Great to see everybody! Glad you’re here for our series on PRAYER—we’re calling God Box! You’re prolly familiar with the Prayer in the opening video we just saw—commonly known as The Lord’s Prayer. And today we’re going to look at that to discover a Pattern for Prayer that Jesus taught his followers. Prayer is popular these days! Even though only 25% of America attends church on any given Sunday… surveys show 75% of people pray at least once every day!
Truth is Everybody prays!
Find yourself in a bad enough situation and you’ll be praying too!
One time I was in the hospital in Nazareth, yup, that’s right, Nazareth in Israel. I couldn’t speak to my nurses, and I felt majorly alone! You better believe I was praying.
Even those of you who don’t consider yourself a person of prayer, you use prayer too… Can’t sleep at night? Start praying. Dear God… zzz…zzz…
Sometimes I think we don’t pray because we just don’t know what to say. It becomes a bit of a fear factor… Like what if what I say sounds stupid to God… What if it is unbiblical… What if… Well, the good news is you aren’t the only person in the world that doesn’t know how to pray or is afraid to pray. In fact, those closest to Jesus here on Earth, His disciples shared a similar feeling towards prayer.
This story is found in two places, Matthew 6 (pg 678) and Luke 11.
And here’s the context. Luke 11:1 says:
1One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray…”
And this is an interesting request. When you think about it, the disciples spent 3 years with Jesus—travelling from town-to-town, preaching the Gospel, sharing Good News, healing the sick, caring for the poor. And clearly they had observed Jesus praying. Jesus was a Man of Prayer! In fact, the vast majority of miracles flowed out of his private prayer time with Abba (Daddy!)
And so His disciples were curious. As young Jewish men, they’d already MEMORIZED many prayers! Hebrew boys had to recite dozens of traditional prayers, word-for-word. And yet: They noticed something different about the way Jesus prayed. Something unique. He was conversational with his, Father. It wasn’t always gimme, gimme, gimme. There was deep, abiding intimacy…and power flowed out of his private prayer life.
And so they said, “Lord, we want to pray like that. Can you teach us?”
And that’s a beautiful request. In many ways, it echoes what we’re doing in our Churchwide Prayer Challenge—for 30 days, we’re asking the HS to teach us to pray in new ways. With Power, with Perseverance.
And Jesus is the Perfect Teacher. The response He gives—the template He teaches his disciples—is well-known. The Lord’s Prayer that follows in Luke is the abbreviated version, so I want to read the full one in Matthew 6:
9 “This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven, (last week we learned the word for Father is ABBA = Daddy)
hallowed be your name,
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 lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
And then you see in the footnotes, some manuscripts include the closing line:
for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
(HANDS) The Lord’s Prayer. How many of you know this prayer? Could recite it from memory?
Today, I want to challenge your familiarity—and really see the PATTERN of PRAYER that Jesus teaches his disciples.
- Notice that Jesus first praises God – “‘Our Fatherin heaven, So the idea is that the first thing we do is acknowledge who we’re praying to: A holy & majestic God who lives in Heaven. We are not like him—we are down on earth, while He is Lord of the Cosmos. Exalted & over all.
And yet, at the same time: He is also our Father. Our ABBA = our Daddy. Personal & loving.
And this is a beautiful name by which to call God. Many of you were touched by that last week—this idea that God is your Father who cares, and loves you.
When we pray your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
We are simply inviting God to rule first in our hearts. And then in our world. That His rule & reign will be accomplished in this world & our daily lives. So there’s a spirit of submission—we want God’s will, not our own—to prevail in all things.
And then Jesus prays, 11 Give us today our daily bread.,
Notice the PATTERN of this prayer. First, Jesus praised God; then He makes his requests. Q: Why in that order? And the answer is obvious: Praising God first puts us in the right frame of mind to tell him about our needs. And this is helpful bc sometimes our prayers are more like Shopping Lists than Conversations.
- Pray as a way of only GETTING
Dear God… Thanks for this day… (Bonus points) Now, please help us with my test… God let us have a good day. Give us a fun time… Amen. It’s all about me… It just feeds the ME Monster. And we need to be teaching our kids that we don’t have a relationship with God because we are concerned about our comfort, but rather that we have a relationship with the God of the universe, the creator, the one who spoke and the stars took their place, that holds back the oceans at the sands edge, the one who breathed life into our lungs… It isn’t just a cosmic vending machine.
I think that’s a Good Reminder for all us adults! True Prayer is not bombarding God with a Shopping List of requests—telling him what we want. (Parents, how would you feel if your child only talked to you when they wanted something?) It’s not only rude—it misses God’s heart.
This past week, we had to have a little reminder in our house that mommy and daddy are not your servants… We aren’t maids, cooks, and waitresses. We are your parents, and we do those things because we love you. But what I was reminding them of, is that we want to do all of those things for them because of our relationship with them.
The Pattern of Prayer Jesus introduces is much more balanced than that of a child. It comes down to you vs. me
- YOUR vs US
The Prayer Jesus teaches here has 7 requests or petitions—and the first 3 are actually about God!
Our Father in heaven, holy is your name – God’s holiness comes first!
Your Kingdom come – We pray that the world would know His love & power!
Your will be done – we pray for His authority to be obeyed on earth as it is in heaven
IOW: The first half of Jesus’ prayer is NOT about us—it’s about God!
Notice the word YOUR – your name… your kingdom… your will.
Is then followed by the word US – Give us today our daily bread… forgive us our debts… lead us not into temptation… deliver us from the evil one.
IOW: There are some things we FIRST need to offer God… before we begin making requests of Him.
There’s a Pattern here for Prayer. And today, I want to make this easy for you. There are 4 basic types of Prayer that Jesus teaches us here. And all 4 are essential if we want to have a balanced prayer life with God like Jesus did. If you’re going to go deeper than a shopping list.
These 4 Prayers you can pray at any time, in any order. And there’s a little acrostic you can use to remember it. It’s the word ACTS—an acrostic whose four letter stand for:
Supplication (or Petition)
We start our prayers with Adoration – with praise & worship meant to adore him. WOW! God you’re great… Holy is your name!
Then we Confess our sins. Tell God we’re SORRY for our offenses against Him. That’s verse 12: “Forgive us our sins as we forgive everyone who sins against us.”
We give THANKS for all that God’s done for us. For not only forgiving us. But answering our prayers. The blessings He’s poured into our life—our families, our kids, our relationships, our church. For health, for meaningful work. This is probably the Biggest Job we have in our prayer—thanking God for His goodness.
And then finally, your Father wants his kids to bring their requests to him. The formal word for this is Supplication—which means we’re asking God to supply our needs. We’re asking for HELP! And this is the kind of prayer most of us pray. “God, help me find a job… God, help my grandpa recovery from surgery. Father, help me find a spouse. Lord, please help so-and-so discover their calling in life…”
That is INTERCESSION—when we pray for the needs & concerns of others.
And here’s the deal. This is the MAJORITY of PRAYERS that many of us have prayed thus far. These boxes are filled with all kinds or Petitions & Requests. And that’s good… Abba wants to give good gifts to His children. But today, I want to MODEL for you this PATTERN for PRAYER that is broader—that really captures the spirit of what Jesus is teaching us to do when we come into God’s presence.
And I wanted to make this Simple & Interactive. Bc I learned this word ACTS as a boy in Sunday School—and it’s helpful. But honestly, the words “adoration” and “supplication” feel a little formal. (most people don’t use that words in real life).
So I came up with 4 words that I think capture the heart of what Jesus is teaching here in Matthew. These are 4 simple words you can easily recall to remember the 4 Different Types of Prayer God asks us to pray.
WOW! which has to do with WORSHIP or being blown away by who God is & what He’s done.
SORRY – which is the heart of confession. Asking forgiveness.
THANKS – just a shortened version of THANKSGIVING
HELP! – which is a prayer of need, of supplication.
Wow, Sorry, Thanks, and Help. 4 Prayers of Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, & Supplication.
And here’s where your part comes in. As I talk about these, God is going to bring to mind things in your life that happened this week. And I want you to WRITE DOWN IN YOUR NOTES a DIFFERENT PRAYER for each one as we go… Did something happen this week that made you say wow! A blessing you need to thank God for? Is there a sin that you need to confess and tell God you’re sorry. Where do you need help in your life? Write it down on the back side of your notes today as I talk… then today when you go home, stick it in your God Box!
Lemme open my Prayer Box and share some Prayers that I wrote this week. Again, I’m not gonna start with things I’m ASKING God for…rather, I need to THANK God BIG TIME for an answer to an urgent prayers of 7 days ago.
7 days ago, here’s a prayer I wrote and put in my God Box:
Dear God! HELP! We have bills coming in here at Church. RENT at the school, and our bank account is getting lower than where I’m comfortable. But God, this is your church, these are your people, you love Sarasota more than I do, and you will move in the hearts of you people.
I have to be honest, I was freaking out a bit!
That was my prayer… And I have to tell you that God answered that prayer. We paid the bills and we are here again! We push forward.
- And so most of my prayers this week were prayers of THANKS!
Thanking God is the natural response when God surprises you! Do you have something you were nervous, fearful, or anxious about… then God showed up? Philippians 4:6 teaches:
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank him for his answers. Philippians 4:6 (NLT)
What do you have to thank the LORD for today? Where have you seen His love & power in your life?
- I want you to write a quick Prayer of THANKS right now in your notes. (explain)
Remember, we tell God our prayers upfront… but then on the other side, we thank Him for our answers! This is the heart of God Box—to record & see the pattern of where God is working in your life?
What do you need to THANK him for right now? Where are his blessings in your life? What can you thank Him for today? Go ahead and write that in your notes today.
I actually wrote a series of THANK YOU PRAYERS this week related to the launch of Hope City Church:
- We’d been praying for musicians to join our church, and help lead us in worship. One area we were particularly stuck on was drummers, and along came Trent! God supplied Trent! (Thank You for being an answer to my prayer!)
- We have need for an additional Pre-K & Kindergarten teacher for our Hope City Kids program. And this was weighing heavy on our minds and hearts. And this week Gail and Megan said YES! Even ALEX is going to be jumping in to help!
- GUYS… let me tell you another answer to prayer. For 9 months, we’ve been praying for a sound technician. Who is going to run sound? Tammie jumped in on the dream team and is using her passion for music, and audio to make a difference. She is an answer to our prayers here at Hope City!
That deserves a prayer of THANKS! Q: What are you thanking God for today?
Now, I want to draw a contrast between THANKS! And WOW! Bc Adoration is different than Thanksgiving! Most people get them confused… Assume they’re the same thing.
But THANKS is worshiping God for what He’s done. WOW! Is worshiping God for who He is.
WOW is about worship—
I think this is the one area people struggle with most: the WOW in Prayer.
1) What exactly is ADORATION?
A: Prayer is first & foremost about worship. God alone is worthy of undiluted praise. Even if He never gave us a thing, we are to praise his name. That’s why Adoration (the WOW!) is different than the THANKS! Adoration is simply about praising God for His character, His beauty, Who he is… etc.
For me, the WOW! prayer occurs most naturally when I experience God’s beauty in Creation.
Two weeks ago my family and I headed out for a bike ride after church. It was later in the afternoon and we rode our bikes to Celery fields and I was struck by the beauty of this scene. I snapped this picture, you may have seen it on my Instagram. But it was incredible.
Several months back, my friend Dave and I were at Celery fields and he took this picture of the sunset over Sarasota. It was incredible, it was a display of God’s creativity!
Creation is an easy place to start. In Psalm 19, David writes:
1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
3 They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
Q: Could you write a WOW! PRAYER right now to God? For something you saw this week that reminded you of His Power & Beauty?
Q: Does WOW! (Prayers of Praise & Worship) have a regular place in your Prayer Life? Scripture says if we fail to Praise God, even the Rocks & Stones will be forced to cry out & praise His name. Take a minute to write a WOW! PRAYER right now… praising God for Who he is as Lord over your Life & all Creation! (TL write: Wow! That sunset was awesome! You’re an Amazing Creator!)
Once you’ve prayed THANKS & WOW… you’re ready to move on to SORRY. A prayer of Confession. Given the grandeur of God, we become aware of our flaws & sins.
That’s why Jesus sets Forgiveness at the center of the Lord’s Prayer—God, forgive us our sins as we also forgive one another.
Are there sins this week you need to ask God forgiveness for? That thing you said to your wife. The way you treated a coworker. Filthy words, impure thoughts.
The reason Forgiveness is central to our Daily Prayers is that it admits our need for God’s pardon—releases Christ’s cleansing power through his blood… frees us from guilt… and sets us in the family of God! Forgiveness is not a one time deal— it is a daily process!
For some of you, it’s hourly. (Sorry, I’m talking about me 😉
Lemme be vulnerable and tell you about a SORRY PRAYER I wrote last week. Last week I was asking God to search my heart. There’s a prayer David prayed in the Psalm 139 that I like:
Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:
And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. – Psalm 139:23-24
And I like this prayer bc it’s so honest. David is asking God to SEARCH his heart. To TRY & TEST its integrity. He says, “know my thoughts”… my inner life… and see if there’s any wicked way in me.
And most times, we think: well, I’m not wicked. I’m good, I think. But I was meditating on it. Wrote it in my Prayer Box—that’s a great idea: put verses that God speaks to you in there. And I started thinking about the way that I was treating people.
Driving around Town
- Cashier Lady
- Home Depot Worker
- DRIVERS EVERYWHERE…
I was becoming easily frustrated with them, and at times angry with the fact that people weren’t moving as fast as me, or getting things done as efficiently as I hoped they would.
And I just prayed & told God I was sorry. Asked Him to change my heart and change my attitude so I could change my response towards His people.
And God settled my spirit bc I came clean with him. As I John 1 promises:
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. – I John 1:8-9
See, there are 3 persons living in each of us: The one we think we are; the one other people think we are; and the one God knows we are. And that’s why CONFESSION—saying SORRY— is such the central part of prayer! We must have regular, daily times of coming clean with God– when we admit our compromises & ask him to cleanse us.
Q: What do you need to tell God you’re sorry for today?
Think back over this week: Many of us have said things that have hurt others. Slandered & stung them. Think about your work. Have you been 100% honest & forthright? Look into your heart. Ask God to search you. To know you. To reveal hidden areas of pride, lust, & jealousy. 1 John also says: If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
- Right now, take a moment to write an honest-to-God SORRY prayer. You don’t have to put your name on it… give your neighbor some space. You may have come this morning carrying a backpack of guilt for something that happened this weekend… But you’ve never confessed it to God—and it’s polluting your soul. God’s waiting for you to come clean about it.
(TAKE ONE MINUTE TO WRITE YOUR SORRY PRAYER
Lemme tell you how God used this prayer in a PRACTICAL way:
Not only did He remove my guilt & renew my mind, He answered my prayer after I prayed it:
When I was praying over this, my heart was sliced open: Here I am, a pastor in this community and I am frustrated by my community. God reminded me that my role as a Christian in this community, is to behave like Christ, to live my life like Christ and that meant a change in attitude. But I also asked God to help me see people the way that He sees them. Now instead of a slow cashier, I see someone who may be worn out by work and worry. Instead of a seeing a roadblock in the aisle at Home Depot, I see someone who is lost in life, and is looking for a way forward. Instead of seeing a terrible driver, I see… Nah, I still just see bad drivers. 😉
But I began to think about my kids watching me like this. I started to pray that my kids would not be shaped by my poor attitude. I was praying that they would see the world the way that God sees it. That they would have hearts of compassion for people.” And now that’s in my box! See this is how God speaks to you in prayer. You come to him with one request and He shows you something else!
So as you pray, press in to God—ask Him what He wants you to do. And then do whatever He tells you. God honors that kind of ruthless honesty & radical obedience!
And it leads to the Final Prayer… HELP! Our families need help, our kids need help. Prayers of supplication—where do you need the Holy Spirit’s help in your life today?
I know my God Box is overflowing with things: Health requests, job concerns. I’m asking God to help heal the marriage of friends of mine. I’ve got a friend who is suffering from a broken heart, others struggling with depression…
Q: Where do you need God’s help most today?
These can be material needs – Give us this day our daily bread
Prayers for spiritual protection – Lead us not into temptation, deliver us from evil…
Many of you are carrying BURDENS for people you love and even burdens of your own. And it is right and appropriate for you to ask God for help on their behalf. That is called intercession. Yet, I think we can run into a problem in prayer. There is this word in the English language that should not be used in our prayers. It’s the word “Just”.
God if you would Just do this. Or God if you could Just do this, then I would… Praying Just prayers can be dangerous. Because instead of putting your requests in the box, you end up putting God in the box. Sometimes we define what God can and will do in our lives simply because we ask Just prayers. God would you Just heal my body. Well what if you are missing out on the ability to grow in your endurance and perseverance by carrying the illness for weeks, months, or quite possibly even the rest of your life? What if God has something far greater for you than healing? What if God has something far greater for you than JUST whatever you’re JUST asking for?
I know that this is an unpopular thought, because it takes the control out of the one asking and puts it into the hands of the one who is actually in control. You and I like to ask for things because we help control the outcome. We generally ask for things that will help us get the results that we are looking for. But when we stop asking for JUST whatever it is that we want, and ask according to God’s will and desire, I have a feeling that we will see God do some amazing things beyond our belief.
I have been convinced that I need to eliminate the word JUST from my prayer life. I found myself praying and saying things like God, I just am asking you to keep my family safe. Well by praying that, I have eliminated all of the other blessings that God could give my little family in that day. I don’t JUST want to see God do the things that I want Him to do. I want to see God do more than my mind can imagine.
That’s why we are doing Sarasota’s Egg Drop on Easter. We are believing that God is going to do more than our little church can imagine through 10,000 plastic Easter eggs. We are believing that God is going to use you to make a difference in the life of families, in the life of couples, in the life of little children. God can use you. Will you be willing to make a difference?
IN fact, one of my big prayers over this past week is that you would jump in and help serve this Easter. I am praying for 500 people to join us on Easter and we want to serve them well! We want them to experience what Church can be like. Even more than that, I have a message of hope and healing that I cannot wait to share with our city. Would you be willing to serve on Easter Sunday? We only have one service so that way we can make sure you all get home to your families well before your family activities. This is a 90 minute Easter Experience. So the event will be over at 10:30 and we will be cleaned up by 11!
I refuse to pray and ask God to Just give us enough volunteers. NO! I want to see God wow us through you! I want to see God do far more than JUST what I can imagine.
What would happen if you stopped praying Just prayers? What would happen in your life if you started following Jesus’ pattern for prayer? What if you stopped putting God in a box, and what if God did more than you could even imagine! Prayer is the pipeline to God’s power, but it is also our tool of communicating to God how great He really is.
I don’t know what is weighing on your heart today, or what is causing your heart to beat faster, or what is causing your heart to be overjoyed. But whatever it is… tell God about it. Write it down, put it in your God box. God longs to hear from His children!