Authentic Prayer from James MacDonald (Day 6 of 7)


Today’s Scripture:  Psalms 91:14-16

14  Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.  15  He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.  16  With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.

Introduction:

Well…Praise the Lord.  I realize that I’m a couple days behind, but some times it’s necessary to take a step or two back, and get recharged, refueled, and renewed…Amen.

So, I feel somewhat refreshed.  I worked an extra day this week, and some times it tires me out more than others.  However, I feel pretty good today, and believe that we’ll be wrapping up this series tomorrow.

So…we’ve been talking about “Authentic Prayer”, and really…what we’re attempting to do here is answer the question:  what is authentic prayer?  I believe the answer is simple.  It’s us being real, being who we are, and just simply seeking God from a place that’s real, genuine, and us.  I truly believe like Ecclesiastes 3:1 (KJV) says:  “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:”, and that includes times when we need to just be real and seek God as we are…and leave all the formalities out of what we’re needing from God.

So…let’s get into today’s message…and see what the Lord has for us today…Amen!?!

Today’s Message:  “Until You Pray”

After the invitation to prayer and the assurance that He will answer, God added an addendum to the policy He gave Jeremiah: “Call to Me, and I will answer you” (Jeremiah 33:3a). What’s the answer going to be like, God?

Isn’t it interesting that along with the invitation to prayer comes the assurance that He would not just hear Jeremiah, but answer him?  So.  In reality what God’s saying to us is that He already knows we need something from Him, that He wants us to seek what we need from Him, and assures us that not only can we come to Him…but that He will answer us when we do.

Friends…do you know of any other god that not only offers that kind of invitation…but the assurance that they will hear their servants?  No.  There isn’t.  The most obvious reason they can’t offer that assurance is because the only living God there is…is ours.  Muhammad is dead, Buddha is dead, Gandhi is dead, and therefore the can’t offer us anything.  Our God is the ONLY God who can invite us to talk to Him, assure us that He will hear us, and as a result of hearing us…provide what we’re seeking from Him.

“Call to Me” is the invitation.  “I will answer” is the assurance that we’re not speaking to air, but to a living God who is very much interested in everything in our lives.  There isn’t one area of our lives that God isn’t interested in, and the fact that He provides both the invitation and the assurance is something that we ought not ignore.

Everything in our walk with God is initiated by Him.  He draws us to Him by His spirit, and the response is then up to us.  It’s up to us to respond to His voice, but most of us have a difficult time hearing His voice because we crowd it out with so much of the world.  That’s why the third soil wasn’t able to produce fruit…the cares of the world choked out the Word.  How many of you know that in the parable of the sower…the seed that’s being sown is the Word of God…well…we know that faith comes by hearing the Word of God…but when we talk about it we think that by hearing the Word of God over and over that’s what produces faith.

The thing that produces faith is that Rhema Word from God…the living word.  There’s a big difference between receiving revelation from the Bible…and receiving something spoken to your heart personally from God.  I’ve said this before, and it bears repeating that I’ve read and heard many times that God loves me, but the day God Himself spoke to my heart that He loved me and that I was His…that changed my life.  When HE speaks to you…that’s different because it’s no longer something you’ve read or heard from some preacher…it’s something that you heard directly from God Himself.

See…that’s one of those things that happens in prayer.  So many of us think that prayer is us talking away, giving a laundry list of things we want, thanking Him for His many blessings, asking forgiveness for our sins, and asking Him to bless and watch over our loved ones.  Yes…that is part of prayer, but there’s a whole side of prayer that many of us miss…because we talk too much.  There’s another part to prayer that’s rarely talked about…even in pulpits…the part where we shut up…and listen.

I know that I’m probably off topic here, but if we’re really going to talk about authentic prayer…then we need to get real, get honest, and get to the roots of what’s going to impact our prayer lives.   I don’t want to just write something just to write it…I want it to impact us…all of us.  Not just you…but me as well.  So, if that means I need to stray off topic to follow the Holy Ghost…that’s what I will do…because what the Holy Ghost has for us is far better than anything I can think of…Amen!?!

First all, “ . . . I will tell you great things you have not known” (v.33b). I will inspire you with greater understanding and knowledge than you could achieve on your own.

God’s desire is for all of us to grow and mature.  He wants us to gain knowledge, wisdom, and understanding.  Don’t believe me?  Read through the Book of Proverbs.  Count how many times it talks about getting wisdom, knowledge, and understanding.

How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver! Proverbs 16:16 (KJV)

Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth. Proverbs 4:5 (KJV)

Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Proverbs 4:7 (KJV)

The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge; and the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge. Proverbs 18:15 (KJV)

For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. Proverbs 2:6 (KJV)

I could go on for a while, but I think that the point has been made that wisdom, knowledge, and understanding are necessary for growth in our lives.  Those are things that we should be constantly seeking for more of when we pray.  Just as we need to grow in faith, hope, and love…so too do we need to add more knowledge, wisdom, and understanding.  “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” James 1:5.  It’s vital that when we come into situations and circumstances where we need wisdom, knowledge, and understanding that we learn not to lean upon our own…but constantly seek His.  That’s what Proverbs 3:5-6 is all about.

Friends…that’s really what prayer is all about.  It’s acknowledging Him in all of our ways.  In all of our circumstances and situations.  It’s always about getting God to lead and us to follow.  It’s getting ourselves out of His way, and allowing Him to lead and direct our paths.  That’s vital to understanding what prayer is and how it works.   It’s much more than just talking to God…it’s us talking to Him…and Him talking to us…and receiving His guidance and direction for our lives…because our lives aren’t ours…they belong to Him.  He bought and paid for us with the most precious commodity ever…the Blood of Jesus…Amen!?!

Let’s think about Jeremiah here for a minute. God instructed His prophet to remain unmarried as a sign of the harsh judgment that God was bringing to correct Israel in their rebellion. Jeremiah’s audience was heavily involved in idol worship. They were into deception and debauchery. God’s people were fully engaged in this blatant rejection of God. This is as clear as it gets: If something is going on in your life today and you’re wondering about God’s character, “If God really is X, then why is Y happening?” The answer to that dilemma is prayer. God says, “Call to Me, (in that moment) and I will tell you great things you don’t know.”

See.  There it is from someone other than me.  When we’re in a moment were something is going on in our lives we have two choices.  We can either try to deal with it on our own, or we can bring it to God.  I can either use my own limited wisdom…or I can seek God’s unlimited wisdom.  The answer to the situations and circumstances in our lives is prayer…why?  Because we’re relying upon God…and not ourselves.  That’s the whole point of humbling ourselves and submitting our entire lives to God…Amen!?!

It doesn’t matter if you’re going through heartbreak in ministry or family or in your career or whatever. These crises are prime times to go to God and say, “I’m not seeing it, Lord. I’m not feeling it. Why would You allow us to go through this?” Now the answer God provides is not necessarily coming directly from Scripture. But insight to help you understand what’s happening and why it’s happening will come through prayer! And you won’t know this until you pray!

Listen.  I’m not going to know God’s will for things in my life if I never ask Him.  Just today, I was writing a short message on perseverance, and how one of the things I’m struggling with is my job…and how I was doing my best to remain patient because I know that God has a better place for me elsewhere or He’s got better things planned for me where I’m at.

I’ve been praying a bit lately about my work situation, and just kind of believing that something greater is on the horizon.  So, I get a call this afternoon from my Wholesale Supervisor that we’re going to be starting up a new route pretty soon that’s going to allow him to give me a pay raise…and the reason I’m going to be the one getting the route is because I’m the only person he trusts to run that route because it could bring us some pretty significant business if they are done right.

See…I’ve been seeking God about my situation at work…I received the dreaded “wait” answer, and to be completely honest with you there was and still is some frustration and temptation to be impatient, and start looking for other jobs.  I’ve gotten a few bites from places here and there, but nothing that’s really better than what I already have.

Then, I have God remind me many a time that the job I’m working right now is the job that I asked Him for because it allows me the time to be able to work and make money, but it also gives me the time during the day to write these messages.

But the thing is…I have to be willing to humble myself and completely abandon myself to God’s direction.  There’s even many times over the last few months that I’ve said exactly what Dr. MacDonald writes; “I’m not seeing it, Lord.  I’m not feeling it at all.  I don’t want to be here, there’s a lot going on that I don’t agree with, and I just can’t seem to be excited about being here anymore.”

I sat down with my friend that I’m doing the Discipleship Track with, and one of the things he shared with me is about a similar struggle he had, and how God was dealing with him in his heart about things that God needed to get out of him.  So…here I am in the same place…where God’s got some things that He needs to work out of me…mainly my attitude about my job.

Can I be transparent?  Just from the time I got that call about moving to that route in a couple of weeks, my attitude has changed.  With God it’s always about making sure our hearts and attitudes are right…because we’re representative for Him every where we go.  If my attitude isn’t such that it reflects Christ…then people aren’t going to look at me and desire to know God.   I don’t want to have an attitude like that.  I want everything I do to reflect that I’m an ambassador for Christ.

It doesn’t matter if you’re going through heartbreak in ministry or family or in your career or whatever.

And we’re back to talking about Hebrews 4:16 (KJV) aren’t we?  Coming boldly to the throne of grace to obtain mercy, and grace in our time of need.  How many of you know that there are just moments when we need God’s grace and mercy?  It doesn’t say that we need to clean up our lives or have no issues before we come boldly to His throne does it?

I’m back to saying this.  How many of you know that there are just moments where we need to just come to the throne as we are…and isn’t it good to know that we can!?!  God’s invitation to call upon Him isn’t conditional upon our condition…it’s an open invitation to come to Him no matter what our situations, circumstances, issues, or moments are.  It’s an open invitation to me that whenever I have a time of need…I can come to Him boldly for the mercy and grace that I need.

Listen, when there’s something going on in my life, and I need God’s help to handle…how many of you know that’s not the time to be shy and feel like I’m unworthy to approach God?  How many of you know that when I need God’s help…that’s the time that I need to come boldly and confidently and expecting that when I approach His throne I’m going to receive the grace and mercy and help that I’m seeking for?

So…that’s also the time when  we need to be the most real…or authentic with God.  Authenticity is really just being honest with ourselves and God.  That’s all Authentic Prayer really is.  It’s us being honest with ourselves, being honest with God, coming before Him as we are…and seeking from Him what we cannot do for ourselves.

I don’t know what it is you’re facing, but I’d just like to take a moment to encourage and challenge you to just get real and honest with yourself about whatever it is you’re going through.  Then, go and get in that secret place with God…and seek His will, guidance, and direction.  You might get the dreaded “wait” answer too, but the point of this series is really isn’t about getting us to pray or teaching us “how” to pray…it’s to help us understand that we should always be praying, and that no matter what’s happening…good times, bad times or indifferent times…we can come to Him as we are…and He’ll not only hear us…but He will inspire you with greater understanding and knowledge than you could achieve on your own…Amen!?!

Conclusion:

I think that we just kind of figured out what Authentic prayer is…Amen!?!  It’s not about formal prayers, but about us being real with ourselves and God…and going to His throne no matter what the situation is.  Good, bad, indifferent or ugly times…we still need to be real and honest with ourselves…and God…and just accept His invitation to “Call on Me”.

With the invitation to call upon Him is the assurance that not only will He answer, but He’ll show us things that we’d never imagined we’d be able to know…but the only way we get to see those things is by responding to His invitation.

I don’t know about you, but I think now is as good a time as any to do just that…Amen!?!

Let’s Pray:

Almighty God, You know the things I’m afraid to bring up to You because they seem to cast doubt on Your goodness or sovereignty. They may even remind me of where I came from, and who I was before You came into my heart and life.  Oh Lord, I pray that You would remind me that I don’t have to “cover” for You…that I can come boldly to Your throne just as I am…with all my spots, wrinkles, and blemishes…Lord…I need You to show me that I can trust You with things that look impossible to understand or to endure. And I also need You to teach me that You will always be with me, even when I don’t understand.  I need You to help me to have patience and persevere in the times when You ask me to wait, and trust that You always have my best interests in mind.  Lord, show me Your glory, and help me to see You at work in my life…change my heart, change my attitude, and make them such that whenever the world sees me…they see someone who is being molded more and more into the image of Your Son…because in the end…that’s really the goal…to be more like Jesus…so that we can be Jesus to a lost and dying world that needs to know Him as Lord and Savior.  Help me to be the best example I can for You in all the arenas of my life whether I’m at home, at church, at work, or in Walmart…help me to display more of You and less of me.  These things I pray and ask In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Who Do You Need God To Be

 

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