Kevin and I have been listening to the sermons of Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. You can download his sermons in MP3 format free on their web site. I particularly like the fact that he chooses a book of the Bible and goes straight through it. The series we’re currently listening to is on Ecclesiastes. There are some great messages in this series. I feel bad saying it, but I have a hard time listening to our pastor preach. Don’t get me wrong, I love our church. But our current pastor, who has been here for three years now, has a style of preaching that is very bombastic. Almost like a stand-up comedian. I guess I would say too much performance and not enough substance. I can say this because I know he doesn’t read my blog (or probably even know what one is) and no one who does read my blog has any idea what church I go to, so I think I’m okay. (Except of course my mom, but she’s the assistant pastor, and she already knows how I feel!) Anyway, I think this is why we enjoy listening to Pastor Driscoll’s sermons so much. They are very rooted in the Word, full of meat.
The one I listened to yesterday had a section on prayer that was so good I wanted to share it. Now keep in mind, I transcribed this right off the CD, and most people don’t talk in precise grammar. So the grammar is kind of funky, but what he’s saying is so right.
“Your view of God determines your view of prayer. Many religions view God, or “the gods”, as capricious, or mean, or ill-tempered. And to get God or “the gods” to do what you want them to do, you have to sort of bend their arm; you’ve got to wrestle with Him, to get God to do something that you want Him to do. So you pray for a really long time and you pray really seriously, thinking, “God isn’t loving. God won’t necessarily answer my prayer. So I’ve got to find a way to sort of force Him into it.”
Now what the Bible says, what Jesus says, is that we should pray to God as our – what? As our Father. As our Father. And when you understand that God is a Father and that He treats you as loved children, does that not change the way that we pray? Of course it does.
We don’t need to pray looooooong prayers. How many of you grew up in those homes where on Thanksgiving your uncle would pray? And the food was cold and it was ruined by the time he got done with his “thees” and “thous” and “beseeches” and “therefores” and “untos” and…We don’t need long prayers. We don’t need formal prayers. What we need is to bring our requests to the Lord, as a loving Father, and speak respectfully and let Him know how we perceive that we need Him.
I’ve got three kids. I’ll tell you this if you don’t know anything about me: I love being a dad. I am all about being a dad. Last night, my son Zack – it was the middle of the night – he starts screaming, wakes up his brother. He’s freaking out. So I go in and pick him up and he’s in that middle-of-the-night crazy, insane, half-asleep scream fest. And I ask him, I say, “What happened, buddy, what happened?” And I’m holding him, he’s crying, and he can’t say anything ‘cause he’s basically insane at this point. And finally he tells me, he says, “My knee hurts!” I said, “Okay.” So I start rubbing his knee, and that wasn’t doing anything, and I said, “Show me exactly where it hurts.” And he points to his calf. He had a charley-horse in the middle of the night. He’d never had a charley-horse before, so he’s freaking out like it’s Armageddon come into his bedroom. So I pick him up, and he says, “Daddy, fix it!” Ya know, there was no “I beseech you, therefore, unto…” You get my point, right? I’m his dad; he’s my boy. I love my boy – I adore my kids. I love being Dad. All my son has to do is say, “Dad, fix it!” and that’s good enough for me.
“Well, I don’t know if you really mean it – that was pretty short. You had a dangling participle, I don’t’ know.” No! “I’m your dad, you’re my kid, just tell me and I’m on it, because I love you.” So I hold my son and I pray over him and I rub out the charley-horse on his leg, and I kiss him and I tuck him back into bed.
You and I worship that kind of God. We worship that kind of God! He is a Dad who loves His kids. And when we come to Him to pray, we need to speak to God as we would to our dad – respectfully, but it doesn’t need to be formal. It’s not a business transaction. And just because we use lots and lots and lots words doesn’t necessarily mean we’re going to get our prayer answered. The answering of prayer is not because you and I can pray long-winded, erudite prayers that manipulate God. It’s us, His kids, asking a Father whether or not He will do something for us or teach us something. And just like every dad, He’ll say “yes” or “no”. It’s not that complicated.”
Good stuff, huh? I’m so glad we have a Father who loves us and cares for us and who always has good for us — even if we can’t see it right now.