Have you ever heard the song different by Micah Tyler? I love that song! I love the message of the song. I want to be different, I want to be changed. God I want my life to praise your name, so that when people see me, they see you in me. The message of that song is really the same as my 2020 resolution. I expect 2020 to be different, I expect each day to be different as I grow with the Lord each day. My prayer is this is not just my resolution, but yours as well and ours as the body of Christ. Let us not hope, let us expect God to move in our lives and show us his love, mercy, and truth.
The funny thing about placing expectations is that it influences behavior. So in order for our lives to be different, for us to continually change and grow in the Lord, our behaviors will change. When I think of this, I think of a study I had in the books of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John. In particular in the 3rd book of John, John writes a letter to his friend Gius and he starts it out by telling him he is praying that his physical health prospers like his soul. Which Tony Evans pointed out and said contains a very important lesson, to say the least. Don’t let your spiritual health lag behind your physical life and financial life because if those priorities switch and you flip it to where those things are put in front of your spiritual health, your Christian experience will regress instead of progressing in the natural stance. In short, if you aren’t moving forward in your relationship with God, you are moving backwards.
This was very convicting to me this week, and I felt it needed to be said. You may be feeling that you’re regressing in your walk, that you’re in need of spiritual filling and you don’t know why. Maybe you need to look at what you are putting first, because when you flip the order it will cause your Christians experience to regress. That is why spiritual routines that direct us to God are so important and spoken about in God’s Holy Word because they help us place our spiritual health above the World. So as we continue in talking about the Power of Routine, understand that this is something we all need and perhaps the very thing that is missing in your life.
In part one of our discussion, we talked about the importance of our scripture reading, God’s holy word and developing a daily study where we are in his word and seeking guidance from his word. Specifically, we looked at Paul’s writing to his pupil, Timothy, as he encouraged him to rely on the Holy Word in the trials that he would face. In the same way we should lean on the scripture in the trials we will face as they will also strengthen and encourage us.
Today we are going to dive into instruction from Jesus himself, about the power of routine in prayer with our focal scripture in Mathew 6:5-13. Before we read this passage, I would like for you to ask yourself a few questions throughout today’s discussion. What are my expectations for my Christian walk? and does my life routines reflect my expectations?
5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.“‘Our Father in heaven, 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,[a]but deliver us from the evil one.[b]’
Isn’t that a wonderful passage? As Jesus explains to us the importance of prayer with the Father. I once heard a pastor explain it this way: Have you ever tried to communicate via walkie-talkie with someone who doesn’t really know how they work? They might not hold down the button long enough before they start to talk, so you miss part of what they are saying. Or, worse yet, they might hold down their button the entire time, cutting off the ability to hear what you have to say at all. It’s not a very effective way to communicate! We tend to treat prayer like a one-way conversation where we talk and God listens, and we are the ones holding down the button on the walkie-talkie the entire time! It’s helpful to know how prayer is supposed to work. Biblical examples of prayer include not only petition and thanksgiving, but also asking questions, listening, and God answering. In order to hear God respond in prayer, we have to be listening by reading the Bible regularly and quieting our hearts.
Jesus encourages us in this passage to not pray lengthy or fancy prayers, thinking our eloquence will get God’s attention. We can pray honestly and simply, just like a child does. It’s not for show, or for someone to know you are spiritual and religious. It’s to talk to the father because you know he is there. I love when Jesus says the father knows what you need before you ask because I think it is easy for us to forget that some times.
If you dig deeper into scripture, you will find that Paul instructs us to “pray continually” in 1 Thessalonians 5:16. One way to think about this kind of praying is to have an ongoing conversation with God. God desires a relationship with you, one where you have conversations with him, not because you have to but because you want to. I know I periodically send my dad a text message or give him a call just to talk to him because I love him and want to know what is going on. Many times, he gives me wisdom in those conversations and life lessons that I use every day because he loves me and wants to talk to me just as much. However, I don’t just call him for answers, I call him because he is my dad. Our Father in heaven desires that relationship with you and I. Think about that for a second. He desires to talk to you, and for you to talk to him because he loves you and you love him. Will he give you answers? Absolutely, but our desire for our relationship with him should be more than just wanting answers!
My challenge for you and I to add to our routine this year and beyond is to seek a deeper relationship with the father this year through our prayers. Talk to him daily and listen with the faith that he will answer.
“It is not enough to begin to pray, nor to pray aright; nor is it enough to continue for a time to pray; but we must pray patiently, believing, continue in prayer until we obtain an answer.”–George Müller