Learn To Love Prayer

Does your prayer-life need a little bit of inspiration? Listen as Julian teaches through the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew chapter 6, and invites us into a joy-filled prayer life.

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– Transcript

Julian: I get the joy of being part of the Kenya and Harvest, my name is Julian. And Katia, my wife, and I get to be part of what God is doing in this house and seeing God break out in some incredible ways. And we’re just hearing incredible stories of God touching people, changing people. The Gospel is good news. 

Man: Yeah.

Julian: Well, one of you agreed with me. The Gospel is good news. 

Some of you might not have heard this story, but we’ve had a number of people getting healed of Asperger’s. And as a result of that, that story of what God has done in our community has been going all over the world and numbers of other people have started getting healed as a result of that story. 

I’m gonna say that again, we have had a young lady in our family get healed of Asperger’s. God did a miracle. Something has changed for her. That story is now being multiplied all over the world, and other people are getting healed, connected to her story. That’s good news. 

I love how God breaks in in some incredible ways. And tonight, I wanna share some stuff around a very familiar text. If you’ve grown up in South Africa, and if you’ve grown up in a Christian school, you would have been forced to say this many times. You’d all know this, or perhaps, if you’re a good South African, it’s a prayer found in Luke 11 called “The Our Father.” How many of you have heard of that? I’m glad most of you have heard of that. 

So why don’t you turn in your Bibles, please, to Luke 11. Luke 11. And I’m gonna, hopefully, in the next 20 minutes…this is gonna be a miracle, unpack this because I believe God wants to invite you into a whole new dimension of enjoying your prayer life. 

Some of you are like, “Really? Is that actually gonna happen?” I promise you, you’re gonna get so happy, you’re gonna want to pray every day after this sermon. 

There are one or two of you that believe me. 

Luke 11:1, “Now, Jesus was praying in a certain place. And when He finished, one of His disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray as John told his disciples.’ And He said to them, ‘When you pray, say, ‘Father, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come. Give us each day, our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who’s indebted to us. Lead us not into temptation.'” And He said to them, ‘Which of you, who has a friend, will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey and I have nothing to set before him.’ And he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me. The doors are shut and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence,’ in other words because of his insistence, ‘he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, ‘Ask and it will be given to you. Seek and you will find. Knock and it will be opened to you, for everyone.”

I looked up that word, “everyone” in the original language, it means everyone who asks, receives, and the one who seeks, finds, and to the one who knocks, it will be opened. 

“What Father am I, if his son asks for a fish will, instead of a fish, give him a serpent? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion. If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more would the Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”

Why don’t you open up your hands and say, “Father, please give me some more of the Holy Spirit.”

Audience: Father, please give me some more of the Holy Spirit. 

Julian: You, guys, are praying, like, good prayers. Well done. 

I love this text because, actually, there are some incredible nuances and incredible truth that we get to learn in this text that is meant to propel us into a prayer life that is world-changing, that shifts things overreaching. So I want you to know that prayer shifts an atmosphere. Prayer releases a dynamic in which we get to partner with the sovereignty of God in releasing His purposes on the earth. 

It’s why we pray. Because something happens when we do. This is not just some pie in the sky, or the day that we got a guy, but this is steak on the plate while we wait. Prayer shifts things. There’s tangible results that come as a result. And I love Jesus here because Jesus does something so beautiful. He invites people into His most sacred space. This is an invitation. 

I remember when I first started going out with Katia, just after we got engaged, we began to pray together and it was one of the most vulnerable things to do because suddenly, the very deepest part of my heart was being revealed to this woman who I’ve now fallen in love with. But it was kinda like, “Oh my gosh. She’s overhearing something.”

Some of you are like, “That is such a good word.” I’m sure it is. 

It was such a deep part of me. It was the most intimate part of me. And Jesus is doing this for His disciples. He’s saying, “I want you to come and have a look. I want you to come and enter in. I wanna give you an experiential model of what it means to be in relationship with the Father.”

Because that’s what prayer is about. Prayer, the word that is “er” is used, is “exchange.” What the disciples are literally saying is, “Teach us how to exchange with God.” This is not just, “Teach us how to talk to God.” This is about an engaging with the Father, but an engaging with God so that there’s a divine exchange that happens. When you engage in prayer, it’s never a one-way. God is willing to come and speak to you. Problem is, most of us leave our prayer time before He’s ever had the opportunity to. 

And Jesus is inviting us. In this case, He’s saying, “Come, I wanna show how I engage with my Papa.” 

We’ll take this off because the lights… Thanks.

For the Jewish, there was a particular context in which they were hearing this. Because for a Jew to enter into prayer, for a Jew to engage in the exchange with God, literally for them, their understanding was to enter into a blessed state. 

Now, the word “blessed” means to be extremely happy. I don’t know about you, but when I grew up, prayer was not a happy thing. It was something you had to tick off your morning list-to-do before you went out and carried out with the normal day. 

But for Jews’ understanding, to enter into prayer was to enter into this ecstatic, blissful happiness. I wonder if that describes your prayer life. 

God is inviting you to enter into an ecstasy with Him. To enter in ecstasy literally means to be caught up with Him. The greatest expression of union that you have is in the place of prayer. There’s something so beautiful, so wonderful, so breathtaking about praying to the Father. And God wants to invite you into this context. 

And not only that, Jesus, when He is praying, when He’s talking about what it means to pray, He’s doing so in a particular worldview. How many of you know that worldview takes us on this bad world? When the realities in the end, heaven comes down and sets up a kingdom over the whole earth and swallows up everything. It’s not our escape from this earth to somewhere else that matters, it’s how we live on this earth that matters. 

And you see, Jesus is saying, “You’re not just called to plunder, you see.” And this is the problem with some of the prosperity gospel guys. “Live your base life now, get what you want, but never bring any transformation to where you are.” Listen, friends, some of the greatest…I’ll point to God, the greatest revivals are really some accounts of the Azusa Street Revival. 

Do you know how profound that was in racist America? That a black man, called William Seymour, gets raised up to lead the greatest move of God in the century? Do you know how profound that was that white and black people were in the same room worshiping Jesus in racist America, so that there was a unity amongst the churches? 

Problem is, we enjoy the plunge of a spoil of revival, but we never learn how to occupy, which is why revival dies. You see, revival is not just about an awakening. It’s about you stepping into what Christ has already purchased for you on this earth through the cross so you get to occupy spaces of influence in order to bring transformation. 

Man: Yeah. That’s right. 

Julian: You see, what place is meant to be a space that you not only plunder from, not only get your paycheck from, not only get your needs met from. It’s meant to be the place that you occupy in order to bring transformation on earth as it is in heaven. 

Man: Yeah. 

Julian: “Let your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.” I love this because when we get that, we get to understand that heaven has a boundless and endless supply of resource. And so, the most natural thing…and I love what Jesus does. You’ll see that the first three verses are all God-focused, the next three tablets or verses are about our communal encountering of God. So this is, “Give us our daily bread.” This is the kind of shift that’s happening in response to the goodness of God. And I love this phrase because, again, this is speaking through an eschatological worldview speaking about the end coming. And for us, in the Christian life, we know that the end is not gonna be dire and desperate. The end is not gonna look like the church hiding away in bunkers because the anti-Christ is coming near. “Oh, Lord Jesus, help us.” The end looks glorious. 

I have a happy eschatology. It means I believe in a victorious church, not some weak limp-wristed, impotent church. I believe she will be powerful, strong, and releasing God’s glory all over the earth. It’s gonna be a happy day when Jesus comes back, not because I’m leaving this earth, but because He’s coming to establish His kingdom once and for all. 

And when we think about the end in our biblical understanding, the end always comes with a feast, with celebration. Sheikah bazooka, I love feasting. If you’re one of my friends, you know that my biggest thing to do is to throw a dinner party. Just last week, a week and a half ago, I made fillet steak with pepper sauce and mushroom sauce after it had been soaked in good red wine, olive oil…because that’s holy…and garlic. It wasn’t from Israel, but it still is holy, just so you know. 

And we feasted. And then what we did was, we broke bread together because every time you eat good food…and I just wanna underline good, because there’s some bad food out there. Every time you eat good food, it is a picture of the celebration that is to come. It’s why we need to recover table time in our communities, because having people eat at your table, having people feast on your table is a sign that the kingdom of God is coming. 

Because He speaks of a future event, of a party that will silence every other party in history because this one is gonna go on for eternity. 

Man: Yeah. 

Julian: And I can’t wait for the vintage of wine that’s gonna be flowing on that day because it’s gonna be amazing. But you see, when Jesus says, “Give us today our bread,” that phrase is quite interesting because it has three different meanings. Literally it means, give us the bread that we need today, give us the bread of tomorrow, and make sure that we have enough for today.”

And what Jesus is saying in this context is a little bit more beautiful and profound when you understand it through an eschatological worldview. When you’re understanding through the feast that is to come, He is literally saying, “Give us, today, the bread that doesn’t run out from the table that is to come. In other words, the bread that we’re gonna eat one day at that feast, give us that bread today.”

Friends, I don’t know if you get this, but I’m gonna try and unpack this. It means that every single need that you have today has already been met tomorrow, and you get to eat in that right now. You’re sitting there and you’re trying to make a business deal, and you’re thinking, “Sweet Jesus, this might fail. Give us today the bread of tomorrow. Give us some of the bread that is to come from the table of feasting.”

You see, many of us pray too small a prayer. We pray for what we can get now, when God wants to give us what will come tomorrow, right now. It’s meant to release faith. “Give us a whole lot more, oh Lord Jesus. I need to pray so.”

Now I mean that makes two other things, “Give us today our daily bread.” Bread is always gonna be communal. It means that we cannot eat at this table without giving away to those who have none. 

Let me just go here a little moment. Can I go here? Can I touch on that wonderful keyword that’s called “white privilege?” Don’t worry, I wanna say to you, you’re not called. For those of you who come out of white privilege, to which I have, to some extent, experienced, you don’t need to be guilty about that. The whole point of your privilege is that you get to share what you have with those who don’t have. Don’t feel guilty. I wanna break white guilt of South Africans who are white. Don’t live under white guilt, that’s not what God has called you to live under. 

The point of your favour is that the bread that you eat today, you get to share with community, with people who have none. People get so nervous when I start touching their political power right there. Not only that, eating bread as we get to do at this table speaks of our union with Christ. It is our participation with who He is because He is the bread of life. 

I’ll press on. He goes on to say, “And forgive us our sins as we forgive everyone who’s indebted to us.” This is the kind of term or phrase that is being used in this context. It’s not that forgiveness to us is dependent on if we forgive someone. 

How many of you know you are forgiven? Every sin, past, present, and future is now forgiven. You don’t need to worry about your sin. God is not worried about it. 

I thought I’d get a thunderous applause at that point. 

If you’re like me, I am so aware of who I was before I met Him. That I had nothing to offer Him except my sin. And it’s been a divine exchange that’s happened. I’m gonna try and fast forward this, I know I’ve gone overtime, but please help me. I believe God wants to do something tonight. 

“Forgive us as we forgive those who sinned against us.” It’s kind of, like, “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch your back,” that kind of term or phrase that is being used here. In other words, it’s a given that the natural result of being forgiven is that you forgive others. Because you’ve been treated better than you deserve, you treat others better than they deserve. And for many of us, we do not understand this because we do not understand what it means to really live in the realm of grace. 

You see, grace operates in this way. Grace lifts us up from where we are in sin, and the law of sin is exactly that, legalistic living. It means that what I owe God, I need to repay Him. I don’t know about you, but I could never repay God anything. And this law of legalism, it’s what I do that counts, not who I am. And what Jesus does is He steps into the place of the law and He lives perfectly for you and for me. And He dies a death that we have been caught up in Him so we don’t have to die that death. “We die in Him,” the Bible says. 

He was thinking about you when He was dying on that cross so that all of the ramifications of not obeying the law are completely fulfilled. And what Jesus does is He takes you out of the realm of the law and He lifts you up into the realm of grace. He treats you better than you better than you deserve. 

And the beautiful thing about that is I didn’t have to work at anything here. I’m simply a recipient by faith of the grace that He has given me. The problem is when it comes to forgiveness, forgiveness works in the context of the law. Unforgiveness works in the context of the law. When you hold something against someone and say, “You owe me for that,” what you’re doing is, “I deserve better, and you now owe me.” And you fall from grace into legalism when you say, “You need to give me what you owe me. I deserve that. You should not have done that. I want justice for what you did.”

Problem is, the devil is a legalist. And the way he works to accuse you is not based in the realm of grace. He can only accuse you in the realm of legalism because you rightly deserve punishment in that context. 

And when you hold unforgiveness to someone else, what happens in that moment is the devil goes, “Mm-hmm. I know who you are. I’ve seen you here before, and you know that you’re a sinner, that you’re a dirty, rotten scoundrel, that you deserve punishment.”

And the problem is when you’re holding someone else in unforgiveness, everything that he says about you is true. You see, to fall from grace is not to lose your salvation. To fall from grace is to come back into a place of legalism where the devil can accuse you of everything that you are not, and be right about who you are not. 

And when you live in the realm of forgiveness, choosing to treat people better than they deserve…and I wish I had more time, it’s not letting them off the hook, it’s not saying that what I might have done to you is okay. What you are saying is, “I’m choosing to live in the realm of grace and I will treat you better than you deserve because Jesus has treated me better than I deserve.”

When you hold people in unforgiveness, you will always come under the spread of condemnation and torment because the devil has legal right to shoot at you at that point. 

And here’s the end. It says, “Do not lead us into temptation.” A better rendering of that text is, “Do not lead us into evil.” An even better rendering of that text is, “Lead us away from evil.” That’s literally what that verse is saying. 

I wanna ask you. How many of you believe God, that your sins are forgiven? In the same way, you can believe God for Him to lead you away from trials and from the evil one. The same amount of faith that it takes for you to believe God, that your sins are forgiven, is the same amount of faith that is needed to say, “God, lead me away.” 

It requires that we follow Him. And when you follow Him, it’s not that your life is absent of warfare. It’s that you…warfare is refrained through the context of, “Even though I walk through the valley of death, I know He’s with me because He’s leading me away from the very thing that is trying to consume me.”

Spiritual warfare, sometimes, doesn’t look very pretty, it doesn’t look like shocking with the devil. Sometimes, spiritual warfare looks like saying, “God, lead me out of this. I trust in You. Show me the way to go.” And He begins to show you the way to go so that you begin to walk with confidence. And sometimes, you don’t even feel like walking, so you stand. 

Graham Cooke makes this great example. How many of you know that the devil does not have the Holy Spirit? Which means the fruit of the Spirit doesn’t grow in him. Which means he doesn’t have patience. And sometimes, the devil wants to play chicken with you and he wants to see if you will move first. 

But wouldn’t it be cool to mess with his mind a little bit? Because you have the Spirit of God in you, which means you’ve got endless patience, which means you can stand when the enemy is running straight at you. And having done all, the Bible says, “Stand.” And so sometimes, spiritual warfare looks like standing and the enemy is coming right at you. And instead of moving out of the way, you stand so that he has to move out of the way. 

You see, Christians, sometimes miss their moment of upgrade in the Spirit because of impatience. And that’s the only place the devil can get you at. If you can learn to be patient in the purposes of God, to trust Him in the process, and sometimes, when you can’t see the end, just keep standing because you know He’s a good Abba, working for your freedom, working for your Exodus moment. 

If you can just stand and out-patience the devil, you’ll get your victory. 

Man: Amen. 

Julian: The last point that Jesus makes in this whole discourse in prayer is a very simple one. If you are evil, now, how do you give good gifts to your sons and daughters? How much more will the Father give you the Holy Spirit? 

I wanna say to you, He is not holding out on you in the midst of your trial. He is not withholding anything from you in the midst of your trial. You see, when Jesus prays this prayer, He’s inviting us to understand how He perceives the Father, how He understands the Father. He invites you into the most private place and He says, “This is what the Father is like. He guides you away from the attack, not into the attack.”

And the key is simply asking the Holy Spirit to come.

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Julian is a Director at Frequentsee, and author of The Kiss of the Father. He is passionate about bringing people into an authentic encounter with the Holy Spirit. He resides in Durban, South Africa, with his wife, Katia, and two children.