Craving God’s Voice in God’s Word

Examining The Question, "How Can We Prayer Scripture Back To God?".

Ross Sawyers
Jan 9, 2022    55m
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Sometimes we struggle in knowing why or how to pray, and we find that the struggle diminishes the more we are inside the Word of God. Using Psalm 1 as an example, Ross Sawyers walks us through how we can pray Scripture Back To God. Video recorded at Grapevine, Texas.

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Ross Sawyers: [00:00:07] What a fantastic morning in worship, and that Goodness of God has become one of my favorite songs of the last few months. And I don't know how you are, but when I get on a song, I'm like on the song. And so I've been listening to that, multiple people singing it, until I wear the people out around me, and then I'll move on to another song, or at least do that by myself. But I just love the richness of the content of that, the goodness of God is running after us. Just think about that for a minute, that God would, in His Holiness and his purity, come chasing after us when we even have no interest in him, and he is good in the way he does that.

Ross Sawyers: [00:00:46] Well, I had no idea that December 12th would be the last time that I would preach in December. And my wife and I both had the privilege of having COVID, and having that opportunity, a number of you have as well. I ran into somebody at the gym the other day, this week, and they said, yeah, we missed Christmas Eve, we missed a lot over Christmas because of COVID. And I said, Yeah, me too, I wasn't there either, so neither one of us were present. We were incredibly grateful, though, for just the care from people in our church in so many ways, with food, and gift baskets, and prayers, and texts, and calls. And many of you have been through a number of things in your lives. And part of me wanted to share that, one is just in gratitude to who you are as the body of Christ, and this the love I have for you, and that you all have expressed to us. and as a way to encourage us to do this with everyone when there's trial or when there are challenges.

Ross Sawyers: [00:01:47] But I love how God weaves together a text from someone, a song someone sends, a note that comes, a voicemail that's left, something on the front porch that gets left, flowers that come. My wife enjoys that part, probably more than me, but grateful for that as well. But God just weaves all that together to bring a strength and a comfort, and I've just discovered that again and again over the last few years with the number of ways our family has grieved loss, just how timely God is. I say that to say, don't ever think it's a small thing when you do just a little thing for someone in their grief, so thank you for that.

Ross Sawyers: [00:02:35] We also became even more grateful, I'm already grateful for the fire department in the police department, but as we got our oven on fire and had the opportunity to light up the neighborhood with the fire trucks and everyone that comes with them, I'm all the more grateful. Just think for a minute about how grateful we are to live in a place where within two or three minutes someone can be at your house to take care of what is going on, it's a tragedy in your own mind of what's happening, so I'm grateful there. I'm grateful for doctors, and nurses, and pharmacists who've guided us along, and all the more grateful for the medical community.

Ross Sawyers: [00:03:17] And then for our staff at 121, Arnaldo preached on December 19th, he found out on that Thursday that he would be preaching. Eric did a great job leading our Christmas Eve services, he found out on Tuesday, yeah, it's fantastic, on Tuesday that he would be doing that Wednesday through Friday. Vince Rice learned that he would be preaching on that Sunday on that Tuesday. And I just love how God just arranged for everyone to step in and do exactly what he intended with it. So, I'm grateful today in so many ways.

Ross Sawyers: [00:03:54] If you turn your Bibles to Psalm 1, I want us to hang out in this psalm today. We're going to primarily hang out in the first two verses, I'll cover lightly at the end, very lightly, verses 3 through 6, but I want us to just really linger and do a deep dive into these first two verses. As we think about this month, how do we deepen our lives of prayer with God?

Ross Sawyers: [00:04:23] Last week, Eric Estes, and Elvis Gallegos our Mission Pastor, they led... If you weren't here last week and you missed that message, would you, I don't always do this with you, but I would just say that if you could go and podcast that or webcast that message. I thought they just did a fantastic job of laying out where we're headed in 2022, and I think you'll be encouraged by them. and so if you could do that, that would be fantastic. And then if you have your phone with you, or whatever you do to just put your calendar, I don't know, maybe some of you just write a note and put it on paper somewhere later. But however you do it, would you mark this Friday at seven o'clock to be in this room for a night of prayer and praise, we started that this past Friday night, and it was just an incredible time of being enveloped in God's word, in praise, and really just enjoying him and being together and seeking him out. If ever there was a time, we need to be seeking God in prayer in the life of our nation and in our world, today is it. And so would I just invite you, would you write that down and come? If you're not comfortable praying out, you don't have to, part of what we want to do in this month is teach, so that wherever you are, if you are at a place where your newer believer and you're trying to figure out, I don't even know how to pray, I don't know, I don't understand what we're really doing there. It might be you've grown stagnant or indifferent. It could be that you've thought, you know what, I keep asking God something, I never get an answer, so what's the point? Or it may be that you're in an incredibly intimate place with the Lord right now, and you're just enjoying prayer, and you'll just deepen in it with us. So I encourage you to be a part of that.

Ross Sawyers: [00:06:17] I encourage in our life groups, to cheer you on, to pray this week in your life group, and that you would spend more time praying than talking in your group this week. Could you just really gear into that? And I want to teach you today in a way that you'll know how you can pray in a way that I think is incredibly intimate, and powerful, as we think about it.

Ross Sawyers: [00:06:43] What I want to teach you, and some of you do this, some of you may not, my hunch is most of us don't. One thing that we've done in the Christian community, is we talk about spiritual disciplines, and it's the right thing to talk about. But what we've, in effect, done is separated out what should be integrated. So some people love worship, like, I was at the front of the room here a minute ago, and it is powerful up here. I don't know what it's like from the back of me, I don't know exactly because I wasn't there this morning, it might have been the same in the back. But I know there are some this morning that were all in, giving everything. When he was talking about I surrender all, and I give everything because of the goodness of God, that was happening at the front of the room. It probably was happening in the back, I just wasn't there, so I don't know.

Ross Sawyers: [00:07:39] But sometimes people love worship, some people love Bible study, some people love prayer, some people love fellowship and meaningfully hanging out with other Christians, some people love to serve, and we've made like those are all separate things. And the reality is, it's an integrated whole, that Christ is the center, that we're so enamored by him, and so in love with him, and so desire him, all those things just integrate. And one way that I think we've separated ourselves out, is we've said, here's God's word, you read it, study it, memorize it, and then here's prayer over here. And what I want to help us weave together in these weeks, is the integration of God's word and prayer together, and I want us to learn how to pray scripture together. I can't imagine anything more powerful than someone praying God's word over me.

Ross Sawyers: [00:08:45] Sometimes we get stuck in our prayer life, we keep praying the same thing, or we pray for someone, and we pray the same thing over and over again. And I believe God hears that, but I wonder if there's more there when we put God's word together and integrate that in prayer. And that's what I want us to think about this morning, that's where we'll land.

Ross Sawyers: [00:09:10] And when we talk about prayer, which, by the way, we have on our website a section, we're trying to answer questions that people have about prayer. So if you went to our website on the home page, there's a section called Why Pray? And we're just going to be doing different things throughout the month. In our Table For Two devotionals, the time alone for God that we have, we're kind of answering those questions in that Table For Two, it'd be a great time to sign up for that. So let me encourage you, Why Pray, go to that section on our website, it might help with questions that you might have.

Ross Sawyers: [00:09:43] But I think one question that I hear people say is, why do I not hear God audibly? And I have to tell you, maybe I'm hanging out with the wrong people, but I hear very few people that actually ever hear God audibly. And when someone does describe an experience where they've heard God audibly, it's usually once or twice, and it was just a really big moment in time, and God just seems to say something so clear that they hear an audible voice. That's not my normative experience, when I talk about hearing God, it's not in an audible way. Again, maybe I'm deficient and I need some help in my own walk with the Lord, but that's just not what I think is normative.

Ross Sawyers: [00:10:40] So when we say we hear God, when you hear someone say that, what are they saying? I would say this morning that everybody here, and online, you've heard God this morning. When Jason read Psalm 1:-6, you heard God. You've heard him already this morning, God has spoken to you, and he's spoken to me. The question is, what am I going to do with this conversation with God and his word? It's not that he's not speaking, he is speaking, yes, he speaks in dreams at times, yes, he gives impressions at times, but mostly it's right here. We have already heard God today, think about that for a minute, that's mind-blowing, the God of the Universe has already spoken to us today. Let's look a bit a little bit more and what he has to say.

Ross Sawyers: [00:11:52] The way I've kind of put this together is craving God's voice in God's word. That's my prayer, that we will crave God's voice in God's word, that that will be our hunger and our desire will be for God's word in such a way that we're craving to hear his voice when we come to his word. And in verses 1 and 2, there are actually two different voices to deal with. And I want to deal first with that negative voice, the voice that I think is a craving that leads us down the wrong path, versus the voice that we crave to actually bring life to us. So two different voices, and a question we need to ponder as we read these two verses, and then finish up just by reading the last four in the chapter, is which voice do I crave the most? Personally, what do I really crave, not what do I want to crave, but today, which voice do I crave the most?

Ross Sawyers: [00:12:59] We start in verse 1, "How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!" Now the word blessed is a word that we can easily pass off as a church word, or those religious people, they just talk about how they're blessed, but what does the word mean? There is a substance and a depth to that word, and it is a state of total well-being. And what the psalmist is doing is he;s starting out the whole book of Psalms by saying this is how a man is blessed, this is how a person has a state of well-being, a deep abiding kind of peace. How does that happen? How do we have this well-being, which candidly, I don't think I see in our nation very much?

Ross Sawyers: [00:13:58] We were at a gathering, a worship gathering the other day, twenty-two of from 121 in Atlanta, Georgia, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, with sixty thousand eighteen to twenty-five-year-olds. It was an incredible experience, I'll come back in a little bit, share some from it. But Ben Stewart was one of the speakers, and he said this, he said, in America today, stats show that 40 percent of Americans are clinically anxious. That is almost half the country is clinically anxious, I think part of it, can be the voice we're listening to. And I want to be respectful, I know there are real chemical issues with several, and that stat says how many. There's also the kind of anxiety that is not clinical anxiety, that's just a distraction of many things.

Ross Sawyers: [00:15:08] But I wonder if why we're so anxious, so heavy, so out of sorts, is we're craving this first voice, and we're letting this voice shape us, shape our thinking. And when this voice shapes our thinking, we will not have a state of well-being, we will not be blessed. This is what God says, so who's the one that's not in the state of well-being? It's the one who walks in the counsel of the wicked. So, "How blessed is man is not walking the counsel of the wicked?" So I'm walking along, the idea here is there's a progression here of walking, standing, sitting. And if I'm walking along and I'm listening to secular councilors and the secular advice, and that's the voice I'm listening to, and that's the voice I crave. If I'm walking along, and I'm in the bookstore or I'm on Amazon and I'm looking for the latest self-help thing that'll help me get out of this quandary that I'm in, then I'm walking along and I'm just listening to the advice of a secular world that is against God. Now, I know the word wicked is a little strong, and there are some nice people that are opposed to God. But when we read the scripture, the wicked are those who are opposed to God. So if we could just, for scripture's sake today, lean into the wicked are anyone that is opposed to God. So whose advice am I listening to? And if I'm listening to the advice of those who are of the world, I'll not be in a state of well-being because the world doesn't have the right advice. So I'm walking along and I'm listening to that.

Ross Sawyers: [00:16:54] But then he takes it a little further and he says, not only are you walking around, because sometimes when we're walking, we sort of hear, but then we just stand, so I'm walking and now I'm just standing and listening. So, the one who walks in the counsel of the wicked are standing in the path of sinners. Now we can look at that and say we're all sinners, and that's right, we are. But do you know what's happened when Jesus Christ takes over a life, that is no longer the primary way he sees you in me, we're called saints. That's not reserved for this elite class of people, we have a new identity in Christ, and he doesn't look at us first as sinners, he sees his first as saints. So sinners here, he's saying those who are opposed to God, actively opposed to God.

Ross Sawyers: [00:17:52] So I'm walking and I'm listening to all of this, I'm listening to all the noise of the world I'm taking it in, it's shaping me. Now, I'm going to just stand and consider it. And when I stand and I have my feet aimed at you, by the way, you can know if anybody is interested, you look at their body posture, if their feet are aimed at you, they're interested, if they've kind of got a foot going this way, they're done with you, just know that that's what's happening inside. That's a little tidbit to the side, that has nothing to do with anything other than if I'm standing here, I am actually really considering what he's saying, and he is not...Corey is, by the way, he's on our staff, he's a godly guy, that's why I'm doing this because I know he can take it. So we're both feet at each other, and he's honed in here, but I'm sitting here, and I'm standing here, and I'm contemplating what he's saying now.

Ross Sawyers: [00:18:40] But there's a third piece to this, it's one thing to walk along, and I'm kind of catching it. It's another thing to stop, and now I'm really hearing it. It's another thing for me to sit down, I'm right there, I'm all in with you now. And what's the third piece of what he says here? He talks about not sitting in the seat of scoffers. What's a scoffer? It's someone who mocks and insults. So I've considered all of this, I've stood and really leaned into it, and now I'm sitting and I'm just taking it in. I'm paying Netflix to mock God for me, while I sit there in front of it on my couch or in my chair, and just watch as show after show mocks my God, mocks the sexual ethic of my God.

Ross Sawyers: [00:19:52] Have you ever noticed, have you ever heard anyone say that's Muslim, have you ever heard them put a cuss word after Allah? No, you haven't. Have you heard anybody ever stubbed their toe, get frustrated or mad, and say, Allah? No, you haven't, but you sure heard someone say, Jesus Christ that way, and you sure heard somebody put a cuss word after God's holy name. Who are we scrolling to in our social media? We're sitting there and just letting people mock us in our social media, we're letting them change our worldview, we're letting them tell us and reject the scriptures, we're letting them tell us what the scriptures mean in the way they've interpreted them. They're making fun of us, and we're sitting right there, we're paying for it to happen.

Ross Sawyers: [00:21:04] What voice do we crave? That's the world's voice. In First John 2:15, we're told not to love the world or anything in the world. "If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." Whose voice do we crave? Russell Moore, he's a Christian ethicist, but he said this, "What the consumer says is what kind of person he wants to be, what he chooses says what he actually is." So we really have to take stock and say, do I want to be something, but I'm actually choosing something else? I'm really choosing friendship with the world, that's actually what I crave. What we're doing actually says who we are.

Ross Sawyers: [00:22:11] Now, why is it in our 20 somethings today that we're seeing them reject the faith, reject the scriptures, and leave in droves. Proverbs 13:20 I think is a clue, "He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools suffers harm." If we make our primary influences people who are not following Christ, our minds and hearts will be shaped like them, and we'll be more interested in how we can please our friends and have our mind shaped by them than we will by the God of the Universe.

Ross Sawyers: [00:23:00] It's friendship with the world, you say, well, I thought as Christians, we were supposed to hang out with people who didn't know Christ. Absolutely, we are. But who did Jesus hang out with most? His twelve disciples, and three of those, he was even more intimate with them. And yes, Jesus hung out with the religious people who rejected him, he hung out with the drunkards and the gluttons and the sinners and the tax collectors, he hung out with all of them, and so should we. But you don't see him hanging out, he has a meal with them, he'll spend some time with them, and then he moves on. Jesus sent his disciples out in pairs, and then he said if they don't respond to this, then shake the dust off your sandals and keep going. We're not putting ourselves in a position to be shaped by someone that is not for God, that's the point, friendship was the world, we don't want to crave that.

Ross Sawyers: [00:24:05] There's a better side to this though in verse 2. So he says first, he's just making it clear if you want to have a healthy state of well-being, then the way you do that, here's the first way not to do it, and it's to put yourself in a position to be shaped by those who are not of God. Instead, we're craving a friendship with God. In verse two, "His delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law, he meditates day and night." So here we see that second voice to crave, and it's God's voice in God's word. You say, well, why are we looking at this, it doesn't say anything about prayer? It says everything about prayer because the way we'll be guided in our prayer is the way we meditate and find our delight in God's word. So his delight.

Ross Sawyers: [00:24:56] Don't you love how God does this, a lot of you read different devotionals and so forth, you have different Bible readings you do. And Alastair Begg, his devotional, I just signed up for, for this year. And on Thursday, so I'm studying Psalm 1, I get this devotional on Thursday, and he's talking about God's word, and he has Psalm 1 verse 2 in it. And he says, we have to be careful today, we're not just about reading God's word, but cherishing God's word. It's not just read it; it's do I cherish it? Psalm 119 says, "How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word. "Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You." Do we treasure it? Cherish it? Because this is God revealing himself to us in his word, it's the way we grow in our friendship with him.

Ross Sawyers: [00:25:53] In Joshua 1:8-9, Joshua is about to go up on a major assignment and this is what God tells him, “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night." Meditate on how often? Day and night. Psalm 1 said, how often do we do this? Day and night. What will happen then, then you'll be careful to do according to all that's written in it when it's rolling around in there, "And then you'll make your way prosperous and have success." It comes when we're craving and following God's voice in God's word. Jesus himself said, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing." Apart from Jesus, nothing, nothing is a value that's apart from Jesus, but everything in Jesus is of value. So the word meditate means to actively ponder, to think about again and again, to roll over in our minds.

Ross Sawyers: [00:26:56] Yesterday, I was playing golf with a group of guys, and one of the guys made a bad shot and he was muttering something as he was walking down the fairway, going to his next shot. And somebody talked to him and said, what are you muttering over there? And I said, this is great, I said, I'm talking about that tomorrow, because meditation actually means to mutter, it's to say it again and again. It's probably not what was being muttered there, but it's rolling over again and again what it is that is God's word. It's just kind of talking to ourselves, saying it again and again, it's rolling it over. It's like a cow that chew, its cud, what does a cow do? The cow eats, chews, goes down into the stomach, he brings it back up, she brings it back up, chews it, it goes back down, maybe again, we're just chewing on God's word. I'm wearing you out with versus 1 and 2, that's all we're going to do, we're rolling in it, we're chewing it, we're swallowing it, we're chewing it again, we cherish it and take pleasure in it. How often do we do it? Day and night. Paul tells us, in First Thessalonians 5:17, to pray without ceasing. This is partly how we pray without ceasing because God's word is rolling through us constantly, it's just what comes out because we've put so much in,

Ross Sawyers: [00:28:24] John Piper says no voice is as rich as the voice of God that we hear in the Bible. There is not a richer voice than the voice of God in the Bible. I want to make sure and draw a distinction here between Christian meditation and the meditation that the world offers. See, the world talks about meditation, and Ben Stewart the other day, he said, you know, the world has done a good job of saying part of the solution today to all the turmoil within us is meditation and gratitude. He said the world has stumbled on what God gave us initially, but the world has a different idea of meditation and gratitude. For the world, meditation is you're emptying your mind of something, or you're putting something in there that is not of God. Christian meditation is putting in the things of God, and letting that fill up our minds, and that presses out everything else.

Ross Sawyers: [00:29:20] Gratitude, and I know a number of you do these different exercise classes, and I've done a variety over the years. And in some of them, we'll do this whole gratitude thing at the end after we've made it our own practice, which is, they tell you that it's your own practice. And I'm thinking, well, then why am I feeling humiliated that I couldn't do what you just led me to do? But it's OK because it's my practice, and so I'm good. And then I do gratitude at the end, but I'm grateful to who? I'm giving gratitude to my own body, gratitude to myself, it's how we get led often. That's kind of empty, giving gratitude to ourselves, it's not empty, given gratitude to God for who he is and what he's done. So meditation, that's what Christian meditation would be.

Ross Sawyers: [00:30:15] I mentioned that we went to Passion this last weekend, and I've been involved in that since the mid-90s, and it's always been instrumental in what God is doing with me, with our church, in so many ways, our church has been impacted by it. And I just believe that part of my role with you, and this is what the Apostle Paul did, he was just passing on what was passed on to him. and I just want to keep passing on what it is that God's doing around us and in our lives. And we were with those twenty-two students, and sixty thousand people. On Monday morning I was running a little late because I didn't sleep much on Sunday night, and so I just took a little nap. Monday morning. I thought I'm never going to survive this because we'd gone six to midnight on Sunday, and then I had an incident in a room next to me in the hotel at 3:30 in the morning, and that took me out for the rest of the night. And then we started at 10:00 and went till midnight on Monday, and it's an incredibly powerful time. But as I was walking up to the stadium by myself, late, I was about a block and a half away from the stadium before I even started walking across the lawn to get to it, and I heard the music and I thought, that is so clear the praise that is coming out of that stadium from sixty thousand people. And multiple people that I talked to said, it was just a glimpse of heaven to see what it is like to hear sixty thousand twenty-somethings singing with all their hearts in their praise to God. And when you envelop a place with that kind of praise, we had Maverick City, and Hillsong, and Kari Jobe, and Cody Carnes, and Passion City Band, and Crowder, and I mean it's just all that whole two days of hours were just loaded with praise. And some of your thinking, two songs, I would have been done. No, no, no, no, when our hearts are full, we didn't get tired. And that place was so filled with God's praise and with who he is, when you do that, there's not room for evil, there's not room for darkness. the demons flee when that's going on. And in that room, by the time somebody got up to speak, any of us could have gotten up there and it would have been powerful because God was all over it and his name was so lifted up, and that place was so enveloped with the praise of his name, that you just couldn't help it.

Ross Sawyers: [00:32:48] And we listened to multiple speakers, and I was just trying to process through how they were leading us. Tim Tebow kind of launched it out a little bit on Sunday night, and he went to Ephesians 2:10, and since we're his workmanship, and so in that part of the scripture, he just said to everybody there and we need to hear this, your god's workmanship. That work means you're his poem, you're his masterpiece that he's starting with, you're his original, that is who you are, that's who God sees you as when you're in Christ. And so he started there, and then he talked about how you get there through the cross, and what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross.

Ross Sawyers: [00:33:32] Sadie Robertson Huff followed, and a lot of our twenty-somethings and young girls are following her, and I think it was probably the best talk on identity that I've heard. And she just knocked it out of the park, and one of the places she talked about, and I think this is so true and I've been wrestling with this for several months now, that until we can understand the character of God and who God is, we won't understand who we are. Until we see who he is, for who he is, and then when he says something about us, we will actually believe it when we see who he is. But until then, we're going to keep trying to figure out our own identity, we're going to keep trying to make ourselves whatever identity we think we can be. But yet if we seek God for who he is, his identity, then we can believe how he sees us.

Ross Sawyers: [00:34:27] David Platt followed, and if there's anybody passionate about the nations, it's David Platt. And there are 3.2 billion people on the planet that are unreached, they have limited or no access to the Gospel. They haven't rejected Christ because they've heard it and don't like it, they don't even know it's an option for them right now. And every urging was for students, for 25-year-olds, and I would say today for us, is make your life count, don't waste it. Don't waste it on cultural Christianity, be all in on Jesus, that's when your life will count.

Ross Sawyers: [00:35:10] Jackie Hill Perry started us out on Monday morning. I think it was probably, you're thinking that I'm exaggerating, I don't think I am. But Isaiah 6, I don't think I've heard anybody speak stronger on Isaiah 6, and she talked about the holiness of God. In Isaiah six, there's a vision that Isaiah has of God, and then the angels are the Seraphim’s, the burning ones, are going back and forth and they're crying out, "Holy, Holy, Holy, are you Lord God Almighty. Who is, who was, and who is to come.”. And I love what Jackie said, she said, why are they not saying love, love, love? That's our cultural mantra, why is that not what the angels are crying out? The word Holy means to cut, and God, he's set apart, he's cut apart, and the love of God is a Holy love, and we don't lose out. And she started out, I loved her authority, she stepped up to the stage and she said, we've changed the definitions of all these different words. She said I want you to know today we don't have the authority to change the definition of God's words. God is a holy God, and his love is a holy love, he defines what love is, not us. And the angels are crying out, and the purity and the transcendence of God as a Holy God.

Ross Sawyers: [00:36:45] And then Isaiah comes before him, and he says woe is me, for I a man of unclean lips. He didn't try to make excuses for something, he didn't talk about flaws, he didn't talk about anything. The only thing he could do when encountered with the holiness of God is to say, woe is me. And what did God do? He put hot burning coals on his tongue and cleansed him. And she made an observation, I haven't thought about it in a while, and said, Isaiah, didn't ask for that, God just did that for him. We didn't ask for Jesus to give his life for us, he did it for us, and we didn't even have enough sense to ask for it.

Ross Sawyers: [00:37:48] We're just caught in the bigness of God, and then Ben Stuart and Jennie Allen came back on Monday afternoon, and they talked about the things that trip us up so that we miss out on who God is and who we are. And anxiety was the primary thing that Ben Stuart talked about, and the primary antidote to that is intimacy with Christ. Have we tried that? I know there may be other things we need to do, but have we at least tried first, an intimacy with Christ, and to see what he might do? And then Jennie Allen came out and she did something about as gutsy as I've seen anybody do, and sixty thousand people in the stadium. And she walks up there, she was talking about Hebrews 12:1-2 and shedding the sins and the weights that God tells us to, so we can be fixated on Jesus. And as she talked, she said, here's what I want you to do, she said, I'm going to get you in same-gender groups of about four or five, and this is what happens with our sin, we take it, we have something that's that last two percent that we're not willing to say out loud, and that is what eats us up. And we keep our sin in the darkness and we stay isolated, then it has power over us. She said, what I want you to do in your small group, is I want you to turn to each other, and when you turn to each other and you're in your group, I want you to share in that group...She didn't do what I would do, I would have said, if you're not comfortable and you don't want to say it out loud, then don't say it. But if you do, that'll be great. But she did it, and she was so set by then because God's name had been so lifted up, she just said, this is what you're going to do, you're going to share that last two percent of what you've not said out loud. It might be that you had an abortion when you were in high school and you've never said it out loud and the shame and guilt is eating you up, it has power over you because you've kept it in the darkness. It might be that you're addicted to pornography, and you've just hid that part, and that's that last two percent and it is wearing you out. But whatever it is, you're going to say it. And I believe people did, they did in my group, and the is a freedom.

Ross Sawyers: [00:40:10] A freedom now to hear Louie talk about, Louie Giglio that night, talk about being written into God's story.

Ross Sawyers: [00:40:16] And then Christine Caine finishing us off with being like Joshua and Caleb. Oh, there were a number of leaders, she said, you look at you got all these leaders, but how many of you have named your kids these 10 people? How many of you have a friend or a cousin or someone named these 10 people that are listed in Joshua? Nobody. How many people know somebody named Joshua or Caleb? And we could raise our hands, and most of us all know somebody named Joshua or Caleb, these were men of a different spirit, and they were wholehearted in their obedience. And I love what Christine Caine said, she said, they weren't smarter than everybody else, they weren't any gifted than anybody else, what was the difference in them? A different spirit and a wholehearted obedience. Any of us can do that, and our lives will count when we do.

Ross Sawyers: [00:41:08] That was the flow, that comes from God's word, I've been thinking on that all week long and rolling that over, and I looked at my notes afresh to see if there was something I missed there, I don't want to miss anything God had for me. "His delight is in the law of the Lord." Those who led us, that's where their delight is, they cherish it, treasure it, and then pass it on. So how do we do that? How do we pass it on?

Ross Sawyers: [00:41:38] I want to share that with you, and I want to answer a partial answer to the question of why pray, before I do. There are a number of reasons we could say why we don't pray, or why we say we do pray, but why pray? I want to ask that question, why is it? And this week, as I was praying even on that question, I thought it's an interesting question, because if I know who God is as a Father, then he says to me through Jesus Christ, I'm his son. So to ask the question, why pray? Is to ask the similar question of why does a son need to talk to a father? Why would a son talk to a father? Well, I love talking to my sons, so it's not even a question, it's a relationship I enjoy with my sons. God has invited us into a relationship, He's our Father, and we're his sons and were his daughters. Why would we not want to talk to him?

Ross Sawyers: [00:42:42] He says we're part of a household of faith, we're brothers and sisters. I love hanging out with my brother, we played golf together yesterday and whenever I'm in a golf cart, it takes a few more hours and it takes normal people to golf, so we have more time than usual, but we had a great time hanging out yesterday. I'm in the household of faith, why would I not want to talk to my brothers and sisters in Christ? Why would I not what I enjoy talking together with them to our Father? I'm a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven, and God is my King. If my Father is the King, and I'm a citizen and a son and a daughter, why would I not be going to the King and talking to him? If I was an enemy, and now I'm a friend, I don't know about you, I like talking to my friends. That's actually how we have a friendship, we talk. If I'm a friend of God now, why would I not want to talk to him? I think that question comes in part from a misunderstanding of what prayer is. If prayer is simply asking God for something that I want, and for some reason I keep not getting it, I think it's a great question, why pray? But if it's a relationship with God and I'm his son, and I'm a citizen, and I'm the bride of Christ, why would we not talk to our spouses? If Christ is the husband, we're the bride, why would we not be talking to him?

Ross Sawyers: [00:44:36] But one reason I can think of is, we think our prayers are unanswered, and we get told no, why do I go back? Because the only way we think a prayer is answered is if it's yes, and if it's the way that I would like it to turn out. Then I think why pray is a great question? But why pray? Because stunningly, I've been invited into a relationship by God's grace with the King and Father of the universe, and he calls me friend, so I pray.

Ross Sawyers: [00:45:22] So how do I do that right now? For this year, I need a plan, not everybody needs a plan, a plan can be binding to some people, and it can become a check box idea. That's not how God wired me; a plan actually frees me. If I know where I'm going and God's word every day to hang out with him there, it is freeing to me, it's not binding to me. For some people, that's torture to think that there's this plan that I'm going to follow. So whatever works in your world, however, it would work to actually spend that time with him in his word.

Ross Sawyers: [00:46:03] So I took a NavPress plan that I found online, it's through the Bible in a year, it's twenty-five days a month, so I get five or six days of grace, depending on what month it is. So if I miss some days, I've got some so that I'm not behind. And it's four parts of the Bible, Matthew, right now, Acts, Psalms, and Genesis, that'll change as I finish those. But for parts of the scripture, so I'm reading that. But what I'm doing, I talked about earlier, I'm integrating that with the way that I pray. So I'm not just reading that scripture plan, checking the box, and moving on. I do check the box, I like checking boxes, it's accomplishing to me, it's not legalistic to me.

Ross Sawyers: [00:46:48] How do I integrate it? Well, I have my days of prayer, I have a category of people per day. So on Mondays, I pray for my family. On Tuesdays, I pray for our government, for social media influencers, for Silicon Valley, big corporations, universities, all the influencers in our culture. On Wednesdays, I pray for 121. On Thursdays, for lost people, those who don't know Jesus, and for laborers to actually take the gospel to them. On Fridays, I pray for missionaries, and church planters, and all the organizations we partner with. And on Saturdays, I pray for my friends.

Ross Sawyers: [00:47:36] So yesterday I was reading, in my reading, I was in Matthew 4. And I took Matthew 4, and the first 11 verses, and it's Jesus in the wilderness being tempted. And so I turn that into a prayer for my friends, and I named my friends, and my prayer was out of God's word, so I'm praying God's word. And what I prayed is that they would not be tempted to find greater satisfaction in anything other than God's word itself, because that's how Jesus responded. He said, "MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD." So that's what I prayed for them. And then the second temptation, I prayed that they would not be tempted to test God. but they would accept God's plans for them. My third piece of the prayer for them is that they wouldn't be tempted by materialism and by all the offerings of the world, but instead, that they would worship God and serve him with all their heart. Now, I don't know about you, but they don't know it, they do know now because I've said it out loud. But most of the time, people aren't going to know that's what I've prayed for them, and most of the time I'm not really going to see an answer, probably. But I've sure enjoyed taking pleasure in my time with my Father, and to be able to cover my friends with his word for just a few minutes. And maybe he'll let me see because I'm going to go expectantly looking at what he's doing.

Ross Sawyers: [00:49:17] Some of us may be concerned about that because, when we think about praying, one of the things we at least have to consider when we pray and we do this, of why we crave the world's voice and not God's voice, it could be that we believe God, and don't know God. In James 2:19, it says, "The demons believe, and they shudder." It could be that one of the deficits in our prayer lives is we actually don't know God. There's a difference in believing God, which most of our country does, and then actually putting our trust in Jesus Christ for our salvation, those are two distinct things.

Ross Sawyers: [00:50:03] When our trust is in Jesus, then the craving starts to stir for his voice in his word. Now, I said out loud what I do, and I want to just give you that picture. But what I want to do now, I want to just pray Psalm 1 over Chancey, and I asked her, so for those who start sweating if I'm ever going to call on you, I generally ask, occasionally, I forget. That was comforting, wasn't it? But I want to pray this over her, just like I would pray. And then I'm going to ask you as we close up, to pray Psalm 1 if you have a Bible or you have it on an app, and then I want you just to silently pray over your spouse, over a friend, over a child, over a parent, over someone in your life group, but to pray this Psalm. So I'm going to pray over Chancey the way that I would pray it, then I'm going to ask you to do it.

Ross Sawyers: [00:51:06] And then in light of our being outside of our comfort zone idea, I'm going to ask you this week, would you take the same way you pray this Psalm today, and will you pray it out loud with someone this week? Will you pray this with your spouse, it might be the first time you've ever prayed out loud with your spouse, and all you have to do is read these six verses. And you can say, look, this is about as uncomfortable as anything I've ever done, but I'm game, and honey, I'm going to pray this over you. It could be you do that with a friend, whoever it is. Our life groups this week when you pray, will you just take the scripture and pray? Once you pray Psalm 1, go to Psalm 2. Once you pray Psalm 2 go to some 3, it's inexhaustible the amount of time we can spend praying when pray scripture.

Ross Sawyers: [00:52:05] So Father, let's pray together, if everybody would bow your heads, I'm going to pray this over Chancey, specifically. And Father, I thank you today for your word, and, God, I pray for Chancey that she'd be blessed today, and there would just be a total well-being in her soul, that she would be so at peace because she craves your voice and not the voice of the world. Will you help her today, God, to not walk in the counsel of the wicked, to not take the advice of those who are not leaning into you and giving godly counsel. Will you help Chancey today to not stand and consider the pathway of sinners, those who are opposed to you, will you help her not even to consider it today? And, God, will help her to not sit in the seat of scoffers, that she'll not position herself in front of people who openly mock you, that she'll not do that on purpose, that she'll not just sit and absorb that so that it shapes her and guides the way she lives. Instead. God, I pray for her that she'd find delight in your law, in your word, I pray she would cherish it and treasure it, and God that she would meditate on it, chew on it, roll over in it, that she would do this day and night, God. I pray that this word would take hold of her mind right now, and there would be such a joy in her as she moves through the day as your word rolls through. I pray, God, she would be like this tree that's firmly planted by the streams of water, it yields its fruit and its season, and its leaf does not wither. And whatever she does today, I pray she would prosper, God, that it would be so life-giving, just like this firmly rooted tree that never quits yielding fruit, that everyone that's around her would experience the life giving of Christ in her. Thank you, God, that as your child, that she's not verse 4, that she's not like chaff, which the wind drives away, that which is weightless and useless and has no value. And thank you, God, that she doesn't have to worry about the judgment where those who oppose you will not stand. But instead, God, in verse 6, that she'll know how much you have chosen her, care for her, and love her because she's righteous today in Jesus Christ. And, God, I pray that she'll be able to communicate that to others, so that fewer and fewer will have to experience the last part of this verse, and that they'll go the way of the wicked that will perish and be separated in eternal hell forever. Instead, God, that they'll know the life-giving of Jesus Christ. And I pray that, for Chancey, in Jesus' name. Amen.

Ross Sawyers: [00:54:57] Wouldn't you love somebody to be praying over you like that? There is a richness when we're enveloped in God's word, so let's do that, let's do that quietly. You read this Psalm, pray for whoever, do it quietly. You can mutter it if you want to, we're not on the golf course, we know good things are coming out, and let this be your prayer. And then Jordan will wrap us up afterwards.



Recorded in Grapevine, Texas.
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121 Community Church
2701 Ira E Woods Ave.
Grapevine, Texas 76051
817.488.1213