Unlocking the Power of Daily Prayer: Find Peace and Connection with God

Transcript from Ps. Mark Missenden’s sermon Fruitful Prayer, preached on the 10th March 2024.

Welcome everyone it’s a real privilege to to bring the word today and I wanted to I wanted to preface this morning’s message with with just a lot of the research and reading that I’ve been doing on the spiritual discipline of prayer that we’re going to bring. This is the message this morning, we’re covering spiritual disciplines for the next seven weeks or so and prayer is today. The Bible has been my source.

source and the experience of Jesus Christ in my life, but there’s just a couple of books here that I’ll just throw up on the screen. And I wanted to put them up there because you can take a photo of them now if you want, and I’ll give you permission to use your phones right now, not that you need it, but take a photo. And what’s brought this morning, what’s your appetite? And you want to know more, and you want to go deeper? in this discipline of prayer.

I just encourage you that these three books have been wonderful and you can go and explore them further and then if not, just delete the photo, I’ll never know. And then later on down the track if you’re like, “Ah, man, delete that photo and maybe I do want to go deeper in my walk with prayer, I’ll let you know the books again.” When I was a kid, about… I think I just finished grade 7 in 1995.

Don’t do the maths now because that could distract you from this story. But we moved to a house just down the street, actually on Rody Road, just where the Rody Road shops are, and not in the shops, just above them. And this house had everything that, I’ve got three siblings, there’s four kids, and it had everything.

everything that pre -teen /teenage kids could ever want in a house. And at the risk of sounding a little bit out of touch with the common man, I’m going to go and list a few of the features. First of all was the location.

It was around the corner from my cousins and my family who I got on really well with. And they had wacky races on the computer and so I could go around there and play that game, which is amazing. amazing.

And second of all, the house had five bedrooms which meant that each of us kids had a bedroom of our own for the first time ever and that was wild, my own space. It had two rumpestrooms which meant that we could actually get away from each other, you know, when things got messy and my younger sister’s here and she would know. It had a pool which was really exciting.

exciting, and had a tennis court, and it was actually amazing. There were some great summers. I can’t remember if it was in the lead -up to this move that we had or shortly after.

Dad called a family meeting. meeting. And there are two kinds of family meetings in my history, in my past that I would remember.

The first kind is one of us kids is messed up. And so here’s a chance to kind of get together and learn a lesson together. Or two, things are getting a little bit out of hand at the house.

And we’re about to get an allocation of chores. [LAUGHTER] Anyway, I remember– say, we announced the meeting, and we’d all sort of think about what’s going to happen. And later on, in the evening, we sit down around the table, and Dad starts off with something similar to– you might have heard it before, or maybe you’re a parent, you’ve given this message.

It’s like, all right, you know, it’s a family. We need to all start pulling our weight. Oh, man, chores.

[LAUGHTER] (LAUGHTER) And so the allocation comes. My chore that I was allocated was the fortnightly clean of the tennis court. And sounds pretty straightforward and easy.

However, Mum and Dad’s property is really steep. And the house is at the top of the hill. And then you go down four flights of stairs down to the bottom right of the back.

That’s where the tennis court is. And it’s surrounded by gum trees. And it’s surrounded by Jacaranda trees.

And, um… And you may be surprised at how much green waste is dumped on an 80 square meter concrete slab over the course of 14 days. Well, it turns out there’s around about, I don’t know, 12 to 14 garbage bags full.

And so it’s my job, and I would begrudgingly every second Saturday morning, and sometimes I’d skip it or grab it. the broom, and then later on we’d upgrade to a blower, which was amazing, thanks dad. But I’d grab the broom and I’d go down and I’d start sweeping this big pile of garbage, and then I’d fill up the garbage bags and then I’d bring them up the stairs, four flights of stairs, two by two.

And then the last two bags, I’d get to the top of the hill and I’d look around to see a job well done, you know, just take pride in what you’ve done. And it’s just like there’s purple jacaranda leaves raining down, you know, on this on this concrete slab that’s already littered with green waste already. And you’re just like, man, why am I even doing this job? We’ve all had these chores.

You know that that we do that’s kind of like it’s really all they’re doing is just maintaining the status quo Dishes, you know, you watch the dishes and it’s like I’m in I’m just washing dishes so I can make them clean again Like they were an hour ago only so they can get dirty again or washing the dog You know, he was dirty two days ago. I wash them again two days time movie stinky again They need to be done because we need clean dishes. We don’t want a stinky dog dog, but it’s kind of just maintaining the status quo of life.

We’re not really achieving much other than just, you know, just kind of just floating along. Last week Pastor Nathan introduced us into this series titled “Fruitful”. We’re together.

Over seven more weeks we look at spiritual disciplines as practiced by Jesus. And it was an important introduction to the series because at the start of this journey we need to remember why we practice spiritual disciplines. And we can incorrectly think of spiritual discipline as these chores, these things, we kind of just got to do them because they just need to be done.

done, but they are not. As Nathan shared last week, these spiritual disciplines are meant to be enjoyed, they’re not meant to be a grind. And if they are a grind for us, the risk is, all we do is just maintain the status quo of our work.

walk with Christ. Never really going deeper, never really experiencing the full benefit of relationship with our Savior King, our Lord Jesus Christ. Nathan put it beautifully when he said, “The practice of spiritual disciplines bring connection to him and connection to him and connection to him.” to fruitfulness.

And this passage will be a theme throughout this series, John chapter 15, verse four. And this is the point, remain in me and I will remain in you for a branch cannot produce fruit. It is severed from the vine and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

And some of us get knee deep in the water of our walk with Jesus Christ and its experience is pretty good. We meet some pretty awesome people who are on that walk alongside us and we become content knee deep in the water, content in the status quo depth of Christianity. And maybe we’ve never swum in the depth of the intimacy with Christ which he won for us.

These spiritual disciplines are an invitation to go deeper, an opportunity to try something different in your life and not a chore that simply maintains the status quo of your relationship with Christ but practices which disrupt a comfortable existence. with God knee -deep in the water and engage in connection with Him, to know Him and to be known by Him. Prayer is an invitation by God to go deeper in the Christian life.

I need to start with a warning. Nothing I say here today is going to take you further into that deep with him. I’m really sorry.

And these are the things I’m learning. You know, unlike you, I’m just on this journey and the knowledge itself has really done nothing for me. me.

I read the books and they’re great. But until I put what I’m learning into practice and experience what it is that I’m learning, I put it into practice, then I experience the benefit. Depth with Christ comes through experience, actually doing something.

something. You think of this guy, it sounds like he’s about to segue in to tell us, I mean, he needs to do more. But no, I’m actually going to ask you to consider the opposite.

Think subtraction, not addition is something I read this week. It was really helpful. I’m going to ask you to consider yet yeah, a daily prayer rhythm, but don’t add it to your already over busy, overcrowded, overworked lives.

What can you subtract? What can you take out? It’s the 15 minutes of scrolling through social media, it’s the 15 minutes of scrolling through, man, news .com that I use the worst. Don’t, why waste your time? time? Formation is about less and not more. I encourage you to consider where you’re at before committing to a new daily prayer than they.

If daily prayer is not something you’re currently doing, don’t beat yourself up about it. But can I encourage you this week, just a set time? Maybe 15 minutes. You don’t even need to rack up 15 minutes of things to say to God.

It might just be 15 minutes of just sitting in silence. Maybe read a scripture and just sit. Maybe that challenge for those already in daily prayer might just be to extend yourself a little bit.

True love and all the benefits which flow from it. it including a wild and adventurous and exciting prayer life needs to be a personal discovery Practiced and experienced in order to know Prayer needs to be discovered. So I’m not a wildly well -travelled guy Julie and I have done a couple of trips to New Zealand and they were awesome time.

We used to be our honeymoon over there. A few years later, we went with our family and it was really great. We did all of the touristy things.

What do we do? We went to the ski fields. We went up into Queenstown, checked out some really good coffee shops. We actually drove through the South Island but we were on a little bit of a tight time schedule, right, two weeks.

And so, a lot of the amazing things views we saw from our car. And we’d often comment, oh man, it’s like a postcard everywhere you drive through this place. It’s unreal.

Jono Southwood, who’s sitting at the back desk. Welcome back Jono, by the way. We’re clapping.

And so we should because he’s just returned from a four month trek from the top of the North Island New Zealand. Zealand all the way down to the bottom of the South Island New Zealand. Four months, four months? Ah, a long time then.

He’s experienced the beauty of New Zealand at a completely different level to what Julie and I have. I can tell you, if we were to have a discussion, I can tell you of the picturesque views of the countryside. the snow -capped mountains as you’re driving past, how blue the water looked, or all of these cool things, how friendly the people are.

Jono can tell you what the earth felt like under his feet as he walked through how blue the water was, but actually how refreshing it was. Just to swim in it and just relax in it for a little while. Jono has an intimate knowledge of New Zealand because he discovered it.

And discovery leads to intimacy. Pete Gregg, who’s the founder of the 24 /7 Prayer Movement, says this, “The most important discovery you will ever make.” make is the love the Father has for you. Your power in prayer will flow from the certainty that the one who made you likes you.

He is not scowling at you and he is on your side. Don’t fear becoming intimate with him. Don’t fear spending that time practising these spiritual disciplines because it’s like a journey, you know, from the top of New Zealand through the bottom, just being intimate with him, spending time with him, and truly discovering what it’s like to be known by him and to know him.

Richard Foster says in this book, “The Cellular of Discipline,” he said, “It was liberating to me to understand that prayer involved a learning process.” Thank goodness we don’t need to know everything before we start. Kind of just need to start. Now, I think that’s a good start.

I was set free to question, to experiment, even to fail, for I knew I was learning. For years I had prayed for many things and with great intensity, but I didn’t know what to do. with only marginal success but then I saw that I Might possibly be doing some things wrong and could learn differently so let’s learn together and Who better to learn from than Jesus Christ? And in Luke chapter 11 the disciples asked Jesus teachers to pray like they witness him come back from this time of prayer “Teach us to pray,” like John taught his disciples to pray.

My first point, when Jesus taught, I’m going to read it shortly, is to approach prayer in the truth of who he was praying to. Jesus approached prayer in the truth of who he was praying to. Chapter 11, Luke, verses 1 to 2.

says, “Once Jesus was in a certain place praying, “as he finished, one of his disciples came to him “and said, ‘Lord, teach us to pray,’ “just as John taught his disciples. “And Jesus says, ‘This is how you should pray.’ “Father, may your name be kept holy.'” Jesus approached God as Father, as Father, Father, Father, Father, Father, Father, Father, Father, Father. as someone that he had an intimate relationship with.

But who is God to you? In one of those books that I referenced before, John Marcoma is practicing the way, he breaks it down this way. The human approach is to approach God as a dictator or a vending machine, only coming to him. as we need something, but Jesus teaches to approach him as a father.

We think he’s far away and out of space, but Jesus teaches he’s as close as the air we breathe. Symptom management, as he phrases it, is this idea that we’re praying for comfortability. God will give us everything that we need so we can be comfortable in this life.

life, but not prayer as a means to delight in God, to enjoy His presence. And lastly, we assume that what is going to happen is going to happen with or without our prayers, and not that prayer can really make a difference, which it can. can.

And it does. No wonder we can avoid prayer. John Wesley has a famous quote that God does nothing but an answer to prayer and backed it up with a conviction by devoting two hours a day to doing it.

And if you read James chapter five, you’ll experience that God’s response to our prayer is actually a biblical principle. Our approach to God in prayer are not words offered in the hope That there’s someone out there who’s gonna hear us not at all You have his direct attention And he is as close to you right now as the air you breathe breathe. And not only that, but he’s a God that gives good, good gifts.

So let’s go to beginning your prayer. And I want to encourage you to consider how to transition in and out of prayer. Are there some micro rituals that you might be able to consider, some deep breaths just to mark that occasion of meeting with the King, simply silence or maybe it’s music.

What does that 15 minutes look like each day with your Lord? What is something that would help you shut off everything that is going on in your world right now and focus in on it? God’s presence. How can you comfortably position yourself physically? What does that look like? Is there a space in your house that you love to sit? I’ve heard Nathan talk about just beside his window, a nice comfy chair beside the window looking out. That’s cool.

It’s not completely necessary but often Jesus went into creation. to pray or he climbed a mountain and pray along the way. Begin and end your prayer with thanks and gratitude.

It’s a French bishop by the name of Jean Baptiste Massieux and he said, “Gratitude is the memory of the heart.” I love that. It’s the humble acknowledgement of the blessings that we receive daily and they are there. You don’t even need to look too hard.

Both big and small. Scripture repeatedly advises us to express thanksgiving in every circumstance, affirming the connection between gratitude, faith and personal growth. Philippians chapter 4 verses 6 to 7 says, don’t worry about anything, instead pray about everything.

Tell God what you need and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live.

In Jesus Christ sounds so good. This verse encourages us to pray where you are at, pray for everything. As a Christian, most of my life and being in church for all of my life, I’ve heard some pretty incredible prayers.

You know, someone gets up, they pray something like, “Oh man, that was good. That was a good prayer.” They might have said all the right things. They might have acknowledged God with words that you didn’t even, they might have even heard of before.

And I think to myself, if only I could pray like that, like that guy. And I think to myself, you know, I don’t think I’ve ever come and delivered a sermon without actually coming and confessing. This might not be the appropriate place to do it, but…

but today’s is, there’ve been times, not all the time, and sometimes it might be in our prayer meeting and I’m in a group and someone’s given one of these awesome prayers and I’m like, oh man, that’s really good. And so I’ll start thinking about some things that I might be able to say that can contribute into this space. You know, this, I’m thinking words, you know.

and these sorts of things And I’m crafting this prayer You know in my seat. I’m not even I’m even half acknowledging what’s going on. It’s performance and it’s and it’s Christian as that prayer might sound, it’s just boring.

C .S. Lewis said, “We must lay before him what is in us, not what ought to be in us.” Learning to praise about bringing all we are to God, being honest with him, because that’s what he wants. Where are your complaints going? Are they going in your friendship circles and you’re bringing them to God? I’m not talking about complaints about God, by the way.

I’m talking about your frustrations with other people. Guess what? They’re normal. What about your situations that you’re facing today? What about the pain? that you are experiencing day to day? These types of prayer are called lament.

And if you were to read the book of Psalms, all 150 chapters of them, two -thirds of them are prayers of lament. It’s like God’s given us this framework for prayer. and it’s someone going, “Why? Why is this? God wants our honesty.” That framework for prayer in Psalms is so powerful, because often they’re prayers of men and women and people who are just being honest to God, raw and honest.

Not some insurgency in monologues. but dialogue with the Father, with their friend. Pray what you’ve got.

Lastly, I’m gonna take this point from one of the greats. Ray Akers. Many of you would know him.

they still attend this church online but he said from the stage maybe 10 years ago and I’ll never forget it, it was in a message about when he was doing Communion and leading Communion for us and he said you’ve got two ears and one mouth, listen twice as much as you speak, was the analogy. analogy. If you love to talk and talk and talk to God, that’s actually great.

But I’ll say this, if I were you, I would be very interested in after hearing all that you had to say of what God might wanna say back to you. you. Spend time in silence in prayer and reflect on what He’s done for you, where He’s been at work, if you’ve spent five minutes just unloading, spend 10 minutes downloading.

There’s some application here already, but spiritual disciplines are a practice. practice and I’d actually love to practice with you now church if you let me this is going to be a little different unfortunately we’re only going to get around seven minutes and we could easily go a lot longer but we’re going to try something new and it may seem a little weird but it’s not We’re gonna have a short time of meditation. And before some of you stand up and walk out, like this is some sort of hippie thing, it’s not.

And I remind you, in Luke six, when he tells you the time where Jesus just did just this to make some really important decisions in the life of the church and in the life, you know, and what was to come on this earth. earth. One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray and spent the night praying to God.

And when morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose 12 of them, of whom he also designated apostles. Through meditation and prayer, Jesus discerned the way. Chose the group who would be entrusted to share the good news and plant the church on earth.

So here we go. If you’re taking notes in your bulletin, thank you, but please put them down. If you’ve got your phone handy, put that down as well and just turn it upright so that you can’t see it.

Take some time, just to make yourself comfortable in your chair and as we take that time Let’s just come back and Center ourselves and just to remove further distraction. Would you just close your eyes? You may like to open your hands and place them on your knees face up as an indicator to both you and God that you are ready to receive from Him. As you’re becoming comfortable just begin to take some deep breaths breathing deep Into your belly and just holding it and breathing out and as you breathe breathe, remember God’s spirit is with you.

He is as close to you as the air you breathe. His spirit is the spirit of love and peace and joy. Let’s just settle into him now.

And as we pray, find the deepest part of you and begin to make it available, offering it to God. As you breathe and slow down, just remember God’s presence, focus on a feeling. feeling, let yourself feel your current emotional state, your difficult situations in particular, your griefs and losses, what’s there under the surface, see if you can even name the different emotions you feel, or if it’s all chaos.

right now, ask the Holy Spirit to clarify your feelings and to help you see what you truly feel beneath the surface. As you focus on one of the feelings, try and sit with it and hold it, without judging it or telling yourself whether it’s right or wrong, and locate that feeling in your body. Does it express itself somewhere like your stomach or your chest or your shoulders or your head and now as you feel it and experience it, bring it to God.

as you hold your palms out You might like to imagine your situation or feeling before God So that he can see it and tell God what you feel about it Without any filter Be honest in your words be raw raw. What do you feel in this moment? And remember that God sympathises with you in it. As you sit there with God, both of you experience and seeing what you’re holding up to Him, begin to express your desires and needs.

Plead with God to act, to redeem, to vindicate, to step in, fight for, protect. protect. Wrestle with God if you feel the moment needs it.

Give God your trust. Let go. You might want to say, “Even though I feel this way, you are good and I trust you.” Or maybe Jesus pray, “Not my will, but yours be done not.” Just in your own language.

Just give it to God. God. Now be still and sit with God in his presence and allow him to respond if he wants to.

Notice how it feels to have expressed and give and sought and allowed God to take your lament and give him the opportunity to be with you for a moment. Finally, give thanks. Thanks for God, for His presence being with you and responding to your heart.

heart. Lord Jesus, we love you and we’re grateful that you meet us in our deepest needs. Thank you.

that you have seen and known grief and hurt and you have seen and known us today. Be with us, heal us and strengthen us in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Watch the full sermon here