Oh my GIRLS! There is so so so much that we still need to discuss and digest about prayer. Like, how and why Daniel was so good at it and how he did it. Like, what is the secret power (if any…) to the prosperity prayer of Jabez. Why did Job keep the faith in the face of unanswered prayer after unanswered prayer? What was Jonah thinking when God wouldn’t let up on His will for Nineveh and Jonah’s part in it?! And..and…and…!
BUT… it occurs to me that the title of our study book is Enjoying Jesus. Not Enjoying Daniel, or Jabez, or Jonah, or Job. It’s Enjoying JESUS. So why don’t we spend our time today looking at Him?
I love it! LOVE it! So much richness in three little verses. But right now, there is one key phrase I want you to focus on:
Watch. How. I. Do. It.
It’s little but it’s mighty. In other words, Jesus is simply saying, “WATCH ME”.
In everything He came here to do, in all His holiness and goodness, He acted as the ultimate role model didn’t He? And from today forward in this study, we will be looking at how Jesus, Himself, practiced each of these disciplines.
First of all, through the gospels, Jesus is in constant contact with the Father. Communicating = Prayer. Prayer was not only important to Jesus, but something He treated as a priority.
Second, when the disciples asked Him how to pray, it’s one of those rare times that He doesn’t answer them with a story or a parable. He just straight up answers them with solid teaching on HOW TO PRAY.
(Those might sound just a wee bit familiar to you if you’ve spent even a millisecond in a church at any point in your life 🙂 !)
If we look at those two passages, we see exactly how Jesus would like us to pray, and it basically encompasses a lot of the “types” of prayers we talked about last week and wrote for homework!
Sister friends, it’s pretty simple: we acknowledge God; submit our will to His (okay, this one is WAY easier said than done…); ask Him to meet our needs, ask for forgiveness when we don’t get it right (and for Him to teach us how to let others off the hook when they screw up – because, guess what? They are human too). We pray that He would protect us and the people we love and keep us from harm. And we end by praising Him for His awesomeness!
That’s how we pray.
Our friend, Margaret Feinberg, says this about prayer:
“Speaking + Listening + Waiting = Prayer”
(She’s pretty smart, isn’t she?!)
Oh but that waiting part; that’s hard. At least it is for me, because I can fall into the pit of a pity party if I’m not careful. “God didn’t hear me. I must not have prayed hard enough or had enough people praying with me or He’s mad at me or just doesn’t care enough to answer me.”
It’s all fine and good when things worked out as we would have them, right? But what about when we think He hasn’t answered us, or even worse, when it seems as if He says “NO WAY, JOSE!”?
Well, let’s just open back up to Matthew chapter 6 for a sec. I’m going to re-read just the second half of verse 10 for you here:
“May your will be done on earth as it is done in heaven.”
Your will. Meaning God’s will.
In other words, “Help me to step out of the way and let You do Your thing; regardless of how You work it out. Your will, Lord. Not the millions of options I’ve set at your feet waiting for You, God, to pick one of them. Your option. Your will be done. Not mine.”
(You might want to cue the “Mic Drop” here because this is where it gets super for reals.)
Jesus uses this phrase again – “Your will be done” much later in Matthew in the garden of Gethsemane : “He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, ‘My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want Your will to be done, not mine’.” (Matt 26:39)
He says it again just three verses later: “Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, ‘My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, Your will be done’.” (Matt 26:42)
Let’s be clear here. Jesus is God. He knew what was going to happen so He knew the suffering was coming. Yet twice He prayed, “Your will be done”. I don’t claim to know what Jesus was thinking in these moments. But I’m asking you to just think on it for sec. I don’t know if I’m right here or not, but I don’t think Jesus prayed those words for His benefit, or even for the benefit of the sleeping disciples; I think He said the words for ours. Maybe a part of the reason He said those very words is so we could “WATCH HOW HE DOES IT” even in the face of death.
Thy will be done.
Now. I know firsthand how confusing this piece of prayer life with God can seem because that level of utter surrender could put us at 180 degrees at odds with our desire to believe we have a good, good Father. AND a Savior in Jesus who will rescue us and all those we love from pain and suffering. And yet we continue to experience things that are difficult, full of pain, and could even be perceived as cruel.
But then, this:
This, sweet friends, is the very essence of faith. Can we, when everything is stacked against us and we know that we know that we know we have a God that could swoop down and save us in a millisecond, yet He does not (at least in that moment), can we still claim that He is for us and not against us, and has good and prosperous plans in mind for us here on Earth?
Thy will be done.
“For we know that in all things God works together with those who love Him and have been called to His purpose to bring about what is good.” Romans 8:28
I love that verse because it serves as a comforting reminder that regardless of what it looks like in terms of our current circumstances, He’s “on it” because we love Him and we’ve been called to walk with Him. He’s working the good already into it even when we don’t feel it.
But you wanna know something REAL? Sometimes even Romans 8:28 doesn’t alter the feelings and emotions that accompany the disappointment that something we so madly have prayed for isn’t going to come our way now – or maybe ever – in the earthly realm. But I hope it gives you the faith and the strength to keep praying because where you are at any given moment (and the circumstances surrounding it) are purposeful to God, even if excruciatingly painful. He reveals Himself to us in the waiting, pulls us closer, answering our heart’s biggest desire, which is to be walking in alignment with Him and His will.
So this week, I encourage you to keep up with the prayers we started last week! And let’s add another line to the prayer we are building together this series:
“Lord, help me hear You today.
Thank you for loving me.
I know you have good plans for me; Thy. Will. Be. Done.”
Whew. Thank you, God, that it’s Your will and not mine. For reals.
If you are following our Come Closer study online with us, please read the last three days of Chapter 2 in Enjoying Jesus. We’ll be back here next week talking about CONFESSION! I know, you’re already jumping up and down in excitement 😉 !
Check out this week’s song, “Loving My Jesus” by Casting Crowns!
Praying that God’s peace, love, and JOY infuse you FULLY this week, sister friends! A JESUS BATH BOMB, SISTERS!!!! 😉