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The Foundation for Prayer: The Real Thee Talking with the Real Thou

Many of us would define prayer as ?talking to God?. But in order to communicate with God, we have to be fully aware of who He is and who we are. Todd Wagner begins this series on prayer by interviewing a woman who saw dramatic answer to her prayers once this awareness took place in her heart.

Todd WagnerJan 11, 2009

Messages In This Series (8)
Learning How to Pray, part 4: The Provision, the Protection and the Power
Todd WagnerMar 1, 2009
Learning How to Pray, part 3: Recessions and Daily Bread... And Why We Need Them Both
Todd WagnerFeb 22, 2009
Learning How to Pray, part 2: Why We Want His Kingdom to Come
Todd WagnerFeb 15, 2009
The ACTS of Prayer: A Way to Enrich our Communication with God
Blake HolmesFeb 8, 2009
Learning How to Pray, part 1: The Importance of Listening to Our God
Todd WagnerFeb 1, 2009
Shut Up, Stand Up, and Stop Eating Cheetos: Our Greatest Hindrance to Effective Prayer
Todd WagnerJan 25, 2009
Rehearsing Truth so You Don't Move Counter to God
Todd WagnerJan 18, 2009
The Foundation for Prayer: The Real Thee Talking with the Real Thou
Todd WagnerJan 11, 2009

Well, Psalm 46 is what we want to dive into. We want to figure out what has happened in our relationship between us and God. Us as a community, us as a world, and certainly you as an individual. I want to do that, as we dive in for the next number of weeks and talk about prayer. Let me start by saying this. A guy named C.S. Lewis… Some of you guys know C.S. Lewis because you watch Narnia films. Others, you know Lewis because of some other things he's written, and it has encouraged your life.

C.S. Lewis said something like, "Every prayer starts with two basic things, in that it is asking a question. 'Lord, is it the read I that is talking to you, and is it the real thou to whom I speak?'" What I want to talk about as we move forward in this little deal… I'm going to start this whole little series in a way that might surprise you because, today, I want to communicate to you that if you've never prayed a certain way, I want to tell you that you've never really prayed. It's never been the real you.

Maybe, for some of you guys, it's never been an understanding of the real thou, of who God is. We have these redefinitions of God. We're all a victim of what religion has told us God is, of what maybe our childhood showed us or what we've been convinced of in some perverted view, some redefinition, some reinvention of man. What we think God should act like and be like, but we've never let God speak for himself. Until it's the real you speaking to the real thou, you've never prayed.

What I want to make a case for, as we start this little time together, is the real you, the real you, is a rebel who thinks he can be king, who thinks he can bring peace without God. The real God is the God who knows you will never experience life, peace, and purpose without him, because it doesn't exist without him.

He is a Father who loves you and understands that sometimes in the arrogance of your youth (see also 0 to 80-something in light of eternity), you think the Old Man just doesn't get it, that the Old Man has his thumb on you, and he doesn't know what it's like to live in the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and new millennium.

We think, "His little outdated, antiquated ideas, his old proverbs, just can't get me through the dating scene today. Just can't deal with the wife, the American woman today. Just can't deal with the pressures of the business world I exist in. That Old Man. I'll talk to him every now and then, because I guess in some way I owe him something." The truth is, how it is between you and him is you don't think you need your Old Man, because you don't really know who you are yet. What I want to do is set up today a glimpse of what real prayer is.

Psalm 46 has some great stuff in there. It says even if the mountains are shaking and they all pour into the sea, that doesn't really matter. What matters is, "How is it between us?" That's a great way to set up where I'm going to go. That's in Psalm 46. While I'm talking here for the next few seconds, put your hand Psalm 46. I'm going to start, then, as soon as you get there, and we'll end up in a minute with one story.

It's interesting. Jesus talked a lot about prayer. One of the things he said, by the way, in the book of Matthew was, "Don't pray like those who really don't know me, who have created a different kind of vow. In talking about who God is, don't pray the way the Gentiles…those who don't know me…pray, with meaningless repetition and endless words." He says, "You have to learn to pray this way."

He says, "You have to understand who I am. I am your Father who loves you, and I am hallowed in my name." In other words, "I am altogether different than you could ever imagine. I'm nothing like your earthly dad, whether he was abusive or absent or whether he was altogether there. He was just a shadow of who I am. I am wholly and completely set apart from what you understand me to be, unless you let me reveal myself to you. I am your Dad, and there is life in me. I want you to understand you are not king, and you will never be father as I am Father."

I want to do this, because I'm going to tell you a little parable. In Matthew, chapter 21, verses 28-32, Jesus told this very interesting story. You might go, "This would never be the parable I would have chosen to start a series on prayer," but I chose this because I think a lot of us have told God we're going to be about prayer. The truth is we all feel guilty to a certain extent about prayer. We don't think we pray enough. We don't think we pray the right way.

We don't think we're meeting the mark on prayer, but we would tell God we know prayer is important. "I want to be a man or a woman of prayer." By the way, sociologists who study such things would tell you there's never been a society they have found that did not have prayer as a part of its culture in some form or fashion. All men, in all times, in all places, have always had something they've cried out to that is bigger than them.

That is because, Ecclesiastes tells us, "God has set eternity in our hearts." In other words, we know in our finiteness, in our limitedness, there has to be something more than us. No matter how much in our scientific arrogance we want to say we came from nothing plus time plus chance and we are here because we've evolved, we know better. We know better and so, at some point, in some way, we always cry out to this thou who must not be I.

In fact, the greatest mind we know from the last 100 years, a guy named Albert Einstein, was speaking at Princeton. Einstein was asked a question by a doctrinal student. The question, about 100 years ago, was, "Dr. Einstein, what is there left to do original dissertation work on?" Isn't that interesting? Man, in every culture, in every generation, thinks they always have their arms around truth like no man ever before has and no man ever after them will.

In the mid-twentieth century, guys said to Albert, "Hey, what can we research that no one has really researched?" You know what Einstein said? What this great intellect said? He said, "Find out about prayer. Somebody must study prayer." Now, if the greatest intellect we know about in the last 100 years said, "I don't get it," how are we going to accomplish much in the next six weeks? Well, we're going to try.

We're going to try by going to the thou and letting him tell us what prayer is. For you to get your arms around that, you have to let go of what you think prayer has been. In other words, Jesus is going to tell you, "There are a lot of folks who pray, who do religious prayer, who haven't a clue about communicating with me."

Prayer is ultimately where the great conflict in life meets. What's the great conflict in life? The great conflict in life is this: God does not always act like we think God should act. We know we don't always act like God thinks we should act. The great crossroads of that confusion is prayer. It is communication, where we can say, "God, what's up with you? Why are you rolling the way you are? In your sovereignty and your goodness and your love, this is the world we're in?"

He would say, "In my revelation of self, in my reaching out to you, this is the way you respond?" Then prayer is that ongoing communication where God wants us to hear from him, that we might experience what he has always wanted for us. It is not us incessantly talking at him, performing religious services we think somehow please him.

Prayer is communication with God, and if you know square one about communication, the most difficult part of communicating is not in talking, but in listening. Proverbs says, "A fool does not delight in understanding, but only in revealing his own mind." God is saying to you, "Enough of that kind of prayer. Listen." Here's the story.

In Matthew 21:28-32, Jesus says, "But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, 'Son, go work today in the vineyard.' And he answered, 'I will not'; but afterward he regretted [that he said he wasn't going to be about his father's business, and he got after it] . The man came to the second and said the same thing…" He said, "Son, I want you to go do what I tell you to do. Get after work and do the things I say should be done." "…and he answered, 'I will, sir'; but he did not go." Now Jesus asked this question:

"'Which of the two did the will of his father?' They said, 'The first.'" Of course. " Jesus said to them, 'Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him; but the tax collectors and prostitutes did believe him; and you, seeing this, did not even feel remorse afterward so as to believe him.'"

What in the world does that have to do with prayer? Well, let me tell you. I think it has this to do with prayer. I think tax collectors and prostitutes know how to pray. I think Pharisees, religious people, church attenders, Presbyterians, Catholics, Watermarkians, don't really do what God wants us to do. The amazing thing is we feel guilty we don't do it more. I think Buddhists, I think Yoga-ites, I think Muslims, pray, but I don't think they know the kingdom of God. I think tax collectors and prostitutes, who have come to the end of themselves, have learned to pray.

We come back to that psalm I talked about at the beginning. What I want you to understand, what I am concerned about this morning as we begin to talk about prayer, is I am concerned about how things are between you and God. Some of you sit out there, and you go, "Where is this life? Where is the joy? Where is the abundance God talks about? Why haven't I experienced it?" I'm going to answer the question today by teaching you about prayer, son.

Those of you who think just doing this meaningless repetition…this reverent behavior, this talking at God, saying things, and being someone who rifles at him some concerns and maybe even asks him to move in certain ways…is not the foundation of prayer. What is the foundation of prayer? Well, here it comes. Psalm 46. In Psalm 46, what is happening here is somebody who has learned this truth about the foundation of prayer is letting you know what you must do to get prayer right.

"God is our refuge and strength…" In other words, you're never going to find real protection and a present help in trouble by listening to yourself talk or by coming up with the reinvention of the wheel as you charge into the day. The wheel has been invented, and the question is…Will you roll with the Inventor?

This guy says, "Therefore [I know God, and so I] will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea…" What really matters is…Do I know the real thou? "…though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride." I'm going to rest. " Selah."* That's what the word means. Stop and meditate on that.

"There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy dwelling places of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered; He raised His voice, the earth melted." In other words, the real King made himself known.

"The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob…" The God who goes before you and accomplishes what you cannot accomplish in all your conniving, in all your scheming, in all your deceiving, in all your self-effort, that God is who can give you rest, if you know the story of Jacob. Rest in that truth.

Then it continues. "Come, behold the works of the LORD…" Check out his résumé. "…who has wrought desolations in the earth. He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth…" If there is chaos in your life and you wonder why there is no peace, I'm going to tell you it's because you've never prayed. It's because you've never understood he is your refuge and strength.

If your life is less than God wants it to be, I'm going to explain to you why. It is because you have never prayed. You have never seen that you have been a manipulator of funds, and you have never come to see that you are prostituting yourself toward other things. So, you have never done what he has asked you to do even though you said, through your church attendance and profession, you are. Watch.

"He makes wars to cease…" That's where peace comes. From God. "…to the end of the earth. He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariots with fire. 'Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.'" I love this. Some of your Bibles say, "Be still…"

If you go to the Latin, and you look at what cease striving or be still means, the Latin word for be still or cease is at the very heart of what prayer is. This is so important, gang. This is the entire message today. The word is vacate. That's the Latin word. Vacate. In other words, get off the throne. Take a holiday.

It's where we get the word vacation from. Are you whipped? Are you weary? Are you tired of trying to figure out where life can come from? Then vacate! Get off the throne and let God get on the throne. "Cease striving and know that I am where life comes from. I am where peace comes from."

With my kids, sometimes I look at the tension that's in our house and little quibbles over where you sit, how somebody responds, what they want to wear, how they respond to what you want them to wear, or I look at my relationship with my wife. At times, I'm not loving her and wooing her to me, exactly, and the tension that arises. You know what I realize?

What God is saying to me is, "Wagner, you want peace consistently in every relationship you have? Then, bro, vacate. Lose your strategies. Lose your flesh's ideas about how to lead, and lead my way. Don't ask what you want. This isn't about you. Vacate." We have this little thing going around the Wagner house the last couple of weeks. As I was thinking about this for you guys and prepping, I came across this as an idea.

Every now and then I look at my family when things are going on. I go, "Hey. Hey, bro. Peace," and give the hand signal for peace. "Do you want some peace? Then you have to vacate. I have to ask you a question. 'Right now, is what you're doing informed by God?'" In other words, "Are you praying? Are you striving right now to live the way God wants you to live?" The answer, whenever we do that or when I get the sign flashed at me is, "Obviously I must not be, because there is tension and war brewing." God says, "Live this way. Get off the throne, and there will be peace."

Now watch. I'm going to tie this all the way back, and then I'm going to show you a story. All the way back to what? To the beginning. In Genesis, chapter 2, when God was creating us, he said, "Look, bro. You don't need to work to create paradise. Paradise has been created for you. Why? Because I'm a loving Father."

God wasn't impressed by his creation. God was confident that his creation rightly represented him. In other words, "I have created man to enjoy me. I created man to experience my glory, so I made a place that anybody who looked at me, the one who I created, and the world he was in would go, 'You must be a really good God, because this nursery is perfect for that baby. There is a present, loving Father, who has told them everything he needs. It is Paradise, and it is good.'"

What he said to that man is, "Look, what you need to know is who the real you is. You are my favored, loved creation. You need to know who I am. I am God, and apart from me there is no life. In fact, if you ever try and leave me, war will come on this earth. Sin, disease, isolation, loneliness, death, betrayal. They will come if you leave me. I am the good one. Cease striving to find something better than perfection. It doesn't exist. You are in Paradise.

And, because I am a God who wants you to love me and I didn't create a bunch of robots, I am going to put a symbol of our love for each other in the middle of this paradise. It is the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Don't eat from it, because you don't need to know what good and evil are. I'm telling you. I am good.

You don't need to lean on your own understanding. Take a vacation from being God. I am here. I am your Father. This is good. I'm not looking to rip you off. Check it out." Adam looked around and saw woman. He goes, "All right. One on your side there. That looks good to me." All around the rest of the garden he goes, "This is good."

But there was an Enemy there who was a liar. That liar said, "Look. You're never going to find life under bondage to the Old Man. What you need is to know what the Old Man knows so you can choose if the Old Man is really worth following. You need to betray your love covenant with him and create a love covenant with self and me."

Genesis 3, "The serpent said to the woman, 'You surely will not die!'" You won't lose life if you figure out what are good and evil on your own. In fact, the Old Man knows the day you graduate from his oppressive paradise, "…your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

Let me tell you something. There was some truth in that statement, because we did begin to know the difference between good and evil. The problem is we are not intrinsically good. Knowing the difference between good and evil, I don't always choose peace. I don't always choose love. I don't always choose forgiveness. I don't always choose gentleness and kindness and self-control. I sometimes choose dominance, anger, lust, and me first. It creates war in my life. God says, "Hey, Wagner. You want some peace? Vacate, bro. Be still. Get this right."

Now here's the deal. Prayer comes from the same root word as the word precarious. Precarious is the adjective we have been in since Genesis 3:5-6. Our situation has gotten precarious. We have left the God who is good and King and right and ushers us into life, and we have made our situation increasingly worse.

What is precarious? Precarious is that you are: "Dependent on circumstances beyond one's control; uncertain; unstable; insecure." This is a precarious situation. "Dependent on the will or pleasure of another; liable to be withdrawn or lost at the will of another." That is a precarious place to be. "Exposed to or involving danger; dangerous; perilous; risky." The precarious life of somebody who is living on their own, according to the ways of the world. It is precarious.

The word prayer is the verb that we do because we have lived precariously since Genesis 3. What we do, is we say, "Because of the uncertainty in which I live, I cry out to somebody else." The root word for precarious is the word we get prayer from. To come unto us in this difficult, insecure, unstable, uncertain, life I am in. Friends, can I tell you something this morning? He wants to come. But I don't want you to go through a bunch of dead prayers and thees and thous if your heart doesn't understand who you are and who thou is. Watch this.

[Video]

Karen Green: So, I say it wasn't a happy childhood. My mom worked mornings and she worked evenings, which left us uncovered. A lot of things happened. A lot of things happened. I can remember her leaving us under the care of my neighbor next door. He used to tell me all the time that I had big pretty legs. I can remember him asking me, "Won't you let me touch you?" and when he did, he gave me money. There was a store up the street, and I went up and got candy.

Then, there came a time where he said, "I want you to let Lewis lay on top of you," and I did. I did. From there, the spiral began. By the time I reached the age of 13, I had a baby myself, and my mother got very angry. She had a boyfriend. I remember the boyfriend making advances at me instead of her. Instead of her dismissing him, she dismissed me.

I ran into this guy. We got together, and I felt like he would take care of me and my son. I allowed certain things to happen. He hit me. He put guns to my head. Surely, he took care of us, but it came with a big price. These men were like 50, 60s. She would ask me, "Well, how much money did they give you?" "Did he give you some money?" I would tell her, "Yeah." "Well, you need to give it here," so I would give it to her.

I ran into this guy. He took me in, and he fed me drugs. Crack cocaine. My son, he'd seen all of this. I was very angry. I had 13 assault cases. I was sick of everything, and it just really didn't matter. You know? I needed money to survive. I remembered how I went out with the older men, and how they would give me money.

It's just the way I lived my life. Men were the way that I bought my food, were the way that I paid my rent, because it had gotten so bad. The streets and men were all I knew. It got worse and worse. I didn't know anything else but to go to the streets, not only to support my habit but to make sure my son ate. I remember walking into a Dairy Queen, and I asked them to feed my baby. The lady told me, she said, "Anytime your baby is hungry, you bring him here, and I'll feed him." I knew I had to do something to get my son up off the streets.

You know? I would pray, literally pray, when I was out there. I remember going to get the drugs, knowing what I had to do. Prostitution, getting the money, coming back, getting a motel room, doing the drugs on the bed, and asking God, "Please, please help me." After I got through praying, I would pick the drugs up and just continue to use.

It came to a point where I was just tired. I was so tired of my life. I was so tired of hurting. I was so tired. I knew they had a warrant for my arrest. I asked the lady behind the desk, I said, "Don't you have a warrant for my arrest?" and she looked at me and started laughing. I said, "I just want to turn myself in." She said, "Babe, I can't find a warrant." I said, "No. The warrant is there. It's there. It's there. It's there."

In your mind, you say, "You've got this hot 20 dollars, you might as well go on back out this door and go on and get you another hit and just go on. They can't even find a warrant." But something inside of me said, "Just sit there." I sat there, and I sat there. She said, "Baby, I found it." I said, "Thank you, Lord. Thank you."

I told God, "I can't even see the time that they're talking about. I can't even see 25 to life. But God, whatever you do, I don't want to go back out of here the same way I came in. Please help me." I remember that's when my life began to change. That's when I surrendered, because I didn't know anything else to do.

They had church down there. Church. I didn't do church. But just to get out of the dorm with all those women, I went to church. I began to hear what the pastor was saying. How, so many times when we're in, and we've been through so much in our lives, it becomes a cover, and it covers our souls. Our souls begin to be… It's just dark, because there's so much that is covering our souls.

He said what the Spirit of God does, and the Word of God does, is it comes in, and it begins to peel back the covers. What happens is your soul begins to get light, and you begin to gain strength where you can live. When he said that, I said, "God, this is what's happening. I thank you, Jesus. I thank you, Jesus."

I knew I had to change, but I didn't know how to change. God, through his Word, began to teach me how to change. I said, "God, if you are God, and if you're the God they say you are, then, God, change me. Change me." And he did just that. He changed my life. My name is Karen, and I am second.

[End of video]

Todd Wagner: Wow. Meet my friend, Karen. Please, meet her God.

Karen Green: Please, God.

Todd: I want you to know that if I sat here and taught you how to pray, and you did not learn to be the real you, talking to the real thou, we are wasting our time. All you sons who are with the Father right now, and say, "I'll go to the field, Daddy," but have never done this, the thing Karen has done, and said, "I vacate, man. I am done working my world," I want to teach you to pray this morning. I want to teach you to repent and be still and take a holiday from being God that goes back to the very dawn of the creation of humankind.

I wanted to do this, and this is the last thing I'm going to say for a little bit, because I'm going to pitch to my friend, Karen. The reason I asked her to come be with us this morning, the whole I Am Second thing we're involved with… You can go to www.iamsecond.com, and you'll see a little link to Watermark. It's a great place to go to show your friends our heart as a church.

You can see there is a video on me talking about some of that and testimonies from guys in our church and gals in our church are on there, along with Karen's. Here's what I want you to know. On that little video, what Karen did, what caught me this time, is when she said, "I would sit there in that hotel room after making money and using that money to numb me from my pain again." Did you see the way she said she prayed? She said, "I would say, 'God, save me.'" She would pray, and she would beg. She would plead, and she would get up and do drugs and return to the streets.

What I want you to hear me talk about this morning, what I want you to hear from Karen, is prayer is not words. She stayed enslaved to a lifestyle that made sense to her for a lot of reasons, for a long time, even while she was praying. Just like you. I want to tell you what I told Karen. I said, "Karen, unfortunately, we don't have a lot of women like you, who are prostituting themselves on the streets, who are coming and hearing the Word, but I have a room full of people who prostitute themselves toward materialism, who prostitute themselves toward dead marriages.

They sit out there, and they say, 'God, I want my marriage to change. Please change my marriage,' and they get up. They go right back to their self-absorbed world, speaking in harsh tones, and not listening to him. I want you to tell them how to get out of prostitution, because you have prayed before, in the middle of it, and kept doing it, just like them." Will you teach them how to pray?

Karen: Praise God. First, I want to give honor to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Can you help me celebrate him? Thank you so much. He's my lover. He's my comforter. He's my everything. I thank him today. As I watched the video, I began to weep, but those tears were tears of joy. I was so full of gratefulness, because he has been so good to me, and I did not deserve it. I thank him today.

One of the questions Todd asked me was, "What happened? What made you…? What got you to that point?" I was tired of doing things my way. I was tired of being god in my life. I was so full of hurt and so much pain that I lost sight of life. I knew I was in trouble. Now I knew god of my mother and my father, but I didn't know God myself.

Many times, when I was walking in the streets at night, I would tell God, "God, you can change me within a twinkling of an eye. Why can't you change me?" That took me back to that question you asked. You say, "How did you feel going through that, and you knew God knew about it? What did you feel? What did you think?"

How did I feel in knowing God and coming to know God as I have? That, yes, those things happened. He allowed them to happen, but he did not let them consume me. He knew there was a point in time and a place he was going to bring me out. Those very things that came to destroy me, I will be standing on today. Not only standing but speaking hope into the lives of those who have been through the same thing and, one way or another in their lives, letting them know they can overcome. If they give it all to Jesus, they will overcome.

You say, "Well, how did you turn it over to him?" Well, I knew the life I lived, the things I did, got me in situations and circumstances such as I was experiencing. Because I knew that God but had not experienced him, I said, "Well, listen. I need to do something. I need to heal. I need to get well, here. My mind is not right." I got to a point. I can remember standing in the motel room, and the sun was coming up. I said, "God, I'm tired." That's when the unction came and said, "Go ahead. Turn yourself in."

Todd: Let me interject right here. What I want you to understand is this is not the first time you'd prayed, is it?

Karen: No. I prayed many, many, many times.

Todd: But the difference this time is that this time it was going to be more than words at God.

Karen: Yes.

Todd: It was going to be listening to the words of God to you.

Karen: Yes. I began to hear him.

Todd: Okay.

Karen: I began to hear him.

Todd: Gang, track with me. This is why I asked Karen to come this morning. Too many of us are wondering, "Where is this abundant life? Where is the freedom, the joy God talks about that's in the Scripture? You keep talking to him about where that freedom is. I want to tell you. You have to get prayer right. Prayer is him speaking to you more than you speaking to him. You do speak to him. Yes, sir. The dawn of that light was coming. So, Karen, you've been talking all this time, but one morning, God had your heart at a different place.

Karen: He did.

Todd: He said (I love this), "Turn yourself in. Take off your crown, queen, and make me King."

Karen: You've been standing on that corner too long.

Todd: So, vacate. Be still.

Karen: Yes.

Todd: Part of it for you was walking down, and you had 15 warrants for your arrest. You was a bit angry and had beat up a few fools, right?

Karen: Quite a few. Thirteen assault cases.

Todd: All right.

Karen: Very angry.

Todd: So, you went to turn yourself in.

Karen: Yes.

Todd: And they couldn't believe it.

Karen: Yes. They could not believe it.

Todd: The world can never believe it when you say, "I'm done."

Karen: Yes. I was tired of being sick and tired of myself.

Todd: Of being free.

Karen: Of being free.

Todd: You said, "I want to experience real freedom."

Karen: Yes.

Todd: And real freedom comes in being a servant of the King.

Karen: In being a servant of the King.

Todd: All right.

Karen: Praise God.

Todd: So, tell me. There were words you used when I said to you, "Tell me about that, because you'd prayed before. What made that prayer different?" You said, "Todd, it was when I finally let the Spirit…" Go ahead.

Karen: When I finally surrendered and yielded myself to the Spirit of God, this began. This life that I live began to change. When I sat under that counter at the Lew Sterrett Justice Center and I waited on that woman to find that warrant, I said, "God, I surrender. Just keep me. Keep me." When she said she found that warrant, I was just overjoyed, because I knew God heard me.

When I got down there, Todd, I said, "You know what, God? I can't even see the time they're talking about, but whatever you do, don't let me go back out of here the same way I came in. God, whatever you need to do, do it. I surrender everything." I surrendered my mind. I surrendered my heart.

I often tell some of the ladies I talk to, "I lost the mind that I had and allowed God to begin to give me his mind, because I didn't know how to live. God began to teach me. He began to speak to me. He filled me with his Holy Ghost. I can't leave that out. I can't leave that out, because the Holy Ghost is my keeper. I want to say this, Todd.

Todd: Go ahead, girl. That's in my Bible. All right? Go ahead.

Karen: Because I'm still Karen, the flesh. The difference is that the Holy Ghost lives inside of me, and he sustains me when I can't sustain myself. I wouldn't dare sit here and tell you sometimes the thought doesn't come, but the Holy Ghost inside of me holds me and sustains me. I thank God, I thank God, for the Word and understanding the Word, because through the Word of God, I come to know him personally.

You see, one of the things I had to get out of my mind is that I was a terrible person, that God didn't, and he couldn't, love me. The Bible tells me that he knows all things. The Bible tells me that he knew me before he put me in my mother's womb. The Bible tells me my ways have been orchestrated by him, so there is nothing in my life I can hide from him. When I came to that consciousness in my life, I yielded myself. I said, "God, here I am, just as I am." Back then, they'd say, "Tore up from the floor up." I was tore up from the floor up.

Todd: All right. Let's do this. Gang, now look. Here's what I want you to see. Remember how I started this thing in a really odd parable? Remember what Jesus said? He said the tax collectors and the prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you. If you're sitting out there and what she's talking about is unfamiliar to you, Jesus was right. What I want to tell you is that what he's begging you to do is listen to what the tax collectors and the prostitutes have heard, and what I have heard.

That is, "Hey, God, I'm done. I am done trying to do marriage the way of the West. I'm going to do marriage the way of Ephesians 5. I'm done trying to do church the way of the West. I'm going to start to do church the way you do church. I am done trying to be a daddy… I'm done trying to deal with my anger toward my dad the way the world tells me to deal with my anger toward my dad. I'm done trying to find pleasure on the weekend. I am done dating the way people say I should date. I am ready to turn myself in." That is prayer. It is a continual turning yourself in to him.

She quoted 1 Thessalonians, chapter 5, where it says, in effect, you must pray without ceasing. That's what she said. She said , "Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks…" You heard her say, "There's nothing in my life I regret because God is in it." "…for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit…" Don't stop letting him be King and Lord over you. Cease striving, gang. Here's what I want to say as we finish. This God is never going to let go of you. He never let go of Karen.

Karen: Praise God.

Todd: And he doesn't want to let go of you. If you are out there this morning and you wonder where joy is, it's with Jesus.

Karen: Amen. Amen.

Todd: I'm going to ask you to repent of whatever it is you thought prayer was, if you thought prayer was anything less than turning yourself in. Last verses. I'm going to let Karen read it. It comes in Matthew, chapter 11, verses 28-30. It's right here, sweet sister. Why don't you read it for us right here? I want you all to listen, and then we're going to sing together.

Karen:"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST…" Good God Almighty. Good God Almighty. Rest. Rest. He has commanded us to rest. Praise you, Jesus. Praise you, Jesus. One of the things I just want to say that I asked the Lord to do is to begin to teach me. I surrendered. I gave him my life, but I asked him to teach me.

Teach me what it is to be a mother. Teach me what it is to be a sister. Teach me what it is to be a woman of God. Teach me what it is to be a wife, according to your will. Teach me. God, I don't know, but I know you know all things and through you all things are possible. We praise you today. We give you glory. Amen.

Todd: All right. Let me pray.

Lord, I pray we would have the sense that tax collectors and prostitutes have, that we would see we are giving ourselves away to things that are using us when you want us to give ourselves away to you so you can give us rest. I pray for the men and women who sit out here this morning who have never experienced rest and peace and freedom because they continue to install themselves in whatever religion is around them.

They continue to install themselves as sovereign over moment-by-moment, day-by-day. May they turn themselves in and begin to walk with you. I pray they would pray. We thank you, Lord, that you wait to run to them, and that you never let go. Amen.

Would you stand and sing? When we're done singing, would you come if you need to know Christ? If you don't know what it means to walk with the Lord, if you don't even know how to vacate, would you let us know in that little perforated section? Just say, "Man, I need help. I cannot vacate my abusive nature in marriage. I can't vacate my bitterness. I can't vacate my coping strategies. I can't vacate my dependence on money. Help me." We, in the name of Jesus Christ, will walk beside you. Let's sing. You have a great week of worship.


About 'Vacate'

Prayer. What is it, after all? Reciting words from a prayer book? Presenting God with our requests? Or desperately crying out to Him in our time of need?<br /><br />In this series, Todd Wagner shares the one word that most accurately sums up the Bible's teaching on prayer: VACATE. Could it be that prayer is really about abandoning our own agenda and efforts and &nbsp;allowing God to lead. Or taking a break from our plans and trying out His?<br /><br />In this series you'll hear friends and theologians alike all testifying to the same truth: that life is found in being still before God in prayer. And that when we VACATE, we?ll find a right perspective on who God is and why we all are in need of a Savior.