Getting to Know You
Posted by Rev. Jeff Dixon, Senior Equipping Minister at Covenant Community Church on Jan 1, 2002, 17:58
I have always believed that you can tell a lot about a person by the way that they pray. There are some who think of God as a cosmic bellhop and their prayers reflect that. They pray something like, " God I need a new car, a new job, and a new boyfriend or girlfriend, and I need it by tomorrow!" Or others will view God as a forgetful, doting, old grandfather type. Their prayers go something like, "I have punched my co-worker, I have kicked my dog, and on the way home I robbed a bank, now be a good little God and forgive me". And then there are others who view God as some type of wrathful avenger and their prayers reflect that, "Oh Lord, I know I messed up, please donít ZAP me with a lightning bolt!". Maybe you pray that way, hopefully you donít, but if you want to gain some insight into prayer there is a passage of Scripture that you need to look up. You will find it in the Gospel according to our good friend John, chapter 17, verses 1-26. It is a prayer that Jesus prayed and in it we learn a lot about him and a lot about how we should pray. Take a second and read it if you have your Bible handy, Iíll wait.
A pastor was leaving the church he was currently serving in and was sent flowers as a going away gesture. However the florist mixed up the flower order and sent the pastor flowers that were suppose to have gone to a funeral. The florist called and the pastor took it in good humor and told the florist he had been wondering why he got a sympathy card with his flowers. The florist said, "Well, Pastor, I knew that you would understand , but I am still a little worried about the flowers I sent to the funeral".
"What did that card say?" inquired the pastor.
"That was the card intended for you. It said best of luck in your new location!"
Some think prayer is nothing more than a wish for good luck. It is far more than that, it is an intimate conversation with the Heavenly Father who knows you and has big plans for you. As I said when we started, your prayers do give away a lot about who you are, which is why looking at Jesusí prayer is important. That also brings me to an Entrance Ramp, and it is this: Your prayers reflect what you think you know about God, His prayers reflect what God is REALLY like.
In verses 25-26a, we read, "Righteous father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know you have sent me. I have made you known to them. That is good news for us, because that means what we read is not just a lucky guess trying to figure out who God is or what He is like.
So now the question is ĎWhat does Jesusí prayer show us about the Heavenly Father?í I think there are at least three things that we can see, if not more. Letís take a look together.
The first thing we see about God is that He wants to be known. Notice what it says in verse 3, "Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." God does not have to let us know Him, He just wants us to know Him.
Remember the movie, The Wizard of Oz? The Wizard didnít want to be known. It was only when the smartest one in the entire movie, Toto, pulled back the curtain did everyone see who or what the "Great Oz" was. I am thrilled that God wants us to know Him, that is why we are here, that is why we were created, because He loves us and wants us to know Him.
The prayer of Jesus also tells us something else about God. He wants to give us hope (so He sent us His son). It is in the same verse we saw a moment ago. Letís look again at verse 3, "Now this is eternal life, that they may know you and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." In John 1:14 we are told, "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us." That is what God did, He sent us hope in His son Jesus.
The story is told of a King who left his palace and went out into his kingdom dressed as a peasant. He stopped and asked for a room at an inn. A knight overheard his request and commented, "You look like a peasant, but you have the voice of a king." If you want to know what God is like donít ask Buddha, he said he was no more than a teacher. Donít ask Mohammed, he wore a cloth over his head and cried out for mercy before God. Donít ask the philosophers, they muddle in the mud looking for real answers. And donít just get in a theological discussion because combined ignorance does not increase knowledge about anything. If you want to know what God is like, check out Jesus and you will be surprised, but in a great way.
Let me show you one more thing that we see in Jesusí prayer that tells us about the Heavenly Father. He wants us to know His nature. In verse 1 we read, "Jesus looked toward heaven and prayed Father." The implications of that are astounding. In the title, Father, we read authority and respect. He has adopted us as His own. In the book of Psalms we find in 103, verses 13-14, "As a Father has compassion on His children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. For He knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust." His love for us is given because he wants to love us. He knows what we are, who we are, and He loves us anyway. That is great news!
Later Jesus refers to God as "Holy Father" (verse 11). That gives us another glimpse into the nature of God. He is Holy, that tells us of His divine perfection and majesty. He is perfect and pure, He is our Holy Father. That means that God isnít just a nice guy giving out warm fuzzies, He is holy!
In the presence of God we are nothing, unless He wants us to be, and because He wants us to be, we are treated as His children. But we must never forget the relationship we have and the way it works. It drives us to face him humbly and bow before Him because He is holy.
Then Jesus prays and refers to God as "Righteous Father" (verse 25). That gives
us another glimpse at His nature and it means that He will always do what is right. ALWAYS - and you can trust that, and Him. Remember the setting of this prayer. Jesus is praying and He is facing the cross and He knows that obedience is the only way.
A girl went and talked to her pastor and said that she was being called to the mission field. Her pastor was elated and said he was excited. The girl went on to say, that although she felt that God was really calling her she had told God in prayer, "You are wrong about this God, and I am not going to do it." The pastor after hearing this looked up Acts 10:14. There in a vision God sent some stuff down for Peter to eat, and Peter says "Surely not Lord, I have never eaten anything impure or unclean." Then we find out that God corrected him. Using that as the starting point he told the young lady she had Ĺ an hour to go through and find for him all of the places in the Bible that God had said something wrong. As you can imagine, she could not find anything. The reason is simple, God is not ever wrong. That is because He is righteous and He is God.
If we ever have the audacity to look at God and say, "You are wrong, or surely not God" when He tells us to do something the only thing that is wrong is our walk with Him. We arenít as close as we should be. Run a quick personal inventory. The desire of our hearts should be to be what He wants us to be and to know Him better. We catch a glimpse of Him in this prayer offered to the Father by the Son. We can learn from that.
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