Let's Talk Week 5: Three Times
Female: Hey, God. It’s me again. Always struggling. Always in need of help. I thought if I prayed more everything would be less of a mess, but it feels like it’s been forever since I heard Your voice. I feel like my prayers are hitting the wall. Should I even bother praying? Where are You? Do You listen to me when I call to You? Oh, Lord, I need You. Are you even there?
Narrator: Pause. Sometimes we forget how powerful words really are, so let’s dialogue. Let’s unpack this together. Let’s talk.
Well, good morning to everybody, and good morning, also, to those who watch via the internet and the mobile app. We’re in a series called “Let’s Talk.” We’re talking about the power of our words. We’ve been talking about the things that we say about others, the things that we say to others, the things that people say to us and things that we say on the inside of our brain. But one of the most powerful words that we utter during a day is the words of prayer.
Let’s be honest here for a second. Let’s all put everything aside. Put off trying to impress anybody or whatever. Let’s just admit it. Many of us, at times, struggle with prayer. I mean, you start to pray and you’re like, “Oh, the game’s on.” You’ve done that, right? You start to pray and something pops into your head. “Pizza,” or whatever. I don’t know. It’s just crazy how that works. Nobody wants to admit it, but the reality is when we talk to people about prayer — and they do it all the time. They do surveys and talk to people. They realize that people don’t spend a whole lot of time in prayer. I think it’s because there’s some confusion. I think there is some questioning. Some of us just don’t really know what prayer is.
It reminds me of Billy, a 12-year-old little boy. He had a brother named Johnny. Billy and Johnny, every time around the Christmas season, would go to see their grandmother for a couple of days. The grandmother was a really devout Christian. She was trying to instill in them Christianity. So, at night, when she would put them to bed, she would come in and say, “Billy and Johnny, listen, I’m not going to push anything on you, but what I’d love for you to do before you go to bed is say a little prayer. I’ll go out. I’m not going to hover over you, but I’d love for you to say a prayer, and then you guys can go to bed.”
So, every night they would do that when they visited their grandmother. So, Johnny, Billy’s younger brother, starts off. He’s struggling a little bit. “Lord, You’re good. By Your hands, we’re fed. Thank You for the mashed potatoes and gravy. They were really good. Amen.”
That was his prayer. And then it was time for Billy to pray. Billy didn’t just pray. I mean, he got really loud. Almost to the point of screaming. “Lord, what I want for Christmas is a PlayStation, a bike and candy! Amen!”
His brother looks at him, like, “Dude, what is wrong with you? You do not need to yell that loud to God.” He’s like, “Dude, I ain’t praying to God. I’m praying so grandma hears.”
Don’t pray like Billy. We want to pray biblical stuff. So, here’s my commitment to you. If you’re watching via the internet or mobile app, here’s my commitment. I’m going to help you today. I promise. We had three services. Everybody’s walked out and said, “Exactly what he said, he did.” I’m going to teach you how to pray. In other words, even if you don’t pray, you’re going to be able to pray when you walk out. I promise. I guarantee you’re going to be able to pray.
Secondly, you’re going to have a transformed life when you walk out of here because you’re going to go, “Wow. Not only did I learn to pray,” “wow” is what you’re going to say about the prayer. That’s really cool. So, here’s what I would think if I were here. You’re here already, even if you got drug here or somebody said, “Hey, we’re going to go see a movie. Ta-da! We’re at church!”
Whatever they did, you’re here. So, 25 minutes of your time. If you think, “Yeah, that guy could teach me how to pray. Maybe it would transform my life. Maybe this would be a good thing.”
What I would say is to just lean in here and give me your time because I’m going to do it a little bit differently than I normally do. As you know, I normally take a passage of Scripture, we work through it and then we do some applicational things after we go through the passage of Scripture. Today, I’m going to have three different sections to my sermon. So, if you ever go to the movies during the summer, the big blockbusters with a lot of action, you can play on your phone for 15 minutes, eat some popcorn, talk to your friend, look back up and just enjoy the movie because there’s no plot. It’s just a lot of explosions and whatever. That’s not the sermon today. This is the one where if you don’t pay attention at the beginning, you’ll be like, “What’s going on?” You’re asking everybody, “What’s going on in the middle?” And then you have no idea what’s going on at the end. This is one that you sort of need to pay attention to because there’s going to be three separate things that we’re going to do, and then we’re going to put it all together at the end.
So, the first thing I’m going to do is give you some information about prayer that I think you’ll enjoy. This part won’t change your life, but it’ll definitely get you thinking. Then we’re going to put that in our back pocket. Then we’re going to look at a passage of a story of Jesus’ life that’s central to His teaching. I mean, it is the central thing that Jesus did when He taught. We’re going to look at that. Then we’re going to look at a teaching of Jesus on prayer, and then we’re going to put all of that together. It’s going to be like, “Wow. I can pray and this would change my life.”
So, let’s get to work. When we go back and study the Old Testament, which we should as Christians because the New Testament, in my opinion, is very unintelligible without understanding the Old Testament because the Old Testament is sort of the roots of what you have in the New Testament. The New Testament writers assume that we know a lot about the Old Testament. If we don’t go back to the Old Testament and understand something about prayer, we might not understand some of the things that we read in the New Testament.
The first prayer of Israel that we know they prayed — I mean, they prayed tons of other prayers, but the ones that we know that everybody would’ve known, everybody would’ve said and everybody would’ve done it twice a day, at the time, is called the Shema.
Shema comes out of Deuteronomy 6:4: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.”
That is a highly theological sentence here. The Lord is our God. So, in other words, He’s actually our God. There’s relationship there. And He’s one. That is a commitment to monotheism. That is not multiple gods. There’s not the corn god, the air god, the sun god. There’s one God. One God. He’s our God and the Lord is one.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
Now, this was a prayer that they prayed twice a day. Why did they pray it twice a day? Because when they read what Moses said, “These words that I command you shall be on your heart,” he said, “You shall teach them diligently to your children. You shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise.”
So, Israel felt like, “We’re going to pray that prayer when we go to bed. We’re going to pray that prayer when we get up.” Everybody would’ve known that prayer. It’s called the Shema. Just a side note here, I always like to try to throw out a biblical nugget if I can when you’re reading Scripture, because sometimes we don’t see these things. He says here, “When you lie down and when you rise.” Lie down, rise. Lie down, rise. This is all emblematic of resurrection. That’s why, like in the creation, it’s evening and morning are the first day. All of this is teaching resurrection. It’s sort of cool. God wired us to go to sleep at night and to get up in the morning. You’re being trained your entire life for resurrection. Think about that for a second.
So, he says, “Lie down and rise,” so what they did is they prayed that prayer twice a day. Now, by the time of David, they had learned to pray three times a day. He says, “Evening, morning and at noon, I will utter my complaint and moan and He hears my voice.” Three times now. Evening, morning and noon. Just a side note here, anybody feel when they pray that all they do is complain and moan? Can I get an amen?
Anyway, evening, morning and at noon, you’ve got these things. So, what would happen is, during that time, they not only would continue to pray the Shema — everybody understood the Shema — but they had another prayer that was called the Kaddish. Not in Scripture, but it’s a prayer that, if you hear it — this is before Jesus came. Paul would’ve known this. All the guys would’ve known this. They were doing this for hundreds of years before Jesus came. You’re probably going to hear, “Holy be Your name,” or, “Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come...”
You’d be like, “Man, that sounds like a prayer I’ve maybe heard before.” This is a prayer they prayed three times a day. It went like this:
“Glorified and sanctified be God’s great name throughout the world which He has created according to His will. May He establish His kingdom in your lifetime and during your days, and within the life of the entire House of Israel, speedily and soon; and say, amen.”
So, at the time of Jesus, if you would’ve said, “We’re going to go pray,” what that would’ve meant was that it was evening, morning or noon. It doesn’t mean that there weren’t other prayers. There were other prayers. But everybody would’ve known when you said pray, evening, morning and noon. That was just what they knew to be true. Now, what’s interesting is when you look at the early Church, it would be a good question to ask: How did the early Church look at that evening, morning and noon stuff? Did they adopt it? Did they throw it away? When Jesus came and rose again, after the Spirit of God has come and all this stuff, what were they doing? Well, we have some biblical texts to sort of inform us of what they thought about this.
In Acts 2:42, it says, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”
And you may have read that before and just thought, “They prayed.” Okay. Well, that would be referencing to the prayers. Evening, morning and noon. It’s interesting because we’d go, “Well, we need to devote ourselves to the apostles’ teaching. I’m in. Fellowship. I’m in. Breaking of bread. I’m in. Not quite sure about that evening, morning and noon thing.”
But that’s what they did. All I’m doing is just giving you some information here.
Acts 3:1: “Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.”
So, they were following this evening, morning and noon time. It doesn’t mean they didn’t pray for other things. It didn’t mean when somebody was sick they didn’t pray, but everybody sort of followed this cadence of prayer. We can even get into Acts 10 and we meet a guy named Cornelius. He’s a Gentile that wants to be a follower of God. He wants to be in on the Kingdom of God.
“Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort, a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God.”
What does it mean to pray continually to God? What does that mean? Well, Luke tells us what that meant.
In Acts 10:30, “And Cornelius said, ‘Four days ago, about this hour, I was praying in my house at the ninth hour,’”
So, what we have here — and, again, nobody’s going to walk out of here today and we have the ushers out at the door with wristbands, saying, “Are you in for praying three times a day? If you’re not, we’re going to mark you.”
We’re not doing that at all. Okay? We’re just saying here that this was the early Church, so if you talked prayer, they would’ve understood evening, morning and noon. So, all we want to do is just make sure that you have that bit of information. Put that in your back pocket because that will be important here in a little bit. Now, let’s turn our attention to a really cool passage that involves Jesus and some religious leaders. It’s the central teaching of Jesus. Everything He teaches can go back to this particular thing. Everything He teaches. You can see it throughout everything He does. Let’s look at this passage of Scripture. I think it’ll be interesting.
It says, “When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together.”
So, the Sadducees went in front of Jesus, like they would do, and so did the Pharisees. They would go in front of Jesus to get Him. They were trying to set Him up to where they could get Him. Every time they would try to get Him, if you remember, they would just leave, walking away like that. That’s what they did. They were like, “We thought we were going to get Him. We didn’t get Him.”
So, the Sadducees had gone to get Him, and they walked away. They didn’t get Him. So, since He had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees gathered together. Sort of reminiscent of Psalm 2 when it talks about the nations of the Lord gather together against the Lord’s anointed. Here, the Pharisees gather together against Jesus. So, what they’re going to do is they’re going to hatch a plan. They’re going to go, “Hey, the Sadducees, the people that we sort of team up with every once in a while, but we don’t agree with them, they went to see Jesus and they did that thing. So, we’re going to get Jesus and not do the thing. We’re going to get Him this time.”
So, they hatch this plan and now we’re going to see what this plan they hatched is.
It says, “And one of them, a lawyer,”
So, they send this one guy. The lawyer is not like Ask Gary. A lawyer is different in the New Testament than that guy. The lawyer is someone who knows Scripture. And nothing against Ask Gary, I’m just saying when we think of lawyers, we think of lawyers. But this is a lawyer that studies Scripture so that he can apply Scripture in the local community as the law guy. He’s the guy that gets selected. “Duck, duck, goose. You’re it. Go get Jesus. See if you can not do the thing and get Him. Okay?”
“And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him.”
This is going to be a test. This is going to be a question that gets asked to really stump Jesus, to mess Him up. They’ve gotten together, they’ve hatched this plan. They’ve got Him.
He says, “‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?’”
Now, to you and me, that’s no big deal. What’s so important about that? Back then, this is a really good question. I mean, it’s a really good question. Like, today, if I pulled you up on stage in front of here and I said, “How’d you vote?” You may say whatever you did, but you know when you say it, there’s going to be some people that are like, “I’m not your friend anymore,” or whatever. All that stuff. Or, “I don’t like you.” Or, if you were at a Revelation seminar and they were teaching something in Revelation and they said, “What do you believe?” and you believe something different than they believe, they’d be like, “Oh, this guy is wrong.”
This question was like that. I mean, it was charged. It was a charged question. A really charged question. Because there were 10 commandments that Moses gave to the Children of Israel. Charlton Heston, remember? Anyway, He gave the 10 commandments to the Children of Israel. Then, in the Torah, the 5 books of the Bible, there were more 603 commands. So, there was a total of 613 commands, if you count them, in the first 5 books of the Bible. Well, when they got together and would study those, that wasn’t enough because they didn’t address everything. So, they had to have other books that they wrote that they would talk about the commandments and they would interpret them, and then they would interpret them in ways that could answer the questions that needed to be answered that they didn’t feel were answered by the 613.
So, there were thousands of commands. These guys would sit around and they would argue over the commands. Like we can sit around and argue over Scripture or whatever, these guys would argue over the commands. What they would do is they would argue and say, “Which one’s the most important? Which one do you think everything hangs on? Which one do you think?”
This guy would say this, and this guy would say that. Much like today. Everybody’s got different opinions on everything. And then they get sort of upset and made at each other. They didn’t have Facebook back then. It was Jerusalem Book. Anyway, they had all this stuff going on. This was a great question because whatever Jesus said — whatever. It didn’t make a difference whatever He said. Somebody wasn’t going to like Him. It was just a great question.
So, he says, “Which is the great commandment? Tell me the one that’s the great commandment.”
“And Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’”
You know that now. See? Remember the first segment of the sermon? We did the Shema. You’re like, “Ah, Deuteronomy 6.” See? It’s good. We’re learning something here.
He says, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it.’”
This guy’s like, “Whoa. Hold on, man. I asked you for one. Great commandment. Singular, not plural. Singular.”
Jesus goes, “Okay. Here’s the great first commandment. And a second is like it.”
“Like it or sort of like it? Maybe like it or not like it? Is it 1A and 1B? Is it like it like it’s equal? What does that mean?”
He says, “‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”
This comes from Leviticus. Aren’t you glad that somebody in the history of the Church gave a shout out to the book of Leviticus? Come on. Seriously. You know how it is, man. You start reading the Bible every year. You get to Leviticus and you’re like, “Matthew.” Anyway, He says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
“‘On these two commandments...’” — “I asked for one” — “‘...depend all the Law and the Prophets.’”
So, what did the Pharisee do? He walked away. That’s just the way Jesus did it. So, we’ve got to stop here for a second, though, and ask the question. Why did He do that? What was going on there? Why did He give not one, but two? Well, what He was doing is really, really, really genius here. Jesus is saying, “You can’t say that you love God and not love people. You can get your God right, you can get your orthodoxy right and get all your theology right, but if you don’t love people, you don’t really love God.”
See, orthodoxy has to be wed to orthopraxy; the way we live. The two have to go together. Jesus is like, “You can’t do this.” That’s why you see it. Well, why does He go after the one? We go, “Why does He go after the one? Why not just stay with the 99? Why in the world would He do that?”
Well, because if you love God, you love others. “Well, who’s my neighbor?” He answers that. The Samaritan. That’s like everybody. “Love God. Love others.” See, if you get God right and get people wrong, Jesus says, “You haven’t got God right then.” When you look down upon people, no matter who they are, for whatever reason — “Oh, those people.” You can’t say you love God. Because if you love God, you love people. This is the way it works. Like John says, “How can you really love God, who you can’t see, if you can’t love people, who you can see?”
He’s like, “This is the way it works.” This is the central teaching of Jesus. This is important that we understand. We’ve got the three times in our back pocket and now we’re realizing, “Oh, man. No wonder He told us to love enemies. No wonder He told us.” And we try to figure out how to not love enemies. Right? “Well, sometimes we’ve got to get them back.” You know? He said, “Love enemies,” and we go, “Yeah, that’s not what He meant.”
No. He really meant love God, love people. All people. “Yeah, but I want to look down.”
Love God. Love people. Now we’re ready to talk about prayer. Jesus says, “When you pray,” — what would they have understood? Evening, morning, noon. “When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites. They love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that may be seen by others.”
Be honest here. You’ve read this before and you’re like, “Why in the world would anybody go pray on a street corner?” Come on. You’ve done that. You know you have. You’ve thought that. “That sounds crazy.” Because they pray at evening, morning and noon. They were out in the community. That’s why they’re praying on the street corners because they understood prayer was evening, morning and noon. This would make total sense to somebody who would’ve originally heard this, but a little bit more difficult for us because we’re a little removed from this culture at this time.
He said, “‘For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues…’”
Maybe they get to the synagogue in the morning, and then at noon they’re praying on the street corners, but they’re praying — it’s really important — to be seen by others. In other words, why are they praying? Their prayer is for one reason: To be seen. And Jesus says, “They got their reward. They prayed to be seen. That was what they really wanted. They got it. They’re not getting an answer to prayer because they didn’t really pray for prayer. They prayed to be seen. Don’t do that. Don’t do your religion that way. That’s not the way we do it.”
He says, “‘But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who is in secret will reward you.’”
In other words, when you pray, pray to God. Don’t pray so people can hear you or you can show your religious whatever-it-is that you’ve got to show, or the big prayer, and the bombastic prayer and all of this stuff. Just go and spend time with the Father. Just talk to Him. I’ll He hears you and you hear Him and you’re together, He’s going to reward that prayer. That’s the way it works.
Then He says, “‘And when you pray [evening, morning, noon], do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.’”
Now, come on. You know you’ve read that. It’s okay. It’s okay. You can admit this. You’ve read that and you’re going, “What does that mean? Does that mean we shouldn’t pray long prayers? What if the church has the hour of prayer time? How does that work? Is it like, ‘God’s neat, let’s eat,’ and that’s it? Or is it like really pray for the food? Is it, ‘Rub-a-dub-dub, bless the grub?’ How does this work?”
Okay. We’re asking all the wrong questions because that’s not what He’s saying. What He’s saying is that the Gentiles — these are people that were not Yahweh people. They were people of the other nations. They had many gods. They prayed to those gods. Those gods were not personal. Those gods didn’t care about them. Those gods woke up sometimes with hangovers, bad hair days and just angry at times.
So, when you go and read the literature of the pagan world, as they would pray to their gods, it’s page after page after page after page of a prayer. It’s like, “Dude, that is a long prayer.” Why did they pray so long? Because what they were thinking was that since this God didn’t really know them and wasn’t really interested in them, if they just stayed there long enough and prayed, maybe the god would go, “Enough, dude. Here’s your corn. Enough. Golly. Stop it. Three hours? Here. I’ll make it rain. Just go away. Get away from me.”
Jesus says, “Listen, you don’t have to do that with God because your Father already knows what you need before you ask Him.”
See, He has a relationship with you. You don’t have to beat Him up. I grew up in a church, man, where they’re like, “You need to get down here and pray for like eight hours, and maybe God will listen to you.” I was like, “Man, that is rough. After about a minute, I am tapped out. I don’t even know what else to say.”
You know? And then I start thinking about other things, my car, and did I do my homework? And they’re like, “You’ve got to get down here.” Then, one day, I read Zechariah 1:3 that says, “If you draw near to God, He’ll draw near to you.” I’m like, “I like that better. God is a better God.”
That’s what He’s saying here. You don’t have to beat yourself up and beat yourself up and God finally says, “Okay. Enough. I’ll give you what you want.” No. Jesus says, “You don’t have to pray that. That’s a bad view of God. He already knows what you need. You can really pray. You can do this thing because He knows.”
Here’s what He says: “Pray, then, like this. Here’s the way I want you to pray.” He didn’t say, “Every once in a while, pray this.” He said, “No. Pray like this.” In Luke, we have the same prayer, basically. They came to Him and they say, “Jesus, teach us to pray. We want to know how to pray.” He says, “Pray like this.” He didn’t say, “Well, here’s an option. Here’s A, B, C, D, E.” He said, “Pray like this. This is the way I want you to pray. We need to pray this way. This is how I want you to pray: Evening, morning, noon. That’s how I want you to pray. Pray this way.”
We’re not going to get into the intricacies of this prayer. We’re going to just highlight the two separate divisions of this prayer because they’re really profound.
“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.’”
The first part of the Lord’s Prayer is dealing with “your.” Not “me.” “Your.” Your name. Your kingdom. Your will. It takes you about 15 seconds to say these words, but man does it put you in a different state of mind. “It’s about You.” Hallowed be Your name. Let me just say this here: I don’t know where we got this, but Christians think that taking God’s name in vain is saying a cuss word. That’s not what that means at all. That doesn’t mean, “Oh, Pastor Chip said I can go out and just cuss all I want.”
That’s not what I was trying to say. What I’m saying is that’s not what taking the Lord’s name in vain is. Taking the Lord’s name in vain is ascribing His name to you, “I’m a follower of Yahweh,” or, “I’m a follower of Jesus,” and then not living up to that. That’s what it means to take His name in vain. In other words, you’ve said, “I’m a follower. I’m in. I’ve got His name.” Like, Mindy took my name. She was a McCallum, now she’s a Bennett. Okay? We take the Lord’s name in vain when we say we’re a follower and then we don’t live up to it. That’s a moment to think about. “Your name be hallowed. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Your, not me. Your, your, your. The second part of the Lord’s Prayer has another focal word:
“‘Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.’”
See, we’ve been raised in a culture that’s all about individualism. It’s about your relationship with God, your commitment to God. “Our Father.” That’s plural. Not “your” Father. Our. Plural.
Your, your, your. Us. See? We don’t pray it that way. We pray, “Okay, God. You’re my Father. I love You. Now, God, can You take care of my needs? Can you forgive me for the things that...”
That’s not the Lord’s Prayer. That’s not the Lord’s Prayer. The Lord’s Prayer is “your” and “us.” Your. You. Us. I’m a part of something else. So, if I have, but us doesn’t have, then us doesn’t work. Because if you love God, you love others. It’s the central teaching of Jesus. You get God right? “I got God right. I said the prayer. I go to the right church. I’ve got the right orthodoxy. I read the right translation. I’ve got a cool pastor with glasses and an orange shirt. He’s really cool.”
You know? Whatever it is, that doesn’t mean anything. Because if you say you love God and you don’t love others, us, then it’s not authentic. The Lord’s Prayer, which takes about 30-45 seconds to pray, is just massive in what it’s saying and instructing us on how to think and how to live. Your and us. Us. Not me. Us. Our Father. Not mine. Our. Your. Your kingdom. Your will. Your name. You and us.
Now, let’s talk about it. Let’s put all this together. The three times, the Jesus thing, the prayer. Let’s look at it. First of all, the “you” and “us” division of the Jesus prayer has profound implications. Because, see, we’re reading Scripture through an individualistic mindset. Scripture is not written through an individualistic mindset. See, when you read “you” in the epistles, it’s not singular. It’s plural. It’s the Church, the people. When James says, “Confess your faults, one to another, that you may be healed,” that’s not, “Confess your faults so that you may be good.” It’s to confess your faults so that you, plural, the Church, will be healed. See, we’re reading through Western eyes. What we’ve done is we’ve concocted this thing that doesn’t really look like Jesus. Because, see, we can love Jesus and say we love Jesus, but then we can look down on others. Jesus says, “That’s not the way this works. If you love me, you’re going to love others. And the way I want you to pray is ‘your’ and ‘us,’ because when you pray that, it’s going to have profound implications.”
See, a me-focused reading of Scripture makes two massive errors. And I would tell you we have a real problem in our country of reading Scripture through a “me” lens. Okay? See, the reason is because, first of all, it leads us to focus on passages that speak to me. So, if I am persuaded that I’m right on this particular issue, then I find passages that go, “Ha ha! There it is. I’m right.” And then your friends go, “Yeah, but there’s this one here.” And you’re like, “Yeah. I care about this one. This is the one that I want to talk about.”
Because what you’re doing is you’re reading Scripture through the lens of “me.” You can make Jesus look like whatever you want Him to look like, but that doesn’t mean He’s the authentic Jesus if you’re reading it through “me.”
So, it leads us to focus on passages that speak to “me.” We’re seeing this, rapidly, in the Church where people are now going, “Well, I couldn’t see God doing that. He’s sort of a loving God. He wouldn’t.” Because it’s like, “What I think.” The Lord’s Prayer says “your” and “us.” It doesn’t make a difference what I think. See? People go, “But God’s so loving. He wouldn’t allow that. He wouldn’t do that. That’s just outdated or whatever.”
No, no, no. Can I just tell you God is a God of love? There’s no question about it. But I will remind you that the cherubim and the seraphim, as they circle the throne of God, they don’t say, “Love, love, love.” They say, “Holy, holy, holy.” So, you can pick and choose the Jesus you like, and He can fit exactly your mold. And I can tell you this: When you’ve got a Jesus that you can master, you have an idol in your hand. Because He’s God and God’s big. God’s way beyond you and me. If your God ain’t beyond you and me, and your God ain’t got some mystery in your life, and if there’s times where you go, “I don’t know, man. I don’t know what’s going on. I just know You’re God,” then you’re in trouble because that’s who God is. He is a big God. So, it leads us to focus on passages that speak to “me.”
Secondly, me-aning takes precedence over the real meaning. “Well, I see that passage, but I just don’t think God would be like that. I just don’t think God would do those things.” No, no. What does it say? See? This is where the whole me-focused reading of Scripture and the whole me-focused deal of God really breaks down massively, because the Lord’s Prayer is “your” and “us.”
Second, what change — think about this for a second. What change would it bring in our lives if, three times a day — and you don’t have to do it. Nobody’s going to call you. It’s not like we’re going to have, on Tuesday, some phone call from the church: “Are you in for three times a day? If you’re not, please go to another church.”
That’s not what we’re doing here. Okay? I’m just saying, I’m just throwing it out there to you, what change would it bring to our lives if, three times a day, — evening, morning and noon, three times a day — we prayed the way Jesus asked us to pray? What would it do? Well, first of all, just simply remembering that we’re God’s — we’re not ours, we’re God’s. He’s God. We’re not — and praying the “us” would be really transformative. Because when you pray that prayer, you would go, “I’m a bearer of God’s name. Ooo, it’s lunchtime. I didn’t look a whole lot like God’s name right then. Man. Your. Us.”
See? It would have profound implications. You’re like, “How am I allowing God’s Kingdom to come right now in this moment? Oh, me and the wife are fighting at night. Lord, Your kingdom. Us. Honey, we need to solve this.”
See? It would change everything. In the morning, if any of you all have kids — we have like 90 kids. I don’t know how your mornings are. Everybody thinks pastor’s kids wake up with a King James Bible in their hand, quoting Leviticus. They don’t. One of them is riding one of them down the stairs, one of them is riding the dog and the other one is wiping a booger on the other one.
You’re like, “Okay.” So, when you get up in the morning and you say, “Your, us,” you go, “Okay. What I just did right there as the dad didn’t look a whole lot like God’s Kingdom coming in that moment. Maybe it looked like God’s wrath coming in that moment.”
But it will change, like at work. Noon. You pray a prayer, real quickly. Literally. We’re talking a three-minute investment in your life. Three minutes. I’m not asking for a lot here. Three minutes. It’s not even three minutes. I sit there and work on my phone. Thirty seconds was what I did as a general rule. Call it 45. Call it less than three minutes of a commitment of saying the prayer.
How about this one? Do I need daily bread or do I have mine? Because, see, when it’s us, does someone else need it? See? Think about it. Because, see, if “us” isn’t working, “me” isn’t working. Think about that. If “us” isn’t working, “me” isn’t working. Your. Us. Your. Us. It’s just powerful because it makes you think differently. It changes the way you think about the whole world. Everything. Everything’s sort of like, “Man, whoa. The things I think, I may really need to go have a check.”
Yes. That’s why He says it. Jesus knows what He’s doing. He’s like, “You can pray this prayer. This thing’s like 30 seconds. If you pray this prayer, it’s going to change you. That’s just the way it’s going to work.”
How about, “In what ways can I facilitate forgiveness, right here and right now?” Because if “us” isn’t working in forgiveness, then “me” isn’t working in forgiveness. Do you see? We’ve got this deal that I can do what I want to do and it doesn’t affect you. That’s not true. When Adam sinned, who got affected? All of us. That rascal. Right? Man, that’s unfair until Jesus dies on the cross and forgives us all. We’re like, “I’m in on that one. I’m in on that one.”
But that’s the thing, though. See? One person does affect everybody. Who’s being tempted right now? Maybe I’m not, but “us” is. Three times a day. What would it do? Here’s another great question: Why did Jesus redefine the orthodoxy and prayer of Israel? Why did He say, “It’s not okay to just get God right. That’s not enough. That’s not what this is all about.”
Getting God right means you also love people. Loving people means you love God. That’s what this looks like. This is what this thing looks like. This is the Jesus thing right here. I’m talking about just being Jesus followers. This is what it looks like.
Because He knew. He realized that a lifestyle focusing only on orthodoxy, just getting it right, leads to eventual exclusion of others, potential nastiness towards others, pride, tribalism and redefining good and evil. He knew that. Because what it does is it can create the other. And, see, the other is the one I can look down on, think bad about, shun and push away. Jesus goes, “No, no, no. Love God, love others. If you don’t love others, you can’t really say you’ve got this one right because this is the way this works.”
This is like, “Whoa.” We should be like, “Whoa,” when you hear this next Scripture here. We should be like, “Oh, man.” Listen to what He says:
“They...” — us, followers of God, religious people — “...will put you...” — His followers — “...out of the synagogues.”
Like, “Whoa, really? Religious people?” Yeah. Because, see, you’re the other. Hear this. This is crazy.
“Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God.”
You talk about, “We’ll get them,” but you can’t because if you love God, you love others. He says, “They’re going to be so warped that they’ll even kill people thinking that they’re doing it in the name of the Lord.”
He says, “And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me.”
“Because you can’t know me and not love others, because that’s the way this works.”
Think about that for a second. In what way or ways could or would I love others differently if I prayed this prayer? How hard would it be to look down on that group or this group or feel like I’ve got it right and they’re wrong? Jesus goes, “That’s not the way it works.”
While we were sinners, Paul says in Romans 5:8, Jesus died for you and me. He could’ve excluded us. We would’ve deserved it. Like, we would’ve deserved to not have had His love, but He did. He says, “That’s what I want you to do. I want you to be people that love others. And if you love me and you understand that, then you love others. By looking at the way you love others, it will be a reflection of the way that you genuinely love me.”
So, what I’m going to ask you to do is this. I’m just asking. You don’t have to do it. It’s just a challenge. Over the next couple months, between now and the end of the year — that’s it. Now and the end of the year. Now and the end of December. Keep doing it if you want, but I’m just saying. I hope you would, but if you just do it between now and the end of December, evening, morning, noon. Most of us have watches, smart watches or phones. Just put it in there. At noon, it beeps. If you’re at a restaurant, say, “Excuse me. I need to go to the bathroom.”
Walk in the bathroom and say, “Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed by your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Gives us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
Then walk back out. You’ll walk out and everybody you see in the room will be different because it’s massive. You can’t say you can’t do it because we’re talking 45 seconds 3 times a day. And you can’t tell me that it would not radically change your life if you did it because you’re going to start seeing the world completely different. You’re going to be like, “Whoa, man. How did I think that? How did I? Man, this is really changing everything with the way I think.”
Because here’s the deal. Jesus is right. He says, “If you pray to God this prayer, He will reward you. The rewarding will be not only does He change your whole life, but He changes the people around you, the way you interact, the blessings that you see and all of the stuff. It makes such a difference.”
So, I don’t ever do this. You know I don’t. If you’re new, you can ask somebody who’s been here for three years. “Yeah, Chip doesn’t usually do this. This is not what he usually does.” I’m going to ask you to do something for me. I don’t usually ask you to do anything for me. I’d like for us, if we could, could we all just stand for a minute? Just stand for a minute. We’re not going to do calisthenics or anything. We’re just going to stand for a minute. Okay? If you would, I want you to look up here on the screen. What we’re going to do, as a church — I’ll lead us, but we’re all going to say this together. All of us together. So, I’ll lead. Look at the screen. Follow me. Say it together. Listen. This is about let’s talk, power of our words. Listen to what you’re saying.
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
Thirty seconds, three times a day, will change your life. You’ll see things differently. Let’s pray.
Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You for the wonderful people here at Grace. I thank You for the truth of Your Word. I thank You, Lord, that when we really can understand what You teach us, it’s way more simple and profound than maybe we think. Lord, my prayer is not any bondage or any have-to’s. I pray, Lord, that we would walk out of here wanting, desiring three times a day to say your prayer. And Lord, I believe that the ramifications that would come if we do this as a church and as individuals will be absolutely overwhelming. I believe it will change us massively.
God, while we’re here at prayer, we know — not a question in my mind. We all know it. Our society is broken because everybody is an “other.” We can’t change that, but we surely can change us. We can surely, as Your people, walk the way You want us to walk and not get bogged down into all the garbage of this world, but to rise above it and be the Christians You have called us to be that love You and love others.
Lord, I pray in Jesus’ name that You would make that a reality here. I pray in Jesus’ name that You would just rebuke all of the discord and division and garbage that Your people are carrying with them right now. Lord, and You would set Your people free to be the followers of the authentic Jesus that love You with all of their heart, with all of their mind, with all of their soul and all of their body, and love their neighbors as themselves. Ignite a fire within us, Lord. Help us to understand the implications of Your prayer.
Lord, we pray that as we walk out of here, You would continue to lead, guide and direct us. We pray that You’d bring us back safely to when we meet again. And Lord, we pray that You would help us to satay firm and resolute in what You’ve called us to do. Lord, to be a church that reaches the unchurched by being intentional neighbors that reflect Christ. Lord, we love You, we thank You and we praise You. In Jesus’ name, and everybody said, “Amen.”
Give the Lord a big hand clap. Tell Him you love Him. God bless everybody.