This is Stu Epperson from the Truth Talk Podcast, connecting current events, pop culture, and theology, and we're so grateful for you that you've chosen the Truth Podcast Network.
It's about to start in just a few seconds. Enjoy it, and please share it around with all your friends. Thanks for listening, and thanks for choosing the Truth Podcast Network. Anytime, about anything. On Encouraging Prayer, Dr. James Banks, author of the best-selling Prayers for Prodigals and many other books on prayer, provides weekly biblical insight to help you learn to love to pray. And now, here's James. So today on Encouraging Prayer, we're going to talk about how to pray like God is watching. And that may seem a little confusing thing to say because God is always watching. So, you know, James, why don't you take it from there?
Thanks, Robbie. You're so right. It seems like a funny thing to say. You know, I'm going to pray like God is watching or God is listening. But the truth of the matter is, it's easy to fall into patterns for praying that just aren't very real or natural. And that's what this is all about. Have you ever noticed how sometimes when Christians are around each other, we use a language that the rest of the world maybe can't quite understand?
So you mean like, I was so blessed by that comment, James. Exactly. And there's nothing wrong with that as long as it's from the heart. But we also have to make sure that we're speaking in ways that others can understand. So what does this have to do with prayer when God always understands?
That's where it really gets interesting. Because God understands us better than we understand ourselves. And sometimes we can find that our lips are moving, but our hearts aren't really in it when we're praying. And we need to pay attention to that because prayer is a matter of the heart.
It's more about the heart than it is about words. Oh, yeah, I see what you mean. I mean, sometimes when I pray the Lord's Prayer, if I'm not careful, I can find myself just saying the words actually get about two thirds of the way through it. And I go, wait a minute, God, are you in this? No, I know exactly what you mean. And you think about some of the things that we say when we pray the Lord's Prayer. I want you to forgive me just like I forgive others.
Okay. And I'm saying this to God, and God is right there. Going a little further with this, I read something from Charles Haddon Spurgeon, of course, that really got me thinking about this. And he said, wherever you are, your Heavenly Father watches over you. He looks on you as if there were no other created being in the entire world. His eye is fixed on you every moment. Wow. I mean, that really makes sense because God is infinite and able to give us His complete attention. Right.
But again, think about that. His eye is fixed on you. And he's not only completely attentive, more aware of us than we're aware of him, but he's also with us. And the question I think that we need to ask ourselves is, are we with him?
Am I with him? Because that's really what prayer boils down to, just being with Jesus in the moment, being with our Heavenly Father, communicating in such a way that I'm living in that reality. You know, of course, prayer is also about requests and answers and listening and all of these things, but most of all, it's an encounter with the God who is there. And you have to believe he is there and have a relationship with him before you ask for anything. So again, it's a matter of the heart. I understand you had an experience this past week that really enforced your thinking this way on your trip to Colorado. So why not share a little on that, James?
Yeah, yeah. I mean, it was such a great trip, Robbie. And I really enjoyed last week's broadcast as we were looking forward to that. But our Hope's Church cornerstone was so hospitable. And if you remember from last week, the pastor Steve Kelly was my prayer partner when my son Jeff was going through a difficult time. You know, abusing drugs, running from God. And to have Jeff with me and to be able to encourage other families with prodigals, man, it just doesn't get any better than that.
I mean, here's an answered prayer standing right in front of them. So after the conference was over, Jeff and I decided to take a little hike up in the Rockies. But you have to understand that Jeff lives at sea level in Wilmington, and where I live in Durham, the elevation is only 400 feet. But where we were in Colorado was 10,000 feet.
And it takes some time to get used to that. And to make matters worse, we'd only been there 48 hours, so our bodies weren't really accustomed to the altitude. And the hike up to the peak was 1,000 feet above that, so we had this 1,000-foot ascent in the snow about seven miles round trip.
And I know that territory because I grew up in Colorado. And that altitude will get you, won't it? Yeah, I'll bet you saw a lot of people come in from out of state and kind of, you know, suffer for it. So the snow was starting to melt. And if you stepped out of the hard pack, your foot went down a few feet, and you had to pull yourself out, and that turned a moderate hike into a difficult one. But in the end, we made it to the peak. You know, we had then to get down before sunset, but we made that. But man, we were sucking air toward the end of that ascent. I mean, stopping just every so many steps to catch our breath. And I'm sure my son was holding back a bit just out of kindness to his old man, but still. Oh, yeah, if you're not accustomed to that altitude, I mean, it can make a difference.
It really can even make you sick. So I'm sure this has something to do with prayer. I was just waiting. Okay, so you can imagine that I was praying while we were making that hike.
So the sun was also going down, and we have to make sure that we make it back in time, and we had to keep up a pretty good pace. And two verses came to mind, one out of Philippians. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. That's a good one to repeat at a time like that. And the other out of Psalm 42, and you're like this, as the deer pants for streams of water.
Show my soul pants for you, my God. Because man, when you're just catching every breath, and while I'm up there, I'm thinking, what if I push too hard, and we have no self-service, and I can't make it back down the mountain? What do we do then?
What if something happens because hiking accidents happen all the time? And it put me in that place of just really having to stay with God in the moment, and that's always a good place to be. So the point for all of this is, are we being real with Him as we live? When you come off the mountain, if you will, talking to Him, like we would talk to a real person. That'd be a great place to wrap us up in prayer, James.
Yeah, let's do it. Father, help us. Just help us to know you are there. And to treat you like that, to talk to you, like we would talk to a real person.
We're sure of a Father. But Lord, thank you. Thank you. That you want us to just be close to you, to live close to you. Because you hold us up every moment, every breath, every beat of our heart, and we praise you for it in Jesus' name. Amen. You can hear more from Pastor James by visiting his website, jamesbanks.org, or by visiting Peace Church in Durham, North Carolina. May God bless you and encourage you as you pray.
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