Rabbi Schneider - Entering Into Authentic Prayer
I'm going to the Gospel of John 11. I want to read a very profound, a very simple but profound statement that Jesus made. He was just about to raise Lazarus from the dead. He lifted His eyes to heaven and then He said this. "Father, I thank you that you have heard Me". Now, He hadn't said anything yet. All he had done so far is He had communed with the father in His heart. So there was no preceding prayer. It wasn't like Jesus had been speaking out loud in prayer. It was just Yeshua always had an internal dialogue in his soul going on with the Spirit. Jesus walked continually in an internal silent dialogue with the Father. And when I say it was a silent dialogue, I don't mean that there were no words or emotions or feelings being expressed between Yeshua and the Father.
What I mean was, it wasn't out loud with His lips. It was going on deep in His soul. So He walked in a continual state of fellowship. So once again, getting back to the text, John 11:41, Jesus said this. "Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they might believe that You sent me". What's going on here? Jesus is saying, "Father, I'm speaking out loud to you now with my audible voice, with my vocal cords in the natural so that everybody around me will hear that I'm talking with you". And then Jesus said, "Lazarus, come forth"! And we know the rest of the story. Lazarus, bam, rose from the dead.
The point is, is that authentic prayer involves a continual internal communication with the Spirit. It doesn't have to be out loud. We're praying when we're simply reaching out to God, whether it's simply in our heart, whether it's in our mind, whether it's our focus. When you're directing, we call it in Hebrew "kavanah". That's the Hebrew word for your focus. When we're directing our focus toward the Lord, when we're desiring Him, that's prayer. Because prayer is most simply defined as a reaching out to God. We're stripping away all the religion. We're stripping away all the pretext. We're talking about authentic prayer. Where is it found in? Where does it begin? It begins, like I said last time, in believing there is a God. You're not going to pray to someone you don't believe exists.
Secondly, authentic prayer takes place when we have enough faith that we believe that if we speak to Him He's going to answer us. Now, obviously, that doesn't mean that every time we ask God for something or talk to Him we're going to hear a voice or we're going to see something happen immediately. Because God's ways are not our ways. And a thousand years to us is like one day to the Lord. So He answers in His own way and in His own time. But authentic prayer happens when we believe that He is and believe that He does respond. And we keep trusting even when we don't see the response immediately. And then we're saying, as we've begun this episode, beloved children of God today, that authentic prayer does not have to be out loud. Whenever you're reaching out to God in your heart, in your thoughts, or out loud with your lips that is prayer.
So that's what we just saw illustrated in John 11. Before Yeshua raised Lazarus from the dead, He said, "Father, I thank you that you hear me. I knew you heard me. I know you always hear me. But so that these people around might understand our relationship, the dialogue that we have, the communion, the relationship that we're in, I'm speaking out loud, so that they know that you answer me and we speak in continual states". And then Jesus said, "Lazarus, come forth". I want to encourage you to trust that God hears the most subtle inclination, the most subtle movement of your soul. He hears you always. You don't have to pray to a god that's out there somewhere. You don't have to project so loud with your vocal cords all the time thinking that the louder you are or the more eloquent your words are that He'll hear you. No. Know that He already hears you. The Bible says that when we have a full revelation of the Lord we're going to realize that He answers us before we even speak. He answers, beloved, before we even speak.
So I want you to walk in the state of knowing. Jesus said, "Father, I know that you hear me. I knew that you heard me already, but I'm saying it out loud now that these around will know that you hear me". We have to understand what Jesus meant when He said, "Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you've already received it believe that you've already received it and you'll have possession of that thing that you're hungering for". It kind of is driving to the same depth. We have to know that we're already in communion with the Lord, that He already hears us. He already hears us. We don't have to go out there somewhere to connect with Him. God is in the center of your heart right now and He wants you to know He already hears you. You don't have to fear that He doesn't hear you. He hears you. He hears you.
Now, I'm going to transition. I want to go to Psalm 51. We're talking about authentic prayer. This is one of the most authentic prayers in the Psalms. It's a prayer that the greatest king of Israel wrote, Dovid Melech (King David). So we're going to go through Psalm 51. We're going to kind of take it apart verse by verse because it has a lot to say about what authentic prayer looks like. So David begins in Psalm 51 and he says in verse 1, "Be gracious to me, O God, according to your lovingkindness..." So the first thing that David does is he appeals to the God of grace. Do you know that Paul, in the New Testament, Saul, begin every one of his letters by saying, "Grace and peace to you from God our Father in the Lord Jesus Christ". So the same one that David was appealing to when he said, "Be gracious to me, O God," the same one that David was appealing to in Psalm 51 is the God that Paul was in relationship with.
And so what is grace? The Bible says in the book of Ephesians 2, "By grace you've been saved". What is grace? Grace is many things but Grace is God's undeserved love and empowerment to be accepted by Him and to be in relationship with Him, and to know Him. Grace is God's love extended to us. It involves both forgiveness and empowerment to supernaturally walk with Him and know Him. So David begins by reaching out to a God that did not reward him according to his sins but a God that he simply knew was a God of love. So once again, So once again, Be gracious to me, O God. According to your what? Your loving kindness. So I want to just stamp this truth on your heart right now. Who is God? He's a God that loves you and accepts you for who you are right where you are, regardless of who you are and where you are in your life. This is why the Bible says we've been accepted, in the book of Ephesians 1, in the beloved. God accepts you right where you are. Whoever you are right now, if you will look to Jesus.
Remember that old song? Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full at His wonderful face. I might have got the words just a little... But that's the way that we turn our eyes to Jesus. And the things of the world will grow strangely dim in the light of His wonder and grace. So David begins by having confidence in this being, in this creator that's a God of love. Listen, David was not perfect, right? He had sinned with Bathsheba, ordered the murder of Bathsheba's husband. I mean, how much worse does it get? But yet he still had confidence that his God loved him. So that's a lesson for you and I. Paul said that he was the chief of sinners. Paul was out to arrest and brutalize any Jew that believed in Jesus. But yet God intervened and saved him. And Paul said that the fact that God saved him, who was out there arresting Jewish believers and putting them in prison and beating them, Paul said, "If He saved me, then He'll save anybody".
So know right now... I don't know what you did last night. I don't know what you did this morning. I don't know what fight you might have gotten with your spouse, the words that might have been said. I don't know what addictions you might have. I don't know if you're an alcoholic, a drug addict, a sex addict, a television... I don't know where you're at. But you know what? Jesus came. It's a trustworthy statement that Christ Jesus came to save sinners that's you and I. You can turn to this God of love and grace right now. And if you will look to Him in Jesus name, He will receive you. Come boldly before the throne of grace.
And then David continues in the second part of verse 1. Once again, "Be gracious to me, O God, according to your lovingkindness; according to the greatness of your compassion blot out my transgressions". I mean, think about it. You know, a lot of the world they consider themselves spiritual, right? They think believing in Jesus that means you're one of those dinosaur people, you're one of those haters if you believe in Jesus, you're one of those narrow-minded bigots if you believe that Jesus is the only way. But you know what, beloved? There's no other name under heaven by which men can be saved, but the name of Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. So David could pray, "Blot out my transgressions". Through Jesus blood, it doesn't matter what you've done, your sins are forgiven.
Again, I was getting back to the world today. They think that people like you and I that believe that Jesus is the only way to the Father that somehow were archaic. You know, that the world no longer is a place for us. But the Bible teaches that the only way for forgiveness to be granted is when blood has been shed, some blood atonement. That's the only way sin can be forgiven. This goes all the way back to the Hebrew Bible. Some even trace it back to Adam and Eve when God made them clothing after they sinned with animal skins. That the blood of the animal had to be shed. But this goes all the way through the revelation in the Torah. Whether it's Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, where the high priest took the blood of the bull, the blood of the goat into the Holy of Holies.
That was first in the tabernacle later in the temple. And when God saw the blood there over the Ark of the Covenant, he said, "The life of the flesh is in the blood and I've given it to you on the altar for the atonement of your soul, for it's the blood by reason of its life that makes atonement". It's only through blood that we can come to God and He can blot out our sin. David understood this. And you and I, no matter what you've done, the blood of Jesus has efficacy to remove your sin. So you can be happy right now regardless of what you've done, regardless of what guilt you're carrying. Like David that had just got done sinning with Bathsheba and ordering the murder of her husband, he came to the Father and He said to Him, "Blot out my transgression in your compassion". It's okay. You're going to be okay in Jesus.
Think about this. You know a lot of people, I know a lot of people they consider themselves spiritual, they consider themselves to be at a higher spiritual level than people like you and I that believe in Jesus. They believe in karma. Karma is Eastern term. You know, from the Eastern religion. Most of you know what karma is. Like, whatever you put out there is going to come back to you. In some of the Eastern religion, they believe that if you're good in this life, that when you come back in the next life-this is not what we believe. This is what Eastern religion believes, some of them-you'll come back in your next life as something, you know, at a more higher level. But if you're bad in this life as a human being, you know, you might come back as a turtle or a frog or who knows.
You know what's a cool thing to think? You might have done a lot of bad things in your life, but you know what? Through the blood of Jesus, the karma is broken. Isn't that an awesome thing? That through the blood of Jesus your karma is broken. That you don't have to receive back the consequence for all the evil and the sin that you've done because Jesus took your sin and my sin in His own body on the tree. He broke the karma and He delivered us from the torturing power of the enemy through whom we opened the door to Him in our life because of our sin, blood of Jesus cuts off his accusation. And now we simply enter in to the Crucified One, the Risen One and now we're called in to a life of blessing.
So Paul introduces Jesus by saying, "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ," the book of Ephesians 1, "who has blessed us..." Not curse, not all your bad karma coming back on you. Jesus stopped it. Jesus put up a blood wall of your sin. Now Paul said, "God has blessed you with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places".
So once again, authentic prayer. How do we enter in? We enter in by asking the Lord to cleanse us and forgive us, knowing He's a compassionate and a loving God. So David said, "According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions". And then David continued, verse 2, "Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin". I don't know, I have a deep cry in my heart for the Lord to wash me and cleanse me. Prayer isn't just about asking God to do things for us. It's not just asking Him to bless us with some type of prosperity blessing. God is a good God. He blesses us with great gifts. But that's not all there is to this by any stretch of the imagination. Prayer begins with repentance. Repentance means that we recognize our sin.
So David says in the next verse, "For I know my transgressions". Listen again. "Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgression, and my sin is ever before me". Remember John the Baptist's first words. "Repent," he said, "For the kingdom of heaven is at hand". What were Jesus' first words? "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand". We believe God is a loving God. We believe that He's a God of grace. Then we come to Him, according to Psalm 51:1-3, confess our sin, asking Him to take our sin away as David did, blotting it out. And then we say to Him, "Father, and wash me from the defilement that my sin has defiled me with". It's sanctification.
So, Father, we ask you today to wash us and cleanse us of our sin. We ask you to rewire our soul and our mind and our heart, to bring us into alignment with your holiness. Father, we want to walk with you. We want to know you, and we want to love you. Baruch Hashem, in Jesus' name.