Jani Ortlund: We’ve been in a series about Going Deeper With God and at this point we’ve been talking about prayer. We want to continue doing that today. We’ve been talking about having a prayer notebook or a prayer journal and today we want to talk about the most famous prayer ever prayed and we think we’re going to divide this up into two podcasts, right, Heidi?
Remember “Prayer CPR” 00:56
Heidi Howerton: Yes, that’s right, Jani. To remind everybody, last week we talked a little bit about Mary Kassian and what she has described as “Prayer CPR”.
C = Commit
Heidi: The C stands for commit. Sometimes in our prayer lives we struggle because we’re not committed. We don’t know when we’re going to pray. We think we’re going to do it, but then we never think about it again during the day. So the C is for commit. Think of a time of the day that you want to set aside for prayer. Think about how long you want to set aside for prayer. We need to make a commitment to the Lord. That can help us if we’re struggling to pray.
P = Plan
Heidi: The P stands for plan. I used to for many years sit down with my Bible and I would read Scripture and then I would close my Bible and think, well, let me just spend a few minutes praying. And so often my mind would go to my to do list and I wasn’t praying anything. And so after Jani’s help, I developed a prayer journal and she has a prayer notebook. But we just pray that the Lord would help you have a plan, whatever it is, whether it’s going through the ACTS acrostic or thinking through different things that you want to pray for, have a plan because it can give you direction as you pray and it’ll help focus our minds.
R = Rely
Heidi: And then over the next few podcasts, we’re going to focus on the R, which is rely on God’s word, God’s spirit, God’s promises.
Jani: Oh, thank you, Heidi. Yes, our “Prayer CPR”. Yes, we thank Mary Kassian for her good idea of putting it that way: Commit, Plan and Rely on God’s word. So here we go.
What exactly is prayer again? 2:32
Jani: Let’s talk about prayers from God’s word. Today we’re going to talk about the most famous prayer ever prayed. But before we get into that, let’s think for a minute about what prayer is. Wow. It’s such a mystery, isn’t it? Oh, we’re talking with the God of the universe. It can kind of be scary or a little intimidating. How do you ever develop a relationship, a close, intimate relationship, communicating with someone you can’t see or normally hear? Well, you develop it the way you do any relationship: through words, through talking. No relationship can develop without words.
Jani: And you don’t have to be a good talker. You don’t have to be a fancy pray-er. I like to think of little babies and their baby talk. Our grandchildren! Oh, I love to hear them chatter away in their baby talk. I delight in it. I welcome it. It thrills Ray and me to hear their little chatter. We delight in their lisps or the funny words they mix up. One of our grandkids mixes up, alligator with elevators. So they’re going to ride the alligator up to the 10th floor. Do your kids ever say anything that you find so cute?
Heidi: Yes, Gideon, our youngest, his go-to is to replace “I” with “my” in every sentence. So it’s, “My love you, mom. My need your help, Mommy.” And so now I start saying it to him. I look at him in the morning and I go, “My love you, Gideon.”
Jani: Oh, I love that. And when he outgrows that, you’ll miss it. I will. Yes. Our oldest boy used to say, “Oh, I gorfot it, Mom” instead of forgot it. Well, we laugh at that because we find it delightful and yet somehow we’re afraid to use—in a sense—baby talk with God. We feel so weak. We feel tongue tied. We don’t know what to say, but if you, dear listener, can form any words at all, you can pray. In fact, if you can cry, you can pray. If you can groan you can pray.
Jani: I love how Romans 8:26-27 puts it. It says this:
“Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.”.
Jani: That means the Spirit is attracted to our weakness. God doesn’t mind if we’re weak. It’s okay. It’s the weak who know that they can’t make it on their own. They know they need God. He’s drawn to weak people. It goes on to say,.
“For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words, and he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”Romans 8:26-27
Jani: If all you can do is cry and moan right now, the Spirit himself is praying for you. He’s interceding for you according to the will of God. Don’t you love that?
Jani: Try to imagine any relationship developing without words…impossible. Don’t you love it Heidi when Mike comes home and starts talking with you?
Heidi: Yes. I wait for it. I count down the minutes. You know, “10 minutes and he’s going to be home soon.”
Jani: Yes. I’m the same way with Ray. I just can’t wait to have words exchanged. The way to develop intimacy with anyone is to exchange words. If I wanted to get to know one of our listeners better, I’d like to invite them over for a cup of tea and we’d talk together. I’d ask them questions about their life and what they love and what they fear.
Calling on the Lord 7:10
Jani: I like how Psalm 145 says it,
“The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.”Psalm 145:18
Jani: That’s an interesting verb—to call on someone. It can mean something like calling your kids in for dinner or calling them up on a phone. But I like to think of it as calling on someone like going to visit them, like coming to my home for a cup of tea, not just playing phone tag and then leaving messages.
Jani: Let me illustrate it this way. When we lived in Scotland, we were renting and my washing machine broke one day. So I called our landlord and got his secretary, and she told me that the washing machine repair man would “call” on Tuesday morning. So I thought she meant he would telephone me sometime Tuesday morning. And I had to run out on an errand and I missed him. And she called me that afternoon, very upset. She said, “You weren’t there when he called!” And I said, “I couldn’t stay there all morning.” In fact, she said, “You were very naughty!”
Jani: I hadn’t been called naughty in a long time and I felt duly embarrassed. But I learned that what they meant in Scotland, when you’re “calling” on someone, you are actually knocking on their door. Well, I wonder if we could use that illustration to think about calling on the Lord, an intimate visit with him. To begin talking about how to call on the Lord, I would like us to think for a few minutes about the most famous prayer ever prayed, the Lord’s Prayer. Heidi, did you grow up hearing of the Lord’s Prayer? Did you know anything about it before you became a Christian?
Heidi: You know what? I was raised in the Catholic Church and we frequently said the Lord’s Prayer.
Jani: Yes, it cuts across denominational lines, doesn’t it?
Heidi: It does. Did you grow up hearing the Lord’s Prayer?
Jani: Not as much, but it’s very interesting. Way back in1959, I was in fourth grade and our teacher had us recite the Lord’s Prayer in public school every morning after we said the pledge of allegiance to the flag. Isn’t that something?
Heidi: That’s so sweet.
Jani: But anyone who has been in church for very long has heard of it.
Heidi: It’s a very popular prayer. Well, it’s a very well-known prayer.
Teach us to…pray 9:17
Jani: That’s right. It’s interesting to me what the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to do. Listener, if you could ask Jesus to teach you to do something, what would it be? Heidi, what would it be for you?
Heidi: I think about all the different things that Jesus did, that he had the power to heal the sick, that he could perform miracles. So if I was one of the disciples with Jesus, I think I would want to know, “Lord, how do you do these miracles? How do you heal people? How do you make food appear? Where does that power come from?” Or, “How do you call on the Lord in that way?”
Jani: Yes. I know! I would, too! “Lord, teach me to heal or teach me to multiply bread or teach me to bring the rain or send it away or teach me to preach or speak.” But the disciples, it was so interesting. They asked him, “Lord, teach us to pray.” They saw a spiritual radiance in Christ that surpassed any human efforts they had ever been a part of. They saw Christ’s nearness to God, and sensed the nearness of God in his daily life and they wanted in on that connection. They saw Jesus go off to pray and wonderful things happened.
Jesus’ example 10:42
Jani: Think about his healing. In Luke five it says, “But Jesus would withdraw to desolate places to pray. And the power of the Lord was with him to heal.”
Heidi: And I think about when he called his disciples in Luke 6:12 “In those days, he went out to the mountain to pray and all night he continued in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them 12 whom he called apostles.”
Jani: So when he was healing before he did that, he prayed. Before he called his disciples, he prayed.
Heidi: He spent all night in prayer.
Jani: Wow. What about the transfiguration showing God’s glory? He took Peter and James and John went up on the mountain, the Bible says, “to pray”, and, while he was praying, his appearance changed and his face was altered. And when the disciples, who were sleeping while all this was happening, when they awoke, they saw his glory, Luke 9 says. Amazing. He went up to pray and God glorified him.
Heidi: Or I think of one of the most memorable moments, Jani, right before his death, when he knew the suffering that he was about to face. And in Luke 22 it talks about how he came out and went to pray as was his custom to the Mount of Olives. I love how it says, “as was his custom”, like Jesus had already set up that commitment and that plan to pray. And so it was just his custom, and almost, I think of it as routine for him. And so right before he faced his death, he went to to pray to the Lord, too, and to lean into him.
Jani: Yes, yes. I’m sure his heavenly Father was restoring his soul. The Son of God met to pray with his Father, and we want to do the same thing as we go deeper with God.
The Lord’s Prayer [Part One]: “Talking to God about God” 12:45
Jani: So let’s look at the Lord’s prayer that the disciples asked him. I love in Luke 11 how it says, “Now, Jesus was praying…” There he is. Now what?
“Jesus was praying in a certain place and when he was finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray.'”Luke 11:1
Jani: Then we have the Lord’s Prayer. It’s also recorded in Matthew 6, but Jesus says, “When you pray, pray like this.” And then he taught them the Lord’s Prayer. Let’s talk about that for a while. What is the Lord’s Prayer? What can we learn about prayer from it? There are two sections to it. The first section is talking to God about God, and the second section is talking to God about ourselves and others.
“Our Father who art in heaven.” 13:39
Jani: So let’s think about what Jesus taught us about talking to God about God. Jesus tells us to start our prayers by addressing God as our “Father”, our Father in heaven. Hmm. That’s very interesting. We hear that and it sounds pretty common to us, but to his disciples, it would have been somewhat new because they didn’t know God as Father. That was not as common in the Old Testament, but it became very precious to the New Testament writers and therefore it’s become precious to us.
Jani: Father is mentioned, oh, around 66 times in the Old Testament, and it almost always means a human father like “Abraham was the father of Isaac,” that kind of thing. The Israelites didn’t think of God as their father, and then Jesus came with this intriguing and awesome “Father-Son” relationship. I think of John 17:1,
“Father, the hour has come glorify your Son.”John 17:1
Jani: In the New Testament, Father is mentioned almost 300 times and it almost always means, “God our Father”. Think of these verses. Heidi, could you read 1 John 3:1?
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us that we should be called children of God.”1 John 3:1
Jani: Hm. John was writing that. It must have been very precious to him to think of himself as a “child” of God. And he had a heavenly father. Or Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 6:18 that the Lord God Almighty should be a Father to us and we should be sons and daughters to him. Oh, what a precious relationship. Paul also talks in other places in Romans 8 and Galatians 4 about crying, “Abba, Father.” Abba was the Aramaic word for father. It meant “daddy” or “papa”. It was kind of a, even a baby could, could say those syllables: “Abba, Abba.” Heidi, talk to our listeners a little bit about why, when you and I pray together, I sometimes hear you refer to your heavenly Father as “Dad”.
Heidi: Yeah. If you guys were sitting down in a Sunday school and you heard me pray, you might hear me start my prayers off with “Dad, thank you so much for this day.” Or, “Dad…” and I get questions about that a lot over the years. “Why do you call the Lord, Dad?” Um, I wasn’t very close with my dad growing up and I remember particularly when I was in high school having some heartache over that, Jani. I just, I yearned for a close relationship with my father and I didn’t have that. I felt very alone and in that heartache, one day when I was praying in my room, I felt the Lord press on my heart, “Heidi, I will be your father. I will be your dad. I will protect you. Let me come. I will take that role.” And I love that verse that says, “Cry Abba Father.” Because I love that the Bible shows us that: “Daddy! Papa.” It’s that verse has meant so much to me. And over the years, whenever I feel that ache in my life or that absence, I feel the Lord. “I am your Father, Heidi.”
Jani: Hmm. Oh, thank you for sharing that. Oh, well, dear listener, if you have a father who loved you well, you have a heavenly Father who loves you even better. Or if you have a father who treated you poorly, you have a heavenly Father who loves you in purity and joy, and at a great price to himself, even the death of his own Son.
Jani: Don’t be afraid to approach your heavenly Father. Now, he is a king and that deserves our respect and awe, but don’t approach him like Esther had to approach the king who was her husband. Do you remember that story? Esther couldn’t approach her husband on her own. Anyone doing that without an invitation could be killed! Oh, can you imagine that? Oh, I would hate that. She needed an invitation. Or if he hadn’t invited her, he would signal her permission by holding out his golden scepter to her. Now in Esther 5 we see this happening where she approaches him. I’m sure she was rather afraid. She had people praying and it would have been scary. She didn’t know what kind of reception the king, even her husband, would give her. Now the beautiful thing is Jesus is the King’s Royal Sceptor, an open invitation to come to the King of the universe and call him Father.
Heidi: Isn’t that so sweet?
Jani: Yes. Through Jesus. We have access to our Father. Today. I’d like to encourage you, dear listener, to think of God as your Father, to pray to God as your Father through Jesus Christ, and as you do, I believe he will restore your soul with his renewing mercies. God bless you.
A prayer for us all 19:43
Jani: Let me pray for you as we close today. “Oh, heavenly father, Daddy, Abba, Papa. Thank you that we can come to you and call you Father. Thank you for calling us your daughters and sons. Oh, we love you and we pray that each of our listeners would find new and refreshing ways to approach you as their heavenly Father. Bless our listeners, give them more of yourself, restore their souls with your renewing mercies in Jesus Christ. In whose name we pray, Amen.”