Our perceptions about prayer often lead us to do a lot of talking and little or no listening. We must remind ourselves of God's character or prayers will end up being one-sided - and futile - conversations. An instead of drawing nearer to God, we'll find ourselves drifting further away.
Be sure to check out the video "Coffee with Jesus".
Learning How to Pray, part 4: The Provision, the Protection and the Power
Learning How to Pray, part 3: Recessions and Daily Bread... And Why We Need Them Both
Learning How to Pray, part 2: Why We Want His Kingdom to Come
The ACTS of Prayer: A Way to Enrich our Communication with God
Learning How to Pray, part 1: The Importance of Listening to Our God
Shut Up, Stand Up, and Stop Eating Cheetos: Our Greatest Hindrance to Effective Prayer
Rehearsing Truth so You Don't Move Counter to God
The Foundation for Prayer: The Real Thee Talking with the Real Thou
It has been awesome to sit and meditate on the truths that we've thrown out there already in song. The reason we do that is because that is the beginning of our encouraging each other and reminding each other of things that are true. When we sing those songs, what we're doing is we're just washing over our hearts and our minds truths that will inform us. It is a form of prayer. It's a form of teaching.
The great thing about our God is the more we talk about who he is, the more we worship him in the way we way too often minimize what worship is… We say all the time, "Have a great week of worship," in here as you leave because worship, when we gather corporately like this, is such a small part of worship. Corporate worship is a real important part because it's when we declare to each other things that are true. When we start to remind ourselves of truth so we can live outside of error.
A group of us were talking this week that this is not mind over matter, hocus pocus, Oprah, Eckhart Tolle stuff. It really is a matter of having truth inform error. What we're trying to remind ourselves of is the greatness of God, who he is, and who we are, which is really nothing more than what prayer is ultimately about.
We're in the middle of a little series we're doing. The title of the series is Vacate. The secret to joy and intimacy with God. We took it from Psalm 46. We'll maybe revisit this morning, but the word vacate is a word we rip off from the Latin, which means be still. So when you go on a holiday or when you cease striving or when you go on a vacation, you are just being still. You're not working. It's a holiday from what you normally think you have to do.
God is asking us to do is to be still and know that he is God, to remember who you are, and to take a great sense of comfort in who he is. Prayer is the primary means that we remind ourselves of those things that are true, as is worship. The Scripture says, "How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night."
When you meditate on the truth of who God is, the irrevocable, unwavering, absolute standard of truth, it is well with your soul because you are not constantly trying to make things work on your own. You're not trying to install yourself with God, figure things out, redeem things, restore things, fix things, that you cannot often fix.
But a peace which passes understanding overcomes you, a peace that the world will look at and go, "How can you have comfort in the life that you are in when there is chaos and unfortunate circumstance and illness and death and despair and abuse and injustice all around you. How can your life be so defined by peace and this thing called joy?
Joy is so distinct from happiness because happiness, as you know, is taken from the word that we get happenings from. It is conditional upon your circumstances. Joy is something that exists above and beyond any circumstance. You get that joy through prayer when you learn to vacate. That's what we're talking about in this little series here.
I just wanted to jump in and pray with you guys right now in a formal way, in what I would call the activityway, and then I want to remind you really what prayer is. The prayer without ceasing is attitudinal. It is a constant abiding. It is the relational focus that God calls us to that will give us peace. Let's go to the activity of prayer that our attitude, if you will, might be infused with truth. All right? Here we go.
Father, I'm so glad you're our Father. I'm so glad you're so different than any father that we've ever seen on this earth. That you're perfect, you're loving, you withhold no good thing from us. We realize, Father, that just like my kids don't often understand why I deny them certain things at certain times or don't provide them everything they ask for and they throw fits, that we are prone to do the same.
Yet, we know why we withhold certain things from children. We know why certain times we let people stick needles in them, and we know it's for their good. So Lord, we're grateful that you are infinitely better at caring than we are, and we thank you that you remind us that we being evil when our son asks us for a loaf of bread that we don't give them a rock, how much more will our perfect Father in heaven not give us the things we need as well.
We thank you that that's who are you. We thank you that we can come together and remind ourselves of things that are true. Through time in your Word, through time in singing and declaration, and just in meditating on that which is right and absolute (your law).
I pray this morning, you would take the truth of your Word, and it would pierce our hearts in a way that would transform us and change us. That we would vacate. We'd take a holiday from trying to make things work and rest in you, who loves us and has our best interests in mind. We thank you, Father. We continue to pray now by meditating on truth in a way that will change everything about who we are as we abide with you. In Christ's name, amen.
Well, that is the secret of understanding really what prayer is all about. I told you that as we do this series, I'm going to do it very differently than how you think you might do a series, or if you will, talking about prayer. There are so many Scriptures that deal specifically with prayer. I started in a very strange place last week in Matthew 21, talking about two sons.
One who said to his Father, "I'm going to do it," and didn't do it. The other one said, "I'm not going to do it," but ended up doing it. I equated that to prayer because so many times, those of us who are driven to feel guilty that we aren't active enough in prayer are people who are doing something. We think when we finally get around to it, maybe driven by guilt (who knows why) or just by culture, that we do this thing called prayer, but we're not really prayerful people.
Then there are other people who do not pray in the forms we think people should pray all the time, who end up being broken because they've trusted in themselves, who end up then in their brokenness, crying out to God, which is what he wants all along.
I'm going to take you to another place today just to explain that to you in a little more depth as well as some other Scriptures and show you how Scripture upon Scripture upon Scripture is layered on top of each other to teach us this one truth. That is that God wants us to let him be God and let us enjoy him forever. He wants us to take a position of humility before him. One that allows him to have relationship with us and bless us.
I want to start this week by going to James 1 to talk about prayer. So turn to James 1. I hope you bring your Bible. Let's take a look at it. There's some great stuff here. He starts in verse 2 after he basically tells you who he is and who he's writing to. We're going to jump right to it. "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials…"
I mentioned last week that the word prayer comes from the same word that we get precarious from. A situation is precarious if it is lacking stability. It is precarious if it has no foundation that is sure. It's precarious if it is outside our control and the circumstance is haunting. Precarious is the adjective; prayer is the verb. Prayer is what you do because you live in a precarious situation.
What James is really starting with here is he's saying, "It is a good thing when you are reminded of your need for that is what you always need to be reminded of the fact that you are not God." So consider it joyful when you get in a situation that reminds you of how you should always live: prayerfully. He goes on to say this.
"…knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance." What he means by that is your trust in him will remind you that he is always trustworthy. Let me explain this. When you are put in a situation that is precarious and you are forced to run to God in the way you should always abide with him, it pushes you to the one who is trustworthy so you can be reminded of his trustworthiness, so you can face any precarious situation with increased joy.
What's happening is you're forced to pray as you really depend on God as you see he does sustain you, then you can start to go, "I never thought that I could handle circumstances like this. I never thought I could have hope in the face of such loss, such discouragement. Now that I have because I've trusted in him [if you do trust in him], then it has been a blessing to you."
He says, "And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom…" In other words, if you want to know why this is happening, what God is doing, how this can work for good, why God doesn't move or do something about this… If you're ever in a situation that you would go, "If I was sovereign, I wouldn't have this thing work out this way," if you're ever in a situation that has no seeming foundation of rightness, he said, "God is not bothered that your limited and finite understanding can't figure something out. If you lack something, ask God," which is to say, "Pray."
"…who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting…" In other words, make sure when you pray, you don't give God a talking to, that your praying is not really a lecture of his incompetency. So many of us do that. Our prayers are like, "What in the world are you thinking? How in the world can you call yourself God and operate a world like this? How can you call yourself good and allow this to happen? How can you call yourself loving and attentive, and this is the circumstance?" That is called doubting.
It's okay to say, "God, this feels to me like… It appears to me that… If I was having to vote right now as to whether I thought by what I see immediately that you are, you wouldn't want my vote." He's okay with that. When God was here and did not rely on his deity to perceive reality around him…
In other words, when Jesus was here and he laid aside his ability to self-depend on his infinite awareness but walk as we walked, he said, "Dad, it looks to me like this cup that you want me to drink from is filled with bitterness and death. I would like another cup, please. However, I am reminded that you are God, and there is nothing in you that is not good.
So if you tell me I have not misheard, that this is, in fact, the cup I am to drink, then I will open my mouth wide, and I will consume it and take it. I want to make sure I am in tune with you and in step with you, and then I'll drink what you give me to drink. Not my will, but your will be done. My will can be influenced by circumstances, by finite understanding, by my need for ease and pleasure. You, Lord, are not subject to those things. I don't doubt that you are good."
It is okay to express pain. It's okay to express grief. It's okay to express concern. But at the end of the day, you don't want to forget that God is good and that he cares for you. I want to keep coming back to this idea. I was just thinking again and again this week of numerous examples of folks who got it right.
Lila Mae Trotman. You may not know who that is. You may not know who Dawson Trotman is. Dawson Trotman was the Billy Graham of his day. In fact, when Billy Graham was becoming Billy Graham and Dawson Trotman died (Time magazine did an article on Dawson Trotman) Billy Graham was doing a crusade in Oklahoma City and left it to go preach at Dawson Trotman's funeral. He said, "I think Dawson Trotman touched more lives [for Christ] than any man I have ever known."
When Dawson Trotman died (he was the founder of Navigators), he drowned. He went skiing up in New York for several hours. He got back in the boat, and there were two young girls in the boat. He asked them, "Can both of you swim?" One little girl said, "I'm not a good swimmer." So he said, "Switch seats with me."
They switched seats, and just a little bit later (he was exhausted from skiing for a couple hours), that boat hit a huge wave and threw both him and that one little girl who could not swim out of the boat. It didn't matter what seat she was in, it was her day. She and Dawson Trotman both went into the lake. He was so exhausted. He got her. He saved her. Another boat came back around to save him, he lifted her up, and as the hand went back down to get Dawson Trotman, he went under. They could not find him, and he died.
They went to his wife, Lila Mae, and they said, "Daws has died." The words that came out of her mouth seemed callous. It was Psalm 115:3. She said, "But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases." What she was doing in that moment is prayerfully reminding herself of truth. She was saying, "This is not what I wanted. I loved my Daws."
This guy was a stud. He was a man's man intellectually and in terms of his character and his strength of person. This was a man's man. Lila Mae wanted anything but to lose him. Our country wanted anything but to lose him, but Lila Mae had rehearsed again and again truths in Scriptures. What she was doing when she stated that was not saying, "No big deal. What's for lunch?" She was saying, "I know where I want to go right now, in panic and in anger and in frustration, but I have to remind myself of what is true."
We did something really interesting this week. Our staff got away. We leave Tuesday morning and come back Wednesday night. Once a year, all of us go together and invest in each other and do some things. I had asked one of the guys on staff, Robbie Rice, to take one of the times and get us started at one point.
Robbie basically talked to us a little bit about how we have to focus on truth over error. We have to make sure the Word of God is what continually reminds us of things that are so. Otherwise we're going to get in a very difficult spot. We're not going to do what we want to do. He gave us this great little illustration. It might be hard for you where you're seated, but folks in the aisle can do it, and believe me, I promise you will try and do it at home.
Do the best you can. If you can get to where your right foot is free, lift it up a little bit. Everybody start going clockwise with your right foot. Can you do that? Move your right foot, just your ankle, in a clockwise motion. Now what I want you to do is keep your foot going in a clockwise direction, and before you, while your foot is still going clockwise, draw a six in the air with your right hand.
You can't do it. Your foot immediately begins to go the other way. I've lost about half of you because the rest of the time, you're going to be kind of like this trying to get it to work. I don't know what the physiology of that is, but I have spent some time on my own. There have been some fleeting moments where I got a couple of rotations while the six is being drawn, but the six is being drawn with great care, and most of my attention is on my right foot in order to make it work.
You can do it if you really focus, if you rehearse, but if you just casually go about it, you're going to start going the other direction no matter how much you want to go this direction. You almost have to vacate the six and just get yourself doing this enough where you can do that and then go down here and get this going quickly.
Sometimes this seems so real; it just consumes everything down here. It really became an illustration of what I was wanting to talk about. That's what we have to do. That's what the Scripture says. You have to focus on how you're walking, and how you're walking is not by sight but by faith. So it's okay to go, "This seems like this, which is going to drive me to that, but what I know is I want to go this direction. I want to move with this perspective." But you have to focus and rehearse.
Let me tell you what was going on when Lila Mae said what she said. What was going on as she was saying, "Look, Lord. My foot wants to go the other direction. It wants to move away from you right now. I have to focus right now on what is true. You are good. You are still sovereignly enthroned in the heavens."
Becky Meredith, now Becky Page, is a member of our body. Her father, Al Meredith, is a pastor of a church over to our west past Fort Worth, Wedgewood Baptist Church. A number of years ago, if you remember the news, in a September time frame, there was a crisis at his church. He was actually out of town, and there was a big rally that night for a number of youth.
While that rally was going on, a deranged individual walked in, pulled a gun out, and shot and murdered numerous people in the church. Here these kids were. They could've been out carousing, out of doing a lot of different things, but they were there. They were gathered there for good. In that moment, great tragedy befell them.
When Al rushed back, I'll never forget what he did. He stood up. The international media was watching this pastor. This had just happened in his church. They said, "How can you make any sense out of this. Where was your God in that moment?" Al responded by saying God was in the exact same place he was when his Son was crucified on the cross, sovereignly entrenched in the heaven, doing exactly what pleases him.
That's Lila Mae Trotman. That's Psalm 115:3. That's Jesus. When Peter said to him, "You can't die, you're God. You're a messiah." He goes, "Hey, you don't even know what you're talking about." You have to let God be God. I want to tell you, if I was there when Jesus said, "I'm going to a cross," and for a second, I could've been sovereign, I would've tackled him. I would've stopped him. I would've said, "Absolutely not." I would've prevented the greatest act of God-glorifying grace, redemption, and deliverance for humankind in the history of history because it didn't make sense to me.
Would it have been okay to go, "I doubt, Jesus, that you're hearing your Father correctly, but at the end of the day, I've never seen you make a mistake. I just want to make sure you're listening"? Jesus goes, "I'm in the middle of doing the same thing myself." Let's not mistake what God speaks clearly. He knows what he's doing, and I have to vacate and let him be God and know that he is good.
In verse 6, he says, "…for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind [by circumstances that are around them, not by truth that anchors them] . For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord…" The man who doesn't listen because he doubts that God is or has the answer. That man shouldn't expect anything. You have to go back and ask yourself, "Is God God?" If so, "Be still, and know that I am God." Vacate, and peace will come. That's Psalm 46.
Too many times when we talk about devoting ourselves to prayer, we focus on the activity of prayer. The Scripture says rightly (Colossians 4:2), "Devote yourselves to prayer…" What I want to convince you of in this whole little series is the reason most of us don't have an effective prayer life is because what we do is we are constantly talking to God.
Here's the deal. The Enemy wants most of us to feel guilty that we don't talk to God very much. So in the moment of need, we don't know that we can go to him. Or, we just generally avoid him because we know he's frustrated because we haven't talked to him in a while. Have you ever had that situation where you're like, "I'm going to call that friend who I haven't talk to in a little bit"?
You call them, and the first words out of their mouth are, "Oh. Wait a minute. Who's this? I used to know a guy named Todd in a previous life." You go, "That's why I didn't call you. I thought you were going to say that," or at least you think that. We think God's like that, so we avoid him because, "Surely he's angry at me."
Then what the Enemy does is if you push through him and go, "No, he's the God of grace. He tells me to boldly come before his throne of grace," what he convinces you to do when you get there is to talk incessantly at him. As a result of that, you're not really prayerful. You're not vacating. You're just ripping through it.
This is, largely, what most of us think of. When you heard I was going to do a series on prayer, you went, "Oh, great. You're going to tell me I'm not spending enough time on my knees, not spending enough time on my prayer journal. You're going to tell me I need to talk to God more. I'm not doing that." Some of you guys will think, "Okay. I'm going to have my prayer life." You'll start talking to God, talking to God, talking to God, talking to God, talking to God.
That's not what I'm trying to get at. What I'm trying to get at is we can just go, "Our foot is going to move away from God." It's going to go the wrong direction unless we focus and rehearse who he is, remind ourselves of things that are true. So we continually love him and trust him. Prayer is the greatest means to do that. It is when we delight in who he is, we remind ourselves of who he is.
I want to show you a great video. This is so well done. Most of us, when we pray, are just like this guy. This is called Coffee with Jesus. Check this out.
That is your prayer life. That is not the goal of this series. It is anything but the goal of this time together to get you to go, "I can't really read what I wrote here. Can you? Spirit speaks with groanings too deep for words." That's not the goal. The goal is that you would understand who he is and prayer, meditation, and abiding with him in his Word happens when you are prayerful. You realize this a precarious life.
The Scripture says in Psalm 11, "What should the righteous do if the foundations are shaken?" A precarious situation is a situation without foundation. So you go back to the foundational truth that our God is in the heavens. He loves you, he who did not spare his own Son but delivered him up for us all. Will he not also with him freely give us all things?
I love what love Lila Mae Trotman did. If you were to do any study on prayer, you will come across a guy by the name of George Müeller. He was a German who moved to England. He started basically the greatest effort to care for orphans in (really) the history of the world that has created an incredible legacy that continues to this day. He was a man who was really revered because of his prayer life, and specifically, was a man who funded what he did simply by his constant attentiveness to requests.
Müeller is given a lot of credit for never having asked for money, and he never really asked for money, but what he did was he published, every year, a traumatic statement of how awful his life is because things were not being provided for. In effect, it was letting people know if they don't respond to God's provision to them to meet the need of what he was trusting in that orphans would die, and so would he, and England would be cursed. So though he never asked for support, he certainly explained to people what would happen if support didn't come.
Here's the thing. Müeller was incredibly faithful, and he did not work people, he did not target people, because they were high-capacity givers. We've never done that here. I have never called somebody up or initiated with somebody and said, "Could you do…?" There are been folks at different times who have come to me and said, "What do you think? Tell me again the circumstance, and help me know what's going on out there? What will we have to do to keep this thing going?" I've responded the way Müeller did.
That's why we do what we do around here. Our sense on this building opportunity is the same as what Müeller's was with what he was doing in the provision of his ministry, which is that I would like this thing to be taken care of and over so we can worry about the next thing or concern ourselves with the next thing. I'm not going to worry about this, because God cares about this. God cares about this ministry more than I ever would, and he is good.
If this is not happening at a schedule or in a time that I want it to happen that that's okay because God is good. That's been my attitude. People go, "How are you doing with that thing?" I go, "I'm doing great because it's not my thing." Am I communicating clearly when people ask? Yeah. That's the job. We have to do that. But then I'm moving on. We've said that repeatedly. We can't wait for this thing to be done so we can do the next thing, but we're waiting for this to be done to do this thing, which is to be faithful today in every way that we can.
Müeller's life verse, and one that he would go back to again and again whenever something would happen… I'll just tell you this. His wife died of rheumatic fever at an early age. This is George Müeller, the man of great faith and incredible and impeccable prayer. When Müeller's wife was dying, and he prayed, and his wife died of rheumatic fever, he just said this.
At her funeral, he preached out of Psalm 84. Psalm 84 describes who God is. He says, "The Lord our God will hear me." It says in verse 8, "O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; Give ear, O God of Jacob!" Müeller knew that God would listen. "Behold our shield, O God…" That's my God. " …and look upon the face of Your anointed. For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand outside. I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness [no matter what happens here] ."
Look at verse 11. This is where he focused, and he'd say this repeatedly (as do I). "For the LORD God is a sun and shield." He is provision, light, protection, comfort, peace, strength. "The LORD gives grace and glory." And then this is where he banked his life. "No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly."
That's what he preached. He said, "Did I want my dear wife to be healed of rheumatic fever? Absolutely, but she was not. So in a way that is beyond my own ability to articulate, that somehow in a way that I may not understand until I get to heaven, it is a good thing." He refused to have people assign to him what was called the gift of faith.
He said, "I don't have the gift of faith, and I rebuke you for assigning that to me. All I am is an earnest and honest man who takes God at his Word. I live by faith. I don't have the gift of faith, whatever that is. I have, by some humble position in life, allowed myself to believe that God is God, and I am Müeller, so I will trust in him." So he had peace that passed understanding. That is what I want for you.
Do you know why most of our prayers unanswered? Because we think like the guy in the video thinks. "Okay. Secretary of Agriculture, the secretary's secretary..." We're not saying, "Lord, all I want is to think as you would have me think so I can live as you want to have me live." Watch where James goes.
He says, "For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways." Listen to verse 9. "But the brother of humble circumstances [circumstances he can't figure out] is to glory in his high position." That he has been thrust by God into a place where he knows he can't make this work. That's a great place to be. " And the rich man is to glory in his humiliation…"
What's his humiliation? My life is going great. God is giving me all that I think I need, but this is fleeting. My riches are nothing to trust in. So I'm thankful for the provision I have, but I want to glory in the worthlessness, ultimately, of these riches. This is why a little bit later, it was written in the Proverbs (Proverbs 30:7-9)…
The prayer was, "Two things I asked of You, do not refuse me before I die: keep deception and lies far from me, give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is my portion, that I not be full and deny You and say, 'Who is the LORD?'" I become arrogant in my richness of circumstance or wealth. "Or that I not be in want and steal, and profane the name of my God."
Lord, here's what I want. I just want this. This is why God says, "That's why when I give you much, I probably give you much to up your standard of giving, not your standard of living. Because if I up your standard of living too much, you start to think you're in control. You're never in control. I'm in control."
I can remember just months ago oil was $140 a barrel. People in a certain part of the world were like, "We have the world by the tail." People said, "It will never go below $100 a barrel ever again." Fleeting. In a matter of months, it's amazing how conditions can change. Think about how had somebody months ago…
I even had folks do it. I've had folks come to me, almost in tears, here saying, "God had given me a lot of money. I look every time I walk up toward this building, this building should be done." I was like, "Are you kidding me?" They say, "Because I had the provision, but I took it, and I put it over here, thinking that maybe there'd be more, and then I could do that and have that. I've lost it all, and it breaks my heart."
I go, "If it cost you $X million to learn that lesson, let's just rejoice that you learned that lesson, and let's use it for good. Let's praise God. He knows what he's up to. You don't need to ask my forgiveness." This is what he's saying. Let the rich man be humble in his blessing. Watch what it says.
"For the sun rises with a scorching wind and withers the grass; and its flower falls off and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away. Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him."
That crown of life is not in the next life. It's right now. I want you to know that is right now. The crown of life. Have you ever looked at somebody and you just go…? This is the experience we consistently get when we take folks with us to serve in Africa. They look at people who have nothing, dirt floors, the same meal every day their entire life, and they sing, and they smile, and they go, "Are you kidding me? I wish I had that life."
They don't want the dirt floors and the same meal, but they want that heart: the singing, the joy, the peace, the freedom. Why? Because of verse 12. They've persevered, and they know that God is good. You go through the rest of this little book of James, and what you see is he goes through is he says, "That's why you don't want to pull away from God. Don't be an un-prayerful person. What you do when you let lust conceive in your heart, it gives birth to sin. When sin gives birth, it leads to death."
Guess where life is? It's when you pray, and you don't put yourself on the throne and go, "What does my flesh want? What does the world tell me I should do? I'm going to vacate and do what God wants. That man will be blessed." That's why it says at the end of James that we are not to be a man. Jump down to verse 19.
"This you know, my beloved brethren." The "This you know…" is that God brought us forth to let us experience the blessing of who he is. "But everyone must be…" Watch. This is what I want you to get in this series. " … quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God."
Do you know why? Because when things don't go the way we want, we also go, "I'm done with you. I am out of here. I am going to put myself in control, and you'll never hurt me again." We do that to God, and we start talking to God and railing at God, and we don't vacate. In fact, we re‑assume the throne because somehow we don't think things are working like we should. We get angry, and so we fire him. He goes, "Oh man. That doesn't work out for you at all."
"Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves…" This is key. "…doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves." Are you ready for the message today?
Prove yourself to be listeners of God and not merely talkers in prayer who delude themselves. Vacate. Be hungry for the Word of God implanted in your soul which gives you life. Now, I'm going to let you pray through song. If you can't say it with integrity, just listen, but this is what God wants. He wants us to be hungry for him. Are you weary? Are you tired? Then he's ready to give you rest. But you have to be hungry for that word and stop railing on God and telling him what he's doing wrong.
Let me tell you something, Lila Mae, George, Todd, friend; he's doing nothing wrong. He is good. He loves you. He who did not spare his own Son will also give you everything. Will he not, having given you Jesus? Hasn't he shown himself to be good? Meditate on that. Don't move your foot away from him. Rehearse truth. Hunger for truth, for it is your life. Let's sing.
When you think of prayer, don't think of talking at God, thinking of waiting on God to remind you of things that are true. For truth to come over error, it is natural for your foot to begin to go the other way, away from him, but the anger of man does not accomplish the righteousness of God.
So we ask you to fall on your knees, which is to say assume a position of humility, to meditate on his Word, to let it speak to your heart, to remind you of things that are true, to surround yourself with community who will pray with you, remind you, read you Scripture, remind you, plead before God with you to have that Word of God planted in your souls to bear fruit of hope.
That this God, who is a shield around you, who's your glory, can lift your head, and you can say, "This is a good thing. I don't understand how yet. The three days to the resurrection haven't come yet. But I know that my God is firmly implanted in the heavens, and he is good." There is life there.
I'm getting you to try to vacate. Take a holiday from trying to figure things out. That includes the steps you take. Watch. "No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly." That is why James says, "Be careful that your circumstances aren't the fruit of what you've sowed." But walk with him. Abide with him.
Don't look at the Word of God. Just like prayer is not talking to God, reading the Bible is not reading it and leaving it. It is abiding with it and letting it inform your every step. You cannot separate prayer from reading of the Word and meditating on it, and you cannot separate either of them from community because they're all means of grace that give you life. So may we vacate.
If you've never vacated your position as sovereign, if you've never asked Jesus to deal with your sinful heart, I want to give you a chance to do that. You just say, "God, I have to vacate at the ultimate level. I need you to be my King. I want to follow you, and I want to begin to meditate on your Word and involve myself in community. I thank you that you've forgiven me for my sins. Would you now never leave me or forsake me and teach me in the way that I should go as I walk with your people, study your Word, and vacate?"
If you've done that, would you let us know how we can continue to encourage you? May all of you have a great week of worship. We'll see you.
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 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.