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PRAYER & INTERCESSION - a teaching series

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An eight session teaching series on prayer, with teaching-pastor John C Douglas at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Tauranga, New Zealand in 2006.

An eight session teaching series on prayer, with teaching-pastor John C Douglas at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Tauranga, New Zealand in 2006.

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  • Opening slide for the series
  •     Richard Foster  "Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home"   Program #3722 First air date March 20, 1994       Biography Dr. Richard Foster is a writer, teacher, and church renewal expert. Well-known for his best-selling book, Celebration of Discipline, Richard's several books on spiritual development have become modern-day devotional classics. He's a three-time winner of the prestigious Gold Medallion Book Award, and his work has been translated into many languages throughout the world. Dr. Foster is Professor of Spiritual Formation at Azusa Pacific University in California. He was the founder of Renovaré, an organization whose mission is to nurture Christian spirituality in contemporary culture. He is also a minister in the Quaker church and lives in Colorado. [Biographical information is correct as of the broadcast date noted above.] "Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home" Leo Tolstoy tells the story of three hermits who lived on an island. Their prayer of intimacy and love was simple, like they were simple. Here is how they prayed: "We are three; you are three; have mercy on us. Amen." Miracles sometimes happened when they prayed in this way. But the bishop heard about these hermits and decided that they needed guidance in proper prayer, and so he went to their small island. After instructing them at length on the intricacies of true prayer, the bishop set sail for the mainland, pleased to have enlightened the souls of such simple folk. Suddenly, off the stern of the ship he saw a huge ball of light skimming across the ocean. It got closer and closer until, astonished, he realized that it was these three hermits running on top of the water. They climbed on board the ship and said, "Please honored bishop, we are so sorry, but we have forgotten some of your teaching. Would you please instruct us again?" Wisely the bishop shook his head and answered simply, "Forget everything I have taught you and continue to pray in your old way." This story reminds us, doesn't it, of the wondrous simplicity of prayer. Do you know why God answers prayer? It is because his children ask. It is as simple as that. You see we often make prayer far too complicated. In the summer of 1990 I was working on a book about prayer. Of course, it wasn't a book then, only jumbled ideas in my head and a thousand notes scrawled on scraps of paper and napkins and anything else I could find. For that summer the university library where I was teaching at the time had given me an entire room just for my research materials. They also had given me a special key so I could go there any time, day or night. Over the months I had been through about 300 books in the field of prayer -- classical books, contemporary books, books, books, books. My head was swimming with all the debates about prayer, all the definitions of prayer, all the divisions over prayer. I had read everything I could lay my hands on about -- Formation Prayer, Covenant Prayer, Adoration Prayer, Sacramental Prayer, Centering Prayer, Meditative Prayer, Intercessory Prayer, Healing Prayer, Authoritative Prayer, and so much more. At one point I had identified fully 41 distinct kinds of prayer in the writings of the Devotional Masters. I had learned absolutely every jot and tittle about lectio, oratio, silencio, contemplatio, meditatio. I had studied every nook and cranny of the purgative, illuminative, unitive, stages of prayer. I had gotten lost in Teresa of Avila's Interior Castle so many times that I didn't know what room was what. And I'll never forget that night in July, 1990. There I was in the library, all alone. Everyone had left hours ago. It was late. I had read too much -- studied too much -- I was experiencing overload. How in one book could anyone deal with all the difficulties of prayer and all the intricacies of prayer? There was no way! I threw up my hands, ready to abandon the project. "Forget it," I said. "The issues are too complicated, the task is too difficult. I just won't write the book!" And then something happened that is difficult for me to explain to you, even today. The only way I know to say it is that I saw something, and what I saw was the heart of God and the heart of God was an open wound of love . And then, as best I can discern it, I heard the voice of the true Shepherd -- not outwardly but inwardly -- saying, "I do not want you to abandon the project." "Instead, I want you to tell my children that my heart is broken. Tell them that I am hurt at their distance and preoccupation. Tell them I mourn that they do not draw near to me. Tell them I grieve that they have forgotten me. Tell them I weep over their obsession with muchness and manyness. Tell them, tell my children that I long for their presence." And so I am telling you. I am telling you that God is inviting you -- God is inviting me -- to come home; to come home to where we belong; to come home to that for which we were created. His arms are stretched out wide to receive us. His heart is enlarged to take us in. For too long we have been in a far country -- a country of noise and hurry and crowds; a country of climb and push and shove; a country of frustration and fear and intimidation. And he welcomes us home -- home to serenity and peace and joy; home to friendship and fellowship and openness; home to intimacy and acceptance and affirmation. And we don't need to be shy. He invites us into the living room of his heart where we can put on old slippers and share freely. He invites us into the kitchen of his friendship where chatter and batter mix in good fun. He invites us into the dining room of his strength where we can feast to our heart's delight. He invites us into the study of his wisdom where we can learn and grow and stretch and ask all the questions we want. He invites us into the workshop of his creativity where we can be co-laborers with him, working together to determine the outcome of events. And he invites us into the bedroom of his rest where new peace is found, and where we can be naked and vulnerable and free. It is also the place of deepest intimacy where we know and are known to the fullest. The key into this home, which is the heart of God, is prayer. Perhaps you have never prayed before except in anguish or terror. It may be that the only time the divine name has been on your lips is in angry expletives. Never mind. I am here to tell you that the Father's heart is open wide to you --you are welcome to come in. Perhaps you do not believe in prayer. You tried to pray before and were profoundly disappointed ... and disillusioned. You have little faith, or none. It does not matter. The Father's heart is open wide to you -- you are welcome to come in. Perhaps you are bruised and broken by the pressures of life. Others have sinned against you and you feel scarred for life. You have old painful memories that have never been healed. You avoid prayer because you feel too distant, too unworthy, too defiled. Don't despair. The Father's heart is open wide to you -- you are welcome to come in. Perhaps you have prayed for many years but the words have grown brittle and cold. Little ever seems to happen anymore. God seems remote and inaccessible. Listen to me. The Father's heart is open wide to you -- you are welcome to come in. Perhaps prayer is the delight of your life. You have lived in God's love for a long time and can attest to his goodness. But you long for more. More power, more love, more reality in your life. Believe me. The Father's heart is open wide to you -- you too are welcome to come higher up and deeper in. If the key is prayer, the door is Jesus Christ. Isn't it good of God to provide us a way into the Father's house? God knows that we are stiff-necked, hard-hearted, far-off. And so he has provided a means of entrance -- Jesus, the Christ, lived, died, and rose from the grave that we might live through him. This is wonderfully good news. No longer do we have to stand outside barred from nearness to God by our sin and rebellion. We may now enter through the door of God's grace and mercy in Jesus Christ. Listen to me, Jesus receives you just as you are, and he receives your prayers just as they are. Just like a small child cannot draw a bad picture, a child of God cannot utter a bad prayer. As I close let me tell you about my friend Lyman James. Lyman is a radio disk jockey. One of the best. He's known on the radio as "Rymin' Lyman." He's also the father of three lovely children, and one day he was spending the afternoon in a shopping mall with his three-year-old son Zackery. But it was just one of those days and Zackery was in a particularly cantankerous mood, fussing and fuming. Lyman tried everything to quiet his son. Nothing seemed to help. Zackery simply would not obey. Then, I guess under some special inspiration, Lyman scooped up his son, and, holding him close to his chest, he began singing an impromptu love song to him. He just made it up. None of the words rhymed. He sang off-key. And yet, as best he could this father began sharing his heart with his son. "I love you, Zackery" he sang. "I'm so glad you're my boy. You make me happy. I like the way you laugh." Things like that. Zackery began to calm down. On they went from one store to the next. Quietly Lyman kept singing, making up words that didn't rhyme and were sung off-key. And Zackery laid his head on his father's shoulder, listening to this strange and wonderful song. Finally they finished shopping and went to the car. As Lyman opened the door and prepared to buckle his son into the car seat, Zackery lifted up his head and said simply, "Sing it to me again Daddy! Sing it to me again!" You see, prayer is a little like that. With simplicity of heart we allow ourselves to be gathered up into the arms of the Abba of Jesus and let him sing his love song over us.          Pray with me, will you?          Today, O Lord, we accept your acceptance of us.          We confess that you are always with us and always for us.          We receive into our hearts your grace, your mercy, your care.          We rest in your love, dear God, we rest in your love.          Amen . Interview with Richard Foster Interviewed by Orley Herron Orley Herron: Richard, as you were speaking and then as you prayed, I was reminded of when I was in a car with one of my friends years ago. We were discussing spiritual issues and he said, "Orley, let's pray about that." I thought we were going to pray about that down the road, or pull over to the curb, but he proceeded to pray while we were driving, and I was a little nervous about that. His eyes were open -- I wanted his eyes to be open! I noticed as you concluded that prayer, you prayed with your eyes open. Jesus was asked, "Teach us to pray." Richard, for all of us who want to pray in a more effective way, teach us today the steps of praying. Richard Foster: You know, your story is so wonderful because the first thing we learn about prayer is that we must begin right where we are, in the jobs that we have, in the families that we are in, with our neighbors or friends or work associates. We make such a mystery out of this business of the will of God. The surest sign that it is God's will to be where we are is that we are there. We want to throw that away and we want to say, "Oh, God can't bless me where I am. I can't pray where I am. I have to graduate. I have to be the President of this company." But you see, the only place God can bless us is right where we are because that is the only place we are. We start with our children or our spouses or roommates or friends or neighbors and begin to simply visit with God and interact with God in a kind of interactive communication about the things that concern us. People will sometimes ask me, "What do I pray about?" And I say, "What are you worried about?" "Oh, we can't get a baby sitter." We learn to pray for daily baby sitters or whatever it is in our lives. We begin by what is often called simple prayer. We just share with God and listen to God about the kinds of things that we are concerned about. We try not to worry about whether we have our motives straight or not. God will clear that up as we move along. We just let God know what is on our hearts. You know the old play and movie, "Fiddler on the Roof?" Herron: Yes. Foster: Tevye would just talk with God. That is simple prayer. That is the simplest way to begin, just right where we are, with the concerns that we have, share what is on our heart, and then be open to listen to God's speech in his wondrous, terrible, loving, all-embracing silence. Herron: That is wonderful, Richard. Let me ask another question. What about people who say if you pray, God will answer your prayer. How do we know when God answers? Foster: That is such a good question because it is this feeling that somehow I have got to have everything right, or I have got to ask in a certain way, or cock my head a certain way. We just share who we are and what we are. Then we listen in an interactive way, because many times God answers in ways completely different than we could have imagined. Sometimes, you see, God says, "Why yes, I would love to give you that. I thought you would never ask." Sometimes God says, "Oh, I love you too much to give you that." Sometimes God's refusals are the truest answer to our deepest prayers. Herron: Can we feel the prayers of people praying for us? Foster: You know, I think that we can. There are times when a kind of sense of perhaps the shalom of God, the peace of God, comes in a particular context or situation. We realize we are being surrounded by other people who have held us up into the arms of God, not always, but there is a sense in which prayer is almost a tangible kind of thing, invisible but intangible, in that it can be almost like a gentle pressure, a sort of baptism of love that we experience. Herron: What do you want people to pray about for you? Foster: That I might learn to live in an environment of the Holy Spirit, that I might learn to live and walk with God. As they said of Moses, "He was the friend of God." There is a wonderful writer called Jean-Pierre de Caussade and he said, "The soul light as a feather, fluid as water, innocent as a child, responds to every movement of grace like a floating balloon." I would like to learn to live that way. Herron: So would I. Thank you, Richard.
  • Opening slide for the series
  •     Richard Foster  "Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home"   Program #3722 First air date March 20, 1994       Biography Dr. Richard Foster is a writer, teacher, and church renewal expert. Well-known for his best-selling book, Celebration of Discipline, Richard's several books on spiritual development have become modern-day devotional classics. He's a three-time winner of the prestigious Gold Medallion Book Award, and his work has been translated into many languages throughout the world. Dr. Foster is Professor of Spiritual Formation at Azusa Pacific University in California. He was the founder of Renovaré, an organization whose mission is to nurture Christian spirituality in contemporary culture. He is also a minister in the Quaker church and lives in Colorado. [Biographical information is correct as of the broadcast date noted above.] "Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home" Leo Tolstoy tells the story of three hermits who lived on an island. Their prayer of intimacy and love was simple, like they were simple. Here is how they prayed: "We are three; you are three; have mercy on us. Amen." Miracles sometimes happened when they prayed in this way. But the bishop heard about these hermits and decided that they needed guidance in proper prayer, and so he went to their small island. After instructing them at length on the intricacies of true prayer, the bishop set sail for the mainland, pleased to have enlightened the souls of such simple folk. Suddenly, off the stern of the ship he saw a huge ball of light skimming across the ocean. It got closer and closer until, astonished, he realized that it was these three hermits running on top of the water. They climbed on board the ship and said, "Please honored bishop, we are so sorry, but we have forgotten some of your teaching. Would you please instruct us again?" Wisely the bishop shook his head and answered simply, "Forget everything I have taught you and continue to pray in your old way." This story reminds us, doesn't it, of the wondrous simplicity of prayer. Do you know why God answers prayer? It is because his children ask. It is as simple as that. You see we often make prayer far too complicated. In the summer of 1990 I was working on a book about prayer. Of course, it wasn't a book then, only jumbled ideas in my head and a thousand notes scrawled on scraps of paper and napkins and anything else I could find. For that summer the university library where I was teaching at the time had given me an entire room just for my research materials. They also had given me a special key so I could go there any time, day or night. Over the months I had been through about 300 books in the field of prayer -- classical books, contemporary books, books, books, books. My head was swimming with all the debates about prayer, all the definitions of prayer, all the divisions over prayer. I had read everything I could lay my hands on about -- Formation Prayer, Covenant Prayer, Adoration Prayer, Sacramental Prayer, Centering Prayer, Meditative Prayer, Intercessory Prayer, Healing Prayer, Authoritative Prayer, and so much more. At one point I had identified fully 41 distinct kinds of prayer in the writings of the Devotional Masters. I had learned absolutely every jot and tittle about lectio, oratio, silencio, contemplatio, meditatio. I had studied every nook and cranny of the purgative, illuminative, unitive, stages of prayer. I had gotten lost in Teresa of Avila's Interior Castle so many times that I didn't know what room was what. And I'll never forget that night in July, 1990. There I was in the library, all alone. Everyone had left hours ago. It was late. I had read too much -- studied too much -- I was experiencing overload. How in one book could anyone deal with all the difficulties of prayer and all the intricacies of prayer? There was no way! I threw up my hands, ready to abandon the project. "Forget it," I said. "The issues are too complicated, the task is too difficult. I just won't write the book!" And then something happened that is difficult for me to explain to you, even today. The only way I know to say it is that I saw something, and what I saw was the heart of God and the heart of God was an open wound of love . And then, as best I can discern it, I heard the voice of the true Shepherd -- not outwardly but inwardly -- saying, "I do not want you to abandon the project." "Instead, I want you to tell my children that my heart is broken. Tell them that I am hurt at their distance and preoccupation. Tell them I mourn that they do not draw near to me. Tell them I grieve that they have forgotten me. Tell them I weep over their obsession with muchness and manyness. Tell them, tell my children that I long for their presence." And so I am telling you. I am telling you that God is inviting you -- God is inviting me -- to come home; to come home to where we belong; to come home to that for which we were created. His arms are stretched out wide to receive us. His heart is enlarged to take us in. For too long we have been in a far country -- a country of noise and hurry and crowds; a country of climb and push and shove; a country of frustration and fear and intimidation. And he welcomes us home -- home to serenity and peace and joy; home to friendship and fellowship and openness; home to intimacy and acceptance and affirmation. And we don't need to be shy. He invites us into the living room of his heart where we can put on old slippers and share freely. He invites us into the kitchen of his friendship where chatter and batter mix in good fun. He invites us into the dining room of his strength where we can feast to our heart's delight. He invites us into the study of his wisdom where we can learn and grow and stretch and ask all the questions we want. He invites us into the workshop of his creativity where we can be co-laborers with him, working together to determine the outcome of events. And he invites us into the bedroom of his rest where new peace is found, and where we can be naked and vulnerable and free. It is also the place of deepest intimacy where we know and are known to the fullest. The key into this home, which is the heart of God, is prayer. Perhaps you have never prayed before except in anguish or terror. It may be that the only time the divine name has been on your lips is in angry expletives. Never mind. I am here to tell you that the Father's heart is open wide to you --you are welcome to come in. Perhaps you do not believe in prayer. You tried to pray before and were profoundly disappointed ... and disillusioned. You have little faith, or none. It does not matter. The Father's heart is open wide to you -- you are welcome to come in. Perhaps you are bruised and broken by the pressures of life. Others have sinned against you and you feel scarred for life. You have old painful memories that have never been healed. You avoid prayer because you feel too distant, too unworthy, too defiled. Don't despair. The Father's heart is open wide to you -- you are welcome to come in. Perhaps you have prayed for many years but the words have grown brittle and cold. Little ever seems to happen anymore. God seems remote and inaccessible. Listen to me. The Father's heart is open wide to you -- you are welcome to come in. Perhaps prayer is the delight of your life. You have lived in God's love for a long time and can attest to his goodness. But you long for more. More power, more love, more reality in your life. Believe me. The Father's heart is open wide to you -- you too are welcome to come higher up and deeper in. If the key is prayer, the door is Jesus Christ. Isn't it good of God to provide us a way into the Father's house? God knows that we are stiff-necked, hard-hearted, far-off. And so he has provided a means of entrance -- Jesus, the Christ, lived, died, and rose from the grave that we might live through him. This is wonderfully good news. No longer do we have to stand outside barred from nearness to God by our sin and rebellion. We may now enter through the door of God's grace and mercy in Jesus Christ. Listen to me, Jesus receives you just as you are, and he receives your prayers just as they are. Just like a small child cannot draw a bad picture, a child of God cannot utter a bad prayer. As I close let me tell you about my friend Lyman James. Lyman is a radio disk jockey. One of the best. He's known on the radio as "Rymin' Lyman." He's also the father of three lovely children, and one day he was spending the afternoon in a shopping mall with his three-year-old son Zackery. But it was just one of those days and Zackery was in a particularly cantankerous mood, fussing and fuming. Lyman tried everything to quiet his son. Nothing seemed to help. Zackery simply would not obey. Then, I guess under some special inspiration, Lyman scooped up his son, and, holding him close to his chest, he began singing an impromptu love song to him. He just made it up. None of the words rhymed. He sang off-key. And yet, as best he could this father began sharing his heart with his son. "I love you, Zackery" he sang. "I'm so glad you're my boy. You make me happy. I like the way you laugh." Things like that. Zackery began to calm down. On they went from one store to the next. Quietly Lyman kept singing, making up words that didn't rhyme and were sung off-key. And Zackery laid his head on his father's shoulder, listening to this strange and wonderful song. Finally they finished shopping and went to the car. As Lyman opened the door and prepared to buckle his son into the car seat, Zackery lifted up his head and said simply, "Sing it to me again Daddy! Sing it to me again!" You see, prayer is a little like that. With simplicity of heart we allow ourselves to be gathered up into the arms of the Abba of Jesus and let him sing his love song over us.          Pray with me, will you?          Today, O Lord, we accept your acceptance of us.          We confess that you are always with us and always for us.          We receive into our hearts your grace, your mercy, your care.          We rest in your love, dear God, we rest in your love.          Amen . Interview with Richard Foster Interviewed by Orley Herron Orley Herron: Richard, as you were speaking and then as you prayed, I was reminded of when I was in a car with one of my friends years ago. We were discussing spiritual issues and he said, "Orley, let's pray about that." I thought we were going to pray about that down the road, or pull over to the curb, but he proceeded to pray while we were driving, and I was a little nervous about that. His eyes were open -- I wanted his eyes to be open! I noticed as you concluded that prayer, you prayed with your eyes open. Jesus was asked, "Teach us to pray." Richard, for all of us who want to pray in a more effective way, teach us today the steps of praying. Richard Foster: You know, your story is so wonderful because the first thing we learn about prayer is that we must begin right where we are, in the jobs that we have, in the families that we are in, with our neighbors or friends or work associates. We make such a mystery out of this business of the will of God. The surest sign that it is God's will to be where we are is that we are there. We want to throw that away and we want to say, "Oh, God can't bless me where I am. I can't pray where I am. I have to graduate. I have to be the President of this company." But you see, the only place God can bless us is right where we are because that is the only place we are. We start with our children or our spouses or roommates or friends or neighbors and begin to simply visit with God and interact with God in a kind of interactive communication about the things that concern us. People will sometimes ask me, "What do I pray about?" And I say, "What are you worried about?" "Oh, we can't get a baby sitter." We learn to pray for daily baby sitters or whatever it is in our lives. We begin by what is often called simple prayer. We just share with God and listen to God about the kinds of things that we are concerned about. We try not to worry about whether we have our motives straight or not. God will clear that up as we move along. We just let God know what is on our hearts. You know the old play and movie, "Fiddler on the Roof?" Herron: Yes. Foster: Tevye would just talk with God. That is simple prayer. That is the simplest way to begin, just right where we are, with the concerns that we have, share what is on our heart, and then be open to listen to God's speech in his wondrous, terrible, loving, all-embracing silence. Herron: That is wonderful, Richard. Let me ask another question. What about people who say if you pray, God will answer your prayer. How do we know when God answers? Foster: That is such a good question because it is this feeling that somehow I have got to have everything right, or I have got to ask in a certain way, or cock my head a certain way. We just share who we are and what we are. Then we listen in an interactive way, because many times God answers in ways completely different than we could have imagined. Sometimes, you see, God says, "Why yes, I would love to give you that. I thought you would never ask." Sometimes God says, "Oh, I love you too much to give you that." Sometimes God's refusals are the truest answer to our deepest prayers. Herron: Can we feel the prayers of people praying for us? Foster: You know, I think that we can. There are times when a kind of sense of perhaps the shalom of God, the peace of God, comes in a particular context or situation. We realize we are being surrounded by other people who have held us up into the arms of God, not always, but there is a sense in which prayer is almost a tangible kind of thing, invisible but intangible, in that it can be almost like a gentle pressure, a sort of baptism of love that we experience. Herron: What do you want people to pray about for you? Foster: That I might learn to live in an environment of the Holy Spirit, that I might learn to live and walk with God. As they said of Moses, "He was the friend of God." There is a wonderful writer called Jean-Pierre de Caussade and he said, "The soul light as a feather, fluid as water, innocent as a child, responds to every movement of grace like a floating balloon." I would like to learn to live that way. Herron: So would I. Thank you, Richard.
  • The prayer of the Israelite faith begins with Abraham, the first patriarch. The themes of Abraham’s prayer are: attentiveness to heart, supplication, hospitality, intercession and sacrifice. These foundational prayer dynamics practiced in prayer today arise from events experienced in Abraham’s growing relationship with the Lord.. Abraham responds to God’s call to leave his familiar homeland, a rich land between rivers. He begins a rough, nomadic existence. He obeys the call of God, changing the direction of his life, proceeding according to God’s will. Abraham’s prayer is expressed by his action, not by his words. He erects altars to the Lord at each stage of his journey. The first movement of Abraham’s wordless prayer is the attentiveness of his hea rt to hear God’s call. Later Abraham uses words to plead with God. In supplication , he asks the Lord to fulfill the promises he made , relating him to God in a sacred covenant. Prayer, as hospitality , is the third theme of Abraham’s prayer and is most directly expressed as the welcome of the divine guest into his tent at Mamre. At Mamre, Abraham is visited by God, appearing as three men standing by his tent. He recognizes God at once and orders the best bread made and a calf slaughtered. In the warmth of Abraham’s’ hospitality and welcome, God tells Abraham that Sarah, who is past child bearing age, will give birth within the year As Abraham continues to walk with the Lord, the Lord gradually reveals his divine plan to his companion. Abraham becomes confident in his relationship with God and his prayer becomes intercession when he boldly argues with the Lord on behalf of the innocent residents of Sodom and Gomorra. Finally God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Abraham’s faith remains strong and he is prepared to act according to God’s will even in the bloody sacrifice of his own son. This final theme of sacrifice in Abrahamic prayer prefigures the relationship between God the Father and his only-begotten Son. It provides a profound link between the fatherhood of Abraham, the Fatherhood of God , the offering of Isaac by Abraham and the offering of Jesus by God. And so the father of believers is conformed to the likeness of the Father who will not spare his own Son but will deliver him up for us all. Prayer restores man to God’s likeness and enables him to share in the power of God’s love that saves the multitude.
  • Moses’ prayer is one of dialogue and contemplative prophecy that is described as mediation and intercession . At the burning bush, God calls Moses to save His people. Moses begins a dialogue with God. God confides in him. Moses hesitates, makes excuses and most of all questions God. He speaks to God face to face and God speaks to him plainly, not in riddles. God confides his name to Moses. Moses shuttles back and forth many times between God and the people to listen and to entreat God and to repeat God’s words for the good of his people. This process of contemplative prayer grows from a selfless intimacy with God that leads to freedom from exile for the Jewish people.
  • Opening slide for the series
  •     Richard Foster  "Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home"   Program #3722 First air date March 20, 1994       Biography Dr. Richard Foster is a writer, teacher, and church renewal expert. Well-known for his best-selling book, Celebration of Discipline, Richard's several books on spiritual development have become modern-day devotional classics. He's a three-time winner of the prestigious Gold Medallion Book Award, and his work has been translated into many languages throughout the world. Dr. Foster is Professor of Spiritual Formation at Azusa Pacific University in California. He was the founder of Renovaré, an organization whose mission is to nurture Christian spirituality in contemporary culture. He is also a minister in the Quaker church and lives in Colorado. [Biographical information is correct as of the broadcast date noted above.] "Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home" Leo Tolstoy tells the story of three hermits who lived on an island. Their prayer of intimacy and love was simple, like they were simple. Here is how they prayed: "We are three; you are three; have mercy on us. Amen." Miracles sometimes happened when they prayed in this way. But the bishop heard about these hermits and decided that they needed guidance in proper prayer, and so he went to their small island. After instructing them at length on the intricacies of true prayer, the bishop set sail for the mainland, pleased to have enlightened the souls of such simple folk. Suddenly, off the stern of the ship he saw a huge ball of light skimming across the ocean. It got closer and closer until, astonished, he realized that it was these three hermits running on top of the water. They climbed on board the ship and said, "Please honored bishop, we are so sorry, but we have forgotten some of your teaching. Would you please instruct us again?" Wisely the bishop shook his head and answered simply, "Forget everything I have taught you and continue to pray in your old way." This story reminds us, doesn't it, of the wondrous simplicity of prayer. Do you know why God answers prayer? It is because his children ask. It is as simple as that. You see we often make prayer far too complicated. In the summer of 1990 I was working on a book about prayer. Of course, it wasn't a book then, only jumbled ideas in my head and a thousand notes scrawled on scraps of paper and napkins and anything else I could find. For that summer the university library where I was teaching at the time had given me an entire room just for my research materials. They also had given me a special key so I could go there any time, day or night. Over the months I had been through about 300 books in the field of prayer -- classical books, contemporary books, books, books, books. My head was swimming with all the debates about prayer, all the definitions of prayer, all the divisions over prayer. I had read everything I could lay my hands on about -- Formation Prayer, Covenant Prayer, Adoration Prayer, Sacramental Prayer, Centering Prayer, Meditative Prayer, Intercessory Prayer, Healing Prayer, Authoritative Prayer, and so much more. At one point I had identified fully 41 distinct kinds of prayer in the writings of the Devotional Masters. I had learned absolutely every jot and tittle about lectio, oratio, silencio, contemplatio, meditatio. I had studied every nook and cranny of the purgative, illuminative, unitive, stages of prayer. I had gotten lost in Teresa of Avila's Interior Castle so many times that I didn't know what room was what. And I'll never forget that night in July, 1990. There I was in the library, all alone. Everyone had left hours ago. It was late. I had read too much -- studied too much -- I was experiencing overload. How in one book could anyone deal with all the difficulties of prayer and all the intricacies of prayer? There was no way! I threw up my hands, ready to abandon the project. "Forget it," I said. "The issues are too complicated, the task is too difficult. I just won't write the book!" And then something happened that is difficult for me to explain to you, even today. The only way I know to say it is that I saw something, and what I saw was the heart of God and the heart of God was an open wound of love . And then, as best I can discern it, I heard the voice of the true Shepherd -- not outwardly but inwardly -- saying, "I do not want you to abandon the project." "Instead, I want you to tell my children that my heart is broken. Tell them that I am hurt at their distance and preoccupation. Tell them I mourn that they do not draw near to me. Tell them I grieve that they have forgotten me. Tell them I weep over their obsession with muchness and manyness. Tell them, tell my children that I long for their presence." And so I am telling you. I am telling you that God is inviting you -- God is inviting me -- to come home; to come home to where we belong; to come home to that for which we were created. His arms are stretched out wide to receive us. His heart is enlarged to take us in. For too long we have been in a far country -- a country of noise and hurry and crowds; a country of climb and push and shove; a country of frustration and fear and intimidation. And he welcomes us home -- home to serenity and peace and joy; home to friendship and fellowship and openness; home to intimacy and acceptance and affirmation. And we don't need to be shy. He invites us into the living room of his heart where we can put on old slippers and share freely. He invites us into the kitchen of his friendship where chatter and batter mix in good fun. He invites us into the dining room of his strength where we can feast to our heart's delight. He invites us into the study of his wisdom where we can learn and grow and stretch and ask all the questions we want. He invites us into the workshop of his creativity where we can be co-laborers with him, working together to determine the outcome of events. And he invites us into the bedroom of his rest where new peace is found, and where we can be naked and vulnerable and free. It is also the place of deepest intimacy where we know and are known to the fullest. The key into this home, which is the heart of God, is prayer. Perhaps you have never prayed before except in anguish or terror. It may be that the only time the divine name has been on your lips is in angry expletives. Never mind. I am here to tell you that the Father's heart is open wide to you --you are welcome to come in. Perhaps you do not believe in prayer. You tried to pray before and were profoundly disappointed ... and disillusioned. You have little faith, or none. It does not matter. The Father's heart is open wide to you -- you are welcome to come in. Perhaps you are bruised and broken by the pressures of life. Others have sinned against you and you feel scarred for life. You have old painful memories that have never been healed. You avoid prayer because you feel too distant, too unworthy, too defiled. Don't despair. The Father's heart is open wide to you -- you are welcome to come in. Perhaps you have prayed for many years but the words have grown brittle and cold. Little ever seems to happen anymore. God seems remote and inaccessible. Listen to me. The Father's heart is open wide to you -- you are welcome to come in. Perhaps prayer is the delight of your life. You have lived in God's love for a long time and can attest to his goodness. But you long for more. More power, more love, more reality in your life. Believe me. The Father's heart is open wide to you -- you too are welcome to come higher up and deeper in. If the key is prayer, the door is Jesus Christ. Isn't it good of God to provide us a way into the Father's house? God knows that we are stiff-necked, hard-hearted, far-off. And so he has provided a means of entrance -- Jesus, the Christ, lived, died, and rose from the grave that we might live through him. This is wonderfully good news. No longer do we have to stand outside barred from nearness to God by our sin and rebellion. We may now enter through the door of God's grace and mercy in Jesus Christ. Listen to me, Jesus receives you just as you are, and he receives your prayers just as they are. Just like a small child cannot draw a bad picture, a child of God cannot utter a bad prayer. As I close let me tell you about my friend Lyman James. Lyman is a radio disk jockey. One of the best. He's known on the radio as "Rymin' Lyman." He's also the father of three lovely children, and one day he was spending the afternoon in a shopping mall with his three-year-old son Zackery. But it was just one of those days and Zackery was in a particularly cantankerous mood, fussing and fuming. Lyman tried everything to quiet his son. Nothing seemed to help. Zackery simply would not obey. Then, I guess under some special inspiration, Lyman scooped up his son, and, holding him close to his chest, he began singing an impromptu love song to him. He just made it up. None of the words rhymed. He sang off-key. And yet, as best he could this father began sharing his heart with his son. "I love you, Zackery" he sang. "I'm so glad you're my boy. You make me happy. I like the way you laugh." Things like that. Zackery began to calm down. On they went from one store to the next. Quietly Lyman kept singing, making up words that didn't rhyme and were sung off-key. And Zackery laid his head on his father's shoulder, listening to this strange and wonderful song. Finally they finished shopping and went to the car. As Lyman opened the door and prepared to buckle his son into the car seat, Zackery lifted up his head and said simply, "Sing it to me again Daddy! Sing it to me again!" You see, prayer is a little like that. With simplicity of heart we allow ourselves to be gathered up into the arms of the Abba of Jesus and let him sing his love song over us.          Pray with me, will you?          Today, O Lord, we accept your acceptance of us.          We confess that you are always with us and always for us.          We receive into our hearts your grace, your mercy, your care.          We rest in your love, dear God, we rest in your love.          Amen . Interview with Richard Foster Interviewed by Orley Herron Orley Herron: Richard, as you were speaking and then as you prayed, I was reminded of when I was in a car with one of my friends years ago. We were discussing spiritual issues and he said, "Orley, let's pray about that." I thought we were going to pray about that down the road, or pull over to the curb, but he proceeded to pray while we were driving, and I was a little nervous about that. His eyes were open -- I wanted his eyes to be open! I noticed as you concluded that prayer, you prayed with your eyes open. Jesus was asked, "Teach us to pray." Richard, for all of us who want to pray in a more effective way, teach us today the steps of praying. Richard Foster: You know, your story is so wonderful because the first thing we learn about prayer is that we must begin right where we are, in the jobs that we have, in the families that we are in, with our neighbors or friends or work associates. We make such a mystery out of this business of the will of God. The surest sign that it is God's will to be where we are is that we are there. We want to throw that away and we want to say, "Oh, God can't bless me where I am. I can't pray where I am. I have to graduate. I have to be the President of this company." But you see, the only place God can bless us is right where we are because that is the only place we are. We start with our children or our spouses or roommates or friends or neighbors and begin to simply visit with God and interact with God in a kind of interactive communication about the things that concern us. People will sometimes ask me, "What do I pray about?" And I say, "What are you worried about?" "Oh, we can't get a baby sitter." We learn to pray for daily baby sitters or whatever it is in our lives. We begin by what is often called simple prayer. We just share with God and listen to God about the kinds of things that we are concerned about. We try not to worry about whether we have our motives straight or not. God will clear that up as we move along. We just let God know what is on our hearts. You know the old play and movie, "Fiddler on the Roof?" Herron: Yes. Foster: Tevye would just talk with God. That is simple prayer. That is the simplest way to begin, just right where we are, with the concerns that we have, share what is on our heart, and then be open to listen to God's speech in his wondrous, terrible, loving, all-embracing silence. Herron: That is wonderful, Richard. Let me ask another question. What about people who say if you pray, God will answer your prayer. How do we know when God answers? Foster: That is such a good question because it is this feeling that somehow I have got to have everything right, or I have got to ask in a certain way, or cock my head a certain way. We just share who we are and what we are. Then we listen in an interactive way, because many times God answers in ways completely different than we could have imagined. Sometimes, you see, God says, "Why yes, I would love to give you that. I thought you would never ask." Sometimes God says, "Oh, I love you too much to give you that." Sometimes God's refusals are the truest answer to our deepest prayers. Herron: Can we feel the prayers of people praying for us? Foster: You know, I think that we can. There are times when a kind of sense of perhaps the shalom of God, the peace of God, comes in a particular context or situation. We realize we are being surrounded by other people who have held us up into the arms of God, not always, but there is a sense in which prayer is almost a tangible kind of thing, invisible but intangible, in that it can be almost like a gentle pressure, a sort of baptism of love that we experience. Herron: What do you want people to pray about for you? Foster: That I might learn to live in an environment of the Holy Spirit, that I might learn to live and walk with God. As they said of Moses, "He was the friend of God." There is a wonderful writer called Jean-Pierre de Caussade and he said, "The soul light as a feather, fluid as water, innocent as a child, responds to every movement of grace like a floating balloon." I would like to learn to live that way. Herron: So would I. Thank you, Richard.
  • Opening slide for the series
  •     Richard Foster  "Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home"   Program #3722 First air date March 20, 1994       Biography Dr. Richard Foster is a writer, teacher, and church renewal expert. Well-known for his best-selling book, Celebration of Discipline, Richard's several books on spiritual development have become modern-day devotional classics. He's a three-time winner of the prestigious Gold Medallion Book Award, and his work has been translated into many languages throughout the world. Dr. Foster is Professor of Spiritual Formation at Azusa Pacific University in California. He was the founder of Renovaré, an organization whose mission is to nurture Christian spirituality in contemporary culture. He is also a minister in the Quaker church and lives in Colorado. [Biographical information is correct as of the broadcast date noted above.] "Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home" Leo Tolstoy tells the story of three hermits who lived on an island. Their prayer of intimacy and love was simple, like they were simple. Here is how they prayed: "We are three; you are three; have mercy on us. Amen." Miracles sometimes happened when they prayed in this way. But the bishop heard about these hermits and decided that they needed guidance in proper prayer, and so he went to their small island. After instructing them at length on the intricacies of true prayer, the bishop set sail for the mainland, pleased to have enlightened the souls of such simple folk. Suddenly, off the stern of the ship he saw a huge ball of light skimming across the ocean. It got closer and closer until, astonished, he realized that it was these three hermits running on top of the water. They climbed on board the ship and said, "Please honored bishop, we are so sorry, but we have forgotten some of your teaching. Would you please instruct us again?" Wisely the bishop shook his head and answered simply, "Forget everything I have taught you and continue to pray in your old way." This story reminds us, doesn't it, of the wondrous simplicity of prayer. Do you know why God answers prayer? It is because his children ask. It is as simple as that. You see we often make prayer far too complicated. In the summer of 1990 I was working on a book about prayer. Of course, it wasn't a book then, only jumbled ideas in my head and a thousand notes scrawled on scraps of paper and napkins and anything else I could find. For that summer the university library where I was teaching at the time had given me an entire room just for my research materials. They also had given me a special key so I could go there any time, day or night. Over the months I had been through about 300 books in the field of prayer -- classical books, contemporary books, books, books, books. My head was swimming with all the debates about prayer, all the definitions of prayer, all the divisions over prayer. I had read everything I could lay my hands on about -- Formation Prayer, Covenant Prayer, Adoration Prayer, Sacramental Prayer, Centering Prayer, Meditative Prayer, Intercessory Prayer, Healing Prayer, Authoritative Prayer, and so much more. At one point I had identified fully 41 distinct kinds of prayer in the writings of the Devotional Masters. I had learned absolutely every jot and tittle about lectio, oratio, silencio, contemplatio, meditatio. I had studied every nook and cranny of the purgative, illuminative, unitive, stages of prayer. I had gotten lost in Teresa of Avila's Interior Castle so many times that I didn't know what room was what. And I'll never forget that night in July, 1990. There I was in the library, all alone. Everyone had left hours ago. It was late. I had read too much -- studied too much -- I was experiencing overload. How in one book could anyone deal with all the difficulties of prayer and all the intricacies of prayer? There was no way! I threw up my hands, ready to abandon the project. "Forget it," I said. "The issues are too complicated, the task is too difficult. I just won't write the book!" And then something happened that is difficult for me to explain to you, even today. The only way I know to say it is that I saw something, and what I saw was the heart of God and the heart of God was an open wound of love . And then, as best I can discern it, I heard the voice of the true Shepherd -- not outwardly but inwardly -- saying, "I do not want you to abandon the project." "Instead, I want you to tell my children that my heart is broken. Tell them that I am hurt at their distance and preoccupation. Tell them I mourn that they do not draw near to me. Tell them I grieve that they have forgotten me. Tell them I weep over their obsession with muchness and manyness. Tell them, tell my children that I long for their presence." And so I am telling you. I am telling you that God is inviting you -- God is inviting me -- to come home; to come home to where we belong; to come home to that for which we were created. His arms are stretched out wide to receive us. His heart is enlarged to take us in. For too long we have been in a far country -- a country of noise and hurry and crowds; a country of climb and push and shove; a country of frustration and fear and intimidation. And he welcomes us home -- home to serenity and peace and joy; home to friendship and fellowship and openness; home to intimacy and acceptance and affirmation. And we don't need to be shy. He invites us into the living room of his heart where we can put on old slippers and share freely. He invites us into the kitchen of his friendship where chatter and batter mix in good fun. He invites us into the dining room of his strength where we can feast to our heart's delight. He invites us into the study of his wisdom where we can learn and grow and stretch and ask all the questions we want. He invites us into the workshop of his creativity where we can be co-laborers with him, working together to determine the outcome of events. And he invites us into the bedroom of his rest where new peace is found, and where we can be naked and vulnerable and free. It is also the place of deepest intimacy where we know and are known to the fullest. The key into this home, which is the heart of God, is prayer. Perhaps you have never prayed before except in anguish or terror. It may be that the only time the divine name has been on your lips is in angry expletives. Never mind. I am here to tell you that the Father's heart is open wide to you --you are welcome to come in. Perhaps you do not believe in prayer. You tried to pray before and were profoundly disappointed ... and disillusioned. You have little faith, or none. It does not matter. The Father's heart is open wide to you -- you are welcome to come in. Perhaps you are bruised and broken by the pressures of life. Others have sinned against you and you feel scarred for life. You have old painful memories that have never been healed. You avoid prayer because you feel too distant, too unworthy, too defiled. Don't despair. The Father's heart is open wide to you -- you are welcome to come in. Perhaps you have prayed for many years but the words have grown brittle and cold. Little ever seems to happen anymore. God seems remote and inaccessible. Listen to me. The Father's heart is open wide to you -- you are welcome to come in. Perhaps prayer is the delight of your life. You have lived in God's love for a long time and can attest to his goodness. But you long for more. More power, more love, more reality in your life. Believe me. The Father's heart is open wide to you -- you too are welcome to come higher up and deeper in. If the key is prayer, the door is Jesus Christ. Isn't it good of God to provide us a way into the Father's house? God knows that we are stiff-necked, hard-hearted, far-off. And so he has provided a means of entrance -- Jesus, the Christ, lived, died, and rose from the grave that we might live through him. This is wonderfully good news. No longer do we have to stand outside barred from nearness to God by our sin and rebellion. We may now enter through the door of God's grace and mercy in Jesus Christ. Listen to me, Jesus receives you just as you are, and he receives your prayers just as they are. Just like a small child cannot draw a bad picture, a child of God cannot utter a bad prayer. As I close let me tell you about my friend Lyman James. Lyman is a radio disk jockey. One of the best. He's known on the radio as "Rymin' Lyman." He's also the father of three lovely children, and one day he was spending the afternoon in a shopping mall with his three-year-old son Zackery. But it was just one of those days and Zackery was in a particularly cantankerous mood, fussing and fuming. Lyman tried everything to quiet his son. Nothing seemed to help. Zackery simply would not obey. Then, I guess under some special inspiration, Lyman scooped up his son, and, holding him close to his chest, he began singing an impromptu love song to him. He just made it up. None of the words rhymed. He sang off-key. And yet, as best he could this father began sharing his heart with his son. "I love you, Zackery" he sang. "I'm so glad you're my boy. You make me happy. I like the way you laugh." Things like that. Zackery began to calm down. On they went from one store to the next. Quietly Lyman kept singing, making up words that didn't rhyme and were sung off-key. And Zackery laid his head on his father's shoulder, listening to this strange and wonderful song. Finally they finished shopping and went to the car. As Lyman opened the door and prepared to buckle his son into the car seat, Zackery lifted up his head and said simply, "Sing it to me again Daddy! Sing it to me again!" You see, prayer is a little like that. With simplicity of heart we allow ourselves to be gathered up into the arms of the Abba of Jesus and let him sing his love song over us.          Pray with me, will you?          Today, O Lord, we accept your acceptance of us.          We confess that you are always with us and always for us.          We receive into our hearts your grace, your mercy, your care.          We rest in your love, dear God, we rest in your love.          Amen . Interview with Richard Foster Interviewed by Orley Herron Orley Herron: Richard, as you were speaking and then as you prayed, I was reminded of when I was in a car with one of my friends years ago. We were discussing spiritual issues and he said, "Orley, let's pray about that." I thought we were going to pray about that down the road, or pull over to the curb, but he proceeded to pray while we were driving, and I was a little nervous about that. His eyes were open -- I wanted his eyes to be open! I noticed as you concluded that prayer, you prayed with your eyes open. Jesus was asked, "Teach us to pray." Richard, for all of us who want to pray in a more effective way, teach us today the steps of praying. Richard Foster: You know, your story is so wonderful because the first thing we learn about prayer is that we must begin right where we are, in the jobs that we have, in the families that we are in, with our neighbors or friends or work associates. We make such a mystery out of this business of the will of God. The surest sign that it is God's will to be where we are is that we are there. We want to throw that away and we want to say, "Oh, God can't bless me where I am. I can't pray where I am. I have to graduate. I have to be the President of this company." But you see, the only place God can bless us is right where we are because that is the only place we are. We start with our children or our spouses or roommates or friends or neighbors and begin to simply visit with God and interact with God in a kind of interactive communication about the things that concern us. People will sometimes ask me, "What do I pray about?" And I say, "What are you worried about?" "Oh, we can't get a baby sitter." We learn to pray for daily baby sitters or whatever it is in our lives. We begin by what is often called simple prayer. We just share with God and listen to God about the kinds of things that we are concerned about. We try not to worry about whether we have our motives straight or not. God will clear that up as we move along. We just let God know what is on our hearts. You know the old play and movie, "Fiddler on the Roof?" Herron: Yes. Foster: Tevye would just talk with God. That is simple prayer. That is the simplest way to begin, just right where we are, with the concerns that we have, share what is on our heart, and then be open to listen to God's speech in his wondrous, terrible, loving, all-embracing silence. Herron: That is wonderful, Richard. Let me ask another question. What about people who say if you pray, God will answer your prayer. How do we know when God answers? Foster: That is such a good question because it is this feeling that somehow I have got to have everything right, or I have got to ask in a certain way, or cock my head a certain way. We just share who we are and what we are. Then we listen in an interactive way, because many times God answers in ways completely different than we could have imagined. Sometimes, you see, God says, "Why yes, I would love to give you that. I thought you would never ask." Sometimes God says, "Oh, I love you too much to give you that." Sometimes God's refusals are the truest answer to our deepest prayers. Herron: Can we feel the prayers of people praying for us? Foster: You know, I think that we can. There are times when a kind of sense of perhaps the shalom of God, the peace of God, comes in a particular context or situation. We realize we are being surrounded by other people who have held us up into the arms of God, not always, but there is a sense in which prayer is almost a tangible kind of thing, invisible but intangible, in that it can be almost like a gentle pressure, a sort of baptism of love that we experience. Herron: What do you want people to pray about for you? Foster: That I might learn to live in an environment of the Holy Spirit, that I might learn to live and walk with God. As they said of Moses, "He was the friend of God." There is a wonderful writer called Jean-Pierre de Caussade and he said, "The soul light as a feather, fluid as water, innocent as a child, responds to every movement of grace like a floating balloon." I would like to learn to live that way. Herron: So would I. Thank you, Richard.
  • Opening slide for the series
  •     Richard Foster  "Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home"   Program #3722 First air date March 20, 1994       Biography Dr. Richard Foster is a writer, teacher, and church renewal expert. Well-known for his best-selling book, Celebration of Discipline, Richard's several books on spiritual development have become modern-day devotional classics. He's a three-time winner of the prestigious Gold Medallion Book Award, and his work has been translated into many languages throughout the world. Dr. Foster is Professor of Spiritual Formation at Azusa Pacific University in California. He was the founder of Renovaré, an organization whose mission is to nurture Christian spirituality in contemporary culture. He is also a minister in the Quaker church and lives in Colorado. [Biographical information is correct as of the broadcast date noted above.] "Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home" Leo Tolstoy tells the story of three hermits who lived on an island. Their prayer of intimacy and love was simple, like they were simple. Here is how they prayed: "We are three; you are three; have mercy on us. Amen." Miracles sometimes happened when they prayed in this way. But the bishop heard about these hermits and decided that they needed guidance in proper prayer, and so he went to their small island. After instructing them at length on the intricacies of true prayer, the bishop set sail for the mainland, pleased to have enlightened the souls of such simple folk. Suddenly, off the stern of the ship he saw a huge ball of light skimming across the ocean. It got closer and closer until, astonished, he realized that it was these three hermits running on top of the water. They climbed on board the ship and said, "Please honored bishop, we are so sorry, but we have forgotten some of your teaching. Would you please instruct us again?" Wisely the bishop shook his head and answered simply, "Forget everything I have taught you and continue to pray in your old way." This story reminds us, doesn't it, of the wondrous simplicity of prayer. Do you know why God answers prayer? It is because his children ask. It is as simple as that. You see we often make prayer far too complicated. In the summer of 1990 I was working on a book about prayer. Of course, it wasn't a book then, only jumbled ideas in my head and a thousand notes scrawled on scraps of paper and napkins and anything else I could find. For that summer the university library where I was teaching at the time had given me an entire room just for my research materials. They also had given me a special key so I could go there any time, day or night. Over the months I had been through about 300 books in the field of prayer -- classical books, contemporary books, books, books, books. My head was swimming with all the debates about prayer, all the definitions of prayer, all the divisions over prayer. I had read everything I could lay my hands on about -- Formation Prayer, Covenant Prayer, Adoration Prayer, Sacramental Prayer, Centering Prayer, Meditative Prayer, Intercessory Prayer, Healing Prayer, Authoritative Prayer, and so much more. At one point I had identified fully 41 distinct kinds of prayer in the writings of the Devotional Masters. I had learned absolutely every jot and tittle about lectio, oratio, silencio, contemplatio, meditatio. I had studied every nook and cranny of the purgative, illuminative, unitive, stages of prayer. I had gotten lost in Teresa of Avila's Interior Castle so many times that I didn't know what room was what. And I'll never forget that night in July, 1990. There I was in the library, all alone. Everyone had left hours ago. It was late. I had read too much -- studied too much -- I was experiencing overload. How in one book could anyone deal with all the difficulties of prayer and all the intricacies of prayer? There was no way! I threw up my hands, ready to abandon the project. "Forget it," I said. "The issues are too complicated, the task is too difficult. I just won't write the book!" And then something happened that is difficult for me to explain to you, even today. The only way I know to say it is that I saw something, and what I saw was the heart of God and the heart of God was an open wound of love . And then, as best I can discern it, I heard the voice of the true Shepherd -- not outwardly but inwardly -- saying, "I do not want you to abandon the project." "Instead, I want you to tell my children that my heart is broken. Tell them that I am hurt at their distance and preoccupation. Tell them I mourn that they do not draw near to me. Tell them I grieve that they have forgotten me. Tell them I weep over their obsession with muchness and manyness. Tell them, tell my children that I long for their presence." And so I am telling you. I am telling you that God is inviting you -- God is inviting me -- to come home; to come home to where we belong; to come home to that for which we were created. His arms are stretched out wide to receive us. His heart is enlarged to take us in. For too long we have been in a far country -- a country of noise and hurry and crowds; a country of climb and push and shove; a country of frustration and fear and intimidation. And he welcomes us home -- home to serenity and peace and joy; home to friendship and fellowship and openness; home to intimacy and acceptance and affirmation. And we don't need to be shy. He invites us into the living room of his heart where we can put on old slippers and share freely. He invites us into the kitchen of his friendship where chatter and batter mix in good fun. He invites us into the dining room of his strength where we can feast to our heart's delight. He invites us into the study of his wisdom where we can learn and grow and stretch and ask all the questions we want. He invites us into the workshop of his creativity where we can be co-laborers with him, working together to determine the outcome of events. And he invites us into the bedroom of his rest where new peace is found, and where we can be naked and vulnerable and free. It is also the place of deepest intimacy where we know and are known to the fullest. The key into this home, which is the heart of God, is prayer. Perhaps you have never prayed before except in anguish or terror. It may be that the only time the divine name has been on your lips is in angry expletives. Never mind. I am here to tell you that the Father's heart is open wide to you --you are welcome to come in. Perhaps you do not believe in prayer. You tried to pray before and were profoundly disappointed ... and disillusioned. You have little faith, or none. It does not matter. The Father's heart is open wide to you -- you are welcome to come in. Perhaps you are bruised and broken by the pressures of life. Others have sinned against you and you feel scarred for life. You have old painful memories that have never been healed. You avoid prayer because you feel too distant, too unworthy, too defiled. Don't despair. The Father's heart is open wide to you -- you are welcome to come in. Perhaps you have prayed for many years but the words have grown brittle and cold. Little ever seems to happen anymore. God seems remote and inaccessible. Listen to me. The Father's heart is open wide to you -- you are welcome to come in. Perhaps prayer is the delight of your life. You have lived in God's love for a long time and can attest to his goodness. But you long for more. More power, more love, more reality in your life. Believe me. The Father's heart is open wide to you -- you too are welcome to come higher up and deeper in. If the key is prayer, the door is Jesus Christ. Isn't it good of God to provide us a way into the Father's house? God knows that we are stiff-necked, hard-hearted, far-off. And so he has provided a means of entrance -- Jesus, the Christ, lived, died, and rose from the grave that we might live through him. This is wonderfully good news. No longer do we have to stand outside barred from nearness to God by our sin and rebellion. We may now enter through the door of God's grace and mercy in Jesus Christ. Listen to me, Jesus receives you just as you are, and he receives your prayers just as they are. Just like a small child cannot draw a bad picture, a child of God cannot utter a bad prayer. As I close let me tell you about my friend Lyman James. Lyman is a radio disk jockey. One of the best. He's known on the radio as "Rymin' Lyman." He's also the father of three lovely children, and one day he was spending the afternoon in a shopping mall with his three-year-old son Zackery. But it was just one of those days and Zackery was in a particularly cantankerous mood, fussing and fuming. Lyman tried everything to quiet his son. Nothing seemed to help. Zackery simply would not obey. Then, I guess under some special inspiration, Lyman scooped up his son, and, holding him close to his chest, he began singing an impromptu love song to him. He just made it up. None of the words rhymed. He sang off-key. And yet, as best he could this father began sharing his heart with his son. "I love you, Zackery" he sang. "I'm so glad you're my boy. You make me happy. I like the way you laugh." Things like that. Zackery began to calm down. On they went from one store to the next. Quietly Lyman kept singing, making up words that didn't rhyme and were sung off-key. And Zackery laid his head on his father's shoulder, listening to this strange and wonderful song. Finally they finished shopping and went to the car. As Lyman opened the door and prepared to buckle his son into the car seat, Zackery lifted up his head and said simply, "Sing it to me again Daddy! Sing it to me again!" You see, prayer is a little like that. With simplicity of heart we allow ourselves to be gathered up into the arms of the Abba of Jesus and let him sing his love song over us.          Pray with me, will you?          Today, O Lord, we accept your acceptance of us.          We confess that you are always with us and always for us.          We receive into our hearts your grace, your mercy, your care.          We rest in your love, dear God, we rest in your love.          Amen . Interview with Richard Foster Interviewed by Orley Herron Orley Herron: Richard, as you were speaking and then as you prayed, I was reminded of when I was in a car with one of my friends years ago. We were discussing spiritual issues and he said, "Orley, let's pray about that." I thought we were going to pray about that down the road, or pull over to the curb, but he proceeded to pray while we were driving, and I was a little nervous about that. His eyes were open -- I wanted his eyes to be open! I noticed as you concluded that prayer, you prayed with your eyes open. Jesus was asked, "Teach us to pray." Richard, for all of us who want to pray in a more effective way, teach us today the steps of praying. Richard Foster: You know, your story is so wonderful because the first thing we learn about prayer is that we must begin right where we are, in the jobs that we have, in the families that we are in, with our neighbors or friends or work associates. We make such a mystery out of this business of the will of God. The surest sign that it is God's will to be where we are is that we are there. We want to throw that away and we want to say, "Oh, God can't bless me where I am. I can't pray where I am. I have to graduate. I have to be the President of this company." But you see, the only place God can bless us is right where we are because that is the only place we are. We start with our children or our spouses or roommates or friends or neighbors and begin to simply visit with God and interact with God in a kind of interactive communication about the things that concern us. People will sometimes ask me, "What do I pray about?" And I say, "What are you worried about?" "Oh, we can't get a baby sitter." We learn to pray for daily baby sitters or whatever it is in our lives. We begin by what is often called simple prayer. We just share with God and listen to God about the kinds of things that we are concerned about. We try not to worry about whether we have our motives straight or not. God will clear that up as we move along. We just let God know what is on our hearts. You know the old play and movie, "Fiddler on the Roof?" Herron: Yes. Foster: Tevye would just talk with God. That is simple prayer. That is the simplest way to begin, just right where we are, with the concerns that we have, share what is on our heart, and then be open to listen to God's speech in his wondrous, terrible, loving, all-embracing silence. Herron: That is wonderful, Richard. Let me ask another question. What about people who say if you pray, God will answer your prayer. How do we know when God answers? Foster: That is such a good question because it is this feeling that somehow I have got to have everything right, or I have got to ask in a certain way, or cock my head a certain way. We just share who we are and what we are. Then we listen in an interactive way, because many times God answers in ways completely different than we could have imagined. Sometimes, you see, God says, "Why yes, I would love to give you that. I thought you would never ask." Sometimes God says, "Oh, I love you too much to give you that." Sometimes God's refusals are the truest answer to our deepest prayers. Herron: Can we feel the prayers of people praying for us? Foster: You know, I think that we can. There are times when a kind of sense of perhaps the shalom of God, the peace of God, comes in a particular context or situation. We realize we are being surrounded by other people who have held us up into the arms of God, not always, but there is a sense in which prayer is almost a tangible kind of thing, invisible but intangible, in that it can be almost like a gentle pressure, a sort of baptism of love that we experience. Herron: What do you want people to pray about for you? Foster: That I might learn to live in an environment of the Holy Spirit, that I might learn to live and walk with God. As they said of Moses, "He was the friend of God." There is a wonderful writer called Jean-Pierre de Caussade and he said, "The soul light as a feather, fluid as water, innocent as a child, responds to every movement of grace like a floating balloon." I would like to learn to live that way. Herron: So would I. Thank you, Richard.
  • Opening slide for the series
  •     Richard Foster  "Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home"   Program #3722 First air date March 20, 1994       Biography Dr. Richard Foster is a writer, teacher, and church renewal expert. Well-known for his best-selling book, Celebration of Discipline, Richard's several books on spiritual development have become modern-day devotional classics. He's a three-time winner of the prestigious Gold Medallion Book Award, and his work has been translated into many languages throughout the world. Dr. Foster is Professor of Spiritual Formation at Azusa Pacific University in California. He was the founder of Renovaré, an organization whose mission is to nurture Christian spirituality in contemporary culture. He is also a minister in the Quaker church and lives in Colorado. [Biographical information is correct as of the broadcast date noted above.] "Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home" Leo Tolstoy tells the story of three hermits who lived on an island. Their prayer of intimacy and love was simple, like they were simple. Here is how they prayed: "We are three; you are three; have mercy on us. Amen." Miracles sometimes happened when they prayed in this way. But the bishop heard about these hermits and decided that they needed guidance in proper prayer, and so he went to their small island. After instructing them at length on the intricacies of true prayer, the bishop set sail for the mainland, pleased to have enlightened the souls of such simple folk. Suddenly, off the stern of the ship he saw a huge ball of light skimming across the ocean. It got closer and closer until, astonished, he realized that it was these three hermits running on top of the water. They climbed on board the ship and said, "Please honored bishop, we are so sorry, but we have forgotten some of your teaching. Would you please instruct us again?" Wisely the bishop shook his head and answered simply, "Forget everything I have taught you and continue to pray in your old way." This story reminds us, doesn't it, of the wondrous simplicity of prayer. Do you know why God answers prayer? It is because his children ask. It is as simple as that. You see we often make prayer far too complicated. In the summer of 1990 I was working on a book about prayer. Of course, it wasn't a book then, only jumbled ideas in my head and a thousand notes scrawled on scraps of paper and napkins and anything else I could find. For that summer the university library where I was teaching at the time had given me an entire room just for my research materials. They also had given me a special key so I could go there any time, day or night. Over the months I had been through about 300 books in the field of prayer -- classical books, contemporary books, books, books, books. My head was swimming with all the debates about prayer, all the definitions of prayer, all the divisions over prayer. I had read everything I could lay my hands on about -- Formation Prayer, Covenant Prayer, Adoration Prayer, Sacramental Prayer, Centering Prayer, Meditative Prayer, Intercessory Prayer, Healing Prayer, Authoritative Prayer, and so much more. At one point I had identified fully 41 distinct kinds of prayer in the writings of the Devotional Masters. I had learned absolutely every jot and tittle about lectio, oratio, silencio, contemplatio, meditatio. I had studied every nook and cranny of the purgative, illuminative, unitive, stages of prayer. I had gotten lost in Teresa of Avila's Interior Castle so many times that I didn't know what room was what. And I'll never forget that night in July, 1990. There I was in the library, all alone. Everyone had left hours ago. It was late. I had read too much -- studied too much -- I was experiencing overload. How in one book could anyone deal with all the difficulties of prayer and all the intricacies of prayer? There was no way! I threw up my hands, ready to abandon the project. "Forget it," I said. "The issues are too complicated, the task is too difficult. I just won't write the book!" And then something happened that is difficult for me to explain to you, even today. The only way I know to say it is that I saw something, and what I saw was the heart of God and the heart of God was an open wound of love . And then, as best I can discern it, I heard the voice of the true Shepherd -- not outwardly but inwardly -- saying, "I do not want you to abandon the project." "Instead, I want you to tell my children that my heart is broken. Tell them that I am hurt at their distance and preoccupation. Tell them I mourn that they do not draw near to me. Tell them I grieve that they have forgotten me. Tell them I weep over their obsession with muchness and manyness. Tell them, tell my children that I long for their presence." And so I am telling you. I am telling you that God is inviting you -- God is inviting me -- to come home; to come home to where we belong; to come home to that for which we were created. His arms are stretched out wide to receive us. His heart is enlarged to take us in. For too long we have been in a far country -- a country of noise and hurry and crowds; a country of climb and push and shove; a country of frustration and fear and intimidation. And he welcomes us home -- home to serenity and peace and joy; home to friendship and fellowship and openness; home to intimacy and acceptance and affirmation. And we don't need to be shy. He invites us into the living room of his heart where we can put on old slippers and share freely. He invites us into the kitchen of his friendship where chatter and batter mix in good fun. He invites us into the dining room of his strength where we can feast to our heart's delight. He invites us into the study of his wisdom where we can learn and grow and stretch and ask all the questions we want. He invites us into the workshop of his creativity where we can be co-laborers with him, working together to determine the outcome of events. And he invites us into the bedroom of his rest where new peace is found, and where we can be naked and vulnerable and free. It is also the place of deepest intimacy where we know and are known to the fullest. The key into this home, which is the heart of God, is prayer. Perhaps you have never prayed before except in anguish or terror. It may be that the only time the divine name has been on your lips is in angry expletives. Never mind. I am here to tell you that the Father's heart is open wide to you --you are welcome to come in. Perhaps you do not believe in prayer. You tried to pray before and were profoundly disappointed ... and disillusioned. You have little faith, or none. It does not matter. The Father's heart is open wide to you -- you are welcome to come in. Perhaps you are bruised and broken by the pressures of life. Others have sinned against you and you feel scarred for life. You have old painful memories that have never been healed. You avoid prayer because you feel too distant, too unworthy, too defiled. Don't despair. The Father's heart is open wide to you -- you are welcome to come in. Perhaps you have prayed for many years but the words have grown brittle and cold. Little ever seems to happen anymore. God seems remote and inaccessible. Listen to me. The Father's heart is open wide to you -- you are welcome to come in. Perhaps prayer is the delight of your life. You have lived in God's love for a long time and can attest to his goodness. But you long for more. More power, more love, more reality in your life. Believe me. The Father's heart is open wide to you -- you too are welcome to come higher up and deeper in. If the key is prayer, the door is Jesus Christ. Isn't it good of God to provide us a way into the Father's house? God knows that we are stiff-necked, hard-hearted, far-off. And so he has provided a means of entrance -- Jesus, the Christ, lived, died, and rose from the grave that we might live through him. This is wonderfully good news. No longer do we have to stand outside barred from nearness to God by our sin and rebellion. We may now enter through the door of God's grace and mercy in Jesus Christ. Listen to me, Jesus receives you just as you are, and he receives your prayers just as they are. Just like a small child cannot draw a bad picture, a child of God cannot utter a bad prayer. As I close let me tell you about my friend Lyman James. Lyman is a radio disk jockey. One of the best. He's known on the radio as "Rymin' Lyman." He's also the father of three lovely children, and one day he was spending the afternoon in a shopping mall with his three-year-old son Zackery. But it was just one of those days and Zackery was in a particularly cantankerous mood, fussing and fuming. Lyman tried everything to quiet his son. Nothing seemed to help. Zackery simply would not obey. Then, I guess under some special inspiration, Lyman scooped up his son, and, holding him close to his chest, he began singing an impromptu love song to him. He just made it up. None of the words rhymed. He sang off-key. And yet, as best he could this father began sharing his heart with his son. "I love you, Zackery" he sang. "I'm so glad you're my boy. You make me happy. I like the way you laugh." Things like that. Zackery began to calm down. On they went from one store to the next. Quietly Lyman kept singing, making up words that didn't rhyme and were sung off-key. And Zackery laid his head on his father's shoulder, listening to this strange and wonderful song. Finally they finished shopping and went to the car. As Lyman opened the door and prepared to buckle his son into the car seat, Zackery lifted up his head and said simply, "Sing it to me again Daddy! Sing it to me again!" You see, prayer is a little like that. With simplicity of heart we allow ourselves to be gathered up into the arms of the Abba of Jesus and let him sing his love song over us.          Pray with me, will you?          Today, O Lord, we accept your acceptance of us.          We confess that you are always with us and always for us.          We receive into our hearts your grace, your mercy, your care.          We rest in your love, dear God, we rest in your love.          Amen . Interview with Richard Foster Interviewed by Orley Herron Orley Herron: Richard, as you were speaking and then as you prayed, I was reminded of when I was in a car with one of my friends years ago. We were discussing spiritual issues and he said, "Orley, let's pray about that." I thought we were going to pray about that down the road, or pull over to the curb, but he proceeded to pray while we were driving, and I was a little nervous about that. His eyes were open -- I wanted his eyes to be open! I noticed as you concluded that prayer, you prayed with your eyes open. Jesus was asked, "Teach us to pray." Richard, for all of us who want to pray in a more effective way, teach us today the steps of praying. Richard Foster: You know, your story is so wonderful because the first thing we learn about prayer is that we must begin right where we are, in the jobs that we have, in the families that we are in, with our neighbors or friends or work associates. We make such a mystery out of this business of the will of God. The surest sign that it is God's will to be where we are is that we are there. We want to throw that away and we want to say, "Oh, God can't bless me where I am. I can't pray where I am. I have to graduate. I have to be the President of this company." But you see, the only place God can bless us is right where we are because that is the only place we are. We start with our children or our spouses or roommates or friends or neighbors and begin to simply visit with God and interact with God in a kind of interactive communication about the things that concern us. People will sometimes ask me, "What do I pray about?" And I say, "What are you worried about?" "Oh, we can't get a baby sitter." We learn to pray for daily baby sitters or whatever it is in our lives. We begin by what is often called simple prayer. We just share with God and listen to God about the kinds of things that we are concerned about. We try not to worry about whether we have our motives straight or not. God will clear that up as we move along. We just let God know what is on our hearts. You know the old play and movie, "Fiddler on the Roof?" Herron: Yes. Foster: Tevye would just talk with God. That is simple prayer. That is the simplest way to begin, just right where we are, with the concerns that we have, share what is on our heart, and then be open to listen to God's speech in his wondrous, terrible, loving, all-embracing silence. Herron: That is wonderful, Richard. Let me ask another question. What about people who say if you pray, God will answer your prayer. How do we know when God answers? Foster: That is such a good question because it is this feeling that somehow I have got to have everything right, or I have got to ask in a certain way, or cock my head a certain way. We just share who we are and what we are. Then we listen in an interactive way, because many times God answers in ways completely different than we could have imagined. Sometimes, you see, God says, "Why yes, I would love to give you that. I thought you would never ask." Sometimes God says, "Oh, I love you too much to give you that." Sometimes God's refusals are the truest answer to our deepest prayers. Herron: Can we feel the prayers of people praying for us? Foster: You know, I think that we can. There are times when a kind of sense of perhaps the shalom of God, the peace of God, comes in a particular context or situation. We realize we are being surrounded by other people who have held us up into the arms of God, not always, but there is a sense in which prayer is almost a tangible kind of thing, invisible but intangible, in that it can be almost like a gentle pressure, a sort of baptism of love that we experience. Herron: What do you want people to pray about for you? Foster: That I might learn to live in an environment of the Holy Spirit, that I might learn to live and walk with God. As they said of Moses, "He was the friend of God." There is a wonderful writer called Jean-Pierre de Caussade and he said, "The soul light as a feather, fluid as water, innocent as a child, responds to every movement of grace like a floating balloon." I would like to learn to live that way. Herron: So would I. Thank you, Richard.
  • Opening slide for the series
  •     Richard Foster  "Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home"   Program #3722 First air date March 20, 1994       Biography Dr. Richard Foster is a writer, teacher, and church renewal expert. Well-known for his best-selling book, Celebration of Discipline, Richard's several books on spiritual development have become modern-day devotional classics. He's a three-time winner of the prestigious Gold Medallion Book Award, and his work has been translated into many languages throughout the world. Dr. Foster is Professor of Spiritual Formation at Azusa Pacific University in California. He was the founder of Renovaré, an organization whose mission is to nurture Christian spirituality in contemporary culture. He is also a minister in the Quaker church and lives in Colorado. [Biographical information is correct as of the broadcast date noted above.] "Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home" Leo Tolstoy tells the story of three hermits who lived on an island. Their prayer of intimacy and love was simple, like they were simple. Here is how they prayed: "We are three; you are three; have mercy on us. Amen." Miracles sometimes happened when they prayed in this way. But the bishop heard about these hermits and decided that they needed guidance in proper prayer, and so he went to their small island. After instructing them at length on the intricacies of true prayer, the bishop set sail for the mainland, pleased to have enlightened the souls of such simple folk. Suddenly, off the stern of the ship he saw a huge ball of light skimming across the ocean. It got closer and closer until, astonished, he realized that it was these three hermits running on top of the water. They climbed on board the ship and said, "Please honored bishop, we are so sorry, but we have forgotten some of your teaching. Would you please instruct us again?" Wisely the bishop shook his head and answered simply, "Forget everything I have taught you and continue to pray in your old way." This story reminds us, doesn't it, of the wondrous simplicity of prayer. Do you know why God answers prayer? It is because his children ask. It is as simple as that. You see we often make prayer far too complicated. In the summer of 1990 I was working on a book about prayer. Of course, it wasn't a book then, only jumbled ideas in my head and a thousand notes scrawled on scraps of paper and napkins and anything else I could find. For that summer the university library where I was teaching at the time had given me an entire room just for my research materials. They also had given me a special key so I could go there any time, day or night. Over the months I had been through about 300 books in the field of prayer -- classical books, contemporary books, books, books, books. My head was swimming with all the debates about prayer, all the definitions of prayer, all the divisions over prayer. I had read everything I could lay my hands on about -- Formation Prayer, Covenant Prayer, Adoration Prayer, Sacramental Prayer, Centering Prayer, Meditative Prayer, Intercessory Prayer, Healing Prayer, Authoritative Prayer, and so much more. At one point I had identified fully 41 distinct kinds of prayer in the writings of the Devotional Masters. I had learned absolutely every jot and tittle about lectio, oratio, silencio, contemplatio, meditatio. I had studied every nook and cranny of the purgative, illuminative, unitive, stages of prayer. I had gotten lost in Teresa of Avila's Interior Castle so many times that I didn't know what room was what. And I'll never forget that night in July, 1990. There I was in the library, all alone. Everyone had left hours ago. It was late. I had read too much -- studied too much -- I was experiencing overload. How in one book could anyone deal with all the difficulties of prayer and all the intricacies of prayer? There was no way! I threw up my hands, ready to abandon the project. "Forget it," I said. "The issues are too complicated, the task is too difficult. I just won't write the book!" And then something happened that is difficult for me to explain to you, even today. The only way I know to say it is that I saw something, and what I saw was the heart of God and the heart of God was an open wound of love . And then, as best I can discern it, I heard the voice of the true Shepherd -- not outwardly but inwardly -- saying, "I do not want you to abandon the project." "Instead, I want you to tell my children that my heart is broken. Tell them that I am hurt at their distance and preoccupation. Tell them I mourn that they do not draw near to me. Tell them I grieve that they have forgotten me. Tell them I weep over their obsession with muchness and manyness. Tell them, tell my children that I long for their presence." And so I am telling you. I am telling you that God is inviting you -- God is inviting me -- to come home; to come home to where we belong; to come home to that for which we were created. His arms are stretched out wide to receive us. His heart is enlarged to take us in. For too long we have been in a far country -- a country of noise and hurry and crowds; a country of climb and push and shove; a country of frustration and fear and intimidation. And he welcomes us home -- home to serenity and peace and joy; home to friendship and fellowship and openness; home to intimacy and acceptance and affirmation. And we don't need to be shy. He invites us into the living room of his heart where we can put on old slippers and share freely. He invites us into the kitchen of his friendship where chatter and batter mix in good fun. He invites us into the dining room of his strength where we can feast to our heart's delight. He invites us into the study of his wisdom where we can learn and grow and stretch and ask all the questions we want. He invites us into the workshop of his creativity where we can be co-laborers with him, working together to determine the outcome of events. And he invites us into the bedroom of his rest where new peace is found, and where we can be naked and vulnerable and free. It is also the place of deepest intimacy where we know and are known to the fullest. The key into this home, which is the heart of God, is prayer. Perhaps you have never prayed before except in anguish or terror. It may be that the only time the divine name has been on your lips is in angry expletives. Never mind. I am here to tell you that the Father's heart is open wide to you --you are welcome to come in. Perhaps you do not believe in prayer. You tried to pray before and were profoundly disappointed ... and disillusioned. You have little faith, or none. It does not matter. The Father's heart is open wide to you -- you are welcome to come in. Perhaps you are bruised and broken by the pressures of life. Others have sinned against you and you feel scarred for life. You have old painful memories that have never been healed. You avoid prayer because you feel too distant, too unworthy, too defiled. Don't despair. The Father's heart is open wide to you -- you are welcome to come in. Perhaps you have prayed for many years but the words have grown brittle and cold. Little ever seems to happen anymore. God seems remote and inaccessible. Listen to me. The Father's heart is open wide to you -- you are welcome to come in. Perhaps prayer is the delight of your life. You have lived in God's love for a long time and can attest to his goodness. But you long for more. More power, more love, more reality in your life. Believe me. The Father's heart is open wide to you -- you too are welcome to come higher up and deeper in. If the key is prayer, the door is Jesus Christ. Isn't it good of God to provide us a way into the Father's house? God knows that we are stiff-necked, hard-hearted, far-off. And so he has provided a means of entrance -- Jesus, the Christ, lived, died, and rose from the grave that we might live through him. This is wonderfully good news. No longer do we have to stand outside barred from nearness to God by our sin and rebellion. We may now enter through the door of God's grace and mercy in Jesus Christ. Listen to me, Jesus receives you just as you are, and he receives your prayers just as they are. Just like a small child cannot draw a bad picture, a child of God cannot utter a bad prayer. As I close let me tell you about my friend Lyman James. Lyman is a radio disk jockey. One of the best. He's known on the radio as "Rymin' Lyman." He's also the father of three lovely children, and one day he was spending the afternoon in a shopping mall with his three-year-old son Zackery. But it was just one of those days and Zackery was in a particularly cantankerous mood, fussing and fuming. Lyman tried everything to quiet his son. Nothing seemed to help. Zackery simply would not obey. Then, I guess under some special inspiration, Lyman scooped up his son, and, holding him close to his chest, he began singing an impromptu love song to him. He just made it up. None of the words rhymed. He sang off-key. And yet, as best he could this father began sharing his heart with his son. "I love you, Zackery" he sang. "I'm so glad you're my boy. You make me happy. I like the way you laugh." Things like that. Zackery began to calm down. On they went from one store to the next. Quietly Lyman kept singing, making up words that didn't rhyme and were sung off-key. And Zackery laid his head on his father's shoulder, listening to this strange and wonderful song. Finally they finished shopping and went to the car. As Lyman opened the door and prepared to buckle his son into the car seat, Zackery lifted up his head and said simply, "Sing it to me again Daddy! Sing it to me again!" You see, prayer is a little like that. With simplicity of heart we allow ourselves to be gathered up into the arms of the Abba of Jesus and let him sing his love song over us.          Pray with me, will you?          Today, O Lord, we accept your acceptance of us.          We confess that you are always with us and always for us.          We receive into our hearts your grace, your mercy, your care.          We rest in your love, dear God, we rest in your love.          Amen . Interview with Richard Foster Interviewed by Orley Herron Orley Herron: Richard, as you were speaking and then as you prayed, I was reminded of when I was in a car with one of my friends years ago. We were discussing spiritual issues and he said, "Orley, let's pray about that." I thought we were going to pray about that down the road, or pull over to the curb, but he proceeded to pray while we were driving, and I was a little nervous about that. His eyes were open -- I wanted his eyes to be open! I noticed as you concluded that prayer, you prayed with your eyes open. Jesus was asked, "Teach us to pray." Richard, for all of us who want to pray in a more effective way, teach us today the steps of praying. Richard Foster: You know, your story is so wonderful because the first thing we learn about prayer is that we must begin right where we are, in the jobs that we have, in the families that we are in, with our neighbors or friends or work associates. We make such a mystery out of this business of the will of God. The surest sign that it is God's will to be where we are is that we are there. We want to throw that away and we want to say, "Oh, God can't bless me where I am. I can't pray where I am. I have to graduate. I have to be the President of this company." But you see, the only place God can bless us is right where we are because that is the only place we are. We start with our children or our spouses or roommates or friends or neighbors and begin to simply visit with God and interact with God in a kind of interactive communication about the things that concern us. People will sometimes ask me, "What do I pray about?" And I say, "What are you worried about?" "Oh, we can't get a baby sitter." We learn to pray for daily baby sitters or whatever it is in our lives. We begin by what is often called simple prayer. We just share with God and listen to God about the kinds of things that we are concerned about. We try not to worry about whether we have our motives straight or not. God will clear that up as we move along. We just let God know what is on our hearts. You know the old play and movie, "Fiddler on the Roof?" Herron: Yes. Foster: Tevye would just talk with God. That is simple prayer. That is the simplest way to begin, just right where we are, with the concerns that we have, share what is on our heart, and then be open to listen to God's speech in his wondrous, terrible, loving, all-embracing silence. Herron: That is wonderful, Richard. Let me ask another question. What about people who say if you pray, God will answer your prayer. How do we know when God answers? Foster: That is such a good question because it is this feeling that somehow I have got to have everything right, or I have got to ask in a certain way, or cock my head a certain way. We just share who we are and what we are. Then we listen in an interactive way, because many times God answers in ways completely different than we could have imagined. Sometimes, you see, God says, "Why yes, I would love to give you that. I thought you would never ask." Sometimes God says, "Oh, I love you too much to give you that." Sometimes God's refusals are the truest answer to our deepest prayers. Herron: Can we feel the prayers of people praying for us? Foster: You know, I think that we can. There are times when a kind of sense of perhaps the shalom of God, the peace of God, comes in a particular context or situation. We realize we are being surrounded by other people who have held us up into the arms of God, not always, but there is a sense in which prayer is almost a tangible kind of thing, invisible but intangible, in that it can be almost like a gentle pressure, a sort of baptism of love that we experience. Herron: What do you want people to pray about for you? Foster: That I might learn to live in an environment of the Holy Spirit, that I might learn to live and walk with God. As they said of Moses, "He was the friend of God." There is a wonderful writer called Jean-Pierre de Caussade and he said, "The soul light as a feather, fluid as water, innocent as a child, responds to every movement of grace like a floating balloon." I would like to learn to live that way. Herron: So would I. Thank you, Richard.
  • Opening slide for the series
  • 17 Intimately related to constant joy is incessant prayer--the only way to cultivate a joyful attitude in times of trial. Uninterrupted communication with God keeps temporal and spiritual values in balance. Adialeiptos ("continually"; cf. Rom 1:9 ; 1Thess 1:2 , 3 ; 2:13 ) does not mean some sort of nonstop praying. Rather, it implies constantly recurring prayer, growing out of a settled attitude of dependence on God. Whether words are uttered or not, lifting the heart to God while one is occupied with miscellaneous duties is the vital thing. Verbalized prayer will be spontaneous and will punctuate one's daily schedule as it did Paul's writings ( 3:11-13 ; 2Thess 2:16 , 17 ).
  • Transcript

    • 1. Prayer and Intercession Sharing the “Passion of Jesus” Eight sessions of learning and growing in Prayer and Intercession (Bethlehem Baptist Church 2006 with John C. Douglas) Session #1 – “Welcome to Prayer”
    • 2. Author Richard Foster . . .
      • The heart of God is an open wound of love …
      • God’s heart is our true home …
      • The key to this home, this heart of God is prayer …
      • If prayer is the key, the door is Jesus Christ.
    • 3. The next eight sessions . . .
      • Getting Praying – “Welcome to Prayer”
      • How we pray - Inspiration from the Old Testament
      • How we pray - Inspiration from the New Testament
      • Becoming “Prayer-lifestylers”
      • What intercession is
      • Intercession and Intercessors
      • The Spirit and the Intercession task
      • Praying without Ceasing
    • 4. Praying and growing as a praying person
      • Prayer is right at the heart of the Christian life.
      To be a Christian is not chiefly to fulfill a series of duties; it is to know a relationship with Jesus Christ. The most characteristic way this relationship is expressed is through prayer.
    • 5. Grounding Text #1
      • ACTS 2:41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
      • 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship , to the breaking of bread and to prayer .
    • 6.
      • When we pray we talk to someone we cannot see, which is not a natural activity.
      • So not surprisingly some people coming fresh to prayer find it hard to get started.
      • This strangeness soon evaporates once a healthy pattern of prayer has been established, and
      • Prayer becomes a new and most enriching dimension to life.
    • 7. Grounding Text #2
      • MATTHEW 6:5 Jesus said to them … “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.
    • 8. Some of the common questions asked by beginners in prayer . . .
      • When should I pray?
      • Most people find a regular pattern most helpful, praying at a set time each day.
      • Is there a set posture for prayer?
      • No. Some find kneeling most helpful; some sitting; some prefer to walk about. Lying down is seldom a good idea!
      • Should I use set forms of words?
      • Many find reassurance and stimulation from using books of prayers, interweaving them with times of prayer in their own words.
    • 9.
      • Should I pray out loud?
      • Not necessarily; some just think the words in their heads. It can be surprisingly helpful to utter our prayers, even privately.
      •   What should I pray about?
      • Everything that is really important to you - yourself and other people, local and worldwide needs.
      •   How do I sense that God is present?
      • By starting each time of prayer with a reading from the Bible. Using the Bible ensures it is the true God we are talking to, not some projection of our hopes and fears. Remember, part of our times of prayer are devoted to listening to God as well as talking to him.
    • 10. Grounding Text #3
      • LUKE 11:9 "So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
    • 11. Session #2 “ How we Pray: Inspiration from the Old Testament”
    • 12. God calls each person to the mysterious encounter of prayer . . .
      • “ . . . God’s revelation of prayer begins in the Old Testament telling the whole history of salvation in the Psalms, the patriarchal, the kingly and prophetic traditions and revealing the dynamics of prayer and some of the language of prayer that continues today.”
            • Father John Pollard, Director: Department of Evangelization and Catechesis, Archdiocese of Chicago, ILL
    • 13. We will draw our inspiration from three Old Testament sources . . .
      • Patriarchs
      • Prophets, and
      • Psalms
    • 14. In the life of the patriarch Abraham prayer seems to have . . .
      • Taken the form of a dialogue   God and man drawing near and talking to each other (Genesis 18, 19);
      • Developing into intercession (Genesis 17:18; 18:23,32), and then into
      • Personal prayer (Genesis 15:2; 24:12)
    • 15. Grounding Text #1
      • Genesis 18:26 The LORD said, "If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.“ 27 Then Abraham spoke up again: "Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, 28 what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city because of five people?“ "If I find forty-five there," he said, "I will not destroy it."
    • 16.
      • Genesis 18:32 Then he said, "May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?“ He answered, "For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.“
      • Genesis 15:2 But Abram said, "O Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?" 3 And Abram said, "You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir."
    • 17. Intercession for others, seeking revelation, wisdom in leadership, and imparting blessing are the “hallmarks” of Patriarchal Prayers
      • Isaac – Genesis 25:21
      • Jacob – Genesis 32:9
      • Joseph – Deuteronomy 33:13
      • Moses’ prayers are ones of dialogue and contemplative prophecy that is described as mediation and intercession .
    • 18. With the Prophets “Praying Precedes Proclamation” . . .
      • Isaiah
      • Amos
      • Nathan
      • Elisha
      • Jeremiah.
    • 19. Grounding Text #2
      • Isaiah 37:21 Then Isaiah son of Amoz sent a message to Hezekiah: "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Because you have prayed to me concerning Sennacherib king of Assyria, 22 this is the word the LORD has spoken against him:
      • Amos 7:4 This is what the Sovereign LORD showed me: The Sovereign LORD was calling for judgment by fire; it dried up the great deep and devoured the land. 5 Then I cried out, "Sovereign LORD , I beg you, stop! How can Jacob survive? He is so small!"
    • 20.
      • 2 Samuel 7:4 That night the word of the LORD came to Nathan , saying: 5 "Go and tell my servant David, `This is what the LORD says: Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in?
      • 2 Kings 6:17 And Elisha prayed , "O LORD, open his eyes so he may see." Then the LORD opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
      • Jeremiah 42:7 Ten days later the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah. 8 So he called together Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers who were with him and all the people from the least to the greatest. 9 He said to them, "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, to Whom you sent me to present your petition , says:
    • 21.
      • The prophets were generally intercessors , e.g., Elijah – 1 Kings 18
      • Yet personal prayers are found among the prophets - Jeremiah 20;33:3; 42:4; Amos 7
      • They tell us the neglect of prayer is grievous to the Lord - Isaiah 43:21-22; 64:6-7
      • And, many evils in life are to be attributed to the lack of prayer – Zephaniah 1:4-6; Daniel 9:13-14; Hosea 7:13-14; 8:13-14
      • It is a sin to neglect prayer - 1 Samuel 12:23.
    • 22. Psalms “Doorway to Prayer” . . .
      • In the Psalms prayer takes the form of a pouring out of the heart . . .
        • These things I remember as I pour out my soul : how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng. - 42:4
        • Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. 62:8
        • Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs . – 100:2.
    • 23.
      • The psalmist does not seem to go before God with fixed and orderly petitions so much as simply to pour out his feelings and desires , whether
        • sweet or bitter,
        • troubled or peaceful.
    • 24.
      • The prayers of the Psalms and Psalmists consist of varying moods:
        • complaint,
        • supplication,
        • confession,
        • despondency,
        • praise.
      • It is in the Psalms that practices/disciplines of daily prayer are rooted.
    • 25. Grounding Text #3
      • 119:164 "Seven times a day I have praised Thee "
      • 55:18 "Evening and morning, and at noonday will I speak and declare ...“
      • 4:1 Answer me when I call to you , O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer.
      • 66:20 Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!
    • 26. Intimacy with the One who knows the very thoughts and intents of the heart Extolling the One who is worthy of all praise, glory and honour Calling on God for forgiveness, deliverance and strength Praying for self on the basis of God’s loving kindness and faithfulness Listening to the God who listens to the heart PSALMS Confessing fears and inadequacy for their tasks Awareness of God’s majesty and rulership over creation Trusting their needs to God, especially for safety and provision Praying for a nation who does not heed the Divine voice Talking with the God whose message they communicate PROPHETS Trusting God in disappointment and adversity Worshipping God through obedience and sacrifice Seeking God for heirs and fulfilment of promises Imploring God for mercy on behalf of others Interacting with God PATRIARCHS Pouring out the Heart Adoration and Worship Personal Prayer Intercession Prayer as Dialogue ©BBC 2006
    • 27. Now . . .
      • Let’s summarise the inspirations of the Patriarchs, Prophets and Psalms . . .
    • 28. Session #3 “ How we Pray: Inspiration from the New Testament”
    • 29. E. M. Bounds on praying for living in the present . . .
      • When we pray, "Give us this day our daily bread," we are, in a measure, shutting tomorrow out of our prayer. We do not live in tomorrow but in today We do not seek tomorrow's grace or tomorrow's bread. They thrive best, and get most out of life, who live in the living present. They pray best who pray for today's needs, not for tomorrow's, which may render our prayers unnecessary and redundant by not existing at all!
            • From Chapter 1 “Prayer and Faith” in The Necessity of Prayer by E.M. Bounds
    • 30.
      • Jesus
      • Paul, and
      • Struggling People
      Inspiration from two New Testament characters and one “group” . . .
    • 31. We will spend our time . . .
      • LOOKING at Jesus
      • LISTENING to Paul, and
      • LEARNING from “Struggling People”
    • 32. Looking at Jesus . . .
      • Prayer in the public place
      • Prayer in the private Place
      • Prayer in preparation for decision making
      • Prayer – equals reorientation to the mission
      • Prayer equals impartation of blessings into the lives of others
      • Prayer as the environment for revelation of His “Divine Identity ”.
    • 33. Grounding Text #1
      • Luke 3:21 When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying , heaven was opened 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove.
      • Matthew 14:23 After Jesus had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray .
      • Mark 1:35 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 .
    • 34.
      • Luke 5:15 Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. 16 But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed .
      • Matthew 19:13 Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them.
      • Luke 6:12 One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray , and spent the night praying to God. 13 When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles:
    • 35.
      • Luke 9:18 Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, "Who do the crowds say I am?“
      • 9:28 About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray . 29 As he was praying , the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.
    • 36. Listening to Paul . . .
      • In the New Testament, Paul gives us exhortation in prayer patterns for other Christians . . .
    • 37. Pray that other Christians …
      • Don’t sin
      • 2 Corinthians 13:7
        • Now we pray to God that you will not do anything wrong. Not that people will see that we have stood the test but that you will do what is right even though we may seem to have failed. 
        • Love may increase
        • Philippians 1:9
          • And this is my prayer : that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight,
    • 38. . . . Pray that other Christians …
      • Might know God's will
      • Colossians 1:9
        • For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding
      •  
      • Might be sanctified
      • 1 Thessalonians 5:23
        • May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
    • 39. . . . Pray that other Christians …
      • May be worthy of God's calling
      • 2 Thessalonians 1:11
        • With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith.
      • May do God's work
      • Colossians 1:10
        • And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,
    • 40. . . . Pray that other Christians …
      • May effectively communicate God's message
      • 2 Thessalonians 3:1
        • Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you.
    • 41. Grounding Text #2
      • Romans 12:10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honour one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer . 13 Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
    • 42. Learning from “Struggling People” . . .
      • Asking is always appropriate
      • Reaching leads to receiving
      • Right source is more important than “right words ”
      • Faith’s a “common denominator”
      • Jesus viewed “struggling people” as priority in His busy schedule .
    • 43. Grounding Text #3
      • Matthew 9:18 While Jesus was saying this, a ruler came and knelt before him and said, "My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live." 19 Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples.
      • 20 Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. 21 She said to herself, "If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed."
      • 22 Jesus turned and saw her. "Take heart, daughter," he said, "your faith has healed you." And the woman was healed from that moment.
      • 23 When Jesus entered the ruler's house and saw the flute players and the noisy crowd, 24 he said, "Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep." But they laughed at him. 25 After the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up. 26 News of this spread through all that region.
    • 44.
      • Let’s summarise inspirations from Jesus, Paul and “Struggling People” . . .
      Now . . .
    • 45.
      • LOOKING at Jesus
      • LISTENING to Paul, and
      • LEARNING from “Struggling People”
      Prayer pre-supposes, grows, renews and establishes relationship with God , His people and those who are seeking Him .
    • 46. Session #4 “ Becoming Prayer Lifestylers”
    • 47. From Brother Lawrence’s kitchen . . .
      • We ought to act with God in the greatest simplicity, speaking to him frankly and plainly, and imploring his assistance in our affairs, just as they happen.
    • 48. LUKE 11:1
      • One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples."
    • 49. In the Scriptures there people who were Disciples of . . .
      • Moses
      • The Pharisees
      • Themselves
      • Human Philosophies
      • Other gods/religions
      • John the Baptist
      • Jesus
    • 50.
      • All Disciples Pray
      • They Pray in the “ patterns in the teaching of their beliefs ”
      • The patterns of Jesus’ beliefs are;
        • The Kingdom of God , and
        • Expressed in Jesus’ “ Sermon on the Mount teaching ”.
    • 51. He said to them, "When you pray, say . . .
      • 2 "`Father, hallowed be your name,
      • your kingdom come.
      • 3 Give us each day our daily bread.
      • 4 Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
      • And lead us not into temptation. ' "
    • 52. Forgiveness is in the past tense in Matthew and in the present-continuous tense in Luke Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. Deliverance from the devil (evil one) reflects Jewish Psalmody And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. And lead us not into temptation none Give us today our daily bread. Give us each day our daily bread The Kingdom comes as “the will of the God of the heavens” qualitatively expressed in the earth your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. your kingdom come none " `Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, Father, hallowed be your name Differences MATTHEW 6:9-13 LUKE 11:2-4
    • 53. Matthew 6:14-15 Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. Matthew 12:25-28 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. And lead us not into temptation Matthew 6:31-34 Give us today our daily bread. Give us each day our daily bread Matthew 13:31; Luke 11:20 your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. your kingdom come John 17:25-26 " `Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, Father, hallowed be your name Expressed in Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount/Kingdom of God teaching” MATTHEW 6:9-13 LUKE 11:2-4
    • 54. Grounding Text #1
      • John 17:25 "Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them."
      Father, hallowed be Your name
    • 55. Grounding Text #2
      • Matthew 13:31 He told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. 32 Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.“
      • LUKE 11:20 But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you.
      Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven
    • 56. Grounding Text #3
      • MATTHEW 6:31 So do not worry, saying, `What shall we eat?' or `What shall we drink?' or `What shall we wear?' 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
      Give us each day our daily bread
    • 57. Grounding Text #4
      • MATTHEW 6:14 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
      Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors
    • 58. Grounding Text #5
      • MATTHEW 12:25 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. 26 If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? 27 And if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. 28 But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
      lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one
    • 59.
      • Our heavenly Father is our loving deliverer
      • Participating in the coming/growing of His kingdom is my heart’s commitment
      • Because he feeds me, I can share my bread with others
      • Both He and I are forgivers of sins
      • He leads me, but never into temptation to sin … just to do His will on earth.
      Now, as I think about it . . . Our Prayer grown lifestyle is growing in knowing that . . .
    • 60. Session #5 “ What Intercession Is”
    • 61. Intercession is . . .
      • “ . . . prayer on behalf of another , and naturally arises from the instinct of the human heart -- not merely prompted by affection and interest, but recognizing that God's relation to man is not merely individual, but social”
      • L. D. Bevan, Intercession in the “International Standard Bible Encyclopedia”
    • 62.
      • Intercession is listed in 1 Timothy 2:1-4 as one of several activities done on behalf of others, along with requests, prayers and thanksgiving.
    • 63. Grounding Text #1
      • I Timothy 2;1-4 “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone-- 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
    • 64. Three basic divisions of intercession . . .
      • Individual intercession,
      • Team intercession, and
      • Corporate intercession
    • 65. Individual intercession
      • The Bible example of a man standing in the gap as a supplicant
    • 66. Team intercession
      • The Biblical picture of a warrior
    • 67. Corporate intercession
      • the Biblical illustration of a watchman
    • 68. Grounding Text #2
      • II Chronicles 6:21 “Hear the supplications of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven, your dwelling place; and when you hear, forgive.”
      • Luke 18:1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: "In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, `Grant me justice against my adversary.‘
      • Isaiah 62:6 I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the LORD, give yourselves no rest, 7 and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth.
    • 69. Intercession - what it is to . . .
      • Patriarchs
      • Prophets
      • Psalmists
      • Jesus
      • Paul
      • Struggling People
    • 70. Matthew 8:5 Pray for their servants and children They interceded for God’s grace and power for those in their care. Struggling People I Thessalonians 3:10 Prays for the Thessalonians He prays daily/continually of their behalf. Paul Matthew 23:37 Jesus prays for Jerusalem His knowledge (as a prophet) of Jerusalem's future fortunes, did not with interfere His passion for the city’s people Jesus II Samuel 2:16 David prays for Sons’ lives and futures His own failures did not neutralise his choices to pray for what would be “varied outcomes” Psalmists Jeremiah 29:7 Daniel for the Nation He accepted the responsibility to be committed to the welfare of his captors Prophets Exodus 32:31 Moses prays for Israel He was prepared to sacrifice own comfort, safety and future Patriarchs Scripture Reference Example Intercession Meant
    • 71. Grounding Text #3
      • EXODUS 32:31 So Moses went back to the LORD and said, "Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold. 32 But now, please forgive their sin--but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.“
      • JEREMIAH 29:7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.“
      • II SAMUEL 2:16 David pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and went into his house and spent the nights lying on the ground.
    • 72.
      • MATTHEW 23:37 "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.
      • I THESSALONIANS 3:10 Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith.
      • MATTHEW 8:5 When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. 6 "Lord," he said, "my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering."
    • 73.
      • Is prayer on behalf of another,
      • It naturally arises from the instinct of the human heart
      • It is not merely prompted by affection and interest
      • It recognizes that God's relation to mankind is not merely individual, but social”
      Now . . . intercession . . .
    • 74. Session #6 “ Intercession and Intercessors”
    • 75. Intercession is . . .
      • “ . . . prayer on behalf of another , and naturally arises from the instinct of the human heart -- not merely prompted by affection and interest, but recognizing that God's relation to man is not merely individual, but social”
      • L. D. Bevan, Intercession in the “International Standard Bible Encyclopedia”
    • 76. What’s an Intercessor?
      • An intercessor is someone who is especially called and equipped by God through the Holy Spirit to spend time in earnest prayer for others.
      • Someone who stands ‘in the gap’ for another
      • One who "stands in the gap" between God and humankind.
    • 77. Grounding Text #1
      • I Kings 8:22 Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in front of the whole assembly of Israel, spread out his hands toward heaven 23 and said:
      • Ezekiel 23:30 "I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none.
    • 78. How do you become an Intercessor?
      • Simply by receiving such burdens from God to pray for others.
      • You learn from the Holy Spirit how to pray for certain people or groups.
        • "Ask me, and I will tell you things that you don't know and can't find out." (Jeremiah 33:3)
    • 79. Christians are Intercessors . . .
      • SOME (15%) by calling, revelation-related spiritual gifts, motivation and compassion-based disciplined commitment of time/energy
      The some are firstly and foremostly part of the all … it is as a result of “gifted stewardship” they engage in the ministry of intercession ALL (100%) by common responsibility, ability and the gift of the Spirit received through saving grace
    • 80. Grounding Text #2
      • II Chronicles 7:14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.
    • 81. Two kinds of sorrow . . .
      • Some signs of worldly sorrow:
      • Wailing and moaning without looking ahead or stepping toward the victory that is promised
      • Absence of repentance
      • Depression
      • A critical spirit toward those for whom you are praying
      • Discouragement
      • Losing your sense of God's presence
      • Lack of fruit.
      • Godly sorrow:
      • Feels the pain of the sin of others and leads to repentance
      • Is produced by the Holy Spirit in accordance with the will of God.
      • Desires to keep the rich closeness of our relationship with God.
      • It is a longing to do whatever is necessary to be holy before him.
      • Forgives sins and accepts and carries the burden of interceding for the sins of others
      • Is fruitful.
      GODLY WORLDLY
    • 82. Grounding Text #3
      • II Corinthians 7:10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. 11 See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done.
    • 83. Elements of Intercessory Prayer in Colossians 1 . . .
      • Thanksgiving
        • (verses 3, 21, 22)
      • Affirmation
        • (verses 5, 10, 11, 15-20)
      • Intercession
        • (verses 12, 24, 25)
      • Action
        • (verses 28, 29)
      • Servant attitude
        • (verse 25)
    • 84.
      • COLOSSIANS 1:3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints-- 5 the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel 6 that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God's grace in all its truth. 7 You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, 8 and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.
      • 1:9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
    • 85. Individual intercession and Intercessors
      • A man or woman standing in the gap as a supplicant
    • 86. Team intercession and Intercessors
      • Men and women “waging war in the Spirit” as warriors
    • 87. Corporate intercession and Intercessors
      • God’s people in the earth, standing, praying and declaring in the “heavenlies” as watchmen
    • 88.
      • An intercessors is one who "stands in the gap" between God and humankind,
      • All Christians are Intercessors,
      • Some Christians have gifts and callings to engage in the ministry of intercession,
      • We learn from the Holy Spirit how to pray for certain people or groups,
      • Intercession naturally arises from the instinct of the Christian heart.
      Now . . . Intercession and intercessors
    • 89. Session #7 “ The Spirit and the Intercession Task”
    • 90. “ How long do we pray, before we pray?”
      • “ Some Christians smile at the thought of "praying through," but something of the same idea is found in the writings of practically every great praying saint from Daniel to the present day. We cannot afford to stop praying till we have actually prayed.
      • A. W. Tozer; “Praying Till We Pray”
    • 91. Christians are Intercessors . . .
      • SOME (15%) by calling, revelation-related spiritual gifts, motivation and compassion-based disciplined commitment of time/energy
      Review The some are firstly and foremostly part of the all … it is as a result of “gifted stewardship” they engage in the ministry of intercession ALL (100%) by common responsibility, ability and the gift of the Spirit received through saving grace
    • 92. Understanding Intercession . . .
      • Intercession is prayer on behalf of others , made by one who by praying "stands in the gap" between God and humankind.
      • Intercession is a define task as all intercessors are called and equipped by God through the Holy Spirit to spend time in earnest prayer for others.
    • 93. Grounding Text #1
      • Romans 8:26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.
    • 94. What does the Spirit do in the Intercession task?
      •  Prays
      •  Reveals
      •  Inspires
      •  Empowers
      •  Directs
      •  Burdens
      •  Strengthens
    • 95. Grounding Text #2
      • I CORINTHIANS 2:11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.
    • 96.
      • EPHESIANS 6:18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
      • JUDE 1:20b Build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.
      • ACTS 10:19 While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, "Simon, three men are looking for you. 20 So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them."
    • 97.
      • NEHEMIAH 1:3 They said to me, "Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.“ 4 When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.
      • ACTS 4:31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
      • EPHESIANS 3:16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.
    • 98.
      • “ Gifts are stewardship ” … not ownership
      • “ Revelation is responsibility ” … not power
      • The “Revelation Factor requires a natural response ”
      Vital values in approaching Charismatic gifts in intercession . . . Spooks NOT welcome!!
    • 99. * * 1 * MOTIVATIONAL (Serving Abilities) Romans 12/I Cor. 12 MINISTRY (Serving Functions) Ephesians 4 MANIFESTATION ( Charismata ) I Corinthians 12) Spiritual Gifts in overview . . . Exhortation Helps Serving Showing mercy Giving Prophecy Teaching Leading Administration Pastor - Teacher Evangelist Prophet Apostle Interpretation of Tongues Prophecy Tongues Gift of Faith Working of Miracles Gifts of Healing Discerning of Spirits Word of Knowledge Word of Wisdom
    • 100. Biblically mandated responses to a “Word of Knowledge”
      • To speak out “knowledge” in a meeting setting; give a personal “word” to another; or revelation applied as insight in a counselling setting.
      • A course of practical involvement needs to be pursued as a result of the Word of Knowledge’s revelation. Doing not saying
      • As "Word of Knowledge’s revelation” is received as an "initiation to Intercession". The response must be “prayer - not share”.
      Share Care Prayer
    • 101. A Biblical “Case Study” . . .
      • Jesus “Word of Knowledge” dealings with Peter model the three responses:
      Share Care Prayer JOHN 1:42 And Andrew brought his brother to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said , "You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas" (which, when translated, is Peter). MT 17:24 After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax came to Peter and asked, "Doesn't your teacher pay the temple tax?“ 25 "Yes, he does," he replied. When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. "What do you think, Simon?" he asked. "From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes--from their own sons or from others?“ 26 "From others," Peter answered. "Then the sons are exempt," Jesus said to him. 27 " But so that we may not offend them, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours." LUKE 22:31 "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you , Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.“ . . . . 34 Jesus answered, "I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me."
    • 102.
      • Is “ talking in concert ” with the Holy spirit …
      • Is initiated by the Spirit …
      • Is empowered by the Spirit …
      • For us is inspired and led by the Spirit, and “ engaging with God at work ” in . . .
        • Building up
        • Tearing down
        • Nullifying
        • Creating
        • Releasing
        • Renewing.
      Now . . . Intercession …
    • 103. Session #8 “ Praying Without Ceasing”
    • 104. I Thessalonians 5:16-18 . . .
      • Be joyful always; 17 pray continually ; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
    • 105. Continually (Adialeiptos) cf . Rom 1:9; 1Thess 1:2, 3; 2:13)
      • Romans 1:9 … how constantly I remember you 10 in my prayers at all times …
      • I Thessalonians 1:2-3 … mentioning you in our prayers. 3 We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, …
      • 2:13 And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, …
      Continually does not mean some sort of nonstop praying … it means; “living in the Sphere of Prayer”
    • 106.
      • “ How do you do continually?”
    • 107. Deuteronomy 11:18-21 . . .
      • 18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 20 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, 21 so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the LORD swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.
    • 108. Deuteronomy 11:18-21 . . .
      • 18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up . 20 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, 21 so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the LORD swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.
    • 109. . . . sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up . . . lie down walk along the road get up sit at home ALL OF LIFE’S SPHERES
    • 110. As with the Law (words of God’s Heart) . . . . . . So with Prayer (connecting with God’s Heart)
    • 111. As with the Law (words of God’s Heart) . . . . . . So with Prayer (connecting with God’s Heart)
    • 112.
      • “ So continually means I will still get some sleep?”
    • 113. YES, because . . .
        • Continually implies “constantly recurring prayer”, which
        • grows out of a “settled attitude of dependence on God”.
    • 114. Pray “in season” . . .
      •   Zechariah 10:1 Ask of the LORD rain in the time of the latter rain; so the LORD shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain, to every one grass in the field.
      Pray “out of season” . . .   Hosea 10:12 Sow for yourselves righteousness; Reap in mercy; Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the LORD, Till He comes and rains righteousness on you
    • 115. Looking at “textual tenses”
      • The common-tense in “prayer texts” is present-continuous . . .
      • … that is “the ongoing NOW”
    • 116. Grounding Text #1 Matthew 6:5 "And when you pray , do not be like the hypocrites, 6 But when you pray , go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. 7 And when you pray , do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Matthew 7:7 " 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.
    • 117.
      • Ephesians 6:18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
      • I Thessalonians 3:10 Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith.
      • James 5:13 Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy?
      • I Peter 4:7 The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.
    • 118.
      • Uninterrupted communication with God keeps temporal and spiritual values in balance.
      • Whether words are uttered or not, lifting the heart to God while we are occupied with miscellaneous duties is the vital thing.
      • We live our lives within the “Sphere of Prayer”
      Now, Praying without ceasing means …