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Jul 3 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

July 3, 2022



Welcome and Prayer: Jim Calhoun

Heavenly Father
So often we find ourselves at our wit’s end
not knowing how to manage day to day
At times left overwhelmed and undone. 
We fear being hopeless and helpless
We fear becoming numb or complacent or cynical.
We fear becoming bitter and resentful
We fear we may break and never be whole again
Help us to remain tenderhearted, 
Open to you
Able to know your presence when are at our breaking point
Continually transformed in you
Eager to come as you call,
Full of confidence that in you all shall be well.


Today’s Talk: chuck smith, jr.

Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased Luke 3:21-22

Intro: There are three words in these verses I want to highlight

“and was praying”
– between the time Jesus was immersed in water and the heavens opened,
• he was praying – and this intrigues me
◦ in the life of Jesus, this is the first mention of him praying
• of course we have only a glimpse of his childhood
◦ but those snapshots reveal someone already conscious of God
And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him (Lk. 2:40) And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man (Lk. 2:52)
– in the story of Jesus, this is his critical rite-of-passage
• immediately after this Luke tells us:
Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age
• baptism is also a rite-of-passage for us; an entry point
◦ it symbolizes our initiation into Jesus
◦ and baptism is also associated with a believer’s first (real) prayer
. . . look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying . . . . Then [Saul] rose and was baptized (Acts 9:11-18; cf. Acts 19:5-6)

There is another reason these three words intrigue me
– Matthew and Mark also report Jesus’ baptism
• but neither of them mention that he was praying
◦ for Luke, this little detail was too important to leave out
• in fact, it turns out Luke includes other instances like this,
◦ where Jesus prayed at critical moments that are not mentioned elsewhere
Before choosing the twelve apostles (he prayed all night; Lk. 6:12-16)
Before asking his disciples, Who do the crowds say that I am? Lk. 9:18)
At the moment of his transfiguration
And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white (Lk. 9:29)
◦ Luke also tells us, when large crowds came to hear him,
he would withdraw to desolate places and pray (Lk. 5:16)
◦ getting away to pray was a regular practice for our Lord
– Matthew provides some of Jesus’ teaching on prayer
• Mark provides less of what Jesus had to say about prayer
◦ but Luke’s attention to prayer is extraordinary
• he wanted us to know that Jesus lived prayer

“Lord, teach us to pray” Luke 11:1

The disciples made this request after watching Jesus pray
– their request itself is a prayer
• and it will be our prayer through this series
• we are going to learn prayer from Jesus–according to Luke’s gospel
– along the way, I am going to highlight four themes:
That we learn to pray with our minds
– Ecclesiastes gets to the point (though with a sharper edge than I would)
Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few (Ecc. 5:1-2)
– I confess, my tendency is to say repetitious prayers
– in too many spontaneous prayers, the person strings a bunch of clichés together
“O Lord, we just pray that You will bless each and everyone here tonight; that Your word might go forth in power. Please anoint our preacher with Your Spirit. Yada, yada, yada.”
• it’s not that we have to prepare a speech or present an essay
◦ but I need to give thought to what I pray
• to make this my own prayer and use my own words
– we want to remind ourselves that we’re talking to God

That we learn to pray with our hearts and souls
– scripture encourages us to pray fervently and earnestly
– I am also thinking that we could pray more creatively
• prayer in the Psalms is like spirit-poetry
• art is birthed in the heart–with all that it suffers and enjoys
◦ all of its hopes and disappointments
• if you write out your prayer, something special happens
◦ it’s a different experience from saying or thinking a prayer
– I am not saying, create a masterpiece
• we’re not trying to impress God, but to express ourselves

That we learn to pray with our bodies
– in Romans, where Paul urges us to present our bodies to God,
• he refers to this as our spiritual worship – or “service”
◦ Jesus’ baptism prayer was a gearing up for service
• some of the service we provide God and others can be considered a prayer
◦ in this respect, we are “doing” our prayer
◦ we can be in prayer also as we perform our service
◦ it feels natural for me to pray for my grandkids when preparing their lunch
– praying with our bodies can also be with posture and gestures

That we learn to pray with our spirits
– in prayer, a fusion occurs between God’s Spirit and our spirit
– we’ll come to this when we get to the tenth chapter in Luke

Our experience of prayer will always be an encounter with mystery

There are no experts when it comes to prayer
– if someone claims that they receive everything they pray for God to give them,
run away! – they’re trying to sell you something

There is no perfect way to pray, no method or formula
– we do the best we can with what we have
• sometimes all a person can do is groan
• there are depths of prayer in which words are optional

Prayer is the easiest thing we will ever do,
– and it will be the most difficult thing we ever do

Prayer is so simple that children do it well,
– and it is so difficult that many adults give it up

Prayer is the entry-level practice for beginners,
– and it’s the ultimate service of the greatest saints

Nothing else is more rewarding than prayer,
– and nothing else is more frustrating than prayer

In prayer we experience our closest intimacies with God,
– and in prayer we find ourselves wrestling with God

If my prayers are true, aligned with God’s will, and in his Spirit,
– then the result will more likely change me than change the world or my circumstances

The shortest prayer in Bible was sometimes a person’s first prayer

It is just one word in Hebrew: hinne, “Here I am”
– this is what Abraham said when God called his name–and what Jacob said and Moses and Samuel and Isaiah
• we do not initiate this conversation with God
• he calls our name and we respond to him
◦ he first sought us out, he first reached out, he first loved us
– give this some thought
• how will you say “Here I am” to God with your mind?
• how will you say “Here I am” to God in your heart and soul?
• how will you say “Here I am” to God with your body?
• how will you say “Here I am” to God in your spirit?

Conclusion: Last week Guy Gray described Christianity as

Being on a life quest to know and follow Jesus
– does it really take a lifetime to get to know Jesus?
• listen to Paul, who had known Jesus for many years when he penned these words:
whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ . . . that I may know him and the power of his resurrection and may share his sufferings . . . . (Php. 3:7-10)

Knowing Jesus is a life of ongoing prayer
– it’s not like we meet with him for dinner one time and then think we know him
• or if we meet up with him occasionally and think we know him
• Jesus tells us to keep on asking . . . seeking . . . knocking
– and if we don’t knock on his door often enough to get to know him, he says,
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to [them] and eat with [them] and [they] with me (Rev. 3:20)

Every time we pause, and calm ourselves, Jesus is there
Ready to listen, to respond, to help, and to guide us to safety

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