IF YOU WANT IT, A MIRACLE WILL COME YOUR WAY
I want to share some things with you from the Word of God about how to talk to Him from the very heart of Jesus Christ. I want to tell you how God told us we should pray and what should be our attitude of heart when we come to Him. Today, we will look at what scripture says about prayer: pray in secret, pray in private, make it personal, make it sincere, and trust in God.
In Matthew 6:5, Jesus says, “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites.” In its original text, a hypocrite means an actor who is just putting on a play. They're not sincere about the part they're playing; it's just an act. Verses 6–8 continue: “But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathens do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore, do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you need before you ask Him.” These verses don't tell us everything, but it's a good start to how Jesus views the sacred interaction of prayer: pray in secret.
In the Garden of Eden, God interacts with Adam and Eve. The scripture says He came down in the cool of the day and conversed with them; it was simple. Sometimes, God brought animals to Adam and said, “What shall we call this?” Adam giving names to God’s creations was one way they interacted. When sin entered the human race, that ability to communicate with God was lost. Only a select few people in the Old Testament could talk face-to-face with God; Moses is one example. It was not until Jesus was on the cross that He destroyed the power of sin, death, and the Devil. Then, Jesus reopened the way for us to come into God's presence, speak to Him, and pray privately.
I’ve tried all of these schemes for years to pray; if there's a book on prayer, I've read it. I’ve been up at dawn, on my knees, and gone a million miles an hour, straining to get in God’s presence. Finally, one day after I'd exhausted all these avenues, the Lord said, “Stop running. Can we talk now?” He said, “Carter, I had a friend called Adam whom I loved. I came down to my friend to talk with him, but that bond broke through sin entering his heart. I lost my friend, and I yearn for that companionship. It’s why I came to this world as a man, Jesus Christ, and went to a cross to defeat the power that had defeated him so that I could talk again to Adam's descendants.” He said, “Carter, just talk to me.” After all of the stress and hoops I had put myself through, it was an amazing revelation. It’s just me and God; prayer is personal.
I learned I could simply talk to God. I don’t need to use King James English. My posture doesn't matter. I can speak to Him when I’m walking down the street. God wants us to talk to Him when brushing our teeth and having a coffee in the morning. When we’re walking along the way, wherever we're going, God wants to hear from us. Talk to Him when you come home and when you get up. Talk to Him when you go to bed. The Apostle Paul said, “Pray without ceasing.”
You can get into a habit of talking with the one who not only redeemed you but now resides inside you. God's not so far off in the cosmos that you must shout at Him. He indwells your physical human body as the third person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit. He goes with you wherever you go, so you don't have to shout. When you talk to Him, give Him time to speak to you, too. All He asks in our conversations is that we are sincere. He doesn’t need our strength, strategies, or ideas. He will do everything if we just humbly come to Him. Pray sincerely.
Years ago, in New York City, we used to have open prayer on Tuesday night. I don't know if anybody here remembers that, but we had an open microphone in the front of the church, and anybody was welcome to come down and pray. One night, this older gentleman came down, took the microphone, and prayed like a poet. It was very eloquent and quite good as far as the English language goes. I remember David Wilkerson leaned over to me and said, “The old phony.” This man wasn't talking to God; he wanted the people in the sanctuary to esteem his spirituality.
Have you ever been in a prayer meeting when someone starts praying, and it's not a prayer? It's their latest sermon that they want to get out; they want everybody in the room to hear it, but they're not talking to God. They're just talking; it's a duplicitous reason. If you're in a public meeting and you're asked to pray, don't give a sermon to the congregation; talk to God. It's an audience of one that we go before, and we're not there to utter prayers to impress the people around us. Jesus said, be sincere when entering your secret place.
Luke 18 tells the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector praying. Verses 10–14 say, “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other, for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Let your prayer be personal; let it be private.
The Pharisee stood and prayed with himself. In other words, no one else was there. Why is this in the Bible? When you call a business, the service says, “This call will be recorded for quality, educational, and instructional purposes.” Quality control is why the Pharisee’s prayer is in the Bible. God already knows your prayer. Don't tell Him how wonderful the day is when you're bummed and it's been hard, and you're going through stuff. Be honest with Him when you pray. In Luke 12:32, Jesus said, “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” When you pray, be sincere; don't fake it.
Luke 15 tells us the story of the prodigal son. A young man took his inheritance, went far away from his father's heart and home, and brought disgrace to the family name. He spent everything he had on himself, lived in a way he shouldn't, and fed pigs. As a Jewish boy, that's the worst thing you could ever do because pigs were considered unclean to the Jewish culture. One day, he got up and decided to come home, and a prayer came into his heart. Remember, Jesus said, “Your father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”
Verses 21–24 say, “And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this, my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.” The son’s prayer was not for the entourage who followed the father. It was personal from his lips to his father’s ear; it was private between them. Pray in private.
When we go to God and are gut honest with the mess we have made of our lives, He listens. When we confess that it is no one else’s fault but our own, He meets us right where we are. It’s hard to explain, but if all you can do is whisper your prayer, your Father will embrace you. Tell Him, “Father, I've sinned against you and Heaven. You gave me life for a divine reason. You had a purpose and plan for my life, but I left your calling. I left your house, went out, did it my way, and made a mess of everything.” I will tell you my favorite prayer my whole life: “Jesus, help me.” God answers every time. When you pray secretly, God rewards you openly.
God has given me opportunities I would have never gotten in my strength; others see this testimony. God gives me resources that could only come from Heaven. He gives us the power to stand against our addictions, depressions, trials, and troubles. God will protect you when the Devil enters your home and tries to steal your children. He’ll give us power over anything and everything that tries to destroy our house or life; we just have to trust Him.
Lastly, pray in trust. Remember: Do not use vain repetitions as the heathen does when you pray. Do they think they will be heard for their many words? A lack of faith in prayer often has many words attached to it. The less a person believes, the more words they must use to convince themselves that God will answer their prayer. God does not have to be persuaded to bless you. Your father knows you require certain things before you even ask him. He knows what you need. All you need to say is, “I trust you, God.”
Your prayer is now secret, private, personal, sincere, and trusting. God, I trust that what you say in your Word is true. I trust that when I pray to believe, I will receive. I trust that my enemies will not triumph over me. I trust that you're the God who restores things I have lost, perhaps through ignorance or how I've lived my life. I trust that you will receive me and forgive me. I can have a new future, life, heart, mind, and hope. That's what prayer is all about! The Bible says a nursing mother could forget her child, but God can never forget you. Before you were formed in your mother's womb, He knew and loved you; He loves you with everlasting love and always longs to talk to you.