Father, we come before you now on bended knee, hoping to honor you with our integrity. Please make our judgement as sound as steel and be our hands upon the wheel. Give us strength and vigilance on our routes and help us to serve others, as You did, Lord, without any doubts. Remind us to be gentle, humble and kind, and help us when we stumble in body and mind. Please shelter our families whilst we are away and bring us safely back to them at the end of this day.

Child of the King

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Just a moment of self-confession, I do my own laundry. Have you ever been in a rush and grabbed something out of the dryer that wasn’t quite dry? Yesterday, y’all did not know this, but my jeans were still a little damp. 

The thing about damp jeans is that they were clean and dry mostly, but you put them on and you cringe. And 30 minutes later you shift or you’re walking around the corner and there’s that reminder again. And it’s something that carries with you for a good portion of the day. Y’all didn’t know it, but it was something that kept catching my attention in a very noticeable way. 

Why am I talking to you about wet jeans? Well, because sometimes we get around something and it’s right there, right around the corner, then we get that notification that there’s something I maybe should have paid attention to a little bit more.

So this morning I want to talk to you about changing your perspective, about being aware that there must be something really close that you may not have noticed as much before. 

Now, a quick question: if I say the Lord’s prayer, how many of y’all know what I am talking about? Most of us have encountered the Lord’s prayer in one degree or another depending on how you were raised, churches you visited. Depending on the places you go they’re recited over and over again.

The Lord’s prayer is one of those things that we actually find in a bigger piece of the Bible that we call the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus is teaching the disciples all kinds of things, giving them a fresh perspective.

In Matthew Chapter 6 Jesus says “When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites because they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by people. I assure you they have their reward. When you pray, don’t babble like the idolaters since they imagine they will be heard for their many words. Don’t be like them, because your father knows what you need before you ask him.” 

Then he says, “When you pray, pray like this,” and he begins the very familiar “Our father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”

Now I have heard lots of messages preached about the Lord’s prayer, and the elements of it. But this week I was listening and it was one of those damp jeans, catch-your-attention moments where the guy I was listening to, named Tim Keller – he passed away last year but he has all kinds of books and messages and videos. Very powerful preacher – he zeroed in on just the first two words of that prayer: Our Father.

He says there are two kinds of people that Jesus said don’t be like. We are talking about pagans who had never prayed in their lives. We are talking about people who have no concept of God. People who, as part of their normal day to day stuff, pray. 

But he said, If you are praying in front of people so that you’ll be noticed, you’re doing it wrong. He said if you’re praying and just babbling, hoping that somehow – and y’all probably never did this in high school, but when you have that 500 word essay and you get to word 300, then you’re just adding adjectives: the extremely, very windy, sunny day… – some people approach prayer that way as well. If I can get to my word count, then God is going to hear.

The thing that caught my attention was just two words: Our Father. We normally rush past that. 

But Tim Keller says that’s the basis of our prayer. And he gave this example and it is worth digging into and listening to the broader message.

He said, if you live in a house, you could be a tenant. You could have the landlord, and everything you do like paying rent, your relationship with the owner of the house is that of a business transaction. So when the landlord comes and he makes sure that the roof doesn’t leak, you think of course. He did that because I’m paying rent. That’s a business transaction. 

On the other end of the spectrum, though, people live in a house because they are part of a family. Now the child of the house may not understand why the father does what he does. But there’s no rent to be paid, and if you are living in the house you are there not because of something you have done, but because of how you are related to the owner.

And that is the thing that caught my attention because I have treated prayer like a business transaction. “God I’m here, I have done these things, I have attended these services, I have read these pages, therefore I expect you to do for me what I am wanting you to do.”

And if you approach prayer like that, you are going to be disappointed. You are always going to be stressed because you can never be good enough to make God do what you want him to do. God’s a little too big to fit in that box. 

But, if you change your perspective and approach God as a child, if you remember that as Jesus taught his disciples to pray, to say “Our Father,” It’s not just getting the words in; it’s recognizing the relationship that God wants to draw us into. It completely changes your outlook on prayer.

I want to finish with this quote that he said because it caught my attention. Because a lot of the time when you ask someone to pray, they doubt themselves and think, am I going to do this right? Who’s judging me? All the things.

But Dr. Keller says, “What would be impertinent, what would be rude, and what would be shameless and overly aggressive in anybody else is natural, normal, and acceptable behavior for a little child towards his parents.” 

Have you noticed that? When you’ve got a little kid, they don’t pay attention to the rules. When they see mom or dad, what do they want? Attention. 

They don’t always follow the protocols, but that’s the reason. You can’t just walk up and be rude, but if it’s the child…

And he says: “Nobody can wake the King up at 3 in the morning because he wants a drink, except for the child of the King.”

I hope that you pray like a little child that recognizes that he can ask his father for anything, and will continue to draw close to him. My hope and prayer is that these little reminders will help you recognize that God is not standoffish. He wants very much for you to be walking side by side with him.

Remember, we are J Bar. We are blessed beyond measure. We love, we are thankful beyond measure. We serve, and become the leaders God wants us to be.

Savanna Gregg
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