Have You Sent God a Hallmark Card?

Series: Other Speakers

Sun am 26 September 2010 – Hazel Swart

(Luke 18:9-14); Matt. 6:1-15; (Matt. 7:7-11)

I want to speak about our communication with God and how important it is, and how much it affects our lives. A Pharisee and a taxman went to pray in the temple. The Pharisee spoke to God about what a good person he was, but the taxman could hardly lift his head. We know who went away blessed.

We sometimes send God a “Hallmark card”, it is already written out, we don’t have to put our heart into it; we just sign our name. He’s really interested in what is going on in our lives. We find so little time to sit with Him in a secluded place and to talk to Him. If you are not doing the basic principles, the apostolic Word that puts us on the road is not going to work for us. If you as an individual are not healthy and whole, you cannot not make up the corporate. The corporate is made up of you and me as individuals who stand before God first, and find our place there, and find our wholeness, and find our healing, and find our destiny in who He is. That takes spending time with God every single day. If you say you’re far too busy, then it is going to show in your life. God is not an unreasonable God, He is a sensible God when you come to Him and ask Him about things that are happening in your life. Some of us are struggling so badly and we don’t know why. “Why do we serve a Father who we pray to, if  He is not interested in our lives, if He’s not interested in what’s happening in our heart?” Some of you don’t even know what is going on in your heart. You are so busy, you have no idea what is going on in your heart. That is what God is interested in.

The Book of Psalms is a true cry, a raw honesty from David about what was going on in his heart. We cannot hide the truth from God of what is going on in our heart. He’s waiting for you to sit down and say, “You know what God, this is the way I am feeling, I am sad, I’m mad, I’m happy.” It’s not always the prayers of “give me, give me” that God is after when He says, “Ask, and it shall be given to you.” Does it mean, “Ask and I will give you something you never wanted”? Why are so many of our prayers not answered? Do you think He can’t handle it when you are mad? Do you think He can’t handle it when you are upset, when you feel that everything at work and at home is pressurizing you? What kind of God do we serve then if He says, “Ask and it shall be given to you. Knock and it shall be opened”?  What does it mean then? Does it mean anything to us? If these things are not working, does it mean anything then? The reality of our walk with God is what counts. The reality of our language and our prayer life with God is what counts He takes us back to Matthew 6 and says, “This is how you pray” Short, simple and to the point.

Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding. “When you do something for someone else, don’t call attention to yourself. You’ve seen them in action, I’m sure—’playactors’ I call them— treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that’s all they get. When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out. And when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat? Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace. The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this: Our Father in heaven, Reveal who you are. Set the world right; Do what’s best— as above, so below. Keep us alive with three square meals. Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others. Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil. You’re in charge! You can do anything you want! You’re ablaze in beauty! Yes. Yes. Yes. In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part (Matt. 6:1-15).

Prayer is a two-way street, otherwise we are like partners in an empty marriage where we never share our views; and that is boring and empty. God wants you to share and to speak with Him. God wants to hear what’s going on in your heart as honestly, as thoroughly as you can, every single day. Whether you get down on your knees and pray, whether you go for a walk or pray with a friend, let it be a genuine discussion with God. Then wait to hear what He is going to say to you. He does speak. It helps me to get up half an hour earlier and just write. I found as I was writing that my whole focus moved away from what I wanted to what God wants and is saying about other people. Prayer is such an important part of our walk with God.

A distant God is a convenient God. It’s a God we can blame for everything that goes wrong in our lives. It’s a God who does not interfere in our private lives and doesn’t tell us what to do. We may be surprised that the closer God gets to us, He might direct our steps and show His love to us. You may be so blessed because He has reached out and answered your prayer. We come to Him believing, we come to Him with faith, we come to Him as a Father and we are children! You and I are His children, His sons and His daughters. We don’t need an intermediate person to speak on our behalf. Jesus Christ came for that reason; that we can go straight into the Holy of Holies and speak to our God. We can be intimate with Him and share our deepest sorrow. We can share our dreams and goals with Him. Sometimes we think God doesn’t care about those things. He came that we may have life and life abundantly (Eph.3:20). Yet we sit with a poverty mindset, we sit with problems and circumstances – what I am saying is, speak to God! Open up! He’s greater than any other person. He can come into your situation and He can change it. He can change you and me. He works from the inside, but He wants us. Make the time! You take one step forward, and He takes 5 steps in your direction. He’s a gracious loving God, and our lives need to be speaking of that gracious loving God in a big way!

Our young people need to feel He’s tangible and able to say, “God has answered my prayer.” We all need to be saying that. He says, ‘Ask and it will be given to you.” You who are earthly parents know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more does God know how to give good gifts to us (Matt. 7:7-11). We think that our life has to be one of suffering. Why?  What did God have in mind? The beautiful garden of Eden! I think we have made our lives so miserable, and we have made God so small, and we don’t trust Him enough and we don’t give Him the credit for the God that He is. It’s not just about what we do and where we go. God is saying, “Be real, be honest, be genuine.”

What does it mean when it says, “Hallowed be Thy Name”? The name YHWH was used because it was such a Holy name and they did not want to use God’s name in vain.              Some of God’s names mean:

JehovahTsidkenu : Our righteousness (Gen. 15:6). Before you even come before God, He accepts you. We are forgiven and what we have done is forgotten. Each time you pray, it’s a new day.

Jehovah- Mekaddishkem:The Lord who sanctifies (Ex. 31:13). When we come to Him, He sanctifies our lives. He cleans us up from the inside out.

Jehovah- Shalom – Jehovah is peace. Wholeness and harmony with God. Satisfaction of life.

Jehovah- Shammah – the overflowing present One. The promise of His presence, the Lord with us.

Jehovah- Rophe (Ex. 15:25-27) – To restore, to cure or to heal, not only physically but spiritually and morally – the Lord who heals.

Jehovah- Jireh (Gen. 22:14) – the Lord who sees. He sees our needs beforehand and provides for them. Before you even ask, He knows what you need. We are free from failure!

Jehovah- Nissi (Ex. 17:15) – the Lord my banner. The sign of deliverance and salvation; I always have this covering, I always feel protected.

Jehovah- Roi (Gen. 48:15)– Jehovah my Shepherd, my Companion, my Friend. He feeds and leads me into green pastures. Who doesn’t want a big Daddy like that? Who doesn’t want a King like that? You can call on His name, any time of the day or night, and He’s there.

With a God who loves us like this, a God who protects us like this, a God who provides for us like this – how can we still be unbelievers? How can we still say, “I am too busy to spend time with the Father, the Creator who put me on this earth so that I can manifest Him, and be like Him.”

We can understand everything about the apostolic, but it means nothing unless it’s down and working in our heart. We have to be very careful that what we say is backed up by this life, this desire, this drive. It says, God is my father, the creative force that is in my life.

When you pray, don’t make it a huge mountain. Go into a secluded place by yourself and find the time. Get down on your knees if you have to. Don’t let our lives be an empty shell that says nothing. Be encouraged to pray. Remember how much you are loved, remember how much you are protected; how much you are provided for.