When you talk to God, do you often feel like, well, there's a special pattern or rule that you need to follow, or maybe you have to pray exactly so long you're not really getting through? Well, today we're going to learn how to unclutter your prayer life.
You don't want to miss it. Thanks for joining us for this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. We are a discipleship-driven ministry on a mission to encourage Christians everywhere to live like Christians. And if you're ready to ditch the scripted and timed prayers you're so used to reciting, our guest teacher Ryan Ingram has a word for you. In just a minute, he'll continue his series, When We Pray, with the second half of his talk, The Basics. And to help you get the most out of this teaching, let me encourage you to download our message notes. They contain Ryan's outline, scripture references, and key fill-ins to help you remember and apply what you hear.
Get them by going to the broadcasts tab at livingontheedge.org, app listeners tap fill-in notes. Well, let's join Ryan now for the remainder of his message from Matthew chapter six. Did you know that 71% of Americans report to praying regularly? 20% of agnostic and atheist say they pray daily.
Why? Because there's something hardwired in you and me, this instinctual desire to connect and something beyond us that we're just designed for. There's something in us that knows that prayer is powerful, even though we don't know how it works. There is the deep intrinsic desire of the human heart upon which only the very presence of God will satisfy. How do we pray in a way that develops this life-giving, soul-shaping relationship with our Heavenly Father?
I like how C.S. Lewis said it. He said, Bring to God what's in you, not what ought to be in you. And if you ever read through the Psalms, you realize David just brought before God what was in him, and God met him there. You don't have to somehow measure up.
Just bring to God who you are. Religion is all about performance. Relationship is all about presence. It's all about presence. See, prayer is not a performance.
It's about presence. It's about keeping company with God. Then we go on to see prayer is not a secret formula. He goes on and says, When you pray, do not keep on babbling like the pagans. And so you had these two different pictures in the ancient day of prayer.
You had the Pharisees and how they prayed, and then you had the pagans and the temple worship of all the gods and goddesses. They would pray long, repetitious, loud, and the longer and the louder and the more ecstatic that they became. They thought their God would actually hear them and respond. And if they were in real need, they'd begin to cut themselves and do all sorts of things just to evoke the gods to respond. Jesus says, prayer is not a performance and it's not a secret formula. There aren't these like magic words that if you use them, all of a sudden, like, oh, God's like, oh, yes, genie in the bottle. Yes, here I come.
I'll come do that. There's not a length that is a proper length. I remember when I was like in my 20s, I was wanting to really learn how to pray and someone said, you should pray 30 minutes a day. That's not bad.
Keeps the devil away. I'm like, I don't know if that's true. And so I tried it, but I couldn't do it. I run and I enjoy running, but I can run about three to five miles. If I tried to go run a marathon right now, I'd be dead. That's a lot of the ways it is with us with prayer too is we kind of have like spiritual greed. I want to get all the way here. I'm like, no, you're right here at the five minute range, not the 30 minute range.
And there's no shame on that. Short prayers or long prayers. It's not like the longer it is, the more impactful it is. Decluttering prayer.
It's not a performance. It's not a secret formula. Okay, so how do I develop intimacy with God in prayer?
How do I take some of these steps? The very first step is we need to view prayer as necessary, not just a nice idea. It's the pathway. It's a pathway to experiencing intimacy with God and Jesus, God himself in flesh. Notice this, like even when his life got busy, especially when his life got busy, he carved out time for prayer because he knew it was necessary. Notice this, Luke 5 15 says, yet the news about him spread all the more. So crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed by their sickness. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places to pray. Jesus gave a special time to prayer when life was unusually busy. See, we've got to begin viewing prayer not just as a nice idea, but necessary. And then how we approach God, you approach your heavenly father who loves you. Let me ask you, who do you pray to when you pray?
I mean, like what picture comes to your mind? I think for many of us, the picture might be of a God that's down on you, might be of someone who's withholding that, like, you know, when you finally get your act right, then I'll actually, you know, give you something good. A God with crossed arms, toe tapped, just waiting for you to blow it.
Did you notice that Jesus said, pray to your help me out? Father. Your father who sees.
Think about that. The God of the universe, Jesus invites you to call father and he sees you. He sees what you're walking through. You're seen. You're not overlooked. You're not unseen. You're not invisible. You're you're not just hoping somebody will notice you. And I know that for some is how you're walking through life, but your father sees you and he knows what you need even before you ask him.
We take this for granted often in our day. In Jesus's day, the Jewish idea of God and especially the name of God was so sacred, so holy, you wouldn't even utter it. And for Jesus to then call God as father was scandalous to them. He said, when you have God as your father, what that means is you have access the way a daughter or son has access to a father.
You have authority because you carry the family name. You don't come begging. You don't come hoping.
You don't come wishing. You come to a father. In fact, a little bit later on, Jesus would say this in the Sermon on the Mount, because I think our tension then with father, isn't it true that like we have earthly fathers and many have had earthly fathers who have let us down, who have hurt us, who wounded us, who've been absent or abusive. And our picture of God is just gets wrapped up into that brokenness. And I love how Jesus then paints our heavenly father.
Notice what he says. He says, which of you, if your son asked for bread, will give him a stone? Not many of you. If he asked for a fish, we'll give him a snake. Most of us wouldn't and the ones that would should go to jail.
It's a true story. If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children. If we as human parents are broken and most of us know how to give good gifts to our kids, notice this, how much more. What if in your mind when you approach your heavenly father, you understood that you approached the God of the how much more, not the God holding out on you, the God who says I have how much more. If you think as the best version of an earthly parent that you could come up with, God is how much more. He is your perfect heavenly father. How much more will your father in heaven give good gifts to those who love him? See how that changes when you approach that God?
Think about this. When you pray, you come as wholly accepted. You don't have to earn it. You don't have to try to get it.
You don't have to somehow eke your way. You're fully loved. Nothing you can do will ever change that reality. You're cherished daughter, son of a good and loving heavenly father. Think about this, who delights to hear your voice and loves to give you good gifts. That's who you approach. And so how do we develop intimacy with God?
We begin to understand it's necessary, not just a nice idea. Approach our heavenly father who loves us. And then we have to set aside a specific time and a sacred space. Notice Jesus said, but when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your father who's unseen.
Then your father who sees what's done in secret will reward you. Set aside a specific time and a sacred place. Jesus modeled this. He had a time and place.
Mark 1 35 says very early in the morning while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, went off to a solitary place where he prayed, set aside a specific time. I have it on the calendar and then a sacred space. Your sacred space can be your couch. It can be your bed. It can be a coffee shop. It can be your car. It can be a walk on your lunch break.
But what is your sacred space where you just go, man, this space, I know during other times it's an ordinary space, but in this moment it is a sacred space and I meet with God. And then set aside a time. You might be a morning person or you might be an evening person. Well, Jesus was a morning person, so no, I'm just kidding. You don't have to be a morning person. But I think sometimes we think a certain time is a better time, don't we? And sometimes pastors like me go because we're often cerebral and generally early risers and journalers and like, oh, should I journal? I don't know. I like to.
If it's helpful, wonderful. If not, don't. Freedom. But you have a specific time. If you're a morning person, maybe it's at lunch.
Maybe it's in the evening where you set aside a specific time to be with Him. What time are you going to do it? Write it down.
Set it on your calendar. I like how Eugene Peterson said it. I can be active and pray. I can work and pray, but I cannot be busy and pray. I cannot be inwardly rushed, distracted or dispersed in order to pray. I have to be paying more attention to God than what people are saying to me, more attention to God than to my clamoring ego.
Usually for that to happen, there must be a deliberate withdrawal from the noise of the day, a disciplined detachment from the insatiable self. And I got to give you a word of warning at the beginning. This will be a little bit challenging. In fact, I love how Tim Keller said it in his book on prayer, because I want to highlight that this is going to be a process and a practice as you step into it. It's not going to be like, oh, this is amazing right at the beginning.
It might be a little awkward and challenging. He wrote, most contemporary people base their inner life on their outward circumstances. Their inner peace is based on other people's valuation of them and on their social status, prosperity and performance. If we give priority to the outer life, our inner life will be dark and scary. We will not know what to do with solitude. We'll be deeply uncomfortable with self-examination and we'll have an increasingly short attention span for any kind of reflection.
And so it's going to be a process. Developing intimacy with God, view prayer as necessary. We approach our perfect Heavenly Father who loves us, set aside a specific time, a sacred place, and then finally pray. Pray. You just got to pray. You can read about prayer. You can come listen to sermons about prayer. You can find the best podcast on prayer. And yet you will not develop intimacy with God until you start praying. Now think about this. Imagine if we were friends and imagine if the only time I talked to you was about every three to four weeks when life was going really badly and I just needed something from you.
How good of a friendship would we have? See, part of the process is just beginning that conversation, beginning that relationship and starting to get to know God and developing that. And that just begins with a consistency because you'll be incredibly amazed at what God wants to do in you, what He wants to do through you and the depth of relationship, His presence and power that He wants to meet you in on this journey. And so I like how Richard Foster says it as we take steps forward.
He says the same way a small child cannot draw a bad picture so a child of God cannot offer a bad prayer. Take the pressure off. Just start. Take the pressure off and just start and begin to learn how to pray. And so here's how I want to close our time. Jesus, the disciples asked Him, teach us how to pray and He gave them the Lord's Prayer. And this is what comes directly next in the text on the Sermon on the Mount. I just want to take a moment and lead us in prayer, not just talk about prayer, but lead us in prayer.
Would you take a breath, keep your eyes open or closed. Jesus says this then is how you should pray. Begin first with worship. Our Father in heaven, how would be your name? Literally how it means let your name be sacred to me.
I don't want to pull you down into my world. I always want to keep you in your proper place. And worship is ascribing proper work to the greatness of who God is. Would you just begin by thanking God?
Thank Him for what He's done, where He's working, who He is. The next movement, one of surrender. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Your will be done in my marriage, in my singleness, in my finances, in my workplace, in my thought life as it is in heaven.
And begin to surrender those areas where you go, you know, I want your kingdom and not my kingdom. And then Jesus moves to requests. Give us this day our daily bread. What do you need today? Isn't it amazing that God invites us? He longs to hear our requests. He tells us to ask, to seek, to knock. What do you need today? What are the concerns of your heart, the worries?
Bring those to Him. And then confession. Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors.
Some of you walked in with shame and baggage that He does not want you to live in. There is therefore no condemnation for those of us who are in Christ Jesus, where you confess it. You say, God, would you forgive me? And you leave it at the cross and you walk out free. And then Jesus closes with protection. Have you ever noticed that when you take a step towards God, it seems like all hell breaks loose?
Maybe that habit that you had kind of under control, it raises its head and maybe a relationship just begins to go south. Pray protection as you take this journey and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. God, would you protect me from me, my natural bent away from you?
And would you protect me from the enemy who wants to entice and pull me away from you? For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen. After listening to Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram, Ryan Ingram has been our guest teacher for this program, The Basics, which is from his series When We Pray.
Chip and Ryan will both join us in just a minute to share their application for this message. If you're like most Christians, this subject is often a confusing, mis-prioritized, and forgotten part of our faith journey. But in this new series, guest teacher Ryan Ingram will motivate us to get a healthier, more beneficial view of prayer. He'll debunk common misbeliefs about talking to God, how to practice stillness, and what we're to do when our prayers seemingly go unanswered. If you genuinely want to strengthen your prayer life, this teaching will help.
Catch up on any part of this series by visiting LivingOnTheEdge.org or the Chip Ingram app. Well, Chip's in studio with me now, and Chip, as many of our regular listeners know, our mission is to help Christians really live like Christians. And I understand you have a story that really brings that idea to life. I sure do, Dave.
At some point you wonder, you know, is Living on the Edge really making a difference? And I got a note in the mail that I just have to share. Listen to this.
Dear Chip, we don't have enough words to show our gratitude. At one point, my husband and I both thought things were so bad, they'd never get better. But thankfully, I heard one of your sermons that spoke to our situation. So I started listening on a regular basis.
Now my husband listens too. Through God's transformation in our lives, we've started seeing restoration in our family. Even though we're still a work in progress, we can see God's hand making direct changes in our lives. Recently, we decided to make a monthly donation to help keep your broadcast going. We realize that if your ministry helped us this much, then it can help others too. Thank you for all that you're doing to furthering God's kingdom. Signed, DR. And I just remind you, you know, we're all so personally focused and we're human that, you know, over a million people this week will hear what you're hearing.
And not only that, but then the broadcast and the teaching and the small groups will go to China, to the Middle East and places all around the world because people pray and because people partner financially. And so if you're one of those partners, can I just tell you thank you very, very much? If you're one of those partners that kind of gives now and then and would ever consider prayerfully to say, you know, I bet I could give just a little a month. Boy, those monthly partners really help us understand what we can project and making budgets. It's a huge help. And if you have never partnered with us financially, would you just today say, Lord, is this something you want me to do?
And if he nudges you and says yes, follow that good prompting. And thanks so much in advance. Thanks, Chip. If you'd like to be a part of ministering to believers all across the world, prayerfully consider becoming a monthly partner with Living on the Edge. Your gift will go places and accomplish ministry work like you wouldn't believe. To set up a recurring donation, click the donate button at livingonthedge.org or the Chip Ingram app. Or if it's easier, just donate to 74141.
That's the word donate to 74141. Well, here now is Chip and his son Ryan to share a few final thoughts for us to think about. Ryan, I have to tell you, today's message was so good. I mean, you really gave us some very practical steps to declutter and really learn to refocus our prayer lives. The one area that at least I've struggled with is addressing God and seeing Him as our Father, our Abba. And could you just take a minute and maybe help us understand how have you done that? What has helped you really grasp and understand that you're coming to a kind, loving Heavenly Father? Tell us a little bit about your journey or maybe a couple tips that can help the rest of us see God more clearly as our Father. Absolutely.
You know, like you've mentioned and quoted so many times, A.W. Tozer said, What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. Now what's incredible is the picture that Jesus wants to come into our minds when we think about God is Heavenly Father. I remember when God as Father really clicked for me. It was a little over 18 years ago when our oldest was born, my only girl. I never knew I could have loved like that. It was almost like a chamber in my heart that I didn't even know existed was open and a flood of love poured out for this little being. My love for her was not conditional. It wasn't because she had done anything.
All she was doing was sitting there. It was simply because she was my little girl. And at that moment, I realized that must be only the smallest of a fraction of the way God looks at me and feels towards me. Wow, so humbling and incredible. You know, one of the practices I've done since that time is something really pretty simple, but it's been incredibly meaningful and significant to me. Each morning when I spend time with Jesus, the very first words I write in my journal is, Good morning, Heavenly Father. Every single morning, I want to remind my soul that I wake up to a new morning that my Heavenly Father is already present to, and His fatherly care, His attentiveness to my needs, hurts, hopes, and dreams.
He's there, and He just loves getting to hear my voice the way I love getting to hear the voice of my kids. You know, on a fun side note, my daughter and I have a little exchange we often do that began a number of years back. I often say to her, Ella, you're my favorite daughter. Well, she's my only daughter. And then she looks at me with a wry smile and says, Dad, you're my second favorite dad.
And in this small little exchange, she is reminding herself of her Heavenly Father that is deeper and more wonderful than all the love I have to offer her. Great application, Ryan. Thanks. As we wrap up, let me quickly tell you about a great way to listen to our extended teaching podcast, here Living on the Edge anytime on your Amazon Echo or Echo Dot. To get started, ask Alexa to enable the Chipping Room podcast. Then guests say, Alexa, play the Chipping Room podcast. It's that easy. Well, until next time, this is Dave Druey saying thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge.
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