For the video teaching on this, please link to our 721 Ministries Videos on Vimeo.
I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection … — Phil. 3:10
Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ … — John 17:3
We are embarking on a series on prayer. Is there any aspect of following Jesus more vague and ambiguous? When I ask how many in my audience are comfortable and confident in their prayer life I rarely get anyone raising their hands. When I ask for questions concerning prayer, I typically get the same general questions. I’ve listed a few at the bottom.
What questions do you have?
Most of our questions are similar to: “How do I pray?” – “What is the proper way to pray?” But if we think about our questions, we must admit they typically center around this underlying worry: “How do I ask … to get what I am asking for?”
Now asking for what we want is perfectly acceptable to the Lord, but it is just the starting point of prayer, and a most elemental aspect to be sure. Jesus tells us that living in the Kingdom now is to know “the only true God, and Jesus Christ.” Stop and ponder that for a moment:
Eternal life: The A+ Life to the Full – The Deeper Life – The Living Heaven-on-Earth Life now – is all about knowing your Heavenly Father, and his son Jesus. This is an astounding promise – do not miss that. So how do we get to know them? We pray. But we don’t just ask for things in our prayers. No one is going to get to know anyone by just asking for things from them. No, we engage in an ongoing, on and off, throughout-the-day conversation with our Heavenly Father, and our best friend, Jesus.
This is how we get to know them.
Think about this scenario: You are asked to introduce someone to the others in the room, but you do not really know that person very well. You stiffen up a bit. You might be able to stutter out a few facts: “Uh, he’s married. I think he has children. He works at the bank.” You would likely not be particularly comfortable.
Now then let’s change the scenario: You are asked to introduce one of your dear friends. Perhaps a childhood buddy. Your whole countenance would change. Your face breaks into a smile. You visibly relax. And you start to tell stories. Stories about all your experiences together. Yes, you might include a few facts. But your real joy will be in reliving all the times you shared.
Now, imagine being asked to introduce Jesus.
“Uh, let’s see. He is the Son of God. He walked on water. He fed five thousand. He changed water to wine. His joys and disappointments? Gee, I don’t really know. Does anyone?”
Do you have a multitude of stories to share about your experiences together with Jesus? Both in good times and difficult times? Intimate times as well as fun times? Would you be relaxed, and even excited to have the opportunity? Or would you be uptight, not really knowing what to say? Not really having any personal experiences upon which to draw?
Over all these years of doing men’s ministry, and just doing life in general, I have found that I get to know someone by spending time with them. That’s obvious. But I can meet and greet a man for a year in our weekly 721 meetings and only know the facts about him. Yet with one visit on the porch, I start to get to know him. Him, not facts about him.
True friendships surface when we engage in conversations about and with each other: our lives, our hopes and fears, our joys and our disappointments.
That’s prayer. It can be just that simple.
Does it work?
We always talk about God’s will (not ours) be done. So what right do I have to ask Him for the sick to be well, and good things to come to good people, and peace to a troubled world. That seems like I am asking for my will.
Are there things you should not pray for (personal financial success, other personal concerns that are solely for your own benefit. Etc…)?
One thing I’ve wondered about is, “How important is the location/position of your body?”
You know… Do you need to bow your head? Can you pray/talk to God walking through the woods? Or does he hear you better on your knees at the alter rail in the sanctuary?
How often? On knees – standing up – eyes closed – hats off?
What does Jesus mean by going into your prayer closet?
Is prayer more effective while “laying hands” on the person you are praying for?
Is corporate prayer more effective than individual prayer?
If God knows what is going to happen why pray??
By praying to change God’s plan for a person or situation, can we really change God’s mind?
Does the number of people praying help?
What is “mustard seed” faith?
Can I really wear God down by continually “knocking?”
Can/does anything get in the way of God answering and/or hearing my prayers?