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ENGAGE: CONNECT. GROW. SERVE. #4 – LISTEN – SERMON RESOURCES

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ENGAGING THE PRACTICAL TIP

As beneficiaries of this present technological age, it’s relatively easy to connect with each other, especially because many of us carry smartphones that allow us to Snapchat, Tweet, Text, Talk (via voice or video), share our location with our friends and family anytime we want.

But what about our connections with God? What’s his cell phone number, Snapchat, or Twitter? Is his location shared?

In Mark chapter 1, an interesting scene unfolds. Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. (Mark 1:35)

Luke says, often Jesus withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Each time Jesus withdraws to spend time with God, on the surface, it seems as if he is able to find God. What did this prayer look like? Without more context and guidance, it seems as if Jesus has this immediate ability to connect with God. Many of us wish we had a deeper connection with God, but we haven’t given our time and energy to learn the language.

More than a formula for what to say when you pray, Jesus teaches his disciples who God is and how to improve their conscious contact with Him. In addition to praying to God, Jesus teaches his disciples and us that we also have to be ready to listen. Communication is a two-way street. By withdrawing into solitude, Jesus puts himself in a posture of listening.

DO YOU WONDER IF GOD IS THERE LISTENING WHEN YOU PRAY?

The prayer that Jesus offers us begins to answer the question, “Where are you God?”

I want to walk through six observations I have about the prayer and invite you to listen to each section of the prayer. I’ll make an observation and then offer an invitation.

Our Father in heaven

First, God is always ever-present. God is as close to us as our next breath is. Jesus teaches that when we pray, we are praying to a God who is always present, always near, and is able to hear and desires to act.

Do you wonder if God is there listening when you pray?

Hallowed be your name,

Second, God is holy. This isn’t about some puritanical picture of God, prohibiting dancing, playing cards, or watching rated ‘R’ movies. This a declaration that God isn’t corrupted by us. Rather, He calls us holy. And in doing so, He stakes his claim on us, and declares that we belong to him.

Do you wonder if God is there listening when you pray?

your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.

Third, God is the King who rules heaven. Jesus invites us to invite the rule, reign, kingship and authority of the King into our lives. This is a declaration about the power of God.

Do you wonder if God is there listening when you pray?

Give us today our daily bread.

Fourth, God cares for us. This God is able to provide for our daily needs. Receiving his care loosens fear’s grip on us, we belong to him. He care for us. Let that wash over you this morning. There’s an invitation for us to increase our trust in his ability to care for us.

Do you wonder if God is there listening when you pray?

And forgive us our sins,
as we also forgive everyone who sins against us.

Fifth, God forgives. The God that Jesus reveals is someone who has made space in the divine communion for us by forgiving us, making space for us to be welcomed. We are no longer excluded, remember he now calls us friends.

Do you wonder if God is there listening when you pray?

And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.”

Sixth, God rescues and protects us from evil. Many of us have a hard time believing this is true. Especially as we see so much evil done to us and others in the world. But the world isn’t the way that God wants it. We unlock God’s will in every act of kindness, compassion, and love. This overcomes and overwhelms the work of evil in our world. In the resurrection, Jesus declares that God gets the last word. Nothing can happen to us that God cannot redeem.

Do you wonder if God is there listening when you pray?

Feel free to share your experience with others who have also tried this prayer exercise by commenting below or emailing: spiritual.practices@annarborvineyard.org.

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