Here are the sermon notes for week one of the sermon series: Talking to God! You can listen to the podcast also. First, let’s start with the question of: Why do you listen to me?
- Some aren’t. That’s ok. I understand I probably won’t either at some points.
- You are new. “What’s going to happen?” A short attention span.
- Your life situation has placed you in a desperate spot and you are listening for the pastor to shed some light or offer some hope.
- Others that have been around a while are listening because you like me. You don’t have the prerequisite of, “This better be good, or I’m out.” Instead, you are like, “I’m here. I’m family. I like this place. I like pastor robin. What is he going to say today? I’m in.” I could tell you that we are going to have church at the river and you would go. Hint hint….
My job as a preacher is to consider all of the different subsets of people in the audience and try to capture everyone’s attention. Examples: the ones who aren’t listening by doing something crazy, loud or funny. To say something intriguing or profound for the curious. To study, pray, and seek God for those who are struggling and need hope and revelation. It’s a Tough job when there is a tough crowd. Talking to people is not always easy. Especially when you don’t really know who you are talking to. Strangers are so hard to connect to sometimes. I’ve come to several conclusions. One is:
Our attention span is longer the more we LIKE someone.
There could be someone talking to you with all the knowledge in the world. However, they could be so boring or arrogant or verbose. No matter how much they articulate or pontificate, you don’t communicate because of what you know about them. The opposite is true as well. We love our kids. When our kids are too young to be understood, we will listen intently to their babbling straining to pick out words that we recognize. We are intently listening. We are eager to communicate with our kids. Those of you who don’t have kids, have dogs. You talk to and listen to your dogs. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE. Moms and dads never change. I love hearing my 8 and 10 year old speak to me. I sit beside my daughter who is 13 and unable to form words and speak audibly because of her disability and decipher her non-verbal communication. (she loves me more than momma) I love to hear from my kids. My mom and dad love to get calls from their 38 year old son (me). About what? Nothing. They would love to just talk…about…nothing. What do they want to hear from me? Anything. Call me. Let’s talk! They desire to talk to me, not because of what I can offer them or what interesting info there is to share.
In an intimate relationship, the desire to talk is solely based on the value of the relationship. “I want to talk to you…..because you are you.”
Here is another observation: Most of us have a problem talking to God because: We don’t understand how much God really likes us. We don’t understand how much God is excited about our life and eager to connect. Our problem as humans is that we judge how much God likes us by how much other people like us. Especially, people in authority. Therefore, our relationship with God is hindered and handcuffed by our own mentality and limitation we put on God. I want you to see a video of a father and daughter and the baby is so cute, but I want you to pay more attention to the father in the video.
It is with this context that Jesus teaches us how to pray | How to talk to God.
Matthew 6:5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 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 sees in secret will reward you. 7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the heathen do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
What he tells us is not to be preoccupied with our oratory skills or what others think about our prayers. INSTEAD…
9 Pray then like this: “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 this day our daily bread, 12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.
The very first step in talking to God is not focusing on what to say, but focusing on who you are talking to.
The more you get to know God: the more often you pray, the longer attention span you have, the more you will long for it, the more you will take others with you.
Author and Pastor Timothy Keller said in his book, Prayer, “Prayer is a personal, communicative response to the knowledge of God.”
Job is a great example of someone who went through a journey to learn more about who God is. His journey was brutally hard. As you read throughout the book of Job you see his prayers change. His journey changed his knowledge of God and thus changed the way he talked to God. At first, he is processing his pain and suffering through prayer, then God reveals himself to Job. From that point, Job talks to God in repentance and adoration. The more clearly Job saw who God was, the fuller his prayers became – moving from mere complaint to confession, appeal, and praise. The power of our conversations with God lie not in our effort and striving, or in any technique, but rather our knowledge of God. God spoke to Job out of a whirlwind. Oh, how we long for God to show himself to us clearly and distinctly. The truth is that God speaks to us much clearer than a whirlwind.
Hebrews 1:1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
Jesus Christ is the Word of God. (John 1:1) When we look to Jesus Christ we are looking at the glory of God through the filter of human nature. Let’s get to know God! The easiest and clearest way to get to know God is read his Word. Read the whole thing, but if you are new to the relationship, read about Jesus in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Once you read about God in the flesh. You start to communicate his language little by little. Most likely no one in the room remembers when you learned to speak. Why? Because you were little. Think about the way a small child learns to speak. The child is not trying to learn a language. Instead, that language is being spoken into the child from the parents and others around her.
Eugene Patterson says, “We are plunged at birth into a sea of language…then slowly syllable by syllable we acquire the capacity to answer: mama, papa, bottle, blanky, no. Not one of these words was a first word….all speech is answering speech. We were all spoken to before we spoke.”
Studies have shown that children’s ability to understand and communicate is profoundly affected by the number of words and the breadth of vocabulary to which they were exposed as infants and toddlers. We speak to the degree we are spoken to. Therefore, if we want to talk to God, we first listen to what he is saying to us. What is he saying to us? Our conversations with God arise out of immersion in the scripture. We should plunge ourselves into the sea of God’s language, the Bible. We should listen, study, think, reflect, and ponder the scriptures until there is an answering response in our hearts and minds. When we are immersed in God’s Word and presence, we will learn how to pray. It might take as long as it does for a baby to learn his primary language. Discovering God so that our conversation with him is rich and meaningful. So that conversation helps us know him more and more. Christians, however, have an infinitely greater word of promise. God will not merely build us a house (as he did with King David), he will make us his house. He will fill us with his presence, beauty, and glory. Every time Christians merely remember who they are in Christ, that great word comes home to us and we will find, over and over again, a heart to pray.