Passionate Prayer

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Understanding the Fatherhood of God is an ingredient for passionate prayer.

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In a scene from the 2004 film Ray, about the life of Ray Charles, the movie flashes back to a time in Ray’s childhood, early in his blindness, when he stumbles on his way into the house and calls out for his mother. Though she’s just a few feet away, she says nothing and waits for him to pick himself up. Slowly, he does, listening for cues around him (a teapot’s whistle, a passing wagon, a grasshopper) until he finds her again. “I can hear you too, Mama,” he says, as he knows she’s been there all along. Now, for a young boy who is going blind, calling for your mother when you need help and not having her respond would be frightening or discouraging to say the least, wouldn’t it? And as I thought about this scene, I couldn’t help but to contemplate how often we might feel this same way when it comes to prayer. If you’ve been a Christian for any amount of time, you know that there are times where prayer comes easy almost, and then there are times where it feels like God has cut you off and as I’ve considered that in light of this morning’s text, I want you to find encouragement for your prayer life today. So, if you have maybe lost the passion in your prayer life, this is for you. Or if you’re going through a discouraging time because you’ve prayed and prayed and don’t feel like you’re being heard, this text is for you. I believe that in this passage we will find blessing, balance and beauty added to our prayer lives.
Here in Matthew 6:9 where Jesus says, “Pray then like this: Our Father, who is in Heaven, hallowed be your name.” Today I want us to break down that first little part which reads, “Our Father, who is in Heaven…” Because it is here we will find blessing in knowing that God is our Father, balance in seeing that while He is our Father, He is also infinitely great; and lastly we will see beauty in the faith-filled prayers of God’s people to our Father.

The Blessing of His Fatherhood.

Have you ever felt as though you were the only one putting in effort in a friendship? Almost as though if you quit texting or calling that person you two would never talk again? Or maybe you’ve felt that way with your basketball team or in a class project; you realize how serious this thing is, but it seems that the other people involved just don’t care. That’s frustrating and discouraging, isn’t it?
Well, in verse 7 we read of these people who pray and pray and pray. And the reason they pray these long and emotional prayers is because they think if they do this then one of their idols will finally listen to them, but these are false gods. They weren’t real, and they weren’t listening or ready to help. But what Jesus does immediately is He turns around and calls us to pray to our Father. Now, when you hear the word, “Father,” you probably think of warmth, protection, provision, love, leadership, and care. But the thing is that no Dad is perfect. But our Heavenly Father is. And when He reveals Himself to us by the word, “Father,” it is an act of love. He speaks to us in the language of His children and invites us to speak to Him in our own tongues as a child to their loving Father. (This thought was inspired by Scott R. Swain’s The Trinity: An Introduction).
God is Father only to those of us who are saved by grace through the work of Jesus Christ. And I think that if we spend a few seconds highlighting the greatness of God as our Father, we will be encouraged to glorify Him and fellowship with Him even more:
Because God is the perfect Father, He is ready to hear the prayers of His children in 1 Peter 3:12 - "For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer…”
He is always watchful over us. Psalm 121:3 “He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber;”
His love is unshakeable. Romans 8:35-39 “35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
He has our good in mind. Romans 8:28 “8 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[h] for those who are called according to his purpose.”
And we could really go on and on about Him. He is unchanging, unwavering, faithful, Holy, righteous, loving, and so much more. And it is this Father that Christ died for us to have the privilege to talk to and Jesus says, “Go talk to your Father.” We were once children of Satan, but because of Jesus, we are children of God. Is that not beautiful? Shouldn’t that cause us to want to simply go to Him in prayer to thank Him for who He is? But not only do we see the blessing of Fatherhood, but we find balance here.

A Balanced Understanding.

I’ve often said that I grew up with a Mom from Woodruff, SC that really wouldn’t hesitate to put me in my place if I stepped out of line. Well, as we consider the Fatherhood of God, we need to be careful not to think that His intimate love cancels His infinite greatness. He isn’t some puny god begging for us to love Him, He is our Father in Heaven. What Jesus is signifying here is the greatness of God. He is far greater than any king, any problem, any event in the universe. Psalm 115:3 says, “But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases.”, 1 Kings 8:27 says, “Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You.” To put it simply, God is mind-bogglingly glorious. But what does this mean for you and me? Here are a few things from Thomas Watson:
What may we learn from God being in Heaven? That we are to raise our minds in prayer above the Earth…We learn of His sovereign power. Psalm 57:3 says “He will send from Heaven and save me.”...We learn His glory and majesty… We learn His omniscience… [and] we learn comfort for the children of God. [Listen to this here:] When they pray to their Father, the way to Heaven cannot be block up. One may have a father living in foreign parts, but the way, both by sea and land, may be so blocked up, that there is no coming to him: but you, saint of God, when you pray to your Father, He is in Heaven; and though you are confined here, you still have access to Him. A prison cannot keep you from your God…

Lastly, we see the beauty of this prayer

I grew up in a relatively small church back home and when I moved up to Hillsborough to pastor I still hadn’t been to many “big churches.” But one day I was invited to the Shepherds 360 Conference in Cary, NC and when I walked in there it was just breathtaking. As the service started, we stood and well over a thousand believers raised their voices and sang out to the glory of God and it struck me as one of the most wonderful things I’d ever experienced. And while the worship of the Church is beautiful, so are the prayers of the people of God. I want you to notice that little three letter word, “Our.” It is a plural word so it refers to more than one person, but it also refers to possession. So, God is not only a Father, but He is my Father. And He is not only my Father, He is our Father. I don’t know if there is anything more precious than to know that you can call the Church and they will run to God on your behalf. But this text doesn’t necessarily mean only corporate prayer, because in Luke’s gospel it is mentioned in the context of individuals.
So, the beauty that I see here is faith-filled prayer. To go before God and to call Him Father means that you, by faith, are trusting that He really is your Father because of Christ and that you are trusting that He will hear your prayer. You know, there is a difference between just saying some words with your eyes closed and genuine prayer. Psalm 86:7 says, “7 When I am in distress, I call to you, because you answer me.” Watson said, “A believer, at Christ’s word, lets down the net of prayer, and though he catches nothing, He will cast the net again, believing that mercy will come. Patience in prayer is nothing but faith spun out.”
Do you have a faith-filled prayer life? Do you hold on to the promises of God as you pray and when you finish your prayer you know that you can entrust them into the hand of your Father in Heaven? Maybe you’ve been burdened for a loved one to be saved, pray with faith. Maybe you’ve been seeking direction for work or school, pray with faith that He will give you wisdom and direction. Maybe you’re in a relationship and you want it to be pure and God-honoring, pray with faith that the Lord will give you both wisdom and strength in that area.
So, as you wake up in the morning, while you're driving, or maybe while you’re getting ready for bed. Whenever it is. Be sure to spend time in prayer with your heavenly Father because prayer is simply centering your mind on where your Father is seated.
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