Lifting: Prayer and Worship
Prayer and Worship are like lifting in the gym. They are the disciplines of moving beyond just our own world, and our fixes, and our own ways of trying to figure everything out…and LIFTING our lives up to God!
Good morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
Happy Palm Sunday to you. I gotta tell you, I am beyond pumped for this week at Renovation Church.
It’s always one of my favorite weeks of the year, but I honestly can’t remember being this excited about Easter Week before.
We’re doing two services for the first time ever on Easter, which is amazing.
And, our Good Friday service is going to be unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before. Seriously.
The only thing I can tell you about it is: that kids under 6th grade aren’t allowed in the service.
Which oughta tell you something.
WHAT IS PRAYER
This last month has been an important turning point in the life of our church, and I’ve got some incredibly important things to tell you regarding Easter and our vision as a church at the end of this message, but with start with continuing our God’s Gym series.
If you haven’t been here in a while or you’re visiting for the first time today, our God’s Gym series is based on the fact that God tells us to train ourselves for Godliness. Check this out…
(1 Timothy 4:7-8) – NIV
7 Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. 8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.
So, we want to TRAIN ourselves to be GODLY. To become more like Jesus.
So, what we’re covering in this series are different ways, different methods, or different practices that you can do to help you become more like Jesus.
We are now three weeks in. Our first week we talked about how to better read the Bible. Last week, we talked about the importance of solitude and silence for when we meet with God.
And this week, I promised that we could get a little bit more into prayer, and also into worship.
Which, in God’s Gym: Is lifting. It’s the discipline of moving beyond just our own world, and our fixes, and our own ways of trying to figure everything out…and LIFTING stuff up to Him!
Prayer can sometimes sound intimidating, but at its core, it’s just basically a conversation with God.
And the Bible really calls us to it in different ways.
On the one hand our goal is as 1 Thessalonians 5 calls us to… “to pray continually.” To constantly practice the presence of God no matter what we’re doing.
But on the one hand, it’s to find actual dedicated time like we talked about last week to get away each day in solitude and have a set time to have a conversation with God.
Look at Jesus’ instructions for prayer in Matthew
(Matthew 6: 5-8) – NIV
5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
I love those words from Jesus.
Just simple instructions on a simple conversation with God.
You don’t have to stand in front of the masses and pray elegant and flowing prayers (Dear GAWD, Your Righteous and ever-lasting devotion…)
And you don’t have to just babble on or use mindless repetition either.
Just speak your heart. Speak from your heart.
And prayer is connected to the heart.
For instance, if I’m ever away from my wife for a couple of days, she expects me to call her each day. And why does she expect that? And why do I do it?
It’s not because “I should” or “that’s the expectation”
I do it because I love her. & I miss her. And I want to talk to her
And in a way, it should look similar with God. He expects us to talk. And we should want it from our heart.
But realize that it takes time.
And emotion comes.
It might start as more a discipline though. Something you know you WANT to do.
Real relationships are like that.
You know what we call people who go on a first date with someone and the very next time they talk to their date their emotions are pouring out all over the conversation?
We call them crazy.
If you’re just starting to talk to God…the emotional connection will come.
I wasn’t head over heels in love with my wife the first time we talked.
Now, I thought she was great, or as a 17 year old, unbeliever, I probably just thought, “She’s hot” or something like that.
But our relationship grew.. Over time.
And you know what else got better? Our conversation?
Seriously, when I get to heaven, I want to go back and watch the video of what Lindsey and I talked about on those first few dates.
So….So….What do you want to do?.... I don’t know….Hm….what do you want to do?....I don’t know….Do you want to watch NSYNC on TRL or something???
I mean, conversation is hard. And it’s hard for almost anyone when you get started.
And, unfortunately, I think too many Christians get too down on themselves because they don’t have this incredible earth-shattering conversation with God when they try to get more serious about prayer.
It’s a discipline. It takes time.
HOW DO I PRAY
Timeout for a moment:
I think it’s really easy in every one of these “God’s Gym” messages to say to yourself, “I know that already.”
This is not earth-shattering stuff. Read your Bible, talk to God.
But don’t start letting yourself off the hook, unless you’re saying, “I do that already.” “And I do that a lot.”
Deal? It’s REALLY easy to confuse those things.
Back to prayer. Prayer is SO much more than just turning God into a cosmic vending machine.
“I would like this, make this happen, help grandma feel better, give me a job, heal my leg, goodbye.”
John Piper wrote once that “Prayer is a walkie-talkie for warfare, not a domestic intercom for increasing our conveniences.”
One of our main purposes in prayer is to re-center us on our mission here on earth. To give God the glory and to help Him seek and save the lost.
Prayer is rather pointless if all we are using it for are to increase the health and conveniences of our short life here on earth.
This life is just a blink of an eye.
Think BIG with your prayer life. Think ETERNALLY with your prayer life. We have to think beyond just ourselves.
One of the best ways you can do that is to have some sort of format to your prayer life.
Especially if you’re just starting out.
This makes sense if you think about it.
When I go out to eat with my wife every Friday night, I don’t print off an agenda of what to talk about.
“Hello Lindsey, #1, tell me about your day at work. #2: What particular hobbies are you enjoying right now?”
But when I go into a lunch meeting, when I’m meeting someone for the first time, (and I might be nerdier than 90% of the people in this room), but I’ve got a list in my head of 6 or 7 things I want to talk to them about), so I can keep the conversation going.
And it’s okay to do that when you start out talking to God.
One of my favorite methods to recommend is the ACTS method:
(PUT “ACTS” SCREEN UP)
This is just a simple acronym to help us remember some key things in prayer.
It starts with Adoration. Taking time to just praise God for who He is.
Moves to Confession. Taking time to confess our sins to God. AND ask for forgiveness.
Then to Thanksgiving. We too often forget to thank him.
And then Supplication: Asking him for stuff.
I sometimes modify this method, the ACTSL method, and added L for listening.
Now, this is just a method. Just an option. But what I like about it, and the reason I still use it myself once in a while is that it forces me to get out of the mode where I’m just constantly focused on my own stuff.
So try this maybe. It’s a good starting point. Or, if you feel stuck in your prayer life, give this a shot.
In a way, prayer is like a foreign language. It’s best learned when we actually talk it out.
So start talking it out. In your house groups, volunteer to pray, talk it out.
AND Find a time in your daily life where you are setting aside time to talk with God. Every single day.
And I really do mean find a time. Make this a discipline. I think WAY too many long-time Christians say they have a prayer-life, but they really don’t. All it is a sentence prayer here, a sentence prayer there, and a meal time prayer.
That’s not a prayer-life. A prayer-life is a relationship! If that was all the time I gave my wife, we wouldn’t have much of a relationship.
Set a time every day. A consistent time. Use a timer if you have to.
I do this. I don’t sit still well. I’ll be praying, a thought will come to me, and I think, “Ah ha! I should go accomplish.” NOOO. I need to keep praying.
So when are you going to do it? What works for you? Can you start today? Tomorrow? Start w/ 5 min. Then try 10.
THE REALITIES OF DISCIPLINE
And in order to do that, it takes some sort of dedication. Devotion.
But yet, that’s what the Bible calls us to
(Colossians 4:2) – NIV
2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
But let me point something about devotion to a discipline. And this is SO obvious in the real world, but sometimes not as much in God’s Gym.
If you were lifting in real life, how many of you would expect to go to the gym once and immediately have massive biceps?
We’re willing to wait. We understand what I would call “The Delay of Discipline.”
That the results of a discipline take time. We don’t often reap the fruit of a discipline until after we’ve done it for a while.
One place that I always notice people get this is in golf.
Which I personally hate. I just can’t think of a worse sport. J
The only thing worse than golf is golf on TV.
“But think about how people who actually like golf are willing to work in disciplining themselves to improve their golf score. People get really into this with Golf.”
They spend time practicing at the driving range.
They get there early to refine their putting skills.
They INVEST Money to get better equipment, invest money on getting lessons, getting magazines, watching films, they film their golf swing to better learn how to improve it, or some even going to golf school for a week.
And throughout all of this, there is a common understanding that the results…improvement…a better knowledge of what clubs to use… a better swing…thus a better score... That ALL of these things will take time.
Same thing in God’s Gym. It takes time.
But the reward. The reward of better knowing God, the reward of having Him move in your life, the reward of Him using you to do BIG things. The reward…is amazing
Because here’s the reality: If you’re a Christian, God has deposited something amazing in you. His Holy Spirit. And that’s quite the amazing power He put within you.
I’m a huge fan of the NBA, which unlike golf, is a real sport.
And every once in a while, you’ll see a basketball player who analysts say has unbelievable athletic talent but no discipline to get better.
And often they never pan out professionally because although they had the talent within them, they never figured out how to use it.
And that’s kind of like us. What an incredible deposit we have in us. GOD LIVES IN US. WHOA!
But the question is: Will you let him do great things through you? Will you take the time to learn how to discipline yourself to rely on the power of God in you or will you continue to rely on the auto-pilot of yourself? Because it’s easier?
What are you gonna do? What will you work for? What are you training for???
I think one of the best parts of prayer is actually taking time to worship him in prayer.
Now, I know when I say worship, that’s a broad word. And the best way we can worship Him is with our lives.
But I want to talk specifically this morning for a few minutes about the discipline of worship…through prayer…and often through music.
Because it’s one of the most frequent disciplines you do. Most of you do it every single week. It’s half of our service.
And when we come to worship Him, we do it to tell Him he’s worthy…to give Him glory. To give him the credit. The praise.
And our heart is to do it out of a pure heart. Not just because we should.
When it’s my anniversary this summer, (7 years), if I give flowers to Lindsey, and she says, “Thanks.” And I say, “Well, it’s my duty to give you flowers.”
How do you think she will respond?
It’s not just our duty to respond to God in worship. It has to come from our heart. It has to be more than mindless lipsyncing.
Tell me He’s worth more than mindless lipsyncing!
But on the flip side, it’s still worth doing even when you’re heart isn’t gushing with praise.
That’s what keeps relationships together. A willingness to put in the work even in the dry times.
I read this quote about worship from AW Tozer this week, and I about fell over after I read it. Check this out:
(Put on screen)
“If you will not worship God seven days a week, you do not truly worship him on one day a week”
Whoa. There’s some truth to that.
Here’s the deal: We can’t expect worship to flow through our lips on Sunday if we keep it locked away in our hearts the rest of the week.
And WORSHIP, and we often don’t think of it this way, is a spiritual discipline we can do throughout the week.
God calls us to this constant sort of delight in Him
(Psalm 37:4) – NIV
4 Delight yourself in the LORD
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
And this is a type of LIFTING, a type of prayer we can bring up to Him that is sort of different for most of us, but I gotta tell you, it’s incredible.
It’s one of my favorite things to do.
Let me explain. I’m not the greatest singer. I’m not miserable, but I’m not good.
But I like to really worship Him. I like to sing out. And when I’m home, by myself, I never have to worry about distracting the person next to me. I never have to worry about weirding someone out here.
NOW, I’m trying to get to that here. I want to worship Him with so much unashamed passion, that I could say like David, I will be EVEN more UNDIGNIFIED than this.
But I’m not there. I’m getting there.
And my worship at home or in the car is a great place to start.
And honestly, I feel like when I put on worship music on my iPod and start worshipping by myself, that God meets me in a way unlike almost any other spiritual discipline.
And I want to challenge you to try out this discipline this week.
We’ve been challenging you to try all sorts of new ways to connect with God, and this is yet another incredible way to encounter Him.
Last week, I challenged you to not listen to the radio in your car for a week. To spend the time in silence. And we had a lot of people do it. And I think a lot of us learned a lot from it.
THIS WEEK, if I could challenge you to something different in your car. I want you to take the entire week (or again if you have a megalong commute, start with 15 minutes and add 5 each day), but I want you to only listen to worship music in the car. And just spend your time worshipping God.
Sing out. Scream out. It doesn’t matter. Raise your hand. It’s like mass witnessing on the go.
But try this. For some of you this is really new. But again, I think you are going to really encounter God if you do this.
If you don’t own any worship music, buy some. Invest in this. Most of us buy plenty of other music.
If you don’t know what to buy, I’m going to have Zach put up a list of a bunch of the songs we do here on our facebook page on Monday, so check that out.
Or you can always listen to the radio. In fact, 95.3, Praise FM only plays worship music.
But give it a try.
And if I can, I would challenge you to start combining some of these disciplines. Don’t just do one and then forget about it.
I was reading in my running magazine this week, and they were talking about the advantage of combining workouts.
It was this article that suggested doing a long run, but at the halfway point, to start doing lunges, and them resume running again because it would teach your body to deal with muscle fatigue better on race day.
Now, just to keep the record straight, I am never, ever, going to be running on the streets of Blaine, STOP, do lunges for a block, and begin running again.
HOWEVER, I get what they’re saying. The combination makes sense.
And it does spiritually too. Start combining some of these. Some of the best ways to combine are to read the Bible, and then PRAY.
Pray some about what God has taught you. And then, once in a while maybe even turn on a worship song and finish with worship.
It’s a full spiritual workout. In God’s gym.
And Check this out: When we lift up prayers, God answers them. Listen…walk this out. It’s happening. We’re just not trying it enough with enough things.
God’s teaching me this over and over lately.
Jus this week, I felt like He was calling me to challenge a particular pastor I had met to take a leap of faith and plant a church.
He just kept putting it on my heart. Then, on Thursday, I was telling a different pastor about this at a lunch meeting, and he looked at me with wide eyes and said, “That guy you’re talking about is here right now!”
And he was “randomly” (or not randomly) in the same restaurant with me…by the way in a town that neither of us live next to
God answers prayers. He is moving. God can do great things.
CHANGE THE WORLD PACKETS
One of the things we’ve been praying specifically about a lot is for people to come to know Jesus at our church.
That’s different than what we normally do as Christians. Normally we just kind of in the back of our minds “hoping” our friends would know Jesus. But there’s a difference between hoping and specifically praying.
A big difference.
And God tells us to expect big things when we pray. If we are lining up with his will, to expect He will answer:
(Matthew 7:7-8)- NIV
7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
And honestly, God has been answering a lot of prayers in this church lately. He’s been doing big things.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, by we’ve grown by 50 people in just 4 months. Which is incredible.
And as we’ve been talking about, God is moving. It’s just a matter if we can continue to reach out and grab onto Him moving with this vision.
We talked about this a few weeks ago: A God sized vision is intimidating. If your vision for your life isn’t intimidating, it’s probably not a vision that relies on God.
And that’s our vision for this church. That we would NOT just get comfortable with ourselves and say we’ve got a nice little thing going here, but that we would trust in God to radically get in and renovate our friends and family’s lives that don’t know Jesus Christ.
That He would use us, people like us, to turn this city from the easiest city to get Lost in to the easiest city to get Found in.
But that takes two big things. Prayer and Action.
And we’ve been talking and praying about it for a while now, and it’s time to act.
Jesus told his disciples…
(John 4:34-35) – NLT
34 Then Jesus explained: “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work. 35 You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest.
And the fields are ripe. The harvest is ready now. We just gotta get out in the fields!
There are so many people in this surrounding area who are looking for God, but just aren’t sure yet how to find Him.
And that mission is ours. To help introduce people to Jesus.
It’s the vision of our church: To be a people being changed by God to change the world.
And that’s what we discipline ourselves to pray for:
TO be CHANGED to CHANGE!
And now we have an opportunity in front of us. In the past year, God has really positioned this church to start making a dynamic impact in this city.
And this upcoming weekend is an incredible opportunity for you, the church, because YOU are the church. You are the hands and feet of Christ. The hands and feet of our vision. Being changed to change.
This next weekend is Easter Sunday. There is no other Sunday of the year where people are more willing to try church. It’s an incredible opportunity.
An Incredible opportunity for your friend, your co-worker, your neighbor, your family member…to come hear about starting a relationship with Jesus Christ.
And it’s an opportunity that I think you have to take advantage of. It’s why we’re here. If you were planning on going to church with mom & dad (if you’re in Iowa, you’re in Iowa) in the town next door, just tell them you’ve got a friend that you need to have come hear about Jesus at Renovation, so you can bring them back to your church the next week.
Because Easter is after all about Jesus, is it not?
As many of you already know, we are going to 2 services on Easter. We did this, a) Cuz we felt like God was calling us to trust BIG in Him AND b) So we could provide even more options for your friends and family to come hear about Jesus.
And now I’ll add a c) We just found out last week anyway, that since we’ve grown so much, we wouldn’t have had enough chairs anyway to do 1 service.
But we want to help you bring your friends & family here to find out about Jesus
“And because we believe that that happening is SO important (it’s why we exist as a church),” we want to help you in every possible way that we can to make that happen.
If you look under your chair right now, you are going to find a packet.
Do me a favor and leave that white card underneath there for now
Go ahead and open this packet up. In here, you are going to find ways to “help you put action steps to where your heart is”
In here you are going to find a note with tons of ideas of how you can make this happen this week.
You are going to find 5 invite cards for you to hand out.
By the way, these are worthless to you 8 days from now. They say Easter on them. J And we’re going back to a 10am service the following week.
And you’re also going to find 2 postcards in there.
How many of you can think of 2 people that you would want to come to this church and hear about Jesus? Think about it……………… Who’s God putting on your heart?
And if He’s putting someone on your heart right now, I would listen to that. Why he’s putting them on your heart? I would even grab that pen under your chair and write their names on your postcards.
You can not only address these to people, but write a note on there as well, and just put a stamp over the non-profit box, send it out, and pray like crazy.
And if you’re struggling to think of people, that is your number one goal in the discipline of prayer this week.
This is our mission on earth. That God would use us to be changed….not just for ourselves…but to change. To change this world.
Would you join me right now in prayer that God would do something absolutely mind-blowingly big in the lives of our friends and family?
You can have a seat.
I know I normally don’t come back up here at the end of the service, but this is a special week for us, and I wanted to do something a little special.
When I went to church as a kid, at the end of every service the pastor would get up again and do what was called a Benediction.
He would say something like, “NOW, as you go out into the world, may the Lord bless you and keep you…” and so on..
And I wanted to do that this week. To commission you to go out and live out your mission of being changed by God to change the world.
Can we do that? In fact, let’s stand as one…as we are indeed trying to be a PEOPLE being changed to change.
Let me pray.
God, we pray that as we leave this place today that you empower us to bring light into the darkness. That you would enable us to speak boldly.
God, we pray that you would exchange our worries and our fears for boldness and for courage.
God, use us in a way we’ve never experienced before, and allow us to be a part of lives being changed for eternity.
May God be with you.
See you on Friday.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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