Looking for the activity of God
Last week, Mike talked about kingdom intentionality, and the importance of joining God on his mission. But how do we figure out what that means? We know that the big picture is to love God, love each other, and share Jesus, but how do we know what our mission is at any given moment? What are the exact details of what we should be doing, or saying, in every relationship and situation?
The Example of Jesus
Jesus was on a mission. He accomplished this mission by knowing the will of the Father.
John 6:38 || 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. [CSB]
How did he discern that will? Well, Jesus did have a bit of an advantage, however he set an example of what it looks like for a human to be so connected to God that their mission and will merges with His mission and will. He did that in at least 3 ways:
KNOW: Intimate knowledge and understanding of Scripture (Study)
Every word of truth and bold action was backed by a solid foundation of scripture.
NOTE: we never really read about Jesus’ studies! We find him in the temple, and he quotes a lot of scripture, but we don’t hear about how he learned. Unlike the Apostle Paul that had a formal education, Jesus learned at home.
COMMUNICATE: Constant communication with the Father (Pray)
Jesus was in a habit of sending and receiving messages. This is a crucial element to ANY mission, as many military folks I’m sure could attest to.
PROCESS: Social distancing (Meditate)
This one kind of puts the other two together, creating an intentional, quiet, alone time and space to focus on God’s word, prayer, and simply being still and waiting for God to reveal Himself to you.
Today we’re going to focus primarily on the COMMUNICATE aspect, which is PRAYER. They all overlap and relate to each other, but we’re going to dive into this concept of prayer specifically.
What is prayer?
Prayer is Talking to God.
Some people are naturally intimidated to talk to other people... and some people are intimidated talking to God. But we need not fear God, he WANTS US to talk with him.
Philippians 4:6–7 || 6 Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. [CSB]
Prayer is Listening to God.
Have you ever been in a conversation where you couldn’t get a word in? I am afraid that many times I am THAT person, and even more so with my prayers. I talk TO God or AT God. I unload all that is on my mind like some exercise in stress control.
God created us for relationship with him. Because we messed it up, he sent Jesus to fix that relationship. Healthy relationships require communication. And healthy communication means that all parties are listening and speaking.
SIDE NOTE: Discerning…God doesn’t contradict himself (which is why you need a foundational understanding of who he is and what he has said through the Bible). You need space and quiet to listen.
Prayer is communication with the one who made you and knows everything about you. There is no need to be embarrassed or intimidated, afraid or concerned.
Jesus’s Prayer Shapes Our Relationship to the Father
A Geeky Theology Moment with Mike & David 🤓
PROGRESSION: In the OT people prayed to Yahweh (his name) or God (his position). Because Jesus was the son of God he prayed to the “Father” predominantly. Did Jesus ever pray to Yahweh? Kinda like you and me calling our parents by their first names. While Jesus referred to the Father as Lord (see verse below) he didn’t communicate with him that way.
Matthew 11:25–26 || 25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and revealed them to infants. 26 Yes, Father, because this was your good pleasure. [CSB]
Then, when Jesus tells US how to pray, he says that OUR prayers are to be addressed to the Father. Not Lord, but Father. In one of the most famous prayer sessions of Jesus, he was in the garden asking if there was another way except the cross, and willing to accept the will of the Father. In this, he made the Father his Lord, but he referred to him as “abba”:
Mark 14:36 || 36 And he said, “Abba, Father! All things are possible for you. Take this cup away from me. Nevertheless, not what I will, but what you will.” [CSB]
Abba means, one hit wonder 😉 lol
Romans 8:15 || 15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear. Instead, you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!” [CSB]
Galatians 4:6 || 6 And because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba, Father!” [CSB]
SIDE TRIP: The one time that we can think of where Jesus spoke to the Father and called him God was as he was dying on the cross. When darkness had covered the land.
Mark 15:33–34 || 33 When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 And at three Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lemá sabachtháni?” which is translated, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” [CSB]
We see in the NT people referred to the Father as Lord. Jesus referred to him as Father, and we can do both, plus call him “Dad”
TIME OUT! Jesus prayed? Jesus prayed to GOD, the Father, but Jesus IS GOD. What is that all about? Why would God pray to God? Did God not know what God wanted? So, WE could geek out on this concept all day long and in the end, we would end up admitting that we do not fully understand it! However, I [MIKE] think it is safe to at least draw the comparison of creation. When GOD created in six days, he then rested on the seventh. God does not get tired, he rested to establish a practice that WE need and to be the example. I believe Jesus is, at the very least, doing the same for us in the area of communication, with prayer.
God knows that we need to pray…
God knows what’s in your heart. He knows every thought you have. But expressing it out loud (or even just intentionally with your thoughts, or under your breath), is a reminder that we CAN talk to God and that he really wants to have conversations with us! He went to great lengths to make it possible for me and him to have a relationship.
It also helps me re-center my life by revealing what is in my heart. If I am only praying about people’s physical problems, or about work, then I am not praying about God’s mission and people who need Jesus. There is something off-center. I also find that if I am praying about all my situations I am generally not praying about my heart and what God wants to reveal to me and teach me.
Luke 6:45 || 45 A good person produces good out of the good stored up in his heart. An evil person produces evil out of the evil stored up in his heart, for his mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart. [CSB]
So, this topic of prayer is huge! Both Old and New Testaments of the Bible are chocked full of prayers!
To help narrow the focus and keep our online time inside the 24hr per broadcast limit, we have narrowed down three prayers that we want to peer into this morning. Since we talked about Jesus and him being on mission, we want to go back to Jesus and look at what he had to say about prayer.
What should we pray?
God wants us to talk to him about EVERYTHING! But one major topic that helps form the framework and perspective of the rest of our prayers, is that of mission.
Luke 22:39–46 || 39 He went out and made his way as usual to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. 40 When he reached the place, he told them, “Pray that you may not fall into temptation.” 41 Then he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and began to pray, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me—nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” 43 Then an angel from heaven appeared to him, strengthening him. 44 Being in anguish, he prayed more fervently, and his sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground. 45 When he got up from prayer and came to the disciples, he found them sleeping, exhausted from their grief. 46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray, so that you won’t fall into temptation.” [CSB]
Jesus modeled prayer, and one of the most famous was his garden prayer. What was that prayer? Father, if I must sacrifice my life to accomplish the mission, use me.
Lord’s Prayer: “Your kingdom come…”
Even the disciples wanted to make sure they were praying properly, so they asked Jesus to teach them how to pray.
Matthew 6:9–14 || 9 “Therefore, you should pray like this: Our Father in heaven, your name be honored as holy. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. 14 “For if you forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. [CSB]
Jesus also taught us HOW to pray, and we call it, “The Lord’s Prayer” Kinda misleading, because it really was a prayer for the disciples to pray, so we ought to call it, “The Disciples Prayer” - which of course would then apply to you and me 😉
What was he teaching us? Submit to God’s leadership so that God’s kingdom work, his mission, can be done on this earth! That we would trust God to provide for us (like the Jews in the wilderness) and that we would forgive others (like Jesus did on the cross).
NOTICE: there is a whole lot more that is covered in this model prayer – like the entire LAW! But we think it is significant to note that the prayer not only talked about the mission of God, but is started with who God is and what God wants to do – then it focuses on us lining up with that.
Pray for workers for the harvests
Matthew 9:35–38 || 35 Jesus continued going around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. 38 Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.” [CSB]
Jesus told us what to prayer for – workers for the harvest. The harvest is plentiful – that means God is working all around us. It is not that people do not want to know God, it is more that most Christians are not willing to share God. Pray for more workers – so God’s mission can multiply!
So, we’ve talked a lot about prayer, and explored a few tangents. As usual, we’ve tackled some topics that we could easily spend hours and weeks on. But for now we want to bring it back around to the lens of mission and making that a lens through which we approach everything, including prayer. Are you willing to pray “Here I am, Lord, send me?” Or, “Father, not my will but yours?”
I’d like to share with you with a quote from an excellent book by Henry Blackaby, called “Experiencing God.”
God is always at work in His world. He seeks to bring every person into a personal relationship with Himself through Jesus Christ. Jesus described the way He knew and did the will of His Father. Because the Father loved His Son, He showed the Son what He was doing. Jesus watched to see where the Father was working and joined Him. You can follow that same pattern by watching to see where God is at work around you. When He shows you, join Him in His work. Keep your attention on God’s call to an assignment rather than on your spiritual gifts, personal desires, skills, abilities, or resources. Once you understand God’s call to an assignment, obey Him, and He will work through you to accomplish His divine, eternal purposes.
(Henry Blackaby, Experiencing God)
When you submit your whole life to God’s will, the question is not if God will give you an assignment, but when, (your mission, if you choose to accept it…), and not only is it your duty to obey, it is the greatest joy and fulfilment you can ever attain, because it will grow and deepen your relationship with the Father.
Mission is not the only thing that we live for. But when we live life without having mission as part of our DNA, we are not going to feel satisfied or fulfilled because we were reconciled to God so we could join Him in his ministry of reconciliation. If we are not joining him, then we are missing our calling. If we are joining him, then it is important that we start by communicating with him about his will, his workers and our submission to both.
I have that in MY life, if I am not making God’s mission a part of my prayer time, then I am not ready and looking for ways to live with Missional Intentionality.
In the coming weeks we are going to get even more practical about things we can do, rhythms we can adjust to make them missional, but we need to start with prayer. Our best efforts are worthless if they are not what God wants.