The entourage of wise men who came into Jerusalem raised quite a stir as they begin to ask, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews?” This stirring reached as far as the king, and he also was troubled. The king was so troubled about the possibility of another king rising up that he invited the wise men to speak privately about their quest to find this king. Given the position of the star they followed and knowing the history of Jerusalem, it stood to reason the King of the Jews would be born there. However, after the visit, they continued on straight through the religious center of Jerusalem.
Matthew 2:9-10 (CSB) 9 After hearing the king, they went on their way. And there it was — the star they had seen at its rising. It led them until it came and stopped above the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overwhelmed with joy.
Unfortunately, too many people have stopped at the religious centers of men and have never found Jesus Messiah. Perhaps they have mistaken activity and service as the personal relationship and fellowship with God. Still there are others who have passed right through unfazed by the rituals of religion to find the Living Hope. Let me ask you, have you been held up at Jerusalem and bogged down with the heavy burden of religion? How was it the wise men didn’t fall into the religious trap at Jerusalem? They passed through the city because the One they were looking for was not there. Be like the wise men, and by faith, keep going just a little bit further beyond religion to a relationship and fellowship with the King.
Learn this prayer, “Look on my affliction and my pain, And forgive all my sins.” Psalm 25:18 Not all of the pain and suffering one encounters in life is because of sin that has been committed. However, much suffering today can be traced back to some indiscretion or sin against God. King David finally confessed his sin, but only after he was confronted by Nathan the prophet sent by God. Sin is the problem of the world today. If we could rid the world of sin, the colors would be brighter, the air would be purer, and life would be incredible for all of humanity. But until that moment of purging and purification comes, God in His wisdom sent Jesus to forgive sins one person at a time. You need to learn this prayer because these are the words expressed from the heart of someone who desires to have a relationship with Holy God: “Lord, forgive all my sins!” Only those who are willing to admit their sins would ever pray such a prayer. And only those who would sincerely examine their hearts and lives and allow the work of the Holy Spirit to guide them would ever admit they have sinned against God. This is not only the prayer to pray for a relationship with God, but this is the prayer to pray to stay in fellowship with God. 1 John 1:8 says “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
I am in a covenant relationship with my wife for 28 years now, but from time to time our fellowship gets broken, something happens and it’s usually me asking her for forgiveness. For all those years she has never failed to extend the forgiveness and our relationship has been sustained. She forgives and I forgive based on our mutual love for each other. But God forgives when we ask based on His love for His Son Jesus. The Father knows the price Jesus paid on the cross to keep giving forgiveness when we ask. As long as you live, sweet fellowship with God will only continue so long as we keep praying, “Lord, forgive all my sins.” If you know what sin it is, confess it to the Lord and then get back to enjoying the fellowship He wants with you.
One of the things children do not do very well is wait. You know how they are impatient and want what they want right now. There are adults just like that who are impatient and have never broken from the tradition of their human nature, but it shouldn’t be that way with the child of God, especially in the area of prayer. Years ago, I was on the floor in our home praying and I said my prayer and got up. Immediately when I stood up, God spoke to me. He said, “Joe, you have not learned to pray until you learn to sit in my presence quietly.” Another time I was praying and seeking God for direction for a message I was going to preach, and as I prayed the Lord said, “Joe, there’s no way you could hear what I have to say to you because of all the clutter in your mind.” Over and over I have been reminded of the disciple’s request in Luke 11:1-4,
“Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” So He said to them, “When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as [it is] in heaven. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.”
Being taught to pray sounds like a one-time class memorizing verses 2-4. The reality, however, is that being taught to pray is memorizing a group of sentences or even a structure, but being taught to pray is about waiting on the teacher to show up every time you start to pray. Most Christians never pray long enough for the teacher to even come into the classroom of our prayer closet. We give God our list and go on and never wait on the Lord to meet us there. To be taught to pray you must, you must wait on the teacher to show up. For some they may start in prayer and the Lord shows up 5 minutes into their prayer, and for others they must be in prayer 10 minutes or 15 minutes. If you’re praying just to be praying because it’s what you do, then you may never stay long enough in prayer. But if you’re praying to meet with the Savior, you’ll learn to stay long enough for the Savior to show up.
How do you know when the Lord shows up in your time of prayer? One of the first things is there is a strengthening in your mind. When you wait for God in prayer, there is a focus and clarity in your prayer that was not there before. When you wait for the Teacher in prayer, He directs your mind in what to pray for specifically. When you wait for God in prayer and He shows up, you don’t want to leave that time of prayer. It’s true that we should have a child-like faith, but we should not have a child-like prayer life. Wait on the Lord in your prayers and He will teach you how to pray.