00:00 You're listening to a live recording from Westside Church in Bend, Oregon. Thanks for joining us.
00:06 Morning, it's great to see you. My name's Steve Nichol, I'm one of the senior pastors as well. And welcome to those that are watching online. today we're gonna talk about prayer. And the reason I, we wanna talk about prayer is we're gonna have a little bit of a focus this year on prayer. And also tomorrow, launches a 2121 days of Prayer with our Foursquare family. We're part of the four square denomination here at Westside. And all over the world, there are going to be millions of Foursquare people praying, following, kind of following a guide, a prayer guide. So we're kind of all praying the same thing. And so that starts tomorrow. And I'll, I'll share a little bit more about how you can participate in that, in, in a little bit later. But, I imagine, this is true for you.
00:45 It's very true for me that my relationship with prayer has been up and down
01:32 And this just happens. And, and then a drop of water came, from above and landed on my forehead. And as soon as it hit my forehead, I became completely clean in the dream. And, and I walked and ministered and lived out of that place. But then as soon as you know, a little bit later, I became dirty again, and then it happened again, and the drop of water came, hit my forehead and I became clean. And, and, and so it was, and I felt like God was saying this has kind of been my pattern in my life, is that for a season I'll walk in the anointing of God and the presence of God, and then, I'll just kind of do it on my own. And I think, I think that resonate probably resonates with a lot of us. And, and the Lord invited me in that dream.
02:18 He invited me to live in a space where it's not just a drop of water on occasion, but that I would live in a place where there is abundance, a stream of water that continuously flows in my life. And by the way, I didn't feel guilty or ashamed or anything like that in the dream, that God wasn't like rebuking me. It was a, it was like an invitation, to join him in this space. And that's really our desire as we walk together, in prayer over this year, is that we would, find this space of being in the presence of God. For years, I thought prayer, was trying to get God to do what I need God to do. You know, that most of my prayers were like that. I need God, I need you to, and fill in the blank. I mean, that is how I was taught to pray.
03:12 That's the way we pray. And that's kind of the way it's always been. And, and, and yet, I I real, I've been realizing that the point of prayer is not to get God to do what we want God to do, but to become who God wants us to become in his presence. so Kard who lived in the 18 hundreds said that the function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays. Pastor Dave, was teaching on prayer last week to the staff, and he, he shared this analogy, and I really love it, that, just this idea of prayer. imagine the ocean, right? The Oregon coast or ocean, whatever ocean you're most familiar with, and how the wave, how, just how the waves just crash into the rocks and there's just chaos. It's just like this, this, this, this rumble and just like, whoa, there's so much chaos around the ocean is so powerful. There's so much going on and, and the tides and everything else, right? And yet, if you go underneath the waves into the depths of the ocean, there's this peace
04:20 Fish never crash into the rocks because they've learned to flow with the tides and the seasons, and they, and they, and they're most comfortable in the water. And it's almost like an encouragement for us to, rather than live in just our lives and the chaos of this world, and the trouble that always will always exist to find a place where we're most comfortable living in the depths of God's presence. if you've watched Avatar be water people rather than force people, there it is. I had to, I couldn't help myself, but there it is. So over the next 21 days, about three weeks, we're gonna ask God for certain things. Certainly we're going to ask God for certain things. It's part of our prayer life. We do ask God. but our most pressing need as the people of God in 2023 is to become a certain way, to allow the presence of God, to transform us, to form us into the image of God.
05:19 And our world needs us to become more like Him, desperately. So Jesus, as we walk out this message today, as we open your word, would you, would you let it come alive for us? May we see ourselves in your story. May it challenge us and change us and encourage us, to be the people you want us to be. Pray Jesus name. Amen. Well, this message is gonna be kind of like a prayer. It's gonna have a little bit of a peripheral rhythm to it throughout. And so everybody just take a deep breath. I'm not gonna be yelling at you today,
06:19 And as they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them and put yourself there like locked room. You guys, there was no knock at the door. Jesus just shows up and he's there and he says to them, peace to you. Doesn't matter how Jesus got into the room, they needed peace. It wasn't just because all of a sudden Jesus wasn't there, and now is there and you're like, ah, you know, who are you? It's like this. They're, they're, they're wrestling with life right now. This life is, is coming at them. Their savior, their master, the per the person they put their trust in is has died. And they're scared for their lives and their families. And so they're, and, and Jesus comes in and he dives down into the water and he invites his disciples to come in peace be upon you. But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit.
07:13 And he said to them, why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your heart? I love that this, this kind of, this, this story is about community and connection and conversation. Jesus is talking to them like he knows where we're at. He knows what's going on in our lives at any given moment. And he says, see my hands and my feet, that is eye myself, touch me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you, as you see that I have. And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. Jesus enters into fully himself as he is in that moment, just as he invites his disciples to enter into his presence as themselves fully. You are troubled and discouraged and confused. Were together in this. And while they still disbelieved for joy, I've read this, I don't know how many times, and I've never seen that phrase like that.
08:12 And they still disbelief for joy. I've struggled at times with belief. You know, I've, I've prayed the prayer that Jesus enco, you know, that Jesus encouraged disciples to pray, help my unbelief, God help my unbelief because we struggle with that. And yet Jesus, it is like this idea here that Luke is trying to get there. You can, you can struggle and you can have questions and doubts and uncertainties and still have joy that's still have joy, still have peace, still marvel at what God is doing, even if you don't understand what he's doing. I, I wanna live in the sea. I wanna live in that space where I experience that and they still disbelief for joy and we're marveling. And he said to them, have you anything here to eat, man, the guy's been there for a couple minutes and they haven't offered him anything.
08:58 You know, he hasn't eaten anything in a while. And so like for three days, and so he's a bit hungry. So they give him something to eat, a piece of broiled fish. And he took it and ate before them. And then he said to them, these are my words, that I spoke to you while I was still with you. That everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled. Then he opened their minds. One of the primary reasons we need to spend time in God's presence is for, to allow him to open our minds to what he's doing, to what he's saying, to how he's working to understand the scriptures. And he said to them, thus, it is written that the Christ should suffer and on a third day rise from the dead. And that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations beginning from Jerusalem.
09:45 You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high. There is another purpose in our prayer, is that we would not only commune with Jesus, eat with him, fellowship with him, connect with him, that he would, that he would bring us into this place of, from disbelieving to believing and help opening our minds, but also that we would receive power to be able to walk out this life as hard as it is. So all of these things are wrapped up in, in, in the idea of spending time with God. Jesus told the church of Lao Desia in Revelation chapter three. Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and eat with him. And he with me
11:00 I want an increased awareness of your presence in my life. I wanna, I wanna begin every day with a sense that God, I'm with you and you are with me. As much as I've studied theology and I've read scripture and I've looked at knowing the deep things of God, there are times I still feel like I'm behind a locked door separated from him. And that's not his heart. He wants, he he's just open, open the door, jump in the ocean, see what I have for you. And when that happens, he speaks peace and I and you would be forever changed because of his presence. That's what, that's my hope for us. For. So kard, the practice of prayer encouraged his inner transformation. And he would later write that his daily encounters with the eternal, as he said, as he called God became as essential to him as breathing.
12:04 Take a deep breath. Our our connection with God would be as essential as the breath that we breathe. We can't live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. The Spirit is our connection. We need more of the spirit in our lives. And I, and I don't want to, and and I don't wanna miss this. And also, isn't it interesting that everything in the Bible, we often miss this in the United States. Everything in the Bible is centered around community, including prayer. I mean, the disciples are huddled together in a room when Pentecost comes in, acts chapter one, they are together in a room, right when the Holy Spirit falls. There's this, there's, there's very little place in the scriptures where this, I individualistic kind of like, well this is my faith and it's only my faith and I just need to get alone in my prayer closet.
12:58 And I, I'm not saying we shouldn't do that, but the sense that prayer and the disciplines of the spiritual disciplines are done in best in community, in connection, with one another. Sure we need times alone with God. But there's this sense of like, let's, let's come together into the presence of God. Prayer was never meant to be an individual sport. It's always meant to be done in community. Suzanne and I, we have our individual times of prayer, but on occasion, it's not a regular rhythm for us. It never has been. We will pray together, and we will take long walks with our little puppy Bilbo. I'm not gonna, I I have so many stories to tell you about Billbo cuz I don't have any grandkids to talk about yet. So I want to tell you all about Billbo, Billbo baggins as Suzanne calls him.
13:45 Anyway, we'll take walks and on occasion, during these walks, fairly regularly, Suzanne and I will just begin to pray together, mostly for our children. And what we find as we're praying is that, is that we, what happens is that we come closer together. We, we come into alignment in a sense. Like we're, we start to pray the same way, the same prayers for our children and for life. And, and we begin to hear God together. There's something powerful about that, that we don't wanna miss, that we can miss if we only do prayer solo, a shared piece, a shared understanding. One of the most formative times in my life, regarding prayer was when I was in college and I was part of a cross country team at the seminary I was at. And we would run every morning at five 30.
14:33 And the leader, the kind of a mentor to all of us, he insisted that we pray. And five 30 in the morning, that's the last thing I'm thinking about doing. I don't even want to be out there running. I mean, let alone praying. Come on, let's just finish this run. But it became one of the most, memorable and impacting and formative times in my life as we ran miles and miles and miles together. Three marathons. Actually. We ended up running together, this group, and we would pray. we did learn pretty quickly that the rookies had to pray up the hill. And then I learned how to time that just perfectly. So anyway, there's something powerful about praying in community. Think about the Lord's Prayer, that ancient prayer that Jesus taught us to pray, that we're gonna pray a couple of times and we already sing about it.
15:19 We're gonna pray about it. and a couple, couple more times, the Lord's Prayer. Our Father, not my father, our father who are in Heaven Hall, would be th name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us our daily bread and, and lead us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil that, see, it's all about community. It's, it's praying. A prayer of togetherness. So as we journey together, over these next 21 days, I hope you'll, you'll join in. we have a website that we've dedicated to this journey, westside church.org/ 21 days. And on that we'll link to some of the four square resources. They have a prayer guide that we're gonna be praying every day together. we're putting together a podcast where it'll be a two minute, just a simple prayer from me, every morning that you can just listen to and start your day off with scripture and with prayer.
16:12 and there's, there's resources for families if you wanna get your kids praying with you, that are all provided there on our website. So I encourage you to, to dive in. And it is a time of prayer and fasting. And some of you are like, please don't talk about fasting. I don't want to, don't challenge me to fast. Do what you want. I don't care. I'm gonna fast. And my fast is food this time. So I'm gonna, I'm gonna fast food for 21 days and only do a liquid diet. I, I, I started yesterday and I, you guys, I I got so hungry.
16:45 I ate an English muffin. I did
17:26 Yeah. Yeah. I said in the last service, somebody said, hell no. That's what I, yeah.
18:15 I wanna encourage you to do that. Also, on the 21st, on January 22nd, where our spiritual formation class will be on community, that'll be a couple of weeks. And then in February 19th, right after that, or February 12th, excuse me, will be, our, our spiritual formation class on prayer. So there's opportunities to engage, throughout this year on prayer and community and connection with God. I hope you do that well. I wanna close with telling you one last story. last October, Ben, pastor Ben, Evan, myself and Pastor Dave went to Missouri, to a prayer school, led by a guy named Brian Zun, who's, written several books that we were kind of following him and, and building a relationship with him. He's helping us with just prayer and language and different things. So anyway, we were down there and I had done his prayer school online during C O V I D and it was really formative for me.
19:10 I, I could feel like this is gonna change my life and I did it for a week and a half. You know, right? Anybody with me? Cuz I'm standing up here really vulnerable right now. Right? And, and so we, we had the idea, why don't we go, why don't we go to the prayer school and do it together? So we did. And so for whatever, how many days it's been, I don't know, since October, what is that? I missed three days only of prayer. And I've been praying these old, old prayers that Brian taught us to pray prayers that the church has been praying for hundreds of years. And it was, and it's been super, super powerful for me. Like, like I've memorized it. And so that's been, that was a big thing for me cuz the last time I didn't do that.
19:57 And so I was always reading from something and I said, I just wanted to, I wanted to like immerse myself, you know, into it. And I've been praying these prayers and God is waking me up to the reality that he is with me in, in a deeper way than ever before. That I'm, I feel like I'm starting to swim in, in the ocean of God's presence and love and grace. And one of the prayers that part of the prayer rhythm is the Lord's Prayer. So I've been praying the Lord's Prayer every day for whatever, 16, whatever, how many days it is since October. I've been praying that Lord's prayer almost every single day. And, and then, you know how a electric guitarist, a really good one can just kind of break out and play some amazing rhythm thing that, that, that's not, not even part of the song, but it goes with the song.
20:48 You know, the riffs a little bit on it. Brian talked about this with the Lord's Prayer. The Lord's Prayer is like our scales and they're just, they're just the thing that we know and we learn. But you can't really riff on prayer unless you got the Lord's Prayer. So one of the challenges for us over these next 21 days is for us to memorize the Lord's Prayer, to let it sink deeply into our hearts so that we can, that, that at any moment when we don't have the words to pray, when we're not sure what God's will is, we can launch into the Lord's prayer and, allow that to transform us, to change us, to encourage us, to strengthen us. So I'm gonna do that with you today. I'm gonna, I'm gonna riff on the Lord's Prayer, and then Ben's gonna come up and lead us in the Lord's Prayer together. and I'm gonna pray a little bit, a couple other things that I've been praying over these last couple of months. And, and would you allow yourself to allow yourself to experience the presence of God? Would you invite him in? Would you even metaphorically just kinda like open the door, you hear him knocking, he's knocking.
22:09 He's like,
22:09 How I want, I want in. I wanna spend time with you and just, just kinda open that door and invite him in in this moment. Would you bow your heads with me? Lord Jesus, you stretched out your arms of love upon the hardwood of the cross, that everyone might come within the reach of your saving embrace. So clothe us in your spirit that we reaching forth our hands in love may bring those who do not know you to the knowledge and love of you for the honor of your name. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
23:13 Are those who mourn for shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure and heart for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Oh God, you have made of one blood all the peoples of this earth and sent your blessed son to preach peace to those who are far off into those who are near Grant, that people everywhere might seek after you and find you. Bring the nations into your fold. Pour out your spirit upon all flesh and hasten the coming of your kingdom through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
24:32 Our Father who art in heaven Hall would be thy name. You can wait just one moment. I'm gonna riff. I'm playing a little solo guitar thing right now. We'll, we'll, we'll, we'll pray together in just a moment. Our Father who art in heaven, Hollywood, be thy name, father God, Abba Papa High and lifted up all glory and honor and power to you. You reign over the entire earth. Your rulership has no end. We give you praise and glory as God our father. And give us thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Yes, Jesus, have your way here on earth. Father lets your kingdom come, let's your will be done. Let your way be done. Let your politics be done. Let your government be done here on earth as it already is done in heaven. And give us this day our daily bread. Lord, you are our great provider. Father, you are the sustainer of all life. We are dependent upon you. So provide for our every need this day and lead us and forgive us as we forgive those who trespass against us. Yes, Lord, forgive us for our sins are many,
26:15 And we need your grace now more than ever. And Lord, help us to forgive those who have wronged us, maligned us, abused us, misspoke of us. Help us to forgive them as you forgave us through Christ Jesus. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Father, we are frail. We easily fall. So protect us from the work of the enemy that wants to come and distract us and destroy us and take from us. Protect us from His strategies. Give us your grace and your mercy and your power to withstand the temptation that comes from this life. And from the enemy is the kingdom and the glory and the power forever. And the whole church said amen.