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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Chris Hodges » Chris Hodges - Keep on Praying

Chris Hodges - Keep on Praying

Chris Hodges - Keep on Praying
TOPICS: Pray First, Prayer

All right, so good to see all of you here today. Who's glad to be in church today? Anybody else? C'mon, put your hands together and give Jesus some praise today. That's awesome. And a big hello to all of our locations that are joining us right now. They've all had their own services up to this point. Now, we are one church that's meeting all across Alabama and into Georgia, and what a joy and a privilege it is to bring this service and all that we are as a church into more than 21 of Alabama's Department of Corrections facilities and we always say to you guys, "You're not a project to us. You are our church family and we love you".

And then there are people that are watching somewhere online or on-demand, and we're so glad that you're along for the ride today. Great to be able to say the biggest "Hello" you can, everybody. C'mon, put your hands together. God bless you. And I'm very excited too, 'cause next Sunday, Highlands turns 22 years old, everybody, yeah. And so we have a anniversary celebration and we're beginning a brand new series next Sunday that I wanna get you ready for. It's gonna be a five-part series on relationships that we are calling, "ER". And the ER is not what you think it means. And so we'd love for you to join us. It's gonna be spectacular. This is our kind of tradition to take that season around Valentine's Day and as we kind of enter into springtime which I can't hardly wait for and talk about relationships and making all of them work in our lives.

And I'll start us off next week with Part 1 and I'm very excited about it. And of course, we just came out of 21 Days of Prayer, and what an amazing season it was, and I wanna thank you as a church. We had more people participate in prayer this year than ever before, literally tens of thousands. Yeah, c'mon, give all that praise to Jesus, everybody. And I'll just tell you, I know you feel it and sense it that something has shifted. This is not just happening in our church. There is a move of God. I'm hearing it from hundreds of churches right now who say they have never seen the people that are so interested in God. In fact, I just read a survey and I say this to encourage you. Just read a survey that just was finished at the end of '22 that said that people are more hungry for God than they were even before the pandemic, that 44% of all Americans know that they need more of God in their life. And how many of y'all think that's an awesome thing, amen, everybody?

Yeah, and it's because we've all tried our own way and it doesn't work, right? And we've seen that happening in our church too, and I wanna give you a great report so you can celebrate with me this morning and, as you hear it, I want you to go wild clapping but don't do it for anything in this room. Give all that praise to Jesus, but just in the first four Sundays of January, just the first four, at our church, the number of people that have given their lives to Jesus and I'm not talking about hands raised. I'm talking about documented names and addresses. You ready for this? Three thousand, two hundred and sixty-nine, c'mon, gave their lives to Jesus. C'mon, give God some crazy praise, yeah, it's awesome. And on top of that, we've had people that have experienced miracles in their life and I wanna celebrate those and encourage those of you who haven't seen it yet. You will, and just keep on and I'm gonna talk to you about that in a moment but I'll tell you two quick stories.

There was a guy named Matt who went into the doctor and there was a large mass in his left kidney. The doctors were fairly certain it was a renal cell carcinoma. That's in their family. In fact, Matt's dad died 22 years ago from renal cell, a kidney-based cancer. And there was this large mass there and, of course, he went back to do the treatments and to actually be rescanned and to put the contrast through him and so they could develop a plan. And when he went back the second time, there was nothing there. C'mon, everybody. He's completely healed, in Jesus's name. And the doctors was like...they don't have a clue what happened. They're marveling as well.

And there was a guy named Joe who, for 14 months, had the onset of ALS: slurred speech, couldn't swallow, had trouble even swallowing water. Got prayed for in one of our prayer services. Nothing happened immediately. An hour later, his body was completely normal, all those symptoms gone. C'mon, one more time, give God praise. And I say that, and I say that just to encourage your faith. And if you're wondering, "Well, why doesn't God do this for me"? He will, and I wanna talk to you today about just being persistent in prayer. This is my final installment of the series called "Pray First," based off of a book that I've written and actually, I know I have these five "P's" that I wrote about in the first section. This actually should have been the sixth one. You know, when you write a book, you always think of the things that you wish you would have put in there, but there's another part of prayer that I wanna make sure you know about, and that is the persistence.

So, like, this is not just like a "one-time, done" kind of a thing. You're gonna see in a moment how important it is just to keep on praying. And Jesus talked about it, that we should always pray and never give up, he said. And he told them the stories, parables, of people who just were persistent. They kept on knocking, kept on knocking, kept on knocking, kept on knocking, kept on knocking, kept on knocking, and then God answered. And you say, "Why does he do that"? He's trying to build our own faith. Leave that part of it up to him. He knows what our character needs, he knows what our lives need. It's our job just to keep pursuing him with all of our heart. Can I hear a good "Amen," everybody, right?

And I'm gonna show you, I'm gonna get very, very practical, and then I'm gonna get very, very personal. Kind of two parts to this message today. But let me begin with kind of a theme verse for this series, and it says this. It says, "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions," and we've talked about that, how you can pray everywhere, all the time, "and with all kinds of prayers," and that was the last two Sundays and if you missed them, please go back and watch at least Part 2, Part 3, 'cause I give you models of prayer which makes it interesting. I talked to a college age girl who came up to me after our prayer service yesterday. She goes, "My whole life is transformed by tabernacle prayer. This is so great for me, so personal to me". She said, "For the first time in my life, prayer makes sense to me and I know what I'm doing and I know what I'm saying and I know where to go. And I'm just enjoying it with all my heart".

That was the last 2 weeks. The kinds of prayers and requests that are in the Bible, and I'd love for you to see those. But I wanna focus on this last phrase, because "With that in mind", with what in mind? That I'm praying all the time and with all kinds of prayers, "I need to be alert," in other words, don't give up because you still have an enemy who's coming after your soul, and say these last three words out loud, Keep on praying. And I wanna talk to you about that because I loved 21 Days of Prayer, but this is Day 22, you know what I'm saying? And we don't wanna just have an event, now let's go on to move to the next thing and leave prayer there until we have another prayer event. I mean, the dream is honestly, is that we keep on praying. And somebody asked me, "Why do we do 21 days of prayer"? We do 21 days of prayer, honestly, because there is a fast that long in the Bible: the Daniel fast.

In Daniel chapter 10, he prayed and fasted 21 days, and there are other examples. But also, it takes about 21 days to kind of create a new habit. And one of the hopes was that, you know, we get up early and we spend time with God, that that kind of formed a new habit and, honestly, I wanna help you keep on praying. In fact, I almost called this message Day 22, people. Like, how do we continue it on throughout the year? And by the way, that's my personal story. The most significant fast and, by the way, this year was the 40th 21 Days that I've done in a row. I started at 19, I'm 59 years old, and I've done 40 21-day fasts and probably the most memorable to me was in the year 2000 when I was fasting, I was an associate pastor at my home church, and I was really, I was, actually, it's the only time in my life that I was, like, completely despondent, depressed, faking my way through life. I was dark.

It was a very, very dark season for me, personally, and I couldn't figure out if it was emotional, mental, spiritual, physical. In fact, I'd made plans that after the fast of 2000 that if God didn't help me I was going to the doctor. I was convinced, actually, I was convinced it was biological, something was going on in my chemistry and I just, I couldn't find happiness. I was miserable, and I was paid well, I was living in a home I built, you know, out in the country. You know, it was a little home that Tammy, we loved it. I mean, it was like we were living our dream and I was, you know, one of the top leaders on the staff at the church I was at, and they took good care of me and there was really no reason not to be happy, and I just can't find it, and it was miserable. And on Day 17 of that fast, I had a picture and I'm looking at it right now.

So I saw this room, and I didn't know where it was, I didn't know if I was really the leader, but I was looking, I saw this room from the vantage point that I have right now, and I saw it full like this, I saw the sloped floor in the back, I saw it all. But that was all. It was just like a picture and it put hope in my heart, but it also put a little confusion because I didn't know where it was or what was it, you know? And I was actually a little nervous to go talk to my pastor about it. I decided that I had to figure out what it was all about, that vision. The Bible calls those "open visions," so it's like a dream but you're awake, and I saw it. And so I talked to my pastor and I was convinced he was gonna be just so sad to hear that I was dreaming about something else, because I considered myself quite indispensable, c'mon, everybody, right? And then...and I'll never forget it. I was in his home. His wife was there. And they're still my pastors, by the way, and I said, "Let me tell you what I saw," and I was kind of waiting for it, like, here it comes, he's gonna be mad at me. And he said, "Chris, it's time".

I said, "Time for what"? He says, "Time for you to go be a senior pastor". And I'd never dreamed about it in my life, ever. I didn't really allow myself to dream it because I was determined to be the best number two guy in the world. That was my dream. And I said, "What do I do? I don't even know what you do. What do you do next"? And I said, "Do you put out résumés, like, what do you do"? I honestly didn't know what the next step was, and he told me one of the most significant phrases of my life. He said, "God's gonna give you supernatural love for a city. Don't leave Baton Rouge until that happens". I said, "Well, define 'supernatural love.'" He said this. He said, "You'd be willing to buy your burial plot in that city. You're gonna love it like it's the place you'd go on vacation for".

And so Tammy and I, fast forward 5 more months, so the fast happened in January, and in May of that year, we were still looking. And I kept, I just continued to pray. I didn't know how to find this picture that I saw. And so Tammy and I decided to take the 2 weeks' vacation we had, that's all we had every year was 2 weeks, and that we'd spent all 14 days in cities that I could buy my burial plot in. And I made a list of eight of 'em, and you know, and they were all in the southeast. I don't know why, but they just happened to be all in the southeast, and we literally took 14 days and went to all these cities. And Birmingham was fourth on the list. And it was on the list because I had already been coming to Birmingham to attend the annual SEC baseball tournament that happened back then at the Hoover Met and it was back in those days in the '90s that LSU, Go Tigers, had that amazing historic, world-renowned run of championships. Yes, we won 5 out of 10 in the '90s, '91, '93, '96, '97, 2000, if you're curious.

And so we were big LSU baseball fans and, you know, so here already I'd been coming for about 4 years to that tournament and so now we're here at the tournament of 2000 and I remember even before I went to the baseball park, I went up on the hill at the summit where that Barnes and Noble bookstore is and I was getting a cup of coffee before I'd head to the Met, and you don't have this view anymore. If you go up there, you won't see this view 'cause the pine trees have grown too tall but they were very short back then, and I was looking on that outdoor patio down Highway 280, there's six lanes of traffic, and I heard God say, "You're gonna pastor the people in that traffic jam". Heard it just like that. And I always tell people, "I'm the only person in Birmingham who loves that traffic jam," you know?

And I do love that traffic jam and I think about it every time I drive on it, and that's the day Highlands was born in my heart. And of course, the rest of the story is, of course, we moved here and I guess the rest is history after that. And so when we constructed the first auditorium, guess what it looked like? It looked like this, you know? And I think about that every time I stand in this spot and I say that to say to you, "Keep on praying. Keep on praying". My answer didn't even come 5 months later. Another edition of it came 5 months later. And then we moved to Birmingham and another edition of that came 7 months later when we started in February but it was 6 1/2 more years before this was built. So I'm just telling you, I want you to keep on praying. I'm gonna show you how very quickly.

So this is the practical part and if you're a notetaker, I want you to jot these five little phrases down, and if you're not a notetaker, I want you to jot these five little phrases down, all right? And that is I want you to continue to make prayer a priority, okay? So the secret to prayer, God'll answer your prayers all day long, but there's something about first things. That was Part 1. If you missed it, go back and watch that installment. But the first things are important, and I want you to make prayer a priority in every part of your life. Of course, in the Bible, you know, all throughout the Bible, you see morning prayer. The Psalmist David said, "It's in the morning that I lay my requests before you and it's in the morning that I wait expectantly". But the New Testament comes along and says: "Mornings are great, but I want you to pray continually".

Well, that's impossible, unless prayer takes on a different form than most of you have. So prayer doesn't have to be this event where you get alone in a quiet place and talk to God. It can be almost like texting somebody that you text all day long. Tammy and I text all day long. "I'm on my way home. What's for dinner"? "How are you"? "Are you at home? I'm at", you know, we're just one sentence little conversation so, in some ways, Tammy and I are having conversation continually. And I wanna give you the thought that you could have a conversation with God all day long, so in the way I actually live it out and I'm trying to make this very practical 'cause I want you to keep on praying, is that you can actually talk to God like your text relationships: "Hey, I'm stepping into a meeting. I'mma really need your favor". And I say that one-sentence prayer and I step into my meeting. I come out of the meeting, I say, "God, that went a little rougher than I thought. Would you please talk to", you know, and I just throw up one sentence-prayers all day long and you can do the same thing.

And so I wanna ask you a question after most of these and that is, "Then what would you have to rearrange in order for that to happen"? And chances are for some of you, you'd need to go to bed a little earlier so you can spend time with God in the evening. So let me say it this way. Probably something will have to be shifted in your current lifestyle in order for prayer to be a priority. It also means maybe don't listen to the radio on the way to work. Maybe use that time to put on a worship song and that's your prayer time because, you know, maybe kids is busy in the morning, you don't have a quiet place. So maybe that's your time. But rearrange some part of your life so that prayer can be a priority. Here's the second one, and that is I'd love for you to find a dedicated place to pray. It doesn't have to be the only place, but there is scriptural precedent for a dedicated place.

The Bible says about Jesus, that "very early in the morning," and there's that priority part, "while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and he actually had a solitary place where he prayed". And the chances are that place that he loved to pray was the Garden of Gethsemane. So we know for a fact that he went there the night before he was crucified. You know that story, where he prayed, you know, "Is there any way we can pay for sins other than losing my life"? And then he said, "Not my will, but your will be done". And he had that conversation with God, but probably that was his place. It was very accessible. If you've ever been to Jerusalem, you know this. If you haven't, you need to make it a bucket list of your, kind of, it's a great pilgrimage to visit at least once in your Christian life to go see 'cause what's gonna happen is the Bible will come alive if you can go see the places that they happened, because this Garden of Gethsemane is at the bottom of a hillside on the eastern side of the Old City. And at the top of that hillside is called the Mount of Olives.

By the way, that's the place where Jesus was ascended into heaven. So when his physical body left the earth for his resurrection for the last time, he was ascended into heaven. That's in Acts chapter 1. And by the way, that's the same place where he will descend in his return. And by the way, Jesus is coming again. I'm just telling you, and I'm not just floating your boat here, everybody, or trying to scare you. If you've ever needed to be ready for something, you need to be ready for that. He could literally return at any time and I don't consider myself some, you know, biblical prophet understanding all revelations, but as far as I can read it, and I read it pretty well, all the signs of his return have been or are being fulfilled. This is not the time to be unsure about your eternal destiny. It's just not. He is coming again. And that is when that happens, it's your last shot, everybody. I'm just letting you know, okay?

So he's gonna come back at that place, but at the bottom of it is the Garden of Gethsemane. It's an olive grove. But if you've ever been there, either at the top of the Mount of Olives or at the Garden, it's one of the most beautiful views of Old City Jerusalem. In fact, most of the pictures of the Old City that you've seen are from that vantage point. So in other words, Jesus went to a place to pray where he had a vantage point of that which he was praying for. Why? Because that helped him pray better. I'm sure he looked at the city he loved and just talked about the city and talked about the people. I do that. In fact, I have a map at my house that's 4 feet at the bottom, 6 feet tall, and it's, I got it in the first year of the church and it's all 99 neighborhoods of Birmingham, and I used to, every morning, pray in front of this map so I could see and I would talk to Homewood and Hoover and Vestavia Hills and Bessemer and McCalla and just all over, and Irondale, and just praying, "God, move in these areas, Lord. Give us these areas, God, in Jesus's name".

I needed a visual and probably you too. So when I talk to you about a place, the question is what place would be most conducive for you to pray? And maybe it just needs to be quiet. For others of you, it needs to be with someone. Some of y'all are so sanguine that you cannot pray by yourself, then get some prayer partners. Today we're launching groups. Get in a prayer group and, if that's the way, you know, for some of y'all, yeah, you know who the sanguines are at these prayer meetings we have, you know, a lot of people are just praying, talking to God, and there are people that "I just can't, I have to talk to somebody". You know, they just need another person. And honestly, I've had to do that. I've had seasons where I needed accountability in prayer because, if I'm honest with you, this hasn't been the easiest part of my faith. 'Cause I'm a doer. I'd rather just tell God real fast everything that's on my heart and I'm ready to go get to work. That's my personality.

So it's really hard for me to slow down and, "Hi, God". You know, it's just really hard for me to do that. It's high school discipline. I know the importance of it and, 'course, I'm teaching it to you. But it's hard for me. And I've had many seasons where my prayer life suffered and I just found a buddy and say, "Man, I need about 6 weeks for you to meet me at the church just to hold me accountable to pray. And when we get here, I don't wanna pray with you, but I will pray if I know you're there waiting on me". And maybe that's your conducive place. I just want to give you that thought, but just, you've got to find something that's gonna work for you. Here's the third thing is, and you've heard me talk a lot about this. I won't spend a lot of time on it. But I think you need to go into your prayer time ready. Plan, with material. And for a lot of you, you've already received these little booklets that we give away and I want you to make sure you have one.

If you've been at our prayer services, chances are this is already at your house. This actual booklet is next to me when I pray every day, all right? And I wrote it, so like, I know what's in it but I still use it as a resource, okay, 'cause there's 60-something pages of prayers. Like, some days I just feel, I feel like I just need to do some more warfare-type prayers and there's, like, six or eight pages of warfare prayers that I just open up and I don't do the whole thing but I'll just do that section and pray warfare prayers with the different models. And I just want you to be tooled up. So if you've never gotten one of these on our morning prayer times, they're at every campus in the foyer somewhere, information somewhere. Just find 'em. They're there. I made sure this morning that they were tooled. Because you need to have a plan to pray. Jesus did that for his disciples.

"Once Jesus was in this certain place praying. And when he finished, his disciples said, 'Look, we were taught prayer.'" In fact, you couldn't have a bar mitzvah, you couldn't be an adult without learning and reciting prayers, and we don't know how to do that. We saw you do something that we've never learned before. And so they said, "Lord, would you teach us that? Would you teach us how to do that"? And then Jesus said... he didn't say, "This is what I want you to pray". He said, "This is how you pray". In the King James it says, "After this manner pray". In other words, the Lord's Prayer, and that's the rest of it, is the Lord's Prayer. He didn't say, "Spend 26 seconds on a prayer". He said, "Here's a great outline. Here's a great model for you to pray," and of course, I've talked to you about that.

So the question here is: What plan makes prayer easy, interesting, and effective? So, in other words, if you go into your prayer time and you don't like it and you're not ready for it, and you get there and you don't know what to say, you're not gonna be a prayer. But if you're ready to go and my job is just to give you the tools, you'll have to do it, right? But I'll give you the tools and I'd love for you to pray, have a plan for prayer. Here's the fourth one and that is it's important to pray with energy and power, okay? And what I mean by that and here I'm actually coming against traditional religious type of training that most of us have received, because you've been modeled that prayer, in fact, I'll give you an example.

A lot of us went to prayer meetings and they did things like this: now, everybody, bow your head. And they just, and it's like, "Shh, shh, shhh, shhh. Shh, shh, shh". I mean, you've gone into church, "Shhh, shhh". There's not a verse. There's not a single verse, in fact, the opposite. "Enter his gates with shouting, praising, thanking, excite", like, no, no, no. Tradition brought that into the equation. "Bow, bow, bow". Now there are verses on bow, but very few. In fact, most are, "Lift up your head, lift up your voice, raise your hand". Like, go after God. Now, listen to me. The devil likes subdued, quiet, weak, timid prayers, I'm telling you. He doesn't want any energy. And I'm talking about the kind of energy that you're used to giving to your football team on a Saturday in the fall, everybody. There's more scriptural precedent for that kind of reaction to God than the former.

In fact, James 5 says: "It's the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous person that avails much". And these are two words in the English but it's only one word in the Greek and you know what the Greek word is for these two words? Energeo, where we get the word "energy". Like, the more energy you put into your prayer time, and that you really go after God, the more effective and the prayers that actually avail something or accomplish something, when you're praying with energy. Now, I know that's a hurdle for a lot of you guys. I know that's a stretch, like, "P.C., I'm doing fine just to be there and just go, 'Hm,' once in a while, like, this is all, that's all I got, you know"? And I get that. And I'm not asking for the whole thing right now. I'm asking you to take a step.

In fact, here's the question that I'm asking you: What hurdle are you gonna have to overcome in order to do it? Like, what fear, what new theology, like, what the Bible actually says. Maybe you're just shy, but it... so that's a hurdle. I'm asking, you're sitting here, thinking, "Dude, I'm not gonna do that, that's just too much". Well then, just take the next step. It's kind of like worship, you know? I didn't write the Bible. God did. He said, "Clap your hands, all ye people. Shout unto God with a voice of triumph". The Bible says, Old and New Testament: "Lift your hands in the sanctuary, and bless his name". And some of y'all, like, just can't do it, like, "Oh, I once went to a Baptist church". I said, "How many of you guys don't lift your hands in church"? And it's like, they just couldn't get it up. They're like... no, I'm just kidding. "I don't do that," right? But I didn't write it; God did.

And I'm not asking you just go full touchdown. Just carry the baby, everybody, just put it right here for a while, you know? Just work your way up. Some of y'all, your toes have been saved, but you need to let it come on up the rest of your body, right? You got the foot going just a little bit, but it's just a little much for you. And I get it, because I was the guy with the old right over left the first time I came in a church like this, and I'm thinking, "These people are nuts, and I want what they have". You know what I'm saying? It's like I had both going on. And I get it. And I'm not asking you to take all the steps in one day. I'm just asking you to overcome the hurdles and the same is true for prayer. Some of you have never prayed out loud. Look, turn the music on, wait till everybody's left the house, and try it. No one but God will listen to you and you'll be surprised how much you like it. Are you all with me, everybody?

All right, I'm helping you right here, I'm telling you. And the last is, and that is to relate to the Persons of prayer. Notice that I capitalized it because I'm talking about the Godhead or the Trinity because God is not this faceless giant with a club in his hand sitting on a throne in heaven. God is a person. He has a personality. The Bible talks about God being jealous for you. He gets angry, he has mercy. Like, God has emotion. And all of the Godhead have different personalities and so one of the things that's fun for me is to relate to the Godhead differently. The benediction of the 2 Corinthian book kind of tells us their personalities and it says it this way: May "the amazing grace of the Lord, Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God," the Father, and "the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all". And it here shows the three relationships and, in my opinion, in the correct order.

You say, "Well, Jesus is first". Yes, because you can't get to the Father or the Spirit but by the blood of Jesus. If you don't have his grace, you cannot have anything else after that. And that's why I always focus first on the Cross of Jesus. So I come in first thing and Lord, I know what, Jesus, you know why I love you so much? Because you paid for my sins so I could have a relationship with your Father, God the Father. And it's exactly what's his role: the grace of Jesus. And then I focus with the Father on his love and I find his love through submission. And I wanna encourage you in this. The relationship you should have to God the Father is, "I know you love me, and I know you care for me, and I know you're for me, and so I am giving you every part of my life, even the part that feels scary, unsure. I trust you, and I'm..."

You know, in the Hebrew culture, children, if their father was in the room, the children would naturally just go straight to the father's feet and sit. And it wasn't out of fear; it was out of honor. And the father would just put his hand on their children and bless them. By the way, when I was dating Miss Tammy some 37 years ago now, I had dated, you know, I'd obviously dated other people and it was all right, you know, but I got with Tammy, it was just different. It was different in a lot of ways. One of those is we'd go out on a date and she called me "Sir". And like, "No, no, no, no, no, no". She goes, "Oh, you're a pastor on staff". I said, "I know but I ain't Pastor, baby. I'm Lover Boy, let's go". She's now like, "No, no, no, no, no". "Told you, I don't want no 'Sir,' you know? That's not what I want". And she couldn't get it. It was like, she was quiet and, like, "Oh man, so we'd go out and like, she wouldn't talk to me so we'd just go back to her parents' house. But we were there at 8 o'clock".

I mean, date was over. We're there at 8 o'clock. "Hey, what y'all doing," you know? So, anyway, but soon as we got back, true story, she'd run in. It was like I didn't exist all of a sudden and she ran in and she found her dad, and she and her dad were very close, like, really, really, really close. She's the oldest of three girls, and she'd find Billy, "Daddy, Daddy, oh, Daddy, what do you need? Can I get you something"? Just immediately start serving him, and then when we'd all sit together in the living room, she'd sit by his feet. And I knew this principle. And she'd sit there and just admiring and just, "Oh". And I was taught by my youth pastor that when you're looking for a girl, look at how she treats her dad, 'cause she gonna treat you the same way. And by the way, girls, it's the opposite. You're looking for a guy, watch how he treats his mom. If he's sassy to his mom, he's gonna be sassy to you. You've gotta be careful about that, all right?

But I saw Tammy adoring her dad, I thought, "I'll take some of that", everybody, you know, like, yeah, I mean, not at my feet but, like, I want that kind of love and respect, and the rest, they say, is history on that as well. But I'm just talking about that's the kind of relationship you can have with the Father, submitted, admiring, loving, caring relationship. And of course, the Holy Spirit's with you every moment. So it's an intimate friendship or communion. Communion means all day long. All day long I'm talking to him. And I want you to understand this. These are the five "P's" of prayer to make us keep on praying, and I thought, "Here's how I'm gonna end". I'm gonna try to end in one of the most endearing ways that I can, by telling you, letting you take a little peek under the hood of old PC here to the prayer that I pray for you every day.

So when I stand here and tell you I pray for you every day, that's the truth. It's really the truth. Tammy does the same thing. We actually don't pray... we pray very little together because our styles are so different. So I go to my place, she goes to her place, and then we talk about it afterwards, 'cause Tammy, she sits and dabs with a tissue, like, she got the tissue, she met Jesus. Like, yoo-hoo-hoo, like she's doing all that. And I'm pacing and, "Oh, God, Jesus"! You know, like, it's so different, anyway. And then we come back, "How was yours"? "How was yours"? "Oh, it was great". "Praise God". All right, so that's what it kind of looks like for us. But I pray for you and she prays for you every day. Every day. And if you call this place home, you need to know you're covered by us. We're praying for you. And there's a prayer. I wrote about it in the book in just one short chapter, and I call it "My Prayer for You," the prayer I pray for you. And it's a prayer that's actually in the Bible. It's a recorded prayer, in the New Testament, that Paul who was an apostle.

Bible calls 'em apostles. By the way, apostle simply means he planted churches and he raised up leadership, give 'em doctrine, turned it over to the leadership, and go do it another place. And then to kind of keep the churches encouraged, he'd write letters and they're called Epistles, all right? And so a lot of your New Testament books are just Epistles. And so he's writing to a church in Ephesus which is still today a city in Turkey, to a church he planted, and he says this. He goes, "I have not stopped giving thanks for you," in other words, when I think about you, it's just always good thoughts. And by the way, look in my eyes. True story. You guys are a delight to lead. When I think about you, I'm not frustrated, I'm not tired. I love you all so much, I think you're the most amazing people in the world.

"And I have never stopped giving thanks to you, remembering you in my prayers". He says, "I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, give you a Spirit," two things: wisdom and revelation. You know what that means? God, I wish they could just get it, see it, experience it. That's what wisdom and revelation. I want you to have that. For what purpose? Four things: "So that you can know him". And he uses a word there "know" in the Greek, the original language of the New Testament is the word "ginosko," and it means intimacy. In fact, it's the same word used where a man knew his wife and they had children. And it's not a sexual term; it's a closeness term. And I'm just letting you know. If you wanna know what your pastor's praying for, I want you all to be so close to him. I would love for you to be close to him. And then he says, "And then I pray that the eyes of your heart are enlightened".

And you know what that means? That your heart has eyes. That you're not looking through these. You're looking through everything that's ever happened to you. And for some of you it's just clouded, painful, hard. You've had negative words, terrible experiences, heartache. And so when you see things, you're seeing through the heart eye and so it filters things, good or bad. And that's why he says it needs to be enlightened or clear. In fact, The Message paraphrased says: "Focused and clear". And you just need to know that I realize that life hasn't been hunky dory, and that there's a bunch of stuff in here and if you had the chance to tell me your story, I'd probably agree with you of why you feel the way you do. But I've been praying that your heart has light in it. And then he says, once that happens, "then you can know the hope to which he's called you".

Because you can never see tomorrow until you've settled yesterday. But once you do, there's hope in your calling. What's that mean? That means you're the happiest when you know why you're here. And I want that for you. I don't even want that for me. I don't want that for us. I want that for you. I wanna walk up to you and say, "I settled my heart issues, and I know what I'm on the planet to do". And I promise you those are the happiest people that I know. And then, you can have what the Bible calls, "your inheritance". In fact, it's a "glorious inheritance". And did you know you had an inheritance by the way? That your Father, after he left you an inheritance, you think, "What is it? What is it"? It's people. People.

What does that mean? That means your inheritance is that your life is gonna impact the life of somebody else in such a way that it makes a difference in their life and there's no better feeling. No better feeling. And so I pray for you right now to close this series that you may know God intimately, that you would experience freedom from the issues that hold you back, that you're able to see what God's perfect plan for your life is, and then that you get on a team and do something with your life that actually matters. And this is my prayer for you. Let's bow for prayer.

So God, as we bring this series to a close, Lord, let us not just move on to the next thing. But God, I pray that our lives are marked by those who keep on praying and just like my story, God, continue to unveil it, miracles, wisdom, and the future that you have planned for every person. God, if nothing else, let 'em leave this room with hope. Let 'em leave knowing that you have your hand on their life. And so, God, we step into 2023 with great assurance that you're on our side and we love you.

With every head bowed, every eye closed, at every location, and just very still and quiet just for a minute, if you're here today and you say, "Man, Chris, I know I'm not right with God today," or maybe you're a Christian and you just know that it's time for you to kind of take cross that hurdle and go all in with God, it would be the honor of my life right there where you're seated, to pray a prayer where you can give your life to Jesus or rededicate your life to Jesus and just go all in with God. And I am, in a minute, gonna ask you to raise your hand but I'm not gonna ask you to stand up or come to the front, because I think you need to let God know and, honestly, if you can't have the courage to do it in a room like this, you won't have the courage to do it outside this room.

And so, in a minute, I'm gonna say, "Who are you?" and I'm gonna invite our campus pastors to come to the stage. And if that's you today and you're ready, you're ready, to kind of like, take a step, you're gonna cross over a hurdle, and you're gonna go all in with God today, is that you? Am I talking about you? And if that's you right now, would you let God know and right now lift your hand as high as you can. Say, "Count me in that prayer," literally all over this room, all over this room, people giving their lives to Jesus. Pastor Blake, come lead this congregation in that prayer.
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