Teaching Series

Authentic Prayer from James MacDonald (Day 2 of 7)

Today’s Scripture:  Jeremiah 33:1-3

1 Moreover the word of the Lord came unto Jeremiah the second time, while he was yet shut up in the court of the prison, saying,

2 Thus saith the Lord the maker thereof, the Lord that formed it, to establish it; the Lord is his name;

3 Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.


Today, we’re going to look at the very set of verses that one of yesterday’s Be A Doer…Not Just A Reader assignments was on.  Anyone actually take the time to do it?  Don’t answer that question for me…answer it for yourself…honestly…and if you haven’t then ask yourself another question…what was more important to me than taking the time to study God’s Word?  What ever your answer is…you’ve created an idol…and made whatever your answer is more important to you than getting to know the things of God.  Let me say this:  If you want Authentic Prayer to have any kind of power to it…then you need to take the power away from the idol’s in your life…and I’m saying that to myself as well.  If we spend more time watching Desperate Housewives than in the Word of God…don’t expect to read a study on Authentic Prayer, and suddenly see your prayer life have more power and authority.

Jesus didn’t go away from the disciples and watch television…He went away to get alone with God…and get on His face and sought first the Kingdom of God.  He sought His Father’s face…and if you think that watching 5 hours of television a night, and spending 5 minutes in reading these messages is going to improve your prayer life…then your totally deceived…because that’s NOT going to help you improve your prayer life.

So…with that said…and I’m sure that there are many of you angry with me for saying that, but I’m not about the popular…I’m about speaking the truth.  The truth is many of us in the Body of Christ have weak prayer lives because we spend as little time with God as possible, and only consult Him when we need Him to do something, give us something, or get us out of some mess we got ourselves into because we’re so busy and carnal that we can’t hear the voice of the Holy Ghost…so we go to God in prayer to ask Him to get us out of the mess we created…and when He doesn’t help us in the time and speed in which we think He ought to…we get mad at God, throw up our hands in the air, and talk about how this prayer thing doesn’t work.

If you want a stronger prayer life.  Turn off the television, and turn on some worship music.  Read the newspaper some other time, and start reading that dusty old Bible of yours.  Instead of seeking things of the world to entertain you…go into that prayer closet with God…shut the door…and seek the face of God.

I guess I can get into the message now…

Today’s Message:  “Call to Me”

I guess I’m not ready to move on from what I was talking about in the introduction quite yet.  I have a sense that there are many of you who are angry with me for what I just wrote, and let me just say that if you’re angry with me…then you should really take a look in the mirror of the Word of God…and take a look at yourself…and ask why you’re so angry about something that the Holy Ghost is speaking to my heart.

Listen, I don’t know how many times I have to say this…but when I write these messages I’m getting ministered to also.  Whatever the Holy Ghost leads me to say…I’m saying to myself as well.  I know that it’s much more entertaining to turn on the television, and do nothing but veg out in front of it.  I like to sit and do nothing as much as anyone else, but the problem comes when doing nothing becomes more comfortable than being in the presence of God.

Before I closed the introduction…I talked about how little time we spend in God’s Word, God’s presence, praying, and worshipping God…yet we expect to be powerful men and women of God…yet when we’re not…we point the finger at God…and blame Him for the reasons why “this God thing just doesn’t work”.  Have you ever…just for a moment thought that maybe…just maybe the reason this “God thing doesn’t work for you” is because you don’t do anything to help it work?  Have you ever thought about the fact that maybe…just maybe the reason you have no power in your prayer life is because you aren’t plugged into the Power Source?

Listen.  You cannot spend 5 minutes with God…and expect to have the kind of power and authority of someone who spends 5 hours in God.  There’s an old expression “you reap what you sow” that applies here just as much as another one.  “The more you put into something…the more you’ll get out of it.”  I don’t think I need to explain that too much, but here’s my point.  If you want more ability to quote the Bible like the preachers you see on television or in front of you on Sunday…you need to spend time reading and listening to the Word of God.  The more of the Word that you get into you…the more of it will come out of you.  If you want a stronger and more powerful prayer life…then you need to spend more time praying.

Which is a perfect Segway to get into our message:

The average person speaks 34,000 words a day. You talk a half a book every day! If we’re all talking a half a book a day, is there even a page of dialogue with God? When was the last time you gave half a chapter in a single day to the God who says, “Call to Me?” Notice the word call. That’s an invitation to intensity. God invites us not to whimper to Him. God is not, “Say something to Me.”

You know, I’m certainly not average because I probably don’t speak that much, but that’s how God made me.  I’m not much for small talk, and I’m really not that great at communicating in general…just ask my wife, my mom, and anyone else who knows me…and they’ll tell you that.  I can freely admit that I don’t spend nearly enough time talking to God…even though I talk to Him quite a bit…but still I know I could always spend more time in prayer.  I think if most of us are really…truly honest with ourselves…we can all admit that we could spend more time in prayer.

I like what Dr. MacDonald says here that “Call to Me” is an invitation to intensity…I submit to you that the same intensity is necessary when it comes to seeking the face of God.  “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13speaks of this intensity.

Yesterday, I briefly mentioned how casual we are with God sometimes, and what I meant by that is not only in the way we approach God, but the amount of quality time we spend with Him.  You know…what let me spin what I’m about to get into this way.  Imagine for a moment that your spouse or significant other treated YOU the way YOU treat God.  Let’s imagine that they spend the amount of quality time with YOU that YOU spend with God.  They talk to you as often as you talk to God…and the way you talk to God.  Let’s go further.  Let’s imagine that they desire to be intimate with you as often as you desire to be intimate with God.  Let’s go deeper, and imagine that they desire to get to know you as deeply as you desire to know God.

Am I touching any nerves yet?  If your significant other treated you the way you treat God…would you have any reason to believe that they loved you?  So…take that thought, and then apply it to how you treat God.  How much quality time do you spend with God?  If you’re like me…not enough.  How much time do you spend talking to God?  Again, if you’re like me…not enough.  How much do you desire to know God on a deeper and more intimate way?  I know…this is getting repetitive, but the fact is every one of these questions we can answer the same way…and I’m including myself in the “we” just so you know.

Intensity…passion…desire.  If you expect those things from your relationship with your significant other…then you should know that God expects those things from our relationship with Him.  He wants it.  He desires us far more than we desire Him.  He desires to fellowship with us far more than we desire to with Him.  How do I know that?  “Behold, I stand at the  door, and  knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the  door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”  Revelation 3:20.

Friends…Revelation 3:20 isn’t about unbelievers…it’s about US.  It’s about the fact that God is knocking at the door of our hearts…in fact…for most of us the knocking as become pounding because that’s just how intense God’s love for us is…and His desire for us to be with Him and His desire to be with us.

“How do you want us to talk to You, God?”

“I want you to call.” That’s an expression of urgency, intensity, and fervency. It’s an invitation to shameless and loud intimacy! God says, “Call to Me.”

“Call to Me”.  Have you ever had a pet get outside, and you couldn’t find them?  Maybe you were some where and you lost your child for a moment.  What do you do?  You call their name and seek and search for them with an intensity, tenacity, and feelings that cannot be uttered with words…can they?  I remember as a boy one day our dog got hit by a car, and when I went out side to find her she was nowhere to be seen.  I remember the anguish I felt as I looked and searched and called for her…I sought to find her with all my heart.  How many of you maybe had a similar experience with a pet or child or some other reason that you lost something and you sought to find it with a tenacity and intensity because it was near and dear to your heart.  Heck…some of us get that way when we lose our car keys or misplace our wallets…but now we get to the important question:

Do we have that same anguish and intensity with God? 

If I’m willing to be transparent and honest with you, and I am…then I have to answer that question with a convicting no I don’t…at least not all the time.  I do have a burning passion and desire for God, but I can be honest and transparent enough to admit that some times that fire loses it’s intensity.  I don’t always seek God with that tenacity and anguish…and that’s part of having a powerful prayer life…we need to.  We need to seek God with that kind of anguish and passion.  We need to have a raging fire in our hearts when it comes to seeking God…not just the smoldering ashes of a once hot and intense fire.  That’s why Jesus talked about how He’d rather we were hot or cold, and not lukewarm.  I have to admit…some times I am lukewarm…but I also admit that I don’t want to be…and I desire to have the flames of passion in my heart fanned into that raging inferno that the early church had.

“I want you to call.” That’s an expression of urgency, intensity, and fervency. It’s an invitation to shameless and loud intimacy! God says, “Call to Me.”

I can’t quite move past this point yet.  Shameless is a word that we need to be more familiar with in the Body of Christ…isn’t it?  Do you know why we don’t pray with the passion and intensity we should?  I submit to you that it’s because we’re ashamed or concerned about what that looks like to the people around us.

Again…let’s go back to our illustration about how you’d feel if your significant other treated you the way you treat God.  How would you feel if every time you wanted to hold their…they looked around to see who was watching?  How would you feel if every time you wanted to hug them or kiss them in public they looked around to see who was watching?  How would you feel if you were extremely excited about something, and you went to tell them about it…and they were like “calm down, don’t make a fool of yourself…you’re embarrassing me.”?

Am I hitting a nerve yet?  Good…because that’s exactly what we do to God.  When the pastor gives an altar call on Sunday morning…you know what happens…because I’m going to be honest and admit that I’ve done this:  You look around to see who is watching, and some times you know God’s tugging at your heart to respond…but no one else goes up front…so you don’t either…and you miss out on what God wanted to do because you were ashamed to take a step towards Him because you were afraid of how it made you look.  Can I get to the heart of that problem?  You’re full of too much pride.

Listen.  If you’re too ashamed of God to go to the altar even when no one else is going because you’re worried about what so and so is going to think…then you need to run to the altar anyways.  I just told you I’ve done it…so don’t think I’m scolding just you.  I’ve missed out on something God had for me because I knew He had something He wanted to do in my life, but I didn’t go to the front because no one else did…and I didn’t want to look like a fool I was worried about what everyone was going to think of me instead of what God thought of me…that’s too much pride.

Come on, people, we all know what Jesus said about those of us who are ashamed of Him before men don’t we?  That’s correct…He will be ashamed of us before His Father…when we are standing in front of Him on Judgment Day.

Listen…I don’t know about you…but I do NOT want Jesus to be ashamed of me when I stand before the Great White Throne…okay.  So…just like you do…I need to learn to lay down my pride and whether it’s an altar call or praying out loud or whatever it is…I need to learn to not be ashamed or embarrassed and worry about what everyone else, but God is going to think of me.  After all…the most important opinion in the world isn’t what anyone else thinks of me…but God’s.

We need to stop worrying what everyone else thinks…and worry about our heart’s condition towards God…because the truth of the matter is this:  If my heart isn’t right with God…then my heart isn’t going to be right towards the world.  If my heart isn’t right with God…then I’m not going to cry out to Him with that passion that I need to because I know when my heart is right with God and when it isn’t…so when I’m not right with God…it’s allows for guilt and condemnation to creep in…guilt and condemnation will always come between you and God because when you feel those two things…you wind up feeling unworthy to approach God at all.  So…the most important relationship in the world isn’t the one between you and anyone else…it’s your relationship with God…because if that relationship is wrong…your relationship with and to the world will be too…and that includes your relationship with your significant other.

Friends…I’m done with being popular.  I am aware that there may be people who are going to be offended by some of the things I’m saying, but I’m not interested in being popular…I’m interested in being honest and speaking exactly what the Holy Ghost puts in my heart to write…so if you have any issues with what I write…take them up with my Boss.

The implication of God’s invitation is that it allows us to call any time and all the time. The situation in which Jeremiah found himself when this invitation was issued holds a significant lesson for us. “The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah a second time while he was shut up in the court of the guard” (v.1). That’s a way of saying he was under guard—in prison. In one way or another he was restricted. Based on parallel experiences, we can say we sometimes find ourselves in some kind of a prison. We can identify with being “shut up in the court of the guard.”

More often than not…the prison I find myself captive in is the one I talked about a moment ago.  Our relationship with God is extremely sensitive, and when we are full of guilt and condemnation that’s one of the biggest reasons for our struggles with our relationship with God.  If satan can get us to a place where we feel like we’re unworthy to come before a holy God as we are…we won’t…and that means we won’t pray and seek His face…because we won’t believe we’re eligible based upon ourselves, our righteousness, and if we know there’s sin in our heart…we’ll be more conscious of that then we will be of the Lord’s desire to have us draw near to Him.

The reason we’re eligible to come before God is because we’re in Christ, and let me just say that the reason that 1 John 1:9 “If we confessour sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” was written is so that if we are being attacked by guilt and condemnation we can bring those things before God…and know that the moment we confess them…they’re forgiven.  Then…we can get do to business with God.

Listen…we’re back to Hebrews 4:16 which says:  “Let us therefore come  boldlyunto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”  Do you know when I need to approach the throne of grace for mercy and grace in my time of need?  When I feel ineligible to approach God because of sin in my heart.  I need grace and mercy at that moment…and it says very clearly that I may obtain it the moment I approach the throne.

So…we truly can call upon God at any time and any moment…in any condition…and not only will He hear us, but He will answer us when we call.  Why?  Because nothing can separate us from His love, and we are His children…and there isn’t one of us that He’s expecting to be perfect because it’s not OUR perfection that He sees…but His Son’s.  Therefore…Let us therefore come  boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need…Amen!?!

We listen in as God says, “Hey, Jeremiah, how’s it going for you today?”

How about you take a moment to let that sink in, and personalize it.  Instead of Jeremiah (unless that’s your name) try inserting YOUR name there.  In fact, try it this way.  “Hey (insert your name), it’s God. How are you doing today?”  If you’re looking for something to talk to God about…start right there.

“Hey, God.  It’s Bryan.  I’m doing pretty good today.  I’m concerned about the direction this nation is headed, but I know that You’re in control.  Thanks for leading someone to post about Psalm 46:10 today to remind me to be still before You, and know that You are God…and You are in control.  Thank You for easing my fears about what’s next for this nation…and reminding me that I don’t trust in anything or anyone other than You.  The government cannot do anything for me, but You can…You supply all my needs according to Your riches and glory…and I thank You that I belong to Your system…the the Kingdom of Heaven’s system…and not the system of this world.  By the way, how are You today, God?”

There’s a whole prayer right there…just from internalizing and personalizing “Hey, Bryan, it’s God…How are you today?”  How about trying it for yourself?

We listen in as God says, “Hey, Jeremiah, how’s it going for you today?”

“Not great. Things are not looking up. What do you want me to do now?”

“Call to Me, son; call to Me.”

Can you hear God extending that same standing invitation to you? “Call to Me, My child!”

You know…Authentic Prayer isn’t some great eloquently spoken speech.  It’s not some kind of profound address.  It doesn’t need to sound like something Abraham Lincoln would say.  It just needs to be from you…from your heart…that’s Authentic Prayer.

Take for instance, that short prayer I just wrote a minute ago.  That’s a serious and sincere prayer from my heart to God.  I didn’t need to have anything other than something to say.  You know, Facebook gives you a great opportunity to write “What’s on your mind?”…

Here’s an idea.  Instead of thinking it’s Facebook asking you “What’s on your mind?”  Try thinking of it as God saying to you:  “Hey, it’s God.  What’s on your mind today?  Is there something you need?  Is there a burden I can carry for you?  I’m willing to do that…all you have to do is call on Me.”

So…what’s on your mind?  Maybe you need to write it down.  Maybe you can speak it out.  Whatever the way…the important thing is to not worry about how you’re talking to God…but that you’re talking to God.  He can’t do anything if you don’t talk to Him…so just give it a try…He’s waiting to hear from you…so what are you waiting for?

Be A Doer…Not Just A Reader:

I hear this loud and clear in my heart right now.  Some of you have things on your heart and minds that you really need God to move upon in your life, but you feel like you can’t.  You feel like you can’t because of that prison of guilt and condemnation.  I’m here to let you know that God wants to remove the shackles of that prison.

If that’s you…then you need to believe in your heart and confess this with your mouth right now:  “Lord Jesus, I need You, but I feel like I’m ineligible because of sin in my heart.  So, Your Word says that if we confess our sin…that You are faithful and just to forgive us of all unrighteousness.  So, I ask You, Lord God, to cleanse my heart and forgive me for anything that’s in my heart.  I ask You to release me from the guilt, shame, remorse, and condemnation over the sin in my heart.  I thank You for hearing me, for forgiving me, and setting me free…right now…in Jesus’ name…I am free of guilt…I am free of shame…I am free of condemnation…and I am free to approach the throne of grace to obtain the mercy and grace I need…and I receive the grace, mercy, and cleansing of the blood of Jesus…right now…in Jesus’ name…Amen & Amen.

Now…with the shackles off…take a moment to insert your name…and begin to answer God’s invitation.  “Hello, it’s God…what’s on your mind?”


Can you hear God extending that same standing invitation to you? “Call to Me, My child!”

Friends, we need to remember this.  We need to get this point right here in our hearts.  God wants us to call upon Him.  If you feel like you can’t…then I’ll refer you to the prayer above.  If you feel that you can…then I’ll refer you to the prayer below as we close this message.

Remember this:  “Authentic Prayer isn’t some great eloquently spoken speech. It’s not some kind of profound address. It doesn’t need to sound like something Abraham Lincoln would say. It just needs to be from you…from your heart…that’s Authentic Prayer.”…Amen!?!


Father, You knew where Jeremiah was and how he was feeling when this was written. You came to him. Thank You for all the times when I’ve been so consumed and distracted by my circumstances and You’ve “shown up” in some unexpected way that caught my attention. In Jesus’ name, Amen.