We Need to Talk (to God)
The McCarty’s lived two doors down from us when I was growing up. I loved hanging out at their house during the summer. Who wouldn’t? They had a beautiful in-ground swimming pool, complete with a diving board. Like a giant magnet, that water drew the neighbor kids to its delicious summertime refreshment. The countless happy hours we spent playing there left us all waterlogged and wrinkled.
However, not everything that happened there was happy. I’ll never forget the sick and helpless feeling of watching the EMT’s trying to revive the McCarty’s young niece, who drowned one sunny afternoon. Then there was the time my friend put me in a headlock and held me under the water – for a long time. He was mad about something; I do not remember what ticked him off. However, I will never forget that desperate feeling, that all-consuming need to breathe. Nothing else mattered. Everything in me focused on one goal – getting air in my lungs. How well I remember the euphoric relief when he finally released me and I gulped in the fresh air. It is a fact. Oxygen is vital for life. You either breathe or you die.
For the Christian, prayer is no less essential. You either pray or your spirit will succumb. We simply cannot live without the air of God’s presence. Most Christians realize this, at least intuitively. That is probably why so many of us crave a deeper and more personal prayer life. We know we need to spend time with God, and we want to. At least on some level, we desire to pray. However, our intentions do not always translate into action.
Christian philosopher Peter Kreeft (2000) likens our need for prayer to eating. As with our need for oxygen, our bodies cannot survive without food. Eating keeps your body alive; he reminds us. Prayer keeps your soul alive. Since spiritual death is much worse than physical death, Kreeft correctly reasons that praying is more important than eating. Prayer is contact with God, it is a personal connection with the Author of Life. As such, prayer keeps your soul alive… If you do not pray, your soul will wither and die, just as, if you do not eat, your body will wither and die, (p. 11).
We understand this. It is good theology. Moreover, we’ve enshrined this truth in our values. As a church, we affirm that prayer is the primary work of God’s people. We believe in prayer and want to be a praying church. We know God works through prayer. We do not just want to pray about what we do; we want to accomplish things through prayer.
Understanding the importance of prayer, however, does not automatically translate into the practice of prayer. The early disciples knew the value of prayer. They saw Jesus prioritize time alone with the Father. They heard him pray. Nevertheless, they found it necessary to ask him how to pray. Lord, teach us to pray, they requested (Luke 11:1). If they needed to learn and grow in prayer, how much more do we?
We Need to Talk (to God) is a sermon series designed to help us learn how to breathe the air of God’s presence through prayer. Beginning with the message, Tongue Tied, we’ll discover that we are not alone in the struggle to pray more. God is for us and he wants to spend time with us more than we want to be with him. He understands our weakness, and he sends his Spirit to help us.
Clearing the Air will help us learn to find forgiveness and healing through repentant prayer. God knows everything about us; he knows what is in our hearts. So it is always best to be transparent and honest in our conversations with him. That is the subject of the message, Honest to God.
The messages, You Asked for It and Speak Up, deal with believing God for what we ask for and pleading for others in intercessory prayer. The Bible makes clear that God delights to give his spiritual riches to those who ask him. Fighting Words, the final message in the series, tackles the subject of spiritual warfare and the place of prevailing, warfare prayer.
Prayer is our primary work as God’s people. Moreover, prayer is our life-source. Regardless whether you are gasping for air or you regularly enjoy the fresh air of God’s presence, this sermon series promises to guide and encourage you in your personal prayer life. The fact is, we need to talk (to God).
April 17 - Tongue Tied
April 24 - Clearing the Air
May 1 - Fresh Encounter Communion Service
May 8 - Honest to God
May 15 - You Asked for It
May 22 - Speak Up
May 29 - Fighting Words
Kreeft, Peter (2000). Prayer for Beginners. Ignatius Press. San Francisco.