for example, a man after God’s own heart who was so in tune with God through prayer, Daniel who prayed even if it costed him his life, and Nehemiah who we’ve been talking about in the evenings who made prayer such an important part of his lifestyle and leadership.
There are so many people we could go through, but undoubtedly, Jesus was the best example of someone who was beyond passionately prayerful, who always prioritised prayer and showed us how to do as he did.
Luke is an awesome gospel which has a great emphasis on prayer and the perfect nature of who Jesus was.
We should be seeking to:
Most importantly - Grow in relationship with Jesus - Christianity!
Luke 3:21-22 - When Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
Wow, what an intimate relationship Jesus the son, and God the father had together, and just as we heard earlier, when Jesus taught us how to pray, in the Lords prayer he teaches us starting off by saying ‘Our Father’, ‘Abba’, ‘Papa’.
We’ve put so much formality into our prayers, that I think there have been times in all of our lives that we’ve been guilty of praying in such a formal way to God that we forget how close this relationship really can be.
As a kid, I mentionned earlier, I was taught how to pray and I did pray from time to time, it was mainly in our church kids group, or at the dinner table.
Infact, even as a teenager, I loved Jesus, but clearly I didn’t love his company too much, as prayer, especially longer times of prayer almost felt more like a chore than an enjoyment, and by no means was I yearning for it.
At university, I started to pray more, and I did enjoy it more at this point, but as with work and life in general, I’m sure you can all relate to me that with our schedules we can find ourselves - as Bill Hybels puts it - ‘too busy to pray’!
The last 5 years have seen a big transformation for me in my prayer life, I’m still not perfect, but I have defintely started to yearn more and more for Jesus through prayer.
One of the guys I met during my time in YWAM spent a short amount of time most mornings praying, maybe five or ten minutes.
He told me though that one day he felt challenged, God told him directly and asked him this question: “What do you think of our times together?”
At that, it hit him, every morning God had been there waiting for them to spend time together, to chat, to hear what was on his heart, but I think it’s safe to say, all of us over the years have allowed ourselves to become rushed, to not make the time for God, to prioritise other things.
We heard last week about the story of Mary and Martha, how Martha was so busy rushing around that she didn’t make space to sit and spend time with Jesus.
Even in our group in Pathfinders, I felt guilty that we were so rushed for time that we never actually made the space to just be, with Jesus, the actual message of the session!
With prayer, most importantly we should be seeking to grow our relationship with Jesus.
For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him would not die but have eternal life.
If God loves us this much, to want a relationship with us, do we not think that he would be absolutely desperate, craving to just be, with us, to listen to our thoughts, whats on our mind.
It seems crazy me even saying it, but I know I’ve made mistakes of this in the past, but how are we meant to be in a relationship with someone, how are we meant to grow with them if we barely ever talk to them, if the times we do talk to them is on the one day when we there for him anyway?
We should be seeking to
Most importantly - grow in relationship with Jesus - Christianity!
How can we be praying in seeking to grow in relationship with Jesus?
How can we grow in relationship with anyone?
The other day I was challenged by one of my really close friends. She lives a long way away and a few months ago we used to be able to chat really regularly, but now we barely chat. I asked her why we’d started to grow further apart, that we both were busy lives.
What was the solution?
She responded by saying this: “It’s simple. Make the time.”
I’m not suggesting, it’s maybe as simple as this, but I do think we could all be challenged today, in our praying, we could be seeking to grow in relationship with Jesus by finding a time throughout the day, maybe you already do it, but for all of us, let’s be intentional to prioritise time with Jesus, growing with him each day.
2. Glorify the King - and be prepared for battle over his kingdom!
Are we being quick to praise and thank him instead of just ask him? Are we prepared to go on the front line for his kingdom, power and glory?
It’s crazy how much of the Lords prayer is actually glorifying his name, thanking him and praising him for who he is and what he has done.
Who art in Heaven
Hallowed be your name
Your kingdom come,
Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven
Lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil
For yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory
For ever and ever
I’m reminded of the teaspoon prayer (TSP) suggesting a structure of prayer where we start with ‘Thanks’ then ‘Sorry’ then ‘Please’.
It’s weird that we are usually so quick to ask for God’s hand over a situation, to give out a list of demands to God, and yet It’s so easy to forget to thank him and glorify him for who he is.
Something that stands out in this Lords Prayer is specifically the repetition of his Kingdom coming.
God is the King and this is his Kingdom, in seeking to Glorify God, we are glorifying the King.
Jesus said in John 14:13 “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” - Glorify God
Prayer always sounds so much like asking ‘We pray you would do this, pray for that’ wheras the majority of the Lords prayer is saying ‘Yours is the Kingdom’ ‘Your will be done’.
Are we really meaning it when we say ‘Yours is the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory’.
When I think of that, I just think, God, Less of me, and More of You.
Whenever Jesus knew something was coming, he prayed to God.
Mat 26:36 - Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.”
He was God, yet he found it so important to spend hours a day speaking with the father and the holy spirit.
Jesus was the most powerful because he was the most prayerful.
Prayer is such a powerful weapon, and it reminds me of a classic from my childhood.
“We want to see Jesus lifted high
Step by step we’re moving forward
Little by little taking ground
Every prayer a powerful weapon
Strongholds come tumbling down and down and down”
There is so much spiritual warfare happening around us at the moment, the enemy is trying harder and harder to get to us, the opposition is great. But that’s only because God is doing something even greater here.
But prayer is our ultimate weapon against the enemy.
Yonggi Cho - “The devil has never been too concerned about church ritual but he is deathly afraid of genuine prayer. When you begin your life of prayer, you are going to discover new and diverse opposition from Satan.”
Just as God is our King, we are his knights, and as we go into battle against the enemy, we must be looking to him for Guidance and praising his name throughout.
As we pray, let’s seek to
Glorify the King - and be prepared for battle over his kingdom!
Are we being thankful to God the King for the battles that are won his name?
Are we experiencing opposition from the enemy or is he not even bothered about what we’re doing.
Maybe this week, we all could be praying into areas of opposition, in our own lives and in the life of the church, with so much God is doing at the moment.
What thing could we be doing to bring glory to Jesus’ name in such a self-centred and struggling society.
3. Allow it to be the cornerstone of change - not the doormat!
Are we rushing into change without prioritising prayer? Are we supporting prayerful change?
Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven - we ask, change the world, make us like you
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who Sin against us - help us to not sin we ask
One of the big changes that has happened recently, that you could really be praying into, is with the redecoration and moving of some of the rooms in this building!
I just want to say a big thank you to everyone who was involved in that, not just the staff team but a whole bunch of people giving up their week to do a lot of clearing, moving, sorting and painting.
The new office downstairs is really on it’s way to being finished ready for people to move down there, and now the prayer room has been painted as well.
The final point I’d like us to think about this morning is that as a church we want to be working towards having prayer be the very cornerstone of change, not only in ourselves, but as a congregation, in this building, as a community, and globally.
- Prayer is the cornerstone of our personal change
When we invite Jesus into our lives, prayer is at the centre of change, when we start to hear God, when we have the ability to be in direct communication with the Father, when we start to know of his love for us through what he’s telling us, that is when we see the change.
William Pennefather was a big advocate of spending time in personal prayer, as I was reading his letters, I came across some incredible quotes about him and from him in relation to prayer.
“It would be almost impossible to convey to those who did not personally know Mr Pennefather any adequate conception of the value he attached to prayer”
Not only in personal prayer, he knew how important corporate prayer was
“He always looked upon the prayer-meetings as “the pulse of the parish” and when these declined in numbers or earnestness of tone, nothing could persuade him that the work of the Lord was really advancing.”
- Prayer is the cornerstone of church change
As we were sorting through the prayer room and the vestry, we came across a picture of the first stone brick being placed as the foundation for the Pennefather hall as the rest of the church was being built.
I truly believe God has shown me this as a prophetic image for all of us here at Christ Church Barnet today.
I think this photo this morning is a challenge for each of us, a challenge for us to be seeking to make prayer the cornerstone of change.
Just as he was so prayerful when building this very church building, so too I think we should be aiming to make prayer at the beginning and end of everything we do, the heart of decisions that are made here in Christ Church Barnet.
St Ignatius - Work as if everything depends on you, pray as if everything depends on God.
But is that actually true? Surely we should be expectant for everything to depend on God and so much more.
In the same way as the parable of the wise and foolish builder, when we build on a solid foundation, in this case, prayer with God, then we are like the wise man, Jesus is the rock on which the church was built, and so too should we be building everything on him, looking to him in prayer.
The prayer room has now been, I think restored, restored to it’s true purpose.
Another quote about William Pennefather - “At Christ Church Barnet, the response to this invitation [into the prayer room] was peculiarly cordial, and many have spoken of the vestry prayer meetings as seasons of no common privilege, when the presence of the Lord was very specially realised.”
Theres so much more that can be said, but I want us just to focus on that for the moment.
I want us to imagine now what this church, this community could be like in the future if we set our vision on becoming an even more prayerful, alive and healthier church. One that puts God at the centre, prayer as the building blocks, and points back up to him in everything we do as a beacon for all in Barnet.
As we pray, lets allow it to become the cornerstone of change - not the doormat!, the priority in different areas of our lives.
So, what do we need to do?
As we know Jesus said “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.”
Why don’t we be expectant in our prayers today, let’s not put a box around God.
Instead, lets allow prayer to become the cornerstone of any change that comes to Christ Church, covering every thing we do, from physical changes, to events, to spiritual shifts, in prayer.
Maybe for us today that means being intentional today to prioritise prayer in our own lives.
For others of us, it may mean giving greater glory to the king and his kingdom here on earth.
And still for others, we may want to put a greater emphasis on ensuring that prayer becomes the cornerstone of the ministry we may be involved in, or just in the wider church.
I’d like to encourage each of us now, before I pray, to think about just 1 thing.
1 thing this week which will help each of us to become more passionately prayerful, like Jesus.
What one area of my life could I be putting a greater priority of prayer in, this week?
- Relationships with family, friends, Jesus?
- Church events, ministry, changes?
- Work, reaching out to colleagues, being a witness?
- Personal prayer time