Interviewing "Prayer" - Who are we Praying to?
So far we have looked at four questions about prayer, "What is Prayer?," "Why does prayer matter?," and "Where should we pray?" and "When should we pray?"
We have talked about what prayer is to us and to God, and how important our attitude is when when pray. We looked at why prayer matters, why it is vital to our relationship with God. How prayer turns us toward God and how God draws near to us. We looked and where we should pray and the example Jesus himself set while on this Earth. We looked how He would take time away from all the rest of "life" to spend with His Father.
Last week we looked when we should pray. We looked at the verses that seemed to indicate that we should always be praying, and guess what we found! That's exactly what they meant! We could have ended there, but we dug further to see if we could find out if there where specific times the Bible instructs us to pray. We found several. The first we looked at was when there is sin, not just our personal sin, but also the sins of our church/family/nation or even then sins of other we know that may not run in our circles.
We ended the lesson looking at where we had to go yet. There were two questions left, who and how.
So, this week we are going to look at who. Now my name is not Horton and I won't be rhyming as I talk, so we will not be talking about Whoville. This is a hard question actually, because what are you going to ask about who. Who should pray? Everyone. Small, large, rich, poor, sick, or healthy. All cultures, all countries, all age groups. Everyone. We could ask the question who should we pray for, and this is the question I started with for my studies. I wanted to again find specific people that the Bible indicates we should pray for, and we may still do that, next week. This week I want to ask a different question, but before I do I want to explain the reason why.
Saturday night my neighbors invited me to their church for a youth event. They youth was having a night of music and skits as fund raiser for another future event they are doing next month. Their son was going to be playing the oboe and my daughter wanted to go, we we went. I have to say it was a great night. These teens (and a few adults) really put on a good evening. Most of the night was just plain fun with an occasional skit with a message through in, but the last few were all ministry. I want to talk to you about them for a bit, and then go into the meat of this class today because God frankly smacked me good Saturday night.
The first one was a lady who had just been in a car crash and died. She "wakes" to a dark room, with loud noises around her, and some evil looking created roaming around the back of the room. She quickly realizes she is in Hell and promptly begins to cry out to God for help. God answers and tells her the judgement has been made, its too late. She describes her life then. At 13, God called her into full time ministry, and she accepted, but her friends rejected her for that choice. So she put the Bible away because it was the right choice, but not the right time. Then at 17 she got involved with drugs, got pregnant and aborted the baby. As she put it she should have loved the child instead of killing it. Then at 21 she was in the lime light. She was famous and everyone "loved" her. She had people all around her. At 25 she was given an award named after her because of what she had accomplished. Everyone that was anyone was there that night when she was given the award. Afterwards, as she was talking out a man confronted her. He was not well dressed nor was he anyone important, but he told her Jesus loved her. He told her that if she heard His voice, not to harden her heart! But everyone was watching her, so she turned away. It was her night after all. It was all about her! Well, on the way home, her chauffeur lost control of the limousine, and there was a accident, and she dies, and now it was too late for her. But she reminded us it was not too late for us. This is a special "church" event put put on my the youth and she gave a salvation call at it.
The second skit was a girl looking at colleges and unable to make up her mind. She bowed her head and asked God what college she should attend, waiting a few minutes, and then complained that God never answers her prayers. The next moment, God spoke. He told her that he wanted her to know His will, so she asked again about college, but God wanted to talk about other things. He first asked her about her plans for the night. She was planning on watching her favorite TV show, the one with the beach and the boys in their swim suits. God told her His will was for her to do her homework that night. He then asked about her plans for 5th period at school the next day. She was planning on skipping class to go watch some new romantic movie, and it was rated R. He told her His will was for her to stay at school and go to class. She was frustrated now. She told God she was going to go out with her boyfriend the next night, at which time God interrupted her and said that he was not right for her as he did not know God and it wouldn't last. She began to really complain and God asked her if she really wanted to know His will, and she said, "no, umm I mean yes." In the end, what she really wanted was God's will when it matched her own will.
Lastly, they did a human video to a song I have never heard. I can't even tell you what the song was or the words I was so captured by the story they portrayed. It starts with a girl and Jesus on the stage alone. The girl is asleep it seems, until Jesus wakes her. He stands behind her as he begins to guide her very movements is a way that was so very tender. He then takes her around creations, showing her all the things He has made for her. He makes clouds and a beautiful sky for them to share together. He makes an apple tree and plucks a ripe apple off the tree just for her. He makes the sun shine on her, and the rain fall on her, all just for her. Then a man comes into the picture. He comes between her and God and sweeps her off her feet, and then stands between her and God preventing her from seeing Jesus. Next a man with money enters and teases her with wealth. He waves the money around her and occasionally drops a bill or two for her to pick up. He also goes to stand between her and Jesus. Next a girl with a beer, then a lady all dressed up like a model, all pulling her away from Jesus, all going to stand between her and Him. All the while Jesus is behind this wall reaching for her. Lastly, a person dressed like a demon comes in. He hands her a knife and tries to get her to cut her wrists. Then he hands here a gun to get her to shot herself. She is almost in tears as the gun shakes in her hand while pointing to her temple. The she drops the gun and goes running for Jesus. Everyone that was blocking her view before now is wrestling her to the ground to keep her from Christ. I have been in Heaven's Gates Hells Flames and played one that went to Hell, and I fought hard against the "demons" that were dragging me off, but not like this looked. She was actually being thrown to the ground and a shirt she had on over the top of another was ripped right off her.
Finally, Jesus steps between her and all these other that are trying to destroy her. He guards her and she kneels and worships Him, yet all the other fight to get to her. In the end, Jesus basically says, enough is enough and throws them all to the ground. Reaching out to take her hand, the once again begin to move together as one.
These really hit me hard because I have felt like each of these people in my life and as I drove home, a new question came to mind that I wanted to explore. A different look at prayer than we have yet really, and that question is, Just Who are we praying too?
Who are we praying too?
Ever have a time where you really get something for the first time. I mean something you think you know and then you see or hear it presented in a different way and suddenly it clicks and you realize that what you thought your knew you really had no clue. That's what happened to me last night. Oh, I have always "known" that Jesus was our personal savior, but seeing the way it was portrayed in the human video Saturday night caused something to "click" in me.
I was recently talking with someone who has been through similar experiences as I have. We talked about the struggles of being a single parent and about things we had done with our kids as we had been raising them, but then they said one thing that really struck home. The hardest thing is the loneliness. Anyone who has not been divorced may not understand that, but they did. I can't tell you the number of times I have been at home weeping in prayer over the hurt I was feeling, and God seem absent. How many times I just wanted a hand to hold, yet God's hand was not there. How many times I wished Jesus would appear next to me, if only for a moment because I so longed for companionship, yet He never did. Seeing the human video portrayed made me ask myself, "Does Jesus really want to move together with me like that? Are there things He has done just for me to show me He loves me? If so, have I really dropped the ball."
So let's look together at who we are praying to.
Genesis 1:1 NIV In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Does anyone disagree with that statement? Why? Why did God create the heavens and the earth? I mean He had already been around since forever and He had the angels for company, not to mention His triune nature, so why create the heavens and the earth. In doing so He knew that His creation would be tainted with sin, that suffering, disease and death would mar His creation. That most those to whom He would set to rule over His creation would not acknowledge He is God, and some would even hate Him. If He wanted people to love Him, just create those that would and not the others, forget the earth and just populate heaven. Yet God took 6 days to create everything. 6 Days. Anyone disagree? Why? So a creature call man could disobey the only rule God gave and have to be separated from God because of it? Imagine parents thinking like that. We'll have the perfect child, but if they mess up once, it is out the door for them.
Genesis 7:20-23 NIV The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than twenty feet. (21) Every living thing that moved on the earth perished--birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind. (22) Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. (23) Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; men and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds of the air were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.
OK, let's look here. First, God created an earth that He had been without for an eternity with a people that He knew would not acknowledge Him as God, much less love Him, and now He says, OK, enough is enough, everyone but you few die. Stick with me here. I am walking through this myself and though I am not sure where it is leading, I know it will make sense in the end.
So God now destroys almost everything He created, except the family of Noah, an ark full of animals, and everything in the ocean. Ever wonder why the sea creatures were not destroyed also? Just a question.
Numbers 16:28-32 NIV Then Moses said, "This is how you will know that the LORD has sent me to do all these things and that it was not my idea: (29) If these men die a natural death and experience only what usually happens to men, then the LORD has not sent me. (30) But if the LORD brings about something totally new, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them, with everything that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the grave, then you will know that these men have treated the LORD with contempt." (31) As soon as he finished saying all this, the ground under them split apart (32) and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them, with their households and all Korah's men and all their possessions.
OK, now we have one group of people that God has singled out as His own and we have a man to whom God speaks directly, yet still we see that they don't want to acknowledge God as God. It gets so bad the God has the earth swallow up some of His hand chosen people! Imagine if today the pastor had to physically cover his face because God's glory was so bright on him we could not look at him. Would you listen to that man? Are you sure? The Israelites didn't, how are you any different than them?
Genesis 3:8 NIV Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
Back to the start of the story we see God walking in the garden looking for Adam and Eve. I looked but could not find another time where this is mentioned in the Bible. I had always assumed the Adam and Eve shared a regular walk with God every day, literally. I looked at the verb in question for "walking" to see if it gave any more in-site. The verb used implies a continual action, like it never stops. That would make sense as God is everywhere at all times, but it is my belief that God did take time to talk with Adam and Eve, whether He took some physical form or if it was in the wind I don't know, but they did know His voice, so to me that means there had to have been other conversations. So we see and imply that God would take time to specifically talk with Adam and Eve. Why? The God who had been without them for eternity now needs some company? Maybe, but I think there is more.
Romans 5:6-8 NIV You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. (7) Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. (8) But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
We all know this verse. Anyone that has memorized the "Romans Road of Salvation" knows it, but let's look at it again. Christ dies for us when were still sinners. Sinners don't love God, if they did they would repent and not be "sinners" anymore. We were God's enemies in a way. Imagine being given the choice to save someones life by taking their place. For some that would be easy, my daughters for example. Some it would be hard, but I might, like my close friends. But what if the person whose life you were going to save was Hitler, or Charles Manson, or John Wayne Gace. Would you sacrifice your life for them? Yet Jesus did just that. He died for Hitler, Charles Manson, and John Wayne Gace. Why, He loves us.
Depth of Love
Let me ask a question. Did you love your spouse before you met them? How could you, you hadn't met them yet right? What about your children before they were born?
Ephesians 1:4-5 NIV For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love (5) he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will-
Let's agree we are not going to talk about that word "predestined" today OK? Frankly, I don't understand why it is there really.
Let's look instead at verse 4 mainly. It says He chose us before creation! How could He chose us before creation, we didn't exist and without creation we never would! Did you catch that. He chose us before creation and creation was needed so we could exist so God could fulfill His choice. To put it another way, He created the world just for us so that He could have a relationship with us. He created the world FOR us so He could have a relationship WITH us. There is no way I could begin to understand a love so deep that to fulfill it you would have to create an entire universe, yet that is what I see here. God loved you and I so much he made an entire universe for us! What a gift!
This gives me a lot to think about. Do I really serve a God that wants to be involved in everything I do? Did He really create everything just so I could be born in 1967 because He wanted a relationship with me?
Acts 17:28 NIV 'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.'
Is everything you do done "in Him?" Are all your moves His moves? Are you in sync with God, mirroring His every move for you? Are you trying to be? Do you really want to be?
There is a song we do call Amazing Love. There are times I have a hard time singing it because the line in the song that says "In all I do I honor you" would be a lie if I said it. I have been up on the platform before, playing and singing and we get to this line and I am so convicted by something I have done that to sing this line would be a lie. I would be willing to say with 100% confidence that I am not alone in that if we are all honest with ourselves. This is the God we pray to. He wants to be involved in every move you make. Unlike the song from the 80's, God will not be just watching you move and breath if you let Him. He direct your moves, not as a martinet pulls the strings of the puppet, but as a partner, moving with you, directing you by taking your hand, by being in sync with you every step of the way.
Interview Prayer Articles
- Interviewing "Prayer" - What is Prayer?
What is prayer? More importantly, how does the Bible define prayer. this is part one of a multiple part lesson taught in a Sunday School class where we opened the Bible and the Bible alone to ask about prayer.
- Interviewing "Prayer" - Why Prayer?
To Pray or not to Pray, that is the question. Why do you pray? Is that even the correct question? They say that there are no atheists in a fox hole, but is praying out of fear a good reason to pray? What then is a good "why" to pray question.
- Interviewing "Prayer" - Where Should we Pray?
Jesus told us to "go into a closet to pray". What does that mean? What did Jesus give us as an example of prayer?
- Interviewing "Prayer" - When Should We Pray?
When should we pray? Is there a Biblical mandate to pray at certain times of the day (before bed, early in the morning), at certain activities (meal time), or because of things that are happening around us. The Bible give direction for everything in