Jesus’ prayer life is the perfect example for us. Who, when, where and for whom did Jesus pray? Pastor Mark Driscoll teaches on how Jesus used prayer all through His life, and how we can model our own prayers after His.
You’re listening to Pray Like Jesus, where Pastor Mark Driscoll teaches us how we can use the prayer life of Jesus as a template for our own. For more audio and video content please visit MarsHillChurch.org
Well, howdy Mars Hill. Good to see you. My name’s Mark. I’m one of the pastors here at the church. Finding a place for my pen. I’ve got two quick announcements. We’re gonna start a new series, Pray Like Jesus. First is in regards to membership. We had a big membership push at the heel end of the Doctrine series that we finished up a bit ago. Here’s where we’re at, we’re really making a big push for membership. Summer tends to be a lull time for us and then in the fall we grow again. We’re starting the Song of Solomon in the fall so you know we’re gonna grow. And so I’m sure it will find its way on the internet.
Anyways, we’re trying to get everybody plugged in, connected to community group, you know make sure we know you, love you and get you involved before the big push in the fall. So here’s where we’re at. Those who were previously members that have renewed their membership, 1,476. New members since the conclusion of the Doctrine series, 14. That’s across all seven campuses, all 17 services. This is everybody. About fifteen hundred – true story. We’re going to 20 services in the fall, so you can pray for us. Total complete membership is about fifteen hundred. Renewals in process, those are people who were formerly members that are becoming members again, 237. If you are one of those you have until July 31 to finish the process. And the new members that are in process, many new people getting plugged in. We praise God for you. Eight hundred and sixty-three for the grand total of – timing is everything. Two thousand five hundred ninety. So we’re at about twenty-six hundred members and people in the membership process. Our prayer goal is to be at about 3,000 going into the fall and that then we would see 8,000 people worshipping at Mars Hill Church. That’s the prayer goal. So get connected, get plugged in. If you don’t know how to do that stop by the information desk and someone will explain it to you.
Number two, finances. We have our fiscal year from July to June, so we just concluded our financial year end. And here is the update. In 2007 during that fiscal year from July to June we brought in almost 8 million dollars. This last year that jumped up to 10.3 million dollars. More than 2 million dollar increase. Thank you. Praise God. That is encouraging. The number of people who gave anything, once or regularly, went from 4- to 5,000 over the course of the year. And a few months ago I started telling you that we were getting killed financially. We were down half a million dollars. We laid some people off. We did some cutbacks. We’ve made it real lean. And the giving increased. You guys have been more consistent and generous. And so we actually ended the fiscal year behind, first time in 11 years that that has happened. But not nearly as bad as it looks. We finished about $91,000.00 behind actual budget. Actual dollars spent. So the good news is we’re floating. We’re making it. We’re okay. And the goal is just get through the summer.
That being said, I’ll start a new series today called Pray like Jesus, about the prayer life of Jesus. Today we’ll deal with the teaching and example of Jesus on prayer. Then we’ll look at three of his specific prayers, the Lord’s Prayer, his high priestly prayer and the Gethsemane prayer, during the summer as well.
So I will pray. We’ll start the prayer series on Jesus. Love you guys. Really glad to be here. We’ve had an amazing day. And I’m really, really, really glad to have you with us. So I’ll pray.
Father, God, we begin our series on prayer by praying. By thanking you that you are a God who hears, who knows, who cares, who loves, who answers. God, we are glad that you’re our God. And Lord Jesus, we thank you. That you have made prayer possible. We could pray through you to the Father because you take our sin. And Holy Spirit, we thank you for your indwelling us and empowering and enable us to pray. So Holy Spirit, we invite you to come and to teach us to pray and to teach us the scriptures about prayer as we ask this in Jesus good name. Amen.
We’re gonna talk about prayer. Let me just tell you right up front, this isn’t another guilt sermon. I know when I say prayer, if I were to walk up to you and say, “How’s your prayer life?” No matter how good it is you say, “Well, it could be better.” All of us could say that. Too oftentimes people don’t pray enough but they feel guilty about prayer, embarrassed by prayer, ashamed of prayer. They don’t know how to pray. They don’t pray enough. They only pray at the last minute. You know you don’t pray in advance. When all else falls break glass and pray. That sort of emergency. Right.
What I don’t want to do is I don’t want to guilt ya. I don’t want to make you feel bad. What I want to do is tell you how great God is and how wonderful it is to be able to pray and I hope that encourages you just to pray more frequently and freely and naturally. I’ll start by defining prayer. Here’s what prayer is. Conversing, communicating with God. That’s what it is. This includes speaking out loud, talking to God. This includes also silent prayer. You could be at your work, sitting in your cubicle saying, “I can’t get up and pray out loud right now. You know I’m at work. It’s kind of awkward. But I could pray silently and that’s okay cause God knows my thoughts. So I could pray in my mind.
Prayer can include journaling. For some it includes songwriting and/or poetry. It’s communicating, speaking with God in the most general sense. And prayer also includes listening to God. Silence and solitude. And prayer is where we talk to God and we listen to God and that’s how through conversation we build our relationship with God. And prayer really begins with God. The god of the Bible is a Trinitarian god, one god and three persons – Father, Son and Spirit. And the Father, Son and Spirit in eternality passed as one god, they converse with one another, they communicate with one another. They love, respect, honor, cherish, speak to one another. That’s prayer. It’s communication, love and affection.
We’re made in the image and likeness of God to communicate, to pray, to talk to God, to listen to God, to be in relationship. Because of sin we’re separated from God. God comes – the second person of the trinity, Jesus Christ lives the life we have not lived, the life without sin. Dies the death we should have died, the death for sin. And gives the gift we cannot otherwise obtain, salvation and reconciled relationship with God. The result is that as Christians he sends the Holy Spirit to live in us. And God the Holy Spirit enables and empowers us to pray. The Spirit’s been talking to the Father and the Son from eternity past and will communicate with them till eternity future. And he dwells in us to teach us to be prayerful. It’s amazing.
So as we look at the prayer life of Jesus we’re getting a glimpse into the inner life of the Trinity. And as we follow the leading and teaching of the Holy Spirit that’s what it means to be Spirit filled and Spirit led, we learn to pray. We learn to pray. And generally speaking, as Christians our prayers ought to be Trinitarian. To the Father through the Son by the Spirit.
Explain this to you. First of all we pray to God as Father. We’ll deal with this more specifically in Jesus’ prayer where he prays, “Our Father who art in heaven.” But Jesus prayed to God the Father. Likewise, Paul says in Romans 8:15, “You” – meaning Christians – “have received the spirit of adoption as sons by whom we cry Abba or daddy, Father.” First thing is we pray to God as Father. Now what this means is we should pray respectfully but need not pray formally. I grew up in a tradition where the prayers were very memorized, very formal, very serious. Some of you may think, “Oh, do I need a prayer rug? Do I need to face east?” You know, no. That’s a totally different team.
Here’s how our team works. God’s a loving father. He’s a dad. You don’t need to be formal with your dad, but you need to be respectful. I’ll give you an example. I’m a dad. Okay. For those of you who are dads or when you become a dad it teaches you a ton about God. And when the Bible says God is Father you’re like, “Ah. This is what he’s like.” Alright. I’m not perfect like he is but I love my kids like he loves his kids. And I want to serve my kids like he wants to serve us as his kids. I’m available for my kids like God is available for us as his kids. And my 6 year old son, Buddy Calvin came to me yesterday cause he wanted to go swimming. Here’s how he didn’t do it. He didn’t come up and say, “Dearest Heavenly Father. I beseech thee to swimmeth with me.” He didn’t do it like that. Alright. Not like that. He came up and said, “Hey Dad, can we go swimming?” “Yeah.” I love my son. All he’s got to do is ask.
It doesn’t need to be formal. It doesn’t need to take 50 minutes. He doesn’t need to be prostrate on the ground, you know facing east. “Yes, now we’ll swimmeth.” No. It’s my boy. I love him. All you got to do is ask. Be respectful. That’s it. Just respect your dad and talk to him. That’s what prayer is. For some of you prayer is way too uptight, way too formal, way too serious. And I’m not saying that prayer isn’t serious business, but what we’re depending on is the love and the grace and the mercy of Dad. The Bible says that’s why we can approach the throne of grace boldly. Dad loves me. Dad listens. Dad cares. Dad’s good. Dad’s available. I just need to talk to him. That’s what prayer is.
Let me tell you what prayer isn’t. Prayer isn’t telling God something he doesn’t know. Now you think about it, some people don’t pray cause they’re like, “I don’t want to talk to God about that. If I tell him I did that he will not be happy.” I’ll let you on in a little secret, he already knows. I’ll let you in on that. It’s not that he’s in heaven going, “You did what with your girlfriend? I can’t believe it. I had no idea.” He’s not shocked, right? There’s not information that you know that God doesn’t know and when you pray you’re letting him in the know. He knows. I dealt with somebody earlier today. I was like, “Have you talked to God about that?” They’re like, “No, no, no, no. No. I haven’t talked to him about that.” “Why?” “I don’t want him to know.” Ah, he does. He knows. Too late. Right.
Prayer is not telling God something he doesn’t know. In the same way my kids do things I know and they still come talk to me because it’s about the relationship. It’s about me loving them, helping them, teaching them, serving them, walking with them, instructing them. It’s not that I don’t know. It’s that I want to be involved and I want them to invite me knowing that they’re humble and teachable and they trust me. They trust me.
Sometimes prayer moves the hand of God. You pray and God answers prayer. Most of the time prayer is not to move the hand of God but to change our heart. To go to Dad and talk it through so that we agree with him, we learn from him, we trust him, we obey him, we build the relationship. Prayer is to the Father through the Son. 1 Timothy 2:5 says, “There is one mediator between us and God.” That’s the man Jesus Christ. So apart from Jesus prayers are ineffective. They don’t go any higher than the ceiling. We pray through Jesus. He loves us. He forgives us. He takes away our sin. We could pray to the Father through the Son by the power of God the Holy Spirit. We love the Holy Spirit at Mars Hill. The Holy Spirit, among other things, teaches us to pray.
In Luke 11:1 Jesus’ disciples come to him and they ask him this question, “Jesus, Lord, will you please teach us to pray?” Jesus teaches and then in verse 13 of Luke 11 he says, “If you ask God, the Father, he will give you the Holy Spirit.” You say what’s that got to do with anything? The question was, how do we pray? The answer is, by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will teach you to pray.
Now how many of you – you don’t need to raise your hand, but maybe you don’t even know how to pray. I can still remember being a brand new Christian and I did not know how to pray. I’d never prayed out loud. I’d never prayed in my own words. I didn’t know how to pray. I went to my first Bible study. Brand new Christian. To learn how to pray. Don’t do this, but here’s what they did. They said, “Mark, since you’re new would you like to open us in prayer?” I was like, “Not really. I don’t know how to pray.” That’s why I’m here. I don’t know how to pray. I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know what number to dial. You know I got nothing.” I said, “I’m here cause I don’t know how to pray. Why don’t one of you guys pray and I’ll watch?”
So they all bowed their head and closed their eyes and I kept one eye open. I’m like, “Alright, what do you do? What do you here?” And they prayed. And you know what? I learned how to pray and the Holy Spirit dwelling in me taught me how to pray. Next thing I know I’m just talking to God. Going for walks. Chatting with Jesus. “God, here’s what I’m thinking. Here’s what I’m dealing with.” And I’m talking to God. And it’s not that I took a class on prayer. It’s not that I knew all about prayer. It’s that the Holy Spirit was teaching me how to pray. I saw other people pray. Learned from them. The Holy Spirit’s teaching me how to pray. Learn from Him. That’s why we read this in Galatians 4:6, “And because you are sons God has sent the Holy Spirit of his son into our hearts crying, ‘Abba’” – Father, Dad. The Holy Spirit is sent by Jesus into the Christian to enable and empower us to pray to God as Father. It’s to the Father through the Son by the Holy Spirit.
Now Jesus, during his earthly life, did pray. What I want to do is I want to look at how Jesus prayed. We want to pray like Jesus. That’s the point. And you think about it, Jesus had to pray. Jesus needed to pray. Jesus prayed. If Jesus prayed, we need to pry. And as I was studying it I read through Mathew, Mark, Luke and John. I read through all four gospels. And I was looking at Jesus’ teaching on prayer and then his example of prayer. We’ll look at each in succession. But what I noticed was that Jesus didn’t just have one chapter in any gospel on prayer. His teaching on prayer was woven through all of this teaching. Little bit here. Little bit here. Little bit here. He’s constantly teaching on prayer and constantly praying. He’s weaving prayer throughout all of his life. That’s how prayer is to be.
In the New Testament we’re also told to pray without ceasing. What this doesn’t mean is like some religions where you want to be holy so you get like a Jedi robe, go find a high mountain, build a hut, sit in the lotus position, drink decaf and say, “Um.” It’s not like that. Pray without ceasing means you weave prayer into all your life. You get up, you’re talking to God. You go into work, you’re talking to God. You got decisions throughout the day, you’re talking to God. You’re on your commute home talking to God. You get home with family, friends, maybe your roommates, you’re talking to God. Before you go to bed you talk to God. You’re just talking to God throughout the course of the day just like breathing. He’s alive. He’s present. He’s there. It just becomes a very natural course of life. That’s prayer.
Here are some things Jesus taught on prayer. First thing Jesus answered was the question of how should we prayer. First thing he says, “Pray in faith.” Matthew 21:22. And again, massive verses. Right? This will be like Bible jeopardy today. We’re gonna go through all the gospels. Big bucket of verses.
But Matthew 21:22, “Whatever you ask in prayer,” – Jesus says – “you will receive if you have faith.” You say, “Well what does that mean?” If you pray you need to have faith that God exists. You have faith that he’s good and he loves you and he’s a father. Have faith that Jesus has taken away your sins so that God will hear your prayers. Need to have faith that the Holy Spirit is teaching you to pray. Need to have faith that God will hear and answer prayer. And let me tell you this, God’s a father and like all dads he’s got three ways of answering requests from his kids – yes, no, later. I’m a dad, right? These are the answers. Somebody said, “God didn’t answer my prayer.” “Yes he did, he said no.” But he totally answered it.
For example, last night, 9:30, 10:00, whatever it is. Bedtime. Got my five kids. Three of them make requests. One child comes up, says, “Dad, I’m hungry. Can I have some grapes?” Answer? “Yes.” Another child comes up, 10:00 at night, “Dad, I’m thirsty. Can I drink a Coke?” “No. No.” There’s no bedtime Coke, right? Another kid came up and said, “Dad, I really had fun swimming today. Could we go swimming again right now?” One of the younger children. “Later. We’ll swim again but not at 10:00 at night.” Alright. So that’s God. We come to God the Father. We pray in faith. You love me. You hear me. You answer me. Yes, no, later are the answers.
Jesus also says to pray succinctly. Every family seems to have that guy. That religious guy. He’s the designated holiday family prayer. This guy’s evil. He prays for so long. He’s the guy at Thanksgiving you’re like, “Here goes Uncle Hank. Aw, man.” Remember that guy? You’re a kid sitting there going, “Oh boy, now we’re gonna hear King James.” And he’s gonna pray until the food is cold and all the relatives are atheists. That’s what he’s gonna do. That guy. Right? And he prays forever. So as if praying longer was better. As if God was in heaving going, “Yeah, look at that one. That’s an hour. Whoa, that’s a good guy.” And he’ll use bizarre spiritual words like “shekinah” and “glory” and “halleluiah” and “amen” and leo descia. He’s just throwing out words. You’re just like, “Dude.” As if they were flares. Like God’s in heaving going, “I heard a halleluiah. Where’s that? Oh, there it is right there. I’m gonna pay attention now. I got a halleluiah.”
Alright. Jesus said don’t, you don’t need to pray like that. I think when people think of prayer they think of pious, religious, people who speak, “Dearly beloved-ism.” You know it’s all religious language. Here’s what Jesus said, Matthew 6:7, “When you pray” – not if – “When you pray do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do.” You know bumper sticker – Christian bumper sticker after Christian bumper sticker. “For they think that they will be heard by their many words. Pray succinctly and pray intelligibly. Right? My two year old son Gideon, he knows how to pray. Give you one of his most recent, “Jesus, you rock. Amen.” See, it works. That’s it. And we’re gonna let him do Thanksgiving this year. Short, to the point and very insightful. Right? It’s okay to pray short. It’s okay to pray in English.
Somebody said, “I don’t know exactly what words.” You know what? You’re going to your dad. Be respectful. Speak from your heart. Honor him. Speak intelligibly. You don’t need to speak the Queen’s English. You don’t need to know King James. You don’t need to parse Greek verbs. And you don’t need to impress the audience. Just talk to dad. That’s it.
Also Jesus said to pray in God’s will. John 16:23 and 24. Jesus says this a lot. “Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name he will give to you.” Here’s what Jesus’ saying. Ask in my name. That’s asking in God’s will. How do you know what God’s will is? Well you read the Bible. God wants me to grow. God, help me to grow. God wants me to love my enemies. God, help me love my enemies. God, you want me to pray for people who are sick and hurting. Okay God, I will do that. God, you want me to have a heart for the poor. Okay God, help me to grow to serve the poor. You pray in God’s will.
Some of you, you pray against God’s will. Say, “I don’t know why God doesn’t answer my prayers.” Cause they’re bad. Right? Some of you are gals here, Christian gals with non-Christian guys. You’re praying, “Jesus, please save the boyfriend that I’m sleeping with.” That’s like saying, “Jesus, I need more crack.” No. He’s not gonna answer that prayer. He’s not in heaven going, “Oh, any more – where’s the crack? I need more crack.” Got a request. No. Some of you want God to bless relationships you shouldn’t be in. Bless businesses that are crooked and corrupt. Bless decisions that are not of his will. Pray in his will. Don’t do what you want, your will, and then pray for him to fix it. Pray in his will.
And pray humbly. Jesus tells this parable in Luke 18. Two guys go into the temple and they both pray. The first guy is super religious. And here’s what he prays. Awesome prayer. God, I thank you I’m not a disgusting loser like all these other guys. The other guys are pretty bummed at this prayer. They’re all like, “I think he’s talking about us.” And his whole prayer as you read it is I, I, I, I’m good, I’ve done this, I’ve done that, I’m better than other people, I’m better than other men, I give this much money, I do. Jesus said that guy, he’s just praying to the ceiling. He’s praying for an audience. He’s praying for the approval of men. Jesus said this other guy walks in and here’s what he prays. “God, I’m a sinner. My life is a wreck. I’m totally sorry. Please help me.” He doesn’t look up, he looks down. He’s not proud, he’s humble. He’s not boasting, he’s broken. He’s not seeking people’s approval. He’s seeking God’s assistance.
And Jesus said, I’ll tell you what. That guy knew how to pray. He didn’t use big words. He didn’t pray long. But he was humble, repentant and he was asking for help. Religious people pray proudly. And Jesus said that the humble will be exalted and the exalted will be humbled. You want to be humble in your prayers. You want to be humble in your prayers. If you’re always praying about somebody else and their sin, probably not very humble. It’s okay to pray for people, but if it’s always how much better you are, “God teach them what you’ve taught me. Give them victory where I have victory. God help them to be more like me.” Nmm. Pretty nasty. You get cuts in the line to hell for praying like that.
Moving right along. Pray fervently. Keep praying. Keep praying. Don’t just pray once and move on, keep praying. Luke 18:1. Jesus told them a parable to the effect that they are always to pray and not lose heart. Some of you have been praying for something for a long time. You know it’s in God’s will. Keep praying. Keep praying. I’ll tell you a couple reasons to keep praying. One, you’ll keep hoping. It’ll keep hope alive. Two, it’ll maintain a willingness in you to learn and be teachable. If God’s trying to teach you something, as soon as you stop praying about it what you’re saying is, “I don’t want to learn. I don’t want to grow. I don’t want to change. I’m not even talking about it.”
Let’s say you’re frustrated with someone. As soon as you stop praying for them you’ve lost hope for them. You’ve decided, “I’m done with you. I give up. I’m not even gonna have any affection toward you anymore. If you keep praying for people it means you love them. If you keep praying for things in your life and yourself it means you’re teachable. Some of you are single. You’ve been praying for a spouse. Keep praying. Why? Because in that season of waiting, if God has appointed for you to be married, he’s using this season to grow you, to purify you, to change you, to make you so that you will be more prepared to be a better spouse if and when he brings along that person. So keep praying.
I’ll tell you what too, and I know many of you are single so I give this example. If every day you’re praying for the person that God would have you to marry, it will help guard your heart against temptation to sin in the meantime. Because you will be waiting in hope. And praying in hope. And having your will conform to the will of God for you. Those are some things Jesus said about how we should pray.
He also talked about who we should pray for. He said we should pray for those who sin against us and we should pray to forgive them. In Mark 11:25. “And whenever you stand praying forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” Should you really pray to forgive people? Yes. What if they don’t apologize? Forgive them. What if they don’t repent? Forgive them. What if they don’t change? Forgive them. What this does not mean is that you ignore what they’ve done. That you bless what they’ve done. That you simply forget what they’ve done. That you cease to speak to them about what they’ve done. That you don’t call them to repent of what they’ve done or that you reconcile with them pretending that everything is fine when it’s not.
All this is is taking away your right to vengeance. Praying God’s grace upon them that they would come to repentance and that their heart would change. That’s it. It’s acknowledging I’ve sinned against God and he’s forgiven me. You’ve sinned against me. I forgive you. It’s doing the work of the gospel for others. You have been sinned against and so have I. And if we don’t pray to forgive people we become bitter, hardhearted, mean spirited, vengeful, angry, violent. It becomes very ugly. Prayer is for the good of the person and it’s also for our own good. And it’s good for everyone. And again, this doesn’t mean that we overlook the offense. This doesn’t mean that we just simply bless the offense. And this doesn’t mean that we reconcile with the person. They need to repent. They need to apologize. They need to change before trust is rebuilt. But our forgiving them is beginning a potential process that then they have to respond to.
Jesus said it’s well to pray for our needs, in Matthew 7:7 and 8, “Ask and it will be given to you. Seek and you will find. Knock and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives. And the one who seeks finds. And the one who knocks to him it will be open.” What Jesus is saying is this, “Ask. If you need help ask. Just ask.” And I think some of us, we don’t ask because we want to do a good job so that God will be proud of us. God’s a dad who wants to help his kids. He’s not sitting back saying, “If you do a good job I will love you.” He’s sitting back saying, “I love you. I want to help you. Let’s do this together. Are you willing?”
And some of us I think sometimes don’t bring the little things to God, only what we perceive to be the big things. But sometimes the big things are the little things that we messed up and they got bigger. Some of you don’t want to bother God with the little things. You think, “Well, God’s got billions of people on the earth and lots of needs and lots of prayers. This is a little thing. Why should I bring it to him?” I’ll tell you why, cause your dad loves you.
Again, I got five kids. They bring me all kinds of little stuff. Right? This week, I mean I’ll give you two examples. I was peeling very tiny Dora the Explorer stickers off of their page because my daughter’s little fingernails couldn’t get them, but my man size fingernails are perfectly built to get Dora the Explorer stickers off of the page. My daughter brought that to me. What she wasn’t thinking was, “My dad’s important. He’s parsing Greek verbs and he’s under a book deadline.” She thought, “I like Dora. And my dad will help.” And I love that about her. Four years old. Comes up to me. “Hey Daddy, what are you doing?” “I’m parsing Greek verbs. What do you need?” “Dora the Explorer stickers.” “Okay, you win.” Because I love her. I’m glad she brings me little things. Cause I want to be involved in all of her life. I totally adore her.
Yesterday it was a can of pop. She brought me a can of pop. One of those sort of hippie sodas. All natural. No sugar, additives. Not like the stuff I drank as a kid that wasn’t even on the periodic chart. This is some sort of healthy soda. My wife’s very organic in our food buying. And so my daughter brings it to me. She says, “Daddy, I want to drink this pop but I can’t get the top open. I need a big finger.” “Ah, I got a big finger.” And so I did, I cracked the top, handed it to her. I love the fact that my four year old daughter just brings me little things. If they’re important to her they’re important to me. If she needs my help I’m glad to do it. I love her.
And I would encourage you, even talk to dad about the little things. Whatever it is. I’ll give you an example, and I know it’s silly. I pray for parking spots. I do. What the heck? I figure Peter walked on water. I’m just needing to park. This is not a big deal. So this week we went to the Ballard baptisms down at Golden Gardens. People everywhere. Mars Hill took it over. Hundreds of people. Fifty some people get baptized. It was totally awesome. And I pull in and my kids are like, “Daddy, how long are we gonna walk?” I said, “I don’t know. We’re gonna pray. We’re gonna ask God for a parking spot.” And so I drop my wife and kids off. And then I turn around and just as I go around the corner the Spirit filled woman led by God just backs out of this spot. I hit my blinker. And you see everyone else in the parking lot going like 90 miles an hour. Like (noise). Pull right in. Park. Right next to where my family is. I get out and the kids are like, “You got a parking spot.” I said, “Yeah.”
And sometimes it doesn’t work like that. Sometimes God says no and I’m walking for miles. Alright. Cause I need the cardio. And sometimes God says later, like next year you’ll park in the same zip code as the place you’re trying to be. But sometimes God says yes. And so my thing is, just ask, you never know. Need a job? Ask. You need to grow? Ask. You’re sick, you want to be healthy? Ask. And you know what? Dad will listen and hear and reply. Yes, no or later, but he will here. And what the heck, you may as well ask dad, it can’t hurt. He loves you. He’s good. You may as well ask. That’s what Jesus is saying.
Jesus also said to pray against temptation. Matthew 26:41, “Pray that you will not enter into temptation.” Too oftentimes we sin and then we’re like, “God, I’m sorry.” It’s okay to sin and pray for forgiveness, but it’s good to pray preemptively before you sin so that you don’t succumb to the temptation. You and I all know there’s places in our life we drift. Sex, food, money, alcohol, anger, despair. Whatever it is. Wherever you drift be praying in advance against temptation. So that you will be making up your mind, agreeing with God before the temptation comes how you will respond to it. Instead of react to it. Responding to it saying, “No.” As opposed to reacting to it, giving in.
And Jesus also said to pray for evangelists, church planners and campus pastors. In Matthew 9:37 and 38 he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful. The workers are few. Pray to the lord of the harvest that he would send leaders out into the harvest.” I would ask you, be in prayer, right? For evangelists. People who love Jesus, love the people in our city and can continue to introduce people to Jesus. Just at this campus alone in the past few months we’ve baptized over 250, almost 300 new Christians just in the past few months. What that means is there’s thousands more people in the city that are gonna meet Jesus and we need to be praying for Christians who go out and love them and tell them about Jesus.
Additionally, be praying for church planners, through Acts 29, 140 churches have been planted in America as well as many over seas. I want to thank you guys. We recently had the retreat with the pastors and their wives in Colorado. You paid for their retreat. For all of these church planners. Gave them a break. They got taught and refreshed. Be praying for hundreds, thousands of church planners. And be praying for more campus pastors. Every week we get emails, we get phone calls from people saying, “There’s 20 of us, 50 of us, 100 of us. We’re in this city, this state, this nation. We download the video. We’re listening to the sermons. We love Mars Hill. How do we become a campus?” And the answer is, well we have seven campuses, we probably could have hundreds more. But what do we need? Leaders that are godly and faithful and capable. So be praying, Jesus says, for leaders. What he says is, “The opportunity is there, so need be the leaders.” So we need to pray them in.
All of this to show that Jesus’ teaching on prayer is to pray for everyone. Pray all the time. Pray for needs that you have. Pray for others. That leads to this series of examples on how Jesus prayed. First question is, when did Jesus pray? I know you’re the 7 pm service. This will totally bum you out. Sometimes Jesus got up early in the morning and prayed. I’ll read the verse. And maybe you won’t get up early in the morning. Maybe you’ll just stay up a little later and it will be morning for you. Mark 1:35, “And rising very early in the morning while it was still dark, Jesus departed and went out to a desolate place and there he prayed.” Sometimes you got to get up early. Sometimes before the phone rings, before the inbox fills up with email, before life gets cluttered and noise and hurry and worry and busy crowd out the voice of God. Sometimes you need to get up early. Get a cup of coffee. Go to the beach. Go for a walk. Talk to God. Listen to God. Get some time with God early.
Secondly, Jesus prayed daily. As a devout Jew he would have prayed daily. They prayed Deuteronomy 6:4, the shema, multiple times a day. For example, “Hear Israel, the Lord our God, he is one.” Jesus quotes it from memory a few times in the gospels cause he prayed it all the time. Jesus prayed daily and he prayed over his meals. I read the gospels this week looking at Matthew, Mark, Luke and John at when Jesus prayed. And I saw him continually praying over meals. Here’s one example. Matthew 14:19, “Taking the five loaves and the two fish Jesus looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples and the disciples gave them to the crowds.” Jesus often prayed over his meal. That’s why Christians pray over our meal. Thanking God for his provision.
Let me say a few things about meal time prayer. Please do not pray the same thing every time. Just sort of rote memory. Whatever. It gets dull. It gets boring. It’s not really heartfelt. It’s sort of dead. And please, secondly, don’t pray this, “God, please let this food nourish our bodies.” If I hear that prayer again I’m gonna grab the fork. I just hate that prayer. Right. I just hate that prayer. Because it’s like, “Dear God, please make the water wet.” I mean what a weird prayer. What does food do, you know? “God, when I eat this food please don’t let me blow up.” Like, you know I mean it’s like the food exists to nourish your body. That’s such a weird prayer.
You know please make my hair hairy. Like what? What kind of prayer is that? That’s just a weird prayer. Please make the food nourishing. Unless like you have a steady diet of Twinkies and ho-hos and foods that end in –itos it’s gonna nourish your body. Cheetos, Doritos, Fritos. You got it right?
So pray – what you need to is pray, “God thank you for these people. Thank you for this meal.” Pray from your heart. Some Christian traditions pray at the end of the meal thanking God for particular parts of the meal they liked. So maybe you save it for the end. “God, thank you for chocolate. You didn’t need to make chocolate but you did. And I love you. And I love chocolate. Amen.” You can just, you know thank God for what you enjoyed in the meal. That’s okay too.
How about this one? Where did Jesus pray? Well he prayed publicly in front of crowds. And sometimes that’s okay. John 11:41 and 42, “Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I know that you always hear me but I said this on account of the people standing around that they may believe that you sent me.’” Sometimes Jesus prayed in large crowds. He also prayed in smaller community groups. And we have community groups in homes and dorms and apartments where people in Mars Hill get together every week for prayer and friendship and encouragement and loving one another. If you’re not in one, drop by the desk on the way out and let us know who you are. Get plugged in. We’d love to get you connected.
Here’s what happens in a community group. People pray for each other. And also through the City, created by Pastor Zack. It’s our online social networking tool. Your community group will have a functional social engineering relational network group there so that online you could post prayer requests for each other. Pray for me. Here’s the answer to prayer. Here’s what God did. Here’s where I’m at. And so we want to have actual literal physical community and digital online support for communication and prayer. Jesus had a community group. I’ll show it to you in Luke 9:28, “Jesus took with him Peter, James and John and went up to the mountain to pray.” Peter, James, John, Jesus. A little community group of four. They’re coming together to pray.
Prayed in large groups. Prayed in small groups. And prayed alone. To me this is very, very, very important and it’s sort of the foundation for all of your other prayer life. It’s good to come together and pray as a church. And it is good to pray in your community group. And you got to be praying all by yourself with Jesus. He does this in Luke 5:15 and 16. It says this multiple times in Mark’s gospel. As I was reading the gospels this week I saw it over and over and over where Jesus would go off all alone by himself and pray. Luke 5 says it this way, verses 15 and 16, “Now even more the report about Jesus went abroad and great crowds gathered to hear him and be healed of their infirmities, but he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.” Thousands are coming out to hear Jesus preach and teach. And he’s feeding people. And he’s healing people. And he’s casting out demons. And he’s doing ministry. And sometimes he unplugs and leaves. For silence, solitude, time to be with the Father. You need that. You need that.
I think it’s important that I tell you I get this day a few days a month. I try to go once a week. It ends up being two to three times a month. I leave. I leave town. I turn off my cell phone. I turn off my email. I think sometimes the reason we don’t have time for prayer is that it’s crowded out by technology and we can’t listen to God cause the phone’s always one, the email is always coming in, the iPod is always rocking. And we just need to turn it all off and listen and speak to the Father and get some time with dad. And there’s days I do this. I get out of town.
I’ll tell you this about me. I’m not sit there all day like a holy man in a Jedi robe praying. I’m just not that guy. I prayer walk. I hike. I canoe. I’m active. And as I am in God’s creation I’m talking to God, for hours. God, I need help with this. I’m thinking about this. I’m frustrated about this. I don’t think my attitude’s good about this. And I’m worried about this person. And help me do a better job being a daddy to my kids and husband to my wife. And I’m just talking to God. And I do this in the woods so that people don’t think I’m (whistle) nuts, right?
And if you do this in the city, like you’re walking Green Lake or whatever, here’s what I would tell you. Turn off your cell phone but keep your hands-free kit on and pretend like you’re talking on the phone. And in some ways it kind of is a call just without any billable minutes. And so you’re really not lying. Okay? Another thing I would tell you, redeem your commute to work. Turn off the radio and just pray. Keep a list of people and things to be praying for. That’s captured time. Just take the moments in the day to be praying. And some of you need to withdraw. And if you’re a mom, moms really need to withdraw. And dad needs to help think through, how can we get mom a break so she can get a couple hours of silence, solitude, prayer, time with Jesus?
And how many of you would it make a big difference if in the middle of your workweek a few times a week during your lunch break you left the office, left your phone, left your email, went for a walk. Found a quiet place, maybe at a park. Got a half hour with God just talking and praying. God I pray for these coworkers. We got this big job today. I pray for my clients, pray my boss, pray for our work. Come back with a refreshed attitude to worship God in your work and to love your coworkers and your clients. Retreat. Renewal. It doesn’t fix everything but it changes your attitude and it gives us more ability to endure and to serve well.
Well, who did Jesus pray for? Well, he prayed for his enemies. Said Matthew 5:44, “Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you.” He did that on the cross as he was being murdered. He cried out, “Father, forgive them.” I mean if you want to be strong, you want to be tough, you want to be bold, pray for your enemies. Boy that takes more strength than seeking vengeance and retribution. Choosing to love your enemies. God has enemies. Jesus has enemies. We have enemies. I have enemies. And I tell you what, it is a spiritual discipline by the power of the Holy Spirit to be able to pray for your enemies. But Jesus did.
Jesus also prayed for his friends. Luke 22:31 and 32, “Simon, Simon, behold Satan has asked to sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.” Pray for your friends. Pray for your friends. And don’t just tell them you’ll pray for them. If they tell you something or they ask for prayer, stop, put a hand on them and pray. Say, “Why do I got to put a hand on them?” To connect with them. To love them. This is intimacy. This is connection. Pray for them. You’re talking on the phone, just say, “Hey, let me pray for you.” And just do it. Right? If somebody emails you, pray for them and send them an email. I just prayed for you. Let people know you pray for them. It means the world to people. It’s one of the ways we love them.
What I would also say is if you don’t even know someone pray for them and maybe they’ll become your friend. I’ve even seen prayer work as pre-evangelism. Very rarely do I have a non-Christian tell me I can’t pray for them. I love to ask non-Christians. I’ve had non-Christians tell me, “I have cancer. I’m struggling. Our marriage is hurting. We’re infertile. I’m afraid my wife’s miscarrying the baby.” I always ask, “Have you prayed about this?” “Well I’m not really a Christian.” “I’m a Christian. Could I pray for you?” I’ve never had someone say, “No. What if my baby’s better or the cancer goes away? Then what?” Even if they don’t believe in God, they’re like, “Well I don’t believe in him but if he’s there and you can talk to him and he would help that would be cool.” So you may as well pray for them. Show them that you love them and that God loves them. And bring them before God in prayer. Pray for your friends.
And Jesus prayed for children. Matthew 19:13 says they brought the little kids to Jesus. He laid hands on them that he might pray for them. I love that. If you are or get to become a mom, a dad, a grandma, a grandpa, an aunt, an uncle, pray for the kids. Lay hands and pray over them. Jesus is a single guy praying for kids. You don’t even need to be a parent. You can pray for nieces and nephews if you’re aunts or uncles. Or maybe you have friends in the church and they have kids and you pray for their kids. Or you serve in the nursery and you pray for the kids. And what’s awesome is kids learn to pray by being prayed for. And they just pick it up. My two oldest kids started praying on their own at 18 months. People are like, “How’d you teach them to pray?” “Well, we had an overhead and they had a test. They had to fill in the blank.” No. I’m not sitting there with a crayon going, “Pr-” you know they just, we prayed for them and they prayed. They just started praying. I remember Buddy Zac, he was literally like 18 months old. And I prayed for him and then he put his hands together and he prayed at bedtime. I thought, “This is awesome. He’s talking to Jesus. This is incredible.” And he’s only got like four words. You know he wasn’t very verbal at the time.
Gideon, my son is two and a half. He talks to Jesus. I saw it the other day. It was awesome. Tell you a true story. I heard Gideon crying. He’s two and a half. Alexie’s four and a half. Blonde hair, blue eyes. Cute as a button. Looks like her mom. I go into the living room cause I heard Gideon cry and he fell down or got hurt or something. And I go in there and I see Alexie who’s four years old with her hand on her two year old brother’s head. And she prays this, “Dear Jesus, please help Pooka not be so sad. Amen.” She calls him Pooka. I thought, “Boy that’s beautiful right there.” See when she got hurt people prayed for her so when her brother gets hurt she prays for him. They just learn. It’s beautiful. So pray for the kids. Get them started early.
How did Jesus pray? I’ll walk through this quickly. First, Jesus prayed scripture. Right? On the cross he prayed Psalm 22:1. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” I’ll tell you something that I find incredibly helpful and I hope it’s of assistance to you. Prayer and Bible reading go together. Okay? The Holy Spirit inspired the writing of scripture. The Holy Spirit indwells us and teaches us to pray. It all goes together. This is how the Holy Spirit grows us. In prayer we speak to God and in scripture God speaks to us. So if you want to know how to pray, maybe you don’t know how to pray, don’t know what to pray about. Your prayer life gets dry. You’re not sure you’re praying in God’s will. Read scripture and stop and pray. First pray before you read. “Holy Spirit, you wrote the scriptures, please teach them to me. Let me see Jesus. Let me learn. Let me grow.” Come in prayer to scripture. As you start reading, if you feel convicted, stop and pray repentance. “God, I see that there’s sin my life here and I need to talk to you about that.” And talk to him. Read some more. “God, I didn’t know this. Thank you for teaching me this. I need to learn this. Please help me understand this.” “God, this is an important section. I need to highlight this and memorize this.” Take some time to memorize that scripture that God leaves on your heart so you can pray it as needed through the rest of your life.
You’re reading some more. “God I believe lies and I’m reading the truth here. Help me to not believe lies but to believe your truth.” “God this reminds me of someone. I need to pray for them. I need to love them. I think this section of scripture would really minister to them. I’ll send it to them. Let me pray for them right now.” Stop and pray. The goal is not just to read, read, read, read, but read, pray, read, pray, read, pray, read, pray. Listen, talk, listen, talk, listen, talk, listen, talk. You won’t get through the Bible as fast, but it’ll stick. And you’ll enjoy it. It’ll become worship and prayer and life. And your prayer life will absolutely be guided by scripture and the Holy Spirit so you’ll know you’re praying in God’s will.
Jesus also prayed long prayers. But these weren’t prayers in front of people to impress them. These were silence and solitude prayers where there was no crowd. Just cause he hit those major life points where he needed to talk to the Father. Luke 6:12 records one, “In those days he went out to the mountain to pray and all night long he continued to talk to God.” Some of you when you have major life decisions I would just encourage, I would exhort, I would admonish you, get a lot of time in prayer. Before I married Grace I prayed a ton. Who are you gonna marry? That’s a big decision. You better get that one sorted out with God.
Before we started the church Gracie and I fasted and prayed for days. “God are you sure you want us to plant this church? If so, help us know how to do this well.” Jesus prayed all night. And the context here is he was praying all night asking the Father which men he should choose as his disciples. This was prayer and listening. And I’m sure they had a lengthy discussion about Judas. Probably had to talk that one through cause he was part of the plan.
Some of you shouldn’t just pray short prayers. When it’s a big thing, get a long time in prayer. Maybe go out of town. Prayer retreat. Really get some time with God. Jesus also prayed short prayers. Luke 6:41 gives one occasion where it says, “He took the bread before he fed the multitude and said a blessing.” Simple, short, quick, nice, easy, brief blessing. Thousands of people. Everybody’s hungry. This is not a time to impress everyone with your oratorical ability of the prayer professional. It’s meal time. “God we love you. Thank you for the people. Thank you for the meal. Amen.” Nice, short, sweet, quick. Short prayers work. You could pray short prayers at work before you return an email, phone call, you got to talk to somebody, you’re making a decision. Short prayers work. Weaving them into life. Connecting with God. Asking. Listening. Communicating.
Jesus also prayed painful prayers. I love this about Jesus. We’ll get into this more when we get into his Gethsemane prayer where he is praying in such anguish that he is literally sweating blood. There is nonsense being taught today. If you pray in faith you will not get sick, you will be healthy. You will not be lonely. You will be a winner. You will be rich. You will be a conqueror. You will be a victor. As if you could have enough faith to not be like Jesus. Bizarre. Jesus was abandoned, betrayed, broke, suffered and died.
What I love about Jesus, he doesn’t just pray about all his victories. He prays in the hard, painful, arduous struggle moments of life. And he’s honest about it. He doesn’t go all religious and pious. In John 12 there’s a situation where the cross is impending. And he’s gonna be betrayed. And he’s going to be beaten. And he’s going to be murdered. And he’s gonna be crucified. How do you pray when you’re betrayed? How do you pray when you’re sick or hurting or dying? How do you pray? Here’s what Jesus says in John 12:27 and 28. “Now my soul is troubled and what should I say?” — Jesus says, “I’m troubled.” You know it’s okay to say that to God. Not disrespect him. Not dishonor him. Not disregard him. Not disobey him. But to tell him, “God this is really hard. I’m in a tough spot. And my soul is troubled. I’m really struggling with this right now.” He says, “My soul is troubled. And what shall I say?” How should I pray? Number one he says, “Father save me from this hour.” He’s saying with the cross on the horizon, should I pray Father, get me out of this. Get me out of this. Jesus says, “No.” “For this purpose I have come to this hour. Father glorify your name.”
With the cross on the horizon Jesus does not say, “Get me out of this.” What he says is, “Get me through this. Get me through it. Let me be betrayed well. Let me be falsely accused well. Let me be wrongly condemned well. Let me be scourged and flogged and beaten well. Let me pluck out my beard well. Let me wear the crown of thorns well. Let me be crucified well. Let me bleed and die well. Don’t get me out of it. Get me through it. Let me remain faithful. Let me glorify you. Let me honor you. Let me worship you.” I love that prayer of Jesus. And we’ll look at it in greater detail in the Gethsemane prayer. But if you’re hurting and struggling and dying, it’s okay to be honest and ask God to get you through it. Because his will may not be to get you out of it.
And Jesus prayed right up to the end. You know that Jesus’ final breath was prayer. Luke’s gospel at the end records this, “Jesus prayed, ‘Father into your hands I commit my spirit.’” And in the Bible says, “And then Jesus breathed his last breath.” Friends, my prayer for you and I and all of us is that our last breath would be in prayer to God. That our whole life would be woven with prayer to God and that our last breath would be in prayer to God. Not in cursing to God. Not in questioning of God. But in calling out in prayerful faith to God.
Now as I wrap all of this up, I know that there are some of you who are saying, “Okay, where do I start? Big ideas. Tons of concepts of prayer. Lots to learn. Where do I start?” Here is what I would commend to you. Start with prayers of thankfulness. As I read Jesus’ prayers in the gospels I was continually struck by the number of times he began his prayer with, “Father, I thank you.” I’ll give you one example, Matthew 11:25 and 26, “Jesus declared, ‘I thank you Father, Lord of Heaven and earth.’” And then he continues in his prayer. Thankful prayers are these. It is believing that God is good and God is alive and God is at work and God is involved in your life. That God is doing good in your life. And it’s being a grace seeker. And it’s being a God finder. It’s being the person who’s looking, “God where are you? Where are you showing up? Where are you providing? Where are you loving me? Where are you teaching me?” And then noticing that, seeking the evidences of God’s grace and thanking God in prayer. “God thank you for that person. Thank you for that experience. Thank you for that provision. Thank you for that instruction. Thank you. Thank you.”
What that does is it builds in you hope and anticipation and expectation. God is good. God has answered prayer. God is at work. And he will be in the future. So you’re always looking for the hand of God in your midst. As you do that you’ll pray more. You’ll pray in hope and you’ll pray in faith and you’ll pray in joy. And so I would even say to begin with tonight, maybe you begin by answering this question. What should you pray and thank God for? And start building momentum in your prayer life there.
I tell you what I’m gonna do. I’m gonna sit down, I’m pretty gassed, and I’m gonna close with a couple of stories. Okay? The last two weeks here’s where I’ve been. I was basically in London for like nine days and then I was in Orlando for two days. And here’s what I learned. I learned a lot about prayer. And the whole time on the trip I was praying, “God teach me about prayer. I’m getting ready for this series, Pray like Jesus. Let me learn about prayer.” And I saw a lot. And it really helped me. I’ll give you a few stories and I’ll show you what I’m talking about. Because I think God weaves into our life experience whatever we’re studying in scripture and he brings those together.
Before I left I did one thing I’ve never done. We’re on this long preaching tour. Multiple preachings every day. Upwards of 5,000 people in stadiums. Tons of pressure. Before I left I posted on my blog asking people to pray for me. And I never do this cause I’m the prayer not the prayee. I’m always the person, “Oh, can I pray for you? Yes, I’d like to.” They’re like, “Can I pray for you?” Like, “No, I’m fine.” And proud and self-righteous and independent and worthless. So no I’m fine. I’m one of those guys I like to pray for people and I struggle to have people pray for me.
But I finally put it online cause when I travel I have tons of physical problems. First of all, I have major – sometimes I have inner ear equilibrium disorientation. I get off the plane and I’m dizzy and I’m seasick and I’m disoriented. I have a hard time sometimes. And I’ve been diagnosed with what they call Mal de Debarquement Syndrome. Okay? And I did research on it. And it is predominately among menopausal middle aged women who went on a cruise. That was not the diagnosis I was hoping for. I was hoping it would say, “You were so masculine with so much testosterone that your body can’t handle it all in one form. And so your body gets disoriented from all the manness.” No. Menopausal women on cruise ships and me. That’s what I’ve got. It’s awesome.
And I also have, the doctor said, a deviated septum in my nose. A bone that’s out of place so I don’t have good breathing. And I’ve had chronic low lying basically nasal infections my whole life. They want to do surgery. I’ve got scar tissue underneath. And so when I travel if I get sick or anything it immediately goes to my sinuses and I’m clogged up and I have trouble. So I prayed. And you know what? I just put it out there. And I said, “I need people to pray for me.” And I got tons of emails back. You know what? People prayed for me. I slept on the plane well, which is a miracle. Right? I mean have you ever been on a plane? Wow. I mean there’s – I mean all the people who have flown on a plane there’s never been one guy who got off the plane, looked at the flight attendant and said, “Where do I get one of those chairs?” That’s never happened.
I slept on the plane. Eight hour time difference. Get to London. Slept like a baby. No jet lag. I didn’t get sick. I didn’t get dizzy. I didn’t get a sinus infection. Nothing. I’m totally fine. God answered that prayer. The whole time I’m there I’m praying, “God teach me. Teach me. Teach me.” I met pastors from – I mean there were pastors at one conference from 52 nations. Movement leaders from Dubai and Africa and England and Australia and Ireland and Scotland and Holland and all over the place. And I learned a ton. I learned a ton. It was absolutely wonderful. I prayed that God would help me serve them well. To teach them and preach. And I feel like God answered that prayer and I had a good last session where I felt like I had a word from God for those people. And it was wonderful. And I got to serve them.
And coming off the stage I saw a young woman about 18, 19, something like that. Brunette off to the side. You know it was 5,000 people. And they’re trying to bring me back for a media interview. And I looked at my host and I said, “I need to go talk to that girl.” He said, “Why?” I said, “Well, as I got off the stage I saw her and I prayed in my mind, ‘Jesus is there anything you want me to do for her?’ And he told me she was raped and I need to pray for her.” So I just walked up to this girl and I said, “Hi, my name’s Mark. And Jesus told me you were raped and I need to pray for you.” She just started crying and she said, “That’s true. Would you pray for me?” So I prayed for her and I talked to her and gave her some counsel and church and pastor and follow up. I thought, “How amazing is it that in a sea of 5,000 people there’s a teenage girl, college age girl maybe. I don’t know how old she was. Raped. Nobody knows but Jesus knows. And she really wants to be prayed for. But she’s ashamed and embarrassed. She won’t say anything. So Jesus would tell me so that I could pray for her and that she would know that Jesus loved her and he was there to help her.” It’s amazing that God would talk to us. And that we could pray for people. I mean that’s amazing. That we could participate in what God is doing.
I got to be in a prayer meeting with 5,000 charismatics. Which is a prayer meeting on Red Bull. It’s awesome. And it really got me thinking that we need to grow as a church in prayer. We’ve got a lot to learn in prayer. And I’m working it out with the elders and there will be some changes forthcoming. But people were singing, dancing, shouting, praying for the nations, sending out church planters. And I saw this huge conga line. I’ve never seen a conga line in a worship service. I was like, “Hey, what’s up with the conga line?” And they said, “Oh that’s to bring forward your tithes and offerings.” “Really? I have never seen a conga line for the offering.” Those are cheerful givers. And they raised a few million dollars for church planting. That’s cool. They’re shouting. They’re celebrating. They’re praising God. And I was totally moved. Fifty-two nations.
What was encouraging as well, everywhere I went I met podcasters and vodcasters from all the nations of the earth. We did one little party in London. About 300 podcasters showed up. People in London who just listen online. And they came up one after the other and they asked, “How’s Grace?” My wife. And then they named every one of my five kids. And I just kept asking people, “You’re in Australia. You’re in Dubai. You’re in Africa. You’re in London. You’re in Scotland. You’re in Ireland. You’re in Holland. Like how do you know how old my kids are?” And they said, “We pray for them every day. We pray for Mars Hill every day.” The nations of the earth. I was totally humbled and encouraged.
And I had people ask me, cause the Bellevue campus launched while I was gone. Had people come up and say, “Well how did the Bellevue campus launch go on Sunday?” I was like, “What?” They said, “Well, we’ve been praying. How did it go?” And they all wanted a report. From all the nations of the earth. I said, “It went well. We had over a thousand. Praise God.” The weirdest guy was this really tall Korean guy with a major Scottish accent. Just totally freaked me out. And he came up and he’s like, “So how are the campuses?” I’m like, “Dude you’re a huge Korean guy speaking with like a – and not even Scottish. He’s from Glasgow so he kind of a really major – I’ve been to Glasgow. A major Glasgow borough. And he’d been praying for our campuses and wanted to know how everything was going. The Korean guy with the Scottish accent is interceding for our Bellevue campus. Go figure.
You know people are praying for us. It was amazing. Got back to the states. Flew back to Orlando. Got a few days. Prayers were answered as well. I got to go to Spurgeon’s Pastor’s College and see his private collection which was – he’s a hero of mine outside of the Bible. Met some great guys. Learned a ton. Flew back to the states and I got to hang out with one my favorite authors, John Packer, Wayne Grudem. Got to meet RC Sproul and Jerry Bridges for a couple days at Crossway Publisher’s seventieth anniversary. It was a total blessing to be there. And I learned a lot. I got a couple hours with JI Packer. One of the greatest Christian theologians of our day.
And then on the way back we went to the airport, Pastor Scott and I, and we were flying home. And as I was going through the checkpoint there was another woman next to me and I could tell she was in bad shape. Ear plugs in. She was wearing pajama, sort of sweats. She was having a very hard time moving. She wasn’t that old. Late thirties, early forties. She fell over. She dropped her bag. She was very disoriented. I didn’t know what was wrong so I prayed for her in my mind. I prayed, “Jesus, what’s up with her and what do you need me to do?” And I felt like Jesus told me. He said, “Serve her.” I said, “Okay Jesus I’ll serve.” So I walked up to her and said, “Hi, my name’s Mark. I’m gonna carry your bags. I’m gonna help you to the plane. Hold my arm. I’ll escort you.” I said, “Where are you at?” She said, “I’m at gate 11.” I said, “I’m at gate 13. I’ll just drop you off and go to my gate. God put us together.” I didn’t tell her that. I said, “You know we’re right next to one another.” So I’m escorting her and she’s having a hard time going. And Pastor Scott had gone ahead of me. Got a coffee and then came back. And goes around the corner and I got a woman, you know. He’s like, “Where’d you get the girl?” “Well, you know Jesus said to. Don’t put it on YouTube. It’s totally legit.” You know.
And so I escorted her to the plane and then I explained to Scott later. And she told me she had been in a traumatic car accident four years ago and had major neurological damage. Her depth perception was off. Her balance was off. Her sight. Her hearing was off. All of her motor skills and functions were really just destroyed. So I helped her to the tram. Sat her down on the tram. Took her to her gate. Got her to the gate. Just trying to love her, serve her, look after her. I was worried about her. And at the end she looked at me she said, “So what do you do for a living?” I said, “I’m a pastor. I love Jesus. And when I saw you fall down and drop your stuff I prayed for you and he told me to serve you.” I said, “Has anybody prayed for you with this neurological problem?” Cause she was flying from Orlando to the West Coast for treatment. She said, “No.” I don’t think she was a Christian. I said, “Would you mind if I prayed for you?” I said, “I don’t mean to embarrass you, but could I pray for you right now in the airport?” She looked at me, she started crying, she said, “That would be great. I would love it if you would pray for me.” So I prayed for her. Prayed that God would save her soul and heal her body. And prayed to Jesus and asked for God’s kindness on her.
Here’s what I don’t want you to get. We have to pray. Here’s what I want you to get. We get to pray. I don’t want you to hear, pray that God will love you. Pray because God loves you. Don’t pray for people because it’s your religious duty. Pray for people because it’s your worshipful joy. I thank God that over the last few weeks I got prayed for. I got to pray for people. I got to see prayer answered. I got to see God speak in such a way as to allow me to pray for others. And I just I really want all of us to share in the joy of prayer. Jesus has made this possible.
So we’re gonna do things different tonight, Mars Hill. You’re all gonna stand. Please stand. Here’s what we’re gonna do. This would be terrible if I preached the whole sermon on prayer and we didn’t pray for anybody. I mean how weird would that be? So in a moment I’m gonna ask if you come here and you would like prayer, I’m gonna ask you to raise your hand and the people around you who are Christians to ask you how they can pray for you. To put a hand on you and pray for you. We’ve done it all day. It’s been awesome. We prayed for all kinds of people. And then we’re gonna transition. If you’re not a Christian, we want you to pray to Jesus, ask him to forgive your sin and become a Christian. For all who are Christian or become Christian we’re gonna take communion, remembering Jesus’ body and blood to take away our sin. We’re gonna give of our tithes and offerings. Probably not with a conga line, but we’ll give of our tithes and offerings. And I’m gonna stay on the stage and I’m gonna worship with you and sing with you. My mic will be off, but I’ll be with you in spirit.
We’re gonna bring out Red Letter and here’s what we’re gonna do. We’re gonna sing and pray and prayer includes singing because singing is a form of prayer. And if you feel led, if you’re a community group leader, deacon or elder, a leader in the church that we know and trust, you can come to Pastor Bubba, your campus pastor in the front row. If you feel like you want to pray a prayer of thankfulness or read a scripture or give testimony of God’s goodness, if he gives you approval you can come up on stage with me. And we’ll weave prayer into our worship time.
How many of you right now, you’re here and you say, “I feel a little weird about this, but yeah, if somebody would pray for me that would be really good.” Raise your hand. If you come here tonight and you would like to be prayed for. You’re sick. You’re struggling. You’re hurting. You need a job. You’re frustrated. Okay. You’re getting engaged, married. Anybody else want to be prayed for? And I would say don’t be shy. It’s okay. You’re in church. You’re not gonna get this at Taco del Mar. This is your one shot. Okay? Your one place to get this done. Welcome to Mars Hill. Okay. Raise your hand real high if you want to be prayed for.
For those of you who are around them, would you now surround anyone who has or is raising their hand? Keep your hands up and raise your hand if you want to be prayed for. For those of you who are Christians would you guys be willing to pray for them? Could you do that Mars Hill? Could you do that? Okay. Let’s spend some time in prayer for people. And then I will pray for us. And then we’ll respond. Take a few minutes please and pray. And again, if you need prayer raise your hand. Amen? Okay.
Father God as we transition our time I thank you. I thank you that we get to pray for people tonight. I thank you that we have a God who hears and answers prayer. God I thank you that you are big enough, you rule over heaven and earth, angels and demons, the present and the future. And you know every hair on our head. You know every day of our life. And you know the name of every person in this room. And God we are grateful that you are our God. A loving, gracious, merciful, compassionate father who really does care for his kids and really is willing to help and to heal. So Father as we continue our time of worship we do so not because we have to but because we get to. Not so that you will love us but because you already do. So that you will have glory and that we would have joy. By the power of Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus, Amen.