Learn to Pray like a son

Romans 8:14-17 has some helpful insights into how God listens to those who have put their faith in Jesus. He hears us as sons!

Even the ladies

14For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God,

Some ladies may feel uncomfortable being called “sons”, you shouldn’t. Because sonship is about inheritance. The first born son inherited the father’s property, belongings and perpetuated the family name. Woman in Christ are sons in that they too receive the inheritance and status of the sons of God. Besides guys have to be the bride of Christ, I’m in a spiritual wedding dress right now:)

God is your Father…exclusively.

God is not Father to all. God is your Father, creator of all but only Father to you. You have been adopted into his family. Holy Spirit does many things but do you know he is the Spirit of adoption. He takes you in, he cleans you up and brings you into your Father’s presence. Holy Spirit is not an ‘it’, he is a person, with a personality, and right at the beginning of your walk with God he takes you in like little orphan Annie, cleans you up, puts a song in your heart and seals your adoption into the family of God.

Let your Father fight for you

15For you did not receive a Spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a Spirit of adoption.

Paul was a Jew and he understood slavery. The Israelites were slaves in Egypt. They lived in fear. They were oppressed. They had a master. A master they did not want. A master that did not love them. A master that used and abused them. So, they cried out to their Father. And the bible says “He heard their cry”. So their Father said unto Pharaoh

“Israel is my first born son… (You better check yourself before you wreck yourself Pharaoh) Let my son go that he may worship me. But you refused to let him go; now I will kill your firstborn son.” Ex 4:22-23.

See, I grew up in Mitchells Plain. And I had these kids in my class who were like my dad’s age, that’s how many time they had failed. They bullied everyone. And because my family was quite poor my parents had to budget. They would buy my school shoes 3 sizes too big for me. They said I would grow into it. I had big feet as it was and I was very thin and tall and my school pants fitted like a three-quarter manga. I looked like Michael Jackson during puberty. My mom would say to me, “oh you’re built to be a swimmer my boy…the perfect feet”. That’s how I grew up. So, the bullies noticed me, because it was hard not to notice me and when they walked passed me they would step on my feet and shout “lang foete, his got flippers”.

So, one day I eventually broke down and came home crying. The next day my dad came into the school. He went with me and asked me who was bulling me. I pointed out the group of young adults and my dad went over to them and told them to leave me alone or else he would come back and give them such a hiding that they would pee in their pants. True story! That was the last time they bullied me. Then I joined their group and bullied other children. Because only Jesus changes hearts. But I remember feeling so safe because my dad was jealous for me. Don’t mess with me, or I’ll tell my dad.

This is so ingrained in us. You ever watch little children get into the ‘my dad is better than yours debate’? When you’re a kid you just trust in your Father’s strength. Jesus says you are a kid, and you have a good dad, and he wants to fight for you, so pray. Life may have told you that God doesn’t answer prayer, but give it a shot…Ask and it will be given, because your Father is good and loves you.

Reminding you who you are

When we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God.

Before any epic battle scene you will have the main character reminding his opponent who he is.

“My name is Maximus Desmus Arilius, commander of armies of the North, General of the Pheolix allegiance, loyal servant of the true emperor Marcus Aralius, Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife, and I will have my vengeance in this life or the next”

Or if you are a local you’ve heard…

“Hallo ken jy vir my? Do you know who I am?”

Similarly we need constant reminders who we are, because this produces security and confidence. In prayer we are reminded who we are, in prayer the Father holds you close and tells you “I’m your Father, you are my son, I will defend you, its going to be ok”, “suck it up, I’m with you” in prayer the heart is comforted through the Holy Spirit by the love of God. He said when you “cry out” or “shout aloud” Abba Father, daddy, papa, it is the Spirit reminding your spirit, it the Spirit speaking into the deepest, innermost, private part of you saying you are a little child and I am your Father.
You may say “Oh God they say I am worthless” “Oh God they said I will never be able to do it” “Oh God I feel like I will never be forgiven..”
But as you pray the Spirit comes into the deepest part of your hurt, and says “you are my son, you are my daughter, I’m going to fight for you and it’s going to be ok”. That’s what happens when you pray like a son. This is balm for the soul. Prayer in the Holy Spirit is the most satisfying spiritual discipline.

Nothing else will satisfy your soul. The last verse is all about suffering for glory.

Headed for Glory

17 And if children, then heirs, heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ- if in fact we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

It’s not necessarily going to be easy though. Our Father has not promised to take us out of this sinful, broken, evil age. He has not promised to make us happy. Some of you where happier before you got saved. You had a man (In fact you may have had a few men). Now, you’re sitting around, high and dry, all dressed up… So you stopped praying, because it’s not going the way you wanted it. You were happy when you were unsaved. Now, God has messed up your plans. And if you don’t know that he is good, that he is your Father, you are going to think your life is going nowhere.

Your Father will change the bearing and direction of your life and despite what it may look like you are headed for glory. It’s around the corner! That’s where this roads leads. Next stop Gloryville! He promised you that your suffering will lead to glory.

He has not withheld anything from you, he has given Jesus, he has given Holy Spirit and all this even though most of us don’t pray very much. Yes we thank him for his provision, yes we thank him for his grace, yes we thank him for his patience, but God we lift up a shout of praise for you have given us yourself! Because when we are down and out, he has never left us, even when we grow cold and complacent he remains faithful, even though we turn to ‘him or her’ instead of you, you keep pursuing us.

You are my Father, you love me and I will worship you, get out of my way bitterness, get out of my way depression, get out of my way anxiety, this son has been set free, this daughter has been set free indeed.

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How God as Father impacts on identity

Without clear theological and perhaps more importantly, experiential knowledge (which I call revelation) of God as Father our Christian faith & identity remains insecure. A deeper understanding of God as Father has at least four implications. Have a look at the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32.

Grows Dependence vs11-14

You get two kinds of people; those who realize their dependence on God as Father, and those who don’t. A child needs its parents. Here we have a young man who thought that he didn’t need his Father. He sought financial, and spiritual independence from his Father. There are times when we deliberately seek out independence, we think can or should do this in our own strength.

Yet Jesus makes dependence upon God a prerequisite to being a Christian. In Matthew 18:1-3 the disciples are arguing about who is the greatest. Jesus then holds up a little infant and says to them “Unless you change and become like little infants you will never enter into the kingdom of heaven”. Human babies are probably the most helpless, vulnerable and needy creatures in creation. The disciples need a reality check. They are proud and in essence Jesus says, no you are infants, and you need to change your attitude, you need to change your perspective, you are helpless, you are vulnerable. Recognizing our dependence upon Father God changes the way we live. Its ok to be in need, in fact God wants you to depend on him. Its almost silly that Jesus has to tell us to  “ask and it will be given” and let us know that our “our heavenly Father knows what you need”. Those who don’t depend daily on God as Father live with anxiety and stress.

Guides Destiny vs. 15-17

The younger son in the parable had messed up big time. He had spent all his cash on camel drag races, fancy Egyptian beer and one too many falafels. But then it says “he came to his senses”. What does this mean? He realized “I’m not a slave, I’m the son of a wealthy land owner, this is not my destiny, I don’t belong here”. A deep realization of who you are determines where you go. We sometimes ask “God what must I do with my life?” And God says “behold the old has gone and the new has come, you are a new creation in Christ”, you so but what must I do? And God says “you are the head and not the tale” But what must I do? “How I long to gather you like a mother hen gathers her chicks”. The central question in the New Testament is not “what must I do?” Its “who are the people of God?” Have you come to your senses child? Do you know you are a loved and accepted child of God? Because this changes everything. The tiniest revelation of the love of the Father will so absolutely change you that your destiny becomes irrelevant, “I don’t care where I’m going, just as long as you are with me” says Moses, “If you do not go, I will not go” Its his presence we should long for “I just want to be with you Father” “It’s your presence I long for, not answers about my future because my faithless heart which struggles to leave that in your hands.” Concern about my destiny, my contribution, my significance is just another form of independence from the Father. Why do we need to understand God as Father? Its not a successful career or a life of worldly significance but the reassuring knowledge that you are the son or daughter of a king.

Determines who we are vs. 18-20

So, he is on his way home and he is rehearsing. You ever rehearse like this? He’s walking with his head down “I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants”.

How do you deal with low self-esteem? The good news is that down is up in kingdom of God. I am strong when I am weak, for Christ’s power is made perfect in weakness. This is the perfect condition for a revelation of grace. Why is the holy Bible laden with unholy stories of sinful men and women. Because they knew that it wasn’t anything they had done to make God love them. When God takes away the possibility that his love for you is just a returned favor, then you truly can feel loved. If you still think there is some good that you can offer God then you have not yet experienced his love. When you truly know, in your heart of hearts, I am not worthy to be called your son your daughter, when you feel that guilt and shame deep in your soul, and you realize that even your good works are rubbish, and he still blesses and loves you, then you start to understand who you are.

The Father’s heart vs. 20-24

Why do we need to understand God as Father? Because it reveals the Father heart of God. It shows us who God is and how he loves his children?

  1. Intimately (The Father runs after the son, hugs and kisses him)
  2. Desperately (The Father was waiting for the son, perhaps this was his custom to go out everyday hoping that he would see his son, when he does he ran after him)
  3. Graciously (welcomes the son after been he has been publically rejected, he clothes his son and throws an expensive party after son took half of all his belongings and he doesn’t let the son continue with his apology and proposition to work as a hired hand and buts in to tell the servants to clothe the son)
  4. Compassionately (The Father is genuinely empathetic and at first sight of his returned son starts to feel a deep compassion in his gut, which then explodes in emotion and has the Father running to his son)
  5. Proudly (The Father clothes the son with attire appropriate to the family status. The best coat, a ring and sandals. The Father has a fattened calf slain which could feed some 60 to 80 people and invites the town to a welcome home party for his son)
  6. Generously (The son hasn’t asked for anything which shows that the Father actually wants to give his son stuff)
  7. Joyfully (They are feasting and the son’s presence makes the Father really happy)

Have you recognized your inability to justify yourself? Or are you tiresomely working at self-justification? What sinful practice fills you with guilt and shame? Why? Hear the Father’s heart, I love you child, just the way you are.