The Model Prayer - Part Two

In Part One we looked primarily at the passage on prayer found in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:5-15.  As is usually the case, the paper does not represent all that Scripture, or even Jesus, says about prayer.  However, it is my firm conviction that what Jesus says about the personal, private nature of prayer in this passage represents what should be the foundation of anyone’s understanding of the subject.  In other words, if your prayer doesn’t start with time spent alone in the presence of God, then it’s probably a waste of time.

I want to talk about the purpose of prayer, and, while I’m at it, the purpose of worship.  Again, the concepts of prayer and worship cannot be separated.  I believe they both exist for the same reason: to allow us to be confronted with the reality of God’s presence.  It is absolutely imperative that we all individually make the decision to put ourselves in that situation on a regular basis.  We must be confronted with that reality.  That’s what separates the real seekers from the pretenders.

And that’s why traditional religion has made both prayer and worship corporate activities.  When you participate in worship or prayer in the traditional church, you don’t have to deal directly with God.  It’s intended to be a pleasant experience, used to reinforce the perception that everything is OK between you and God.  There’s nothing like a well-orchestrated worship service or someone "ministering" to you in prayer, to make you feel like you have God’s approval.

The concept of worship is never specifically defined in either the Old or New Testaments.  However, the words translated "worship" (the Hebrew shachah and Greek proskuneo), convey a particular idea.  Bowing or prostrating oneself is an act of reverence that implies a submission to authority.  And to carry the thought further, submission to authority implies a willingness to be obedient.  It is a concept that applies both to men and to God.  To bow before a king meant you acknowledge his authority and await his command.  It’s exactly the same with God.

Now this may be a shock to some of you.  When you go through your Bible to check out the references to worship, it’s going to be a serious stretch to include music in the concept.  I was involved for several years with a church that considered itself a forerunner in the development of music as worship, and the training of worship leaders.  It was, in fact, a forerunner church in teaching the doctrines of demons substituting foundational truth with counterfeit deception designed to lead people away from God, not to Him.

Worship is not a group activity.  It’s an individual act of reverence and obeisance to God.  It’s what we do to show the Father we’re willing to submit to His authority and ready to obey His commands.  It’s an act of our will that forces us to confront the reality of His presence with a determination to do what He tells us to do.  Real worship is what we do on our own, by ourselves, when we’re ready to get serious with God.  And that’s why it’s so closely related to prayer.  Both prayer and worship are activities we do only when we’re ready to do business with God!

Not long before I started writing this paper on the model prayer, I was channel surfing one night and came to one of our local religious stations.  The preacher was reading Matthew 7:7-8, which aroused my curiosity.  So, I listened.  Usually, when I come across one of these guys, I just keep moving.  The text may or may not be familiar to you, so I’ll quote it before I go any further.

"Keep on asking and it will be given to you; keep on seeking and you will find; keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you.  Because everyone who keeps on asking receives; and when he keeps on seeking, he finds; and if he keeps on knocking, the door will be opened to him."

As soon as this TV preacher was finished reading this he took off, "…do you really want that better-paying job?  Do you really want that new car?  Do you really want that bigger house?"  I listened for a while, and then turned him off.  This guy read two verses of scripture and preached a whole message on the first phrase of the first verse.  His version was, "If you really want it, then keep asking for it."  I knew what he was saying was wrong, but it gave me a desire to know what was right.  So, I turned off the TV and went up to my office.

As it turns out, Matthew 7:7-8 is the key to understanding why we need to learn how to talk to the Father.  I felt like Balaam.  I’d just been turned on to an important truth by an ass on TV.  These verses include three separate ideas that actually can’t be separated.  How’s that for a contradiction?  Of course, these are red letters.  Jesus says that we’re supposed to keep on asking, keep on seeking and keep on knocking.  The three verbs (aiteo, zeteo, and krouo) are all present tense, indicating repeated, continuous action.  And they have to be taken together.  Jesus doesn’t say, ask if you want, but you don’t have to seek.  Or, knock, but you don’t have to ask.  And He doesn’t say, seek last week or knock two years from now.

Instead, He describes a state of being that involves the consistent repetition of all three activities.  And all three illustrate a vital part of what is necessary in our relationship with God, if we’re ever going to know Him the way He wants us to.  When we keep on asking, we show our dependence on Him.  When we keep on seeking, we prove our desire to really know Him.  When we keep on knocking, we demonstrate our persistence in wanting to be in His presence.  And Jesus says that when we have this kind of resolve, the Father will respond and we will receive, find and, most importantly, have the door opened to us.

Now, before you go to sleep on me, let me tell you why this is important.  When we develop a real dependence on and desperation for God, and demonstrate a consistent desire to be in His presence with a heart that’s ready to do business with Him, He’s going to honor all that by opening the door to us.  What happens when He opens the door?  We experience the revelation of Jesus in our lives!  Jesus Christ is the Door.

Here we go again.  What’s the Father’s will and purpose for our lives?  He wants us to be conformed to the image of Christ.  He wants us to learn how to be led of the Spirit.  He wants us to be partakers of His nature.  He wants us to attain to His righteousness.  He wants to give us a continual revelation of Jesus in our lives, so we can imitate Him.  He wants to open the Door to us, but He won’t unless we knock.  In fact, He won’t unless we keep on asking, keep on seeking and keep on knocking.

Jesus calls Himself the Door in John 10.  Actually, the events of John 10 can’t be properly understood without considering John 9.  I recommend you read both chapters.  But, for now, let me just quickly explain what happens in Chapter 9 and then we’ll look at Chapter 10 in some detail.

In Chapter 9 Jesus gives sight to a man who had been born blind.  Unfortunately, He used poor judgment in that He chose to perform this miracle on the Sabbath.  And even though it delighted the man who gained his sight, it offended the religious establishment.  And so, what you see in both of these chapters is a running confrontation between Jesus and that self-righteous crowd.

At this point, I want to emphasize something that I believe is illustrated by these two chapters.  It is also absolutely essential for anyone to understand this, if they’re serious about knowing God.  Jesus makes it clear that you cannot participate in religion and have a true revelation of Him at the same time.  The two cannot coexist.  They are opposed to one another.  You cannot have religion and Jesus both in your life.  Religion exists for only one reason – to keep you from having the reality of Jesus in your life.  Religion always has and always will persecute the genuine Jesus.

As we begin in John 10, Jesus is already engaged in a conversation with a group of Pharisees.  In verses 1 through 5 He gives an illustration (parable) full of symbolism that must be understood if sense is to be made of the last part of His discourse found in verses 7-18.  Rather than taking the time and space to quote the text, I’ll just point out the symbols Jesus uses in these verses.  You can follow along in your own Bible if you need to.

In verse 1 Jesus says that entrance into the sheepfold must be gained through the door.  If anyone tries to enter by climbing in some other way, it’s because they’re either a thief or a robber.  The "sheepfold" is the Kingdom of God.  The "door", as He says plainly later in verse 7, is none other than Jesus Himself.  Trying to gain entrance into the sheepfold "some other way" is, of course, religion.  And religion is defined in two different ways, as a "thief" and a "robber".  In context, the thief is religion that will steal your soul quietly through deception and fraud, while the robber will steal it openly by any violence necessary.  If you’re not joined at the hip with some form of religion, you need only take an objective look at history and present reality to see the truth in this.  In addition to everything else, Jesus was a prophet.  His comments in John 10 describe the contemporary traditional church perfectly.

And by the way, let me just stop here and say something about Jesus being a prophet.  If you go back to John 9:17, the man to whom Jesus gave sight was asked by the Pharisees what he thought about Jesus, to which he replied, "I think He must be a prophet."  Why do you think he called Jesus a prophet?  He looked at the religious leaderscompared them to what he saw in Jesus, and concluded that Jesus must be a prophet.  And the reason is that Jesus was different.  Take note.  Whether you like it or not, what distinguishes a true prophet of God is that he is always different than the religious establishment and he’s never accepted by them.

The self-proclaimed prophets today who look, act and talk like the traditional church and seek the acceptance and favor of religious leaders, are not prophets.  I don’t care what they say, what their message is, or where they came from, if the religious establishment accepts them, then, they can’t be God’s Prophet.  Jesus was a prophet and the establishment hated Him.  John the Baptist was a prophet.  He called the establishment a bunch of snakes.

The traditional church will not climb over each other in a rush to buy the books and tapes of the true prophet of God.  You won’t find one prophet in scripture that tried to gain the approval of the religious establishment.  When a man comes out of the presence of God, knowing God’s heart, bearing His message, the religious establishment will only persecute and kill him.  The man who stands in the office of a prophet has only one goal: to expose, tear down, and destroy religious deception, then rebuild the foundation of God’s truth in its place (Jeremiah 1:10).

In verse 2 Jesus identifies Himself as the shepherd of the sheep.  Then in the next verse the watchman opens the door for the shepherd, the sheep listen to his voice and obey him, he calls his sheep by name and he leads them.  The watchman is the Father, who in other parables is always the one in charge of opening and closing doors (see Luke 13:24-30).  Jesus tells us that it’s the Father who determines the times and seasons (Acts 1:7).  The sheep are true believers who listen for the voice of their shepherd and obey His commands (Luke 8:15, John 14:23).  The shepherd calls his sheep by name because he knows them intimately.  Jesus has more to say about this later in verses 14 and 15.  Then He says He leads the sheep.

I have to preach a little here.  The shepherd leads the sheep because the sheep need to be led.  If Jesus doesn’t lead us, how can we know where to go?  The only thing we have to fall back on in the absence of Jesus guiding us is religion, and that’s futile.  We absolutely need a shepherd to follow.  In Mark 8:34 we find Jesus’ plan of salvation.  This is what He says:

"If you intend to go the way I’m going, the way to the Father, you must continually deny yourself (giving up your own self-interests), take up your cross (be willing to embrace the suffering that’s required), and follow me daily (because I’m the only One who can show you the way)."

We have to be willing to follow Him daily, continually.  Isn’t it amazing how many times you see in scripture salvation explained in the present tense?  Religion wants us to believe that salvation is accomplished by some simple act in the past (baptism, profession of faith, membership, whatever).  Jesus always presents it in terms of what we must do today or on a continual basis.  And when you read the red letters with this in mind, that fact jumps out and bites you on the nose time after time.

Now, let’s go back to John 10.  In verse 5 Jesus says the true sheep will never follow the voice of a stranger.  This will no doubt make some of you upset with me, but when you get to know the voice of the true shepherd you quickly reject all the other voices of religion that come and try to pull you away.  This is difficult for most to understand, but those who love the traditional, institutional church do so because they’ve never learned to hear the voice of the true shepherd.  He, who has ears to hear, let him hear.

Now, when you understand this symbolism, the rest of the passage becomes clear.  Of course, the Pharisees didn’t understand what Jesus was saying (verse 6).  How could they?  They were part of the religious establishment.  Remember?  You can’t hold on to your religion and receive a revelation of Jesus at the same time.  By the way, I didn’t mention this before, but this principle is illustrated in John 9:22.  There you read that the religious leaders had agreed with each other that if anyone acknowledged Jesus to be the Christ, they would be excluded from the synagogue.  You have to choose.

Actually, Jesus addresses this several verses later in John 9:39.  I’ll just quote the verse.  It’s self-explanatory.

"I came into this world to act as a separator.  So that there could be a clear distinction between those who listen to Me and do what I say, and those who reject Me."

I have to wonder whatever became of the parents of the man who received his sight.  They refused to get involved in the controversy over their son because they feared the Jewish leaders and the possibility of being excluded from their religion.  Following Jesus will always separate you from those who are merely practicing religion.  And if I could encourage you from my own experience, never fear the possibility of being excluded from religion, it’s absolutely the best thing that could happen to you.

Since the Pharisees didn’t understand what Jesus was talking about in verses 1 through 5, starting in verse 7 Jesus took a more direct course.  Here He identifies Himself as the only door for the sheep, literally the only entrance into the Kingdom of God.  And at this point I feel the need to backtrack a little and remind everyone of the reason I’m even talking about all of this.

Go back all the way to Matthew 6:5-8.  There, Jesus says that if we’re going to talk to the Father, we need to do it the right way, for the right reason, in the right place.  Prayer is not specifically or primarily something you do for others, in the company of others.  It’s what you do in privacy, just you and the Father, to deal with what the Father wants to do in your life.  It's not your agenda, it's His and you submit to that.  It’s not a religious, group activity directed and controlled by men.  And its purpose is not to teach you various forms of religious ritual, but to allow you the opportunity to experience Jesus in reality on a deeply personal and purposeful level.  It is the only way you can enter into the Kingdom because it’s the only way you can gain the revelation of Jesus in your life.

Then in verse 8 Jesus confronts religion again by telling them that all that ever came before Him were thieves and robbers, but the true sheep never listened to them.  God has always had a people on the earth.  Even though there were times when his people were few in number.  In Noah’s day there were only eight believers on earth (Genesis 6:9-10, 7:7).  And in other places in the Old Testament there were times when it appeared that the prophet of God stood virtually alone in the world.  And even though there were most probably others, they certainly weren’t a part of the hypocritical religious establishment that killed the prophets, and then erected memorials in their honor (Matthew 23:27-39).

Now, in verse 9 Jesus says something that makes me want to preach again.  "I am the Door. And anyone who enters in through Me will be saved."  When you understand that the Door is a personal revelation of Jesus, and that a personal revelation of Jesus can’t come without perseverance and persistence in personal, private times with the Father; then the idea of a quick and easy salvation based on simple belief just doesn’t cut it.

The promises of verse 9 are really great.  When you look at the entire verse, Jesus says that if you have a personal revelation of Him in your life, you’ll have all the benefits that come with that revelation – life, freedom and provision.  That’s not bad.

Verse 10 is an interesting verse.  Jesus talks about the thief, who comes only to kill, steal and destroy.  I don’t know how many times over the years I’ve heard the Devil bashing crowd quote John 10:10, when blaming the Devil for the latest catastrophe in their lives.  Now, it’s ironic that the thief Jesus is talking about here that comes only to do all those bad things is not the Devil at all, but religion.  In reality, the people who quote that verse are actually talking about themselves and the system they're in and don’t even know it!

The last part of verse 10 is super.  Rather than bore you with all the details, I’ll just give you a paraphrase of the last sentence.  It goes something like this.  "But the reason I came is so My sheep could enjoy a full life that overflows from time into eternity."  Those who have a revelation of Jesus in their lives are going to live life the way it is supposed to be lived – to the full.  Now I’m not sure I can explain this well enough, but I’ll try.  Most people, whether religious or not, try to keep their lives on an even keel, that is, as steady and stable as possible.  That’s the way of the world.  For lack of a better term, let’s call it mediocrity.  Set goals, plan your life, prepare for the future, save, invest, be prudent and play it safe.  It’s the American dream.

But, let’s use the Apostle Paul as an example of one who lived life to the full.  When he met the Lord that day on the road to Damascus, his response was to ask what the Lord wanted him to do.  He apparently never stopped doing just that.  He pursued God and obeyed His commands until it cost him his head.  He allowed God to lead him into life-threatening danger, yet he enjoyed perfect security.  He suffered the lack of all things, yet enjoyed the overabundance of all things.  And he was able to do it because of the revelation of Jesus in his life (Philippians 4:11-13).

The point is that when you live life to the full, you’re able to endure the unpleasant beyond what others around you may be able to endure with a willingness to go back for more.  And you’re also able to enjoy the pleasant things beyond their ability to enjoy them, to the extent that you don’t take the simple things for granted.  Life has a sense of adventure and the unknown, in the midst of what is known – Jesus.  The principle is simple enough, in Jesus the greater your pain, the deeper your joy.  The greater your need, the fuller your appreciation.  On the other hand, without the revelation of Jesus in your life, you probably can’t understand this anyway.

Next, Jesus takes another shot at religion and religious leaders in verses 11 through 13.  Here, the Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.  The Shepherd willingly sacrifices Himself for the welfare of his sheep.  But the hireling (self-proclaimed religious leaders, OK, I’ll say it, pastors, priests, ministers) retreat at the first sign of trouble, because they don’t really care about the sheep.  They’re only in it for what they can get out of it.  How many men have I known over the years that "felt" the call to go elsewhere when things weren’t going the way they had hoped?  It's not necessarily their fault; it's built into the system.

Now I’m not so blind that I would put all professional religious leaders in this group.  There may be a few who have good intentions and care more for their people than they do themselves.  But, they’re very few.  On the other hand, there are many leaders who do not run at the first sign of trouble.  They simply stay where they are and kill off the sheep one by one, until the troublemakers are gone.

Earlier, when we were looking at verse 3, I alluded to verses 14 and 15.  I love the illustration here.  Jesus knows His sheep and His sheep know Him.  In fact, when you have the revelation of Jesus in your life, you come to know Jesus as well as Jesus knows the Father.  That’s the promise Jesus is making here.

I like to compare this to what Jesus says to the Pharisees in John 8:55 (read the whole chapter some time soon, here Jesus reveals Himself as the Light of the world).  Basically, most translations read something like, "You don’t know Him, but I know Him."  But, there are two different words translated "know" in this verse.  It should be translated more like this: "You have no idea Who He is, but I know Him very well."  The implication is that the Pharisees didn’t have a clue about the Father, but Jesus knew Him perfectly, since He had come from the very presence of the Father.  The application is obvious.  When we spend time in the presence of the Shepherd, we’ll come to know Him very well.  On the other hand, the religious crowd will remain clueless.  No amount of public worship, group prayer, sermonizing or any other ritual will ever allow anyone to experience an on-going, personal revelation of Jesus.

There may be some that don’t understand verse 16, so I need to at least mention it.  Jesus basically ignored the Gentiles.  His mission was to the Jews (Matthew 10:5-6, 15:24).  But, of course, His intention is to combine both Jew and Gentile into one flock under one Shepherd.  The Kingdom of God will include all tribes, languages, peoples and nations (Revelation 5:9).

Then we come to the end of Jesus’ discourse on the Door and the Good Shepherd.  Here are two verses that have practically been ignored by the religions of the world.  Anti-Semites have historically blamed the Jews for Jesus’ death.  Baptist preachers told me for years that it was my sin that killed Him (and for a long time I believed them).  But here in these two verses, Jesus says that He lays His life down voluntarily and no one can take it from Him.  The Father gave Him permission to lay it down and take it back again.

What religious arrogance, that men believe they could take the life of the very God they claim to serve!  Indeed, how could God be God, if mere men determined His fate?  The only way to explain it is that the god that these men serve is a god of their own making.  The only god that religious people can relate to is a god they can manipulate and control.  That, in essence, is the very nature of religion.  And the only god that will allow himself to be manipulated is the god of this world (see the paper entitled "This Evil Generation").

Men didn’t kill Jesus.  Our sin didn’t kill Him.  Pilate didn’t kill Him either (read John 19:8-12).  He gave His life voluntarily.  And to this I can only say that if you want to experience this incredible love, the only way you can is through a personal revelation of Jesus in your life.  Nothing that religion has to offer, nothing that can be found in the programs and rituals of the traditional church will ever equal it.

This brings Luke 13:24 into an even sharper focus (for a detailed look at Luke 13:23-30, see the paper "An Introduction to the Kingdom of Heaven").  Remember this one?

"Earnest effort is required to force your way through the narrow door that leads to salvation – to God!  Many think they will enter this door, but will not be able to, because they were not willing to do what they had to do.  They made the fatal mistake.  Instead of being diligent and persistent in their pursuit of God, they simply followed the foolish crowd." (Luke 13:24)

The earnest effort Jesus is talking about is the "keep on asking, keep on seeking and keep on knocking" of Matthew 7:7-8.  In the KJV the verb in Luke 13:24 is translated "strive".  The Greek word is agonizomai, from which we get our English word "agonize".  It’s simply ludicrous for religious, denominational types to insist on this quick, easy, all-inclusive salvation.  It doesn’t exist.  As any Greek dictionary will tell you, agonizomai in this context means, "to make every effort necessary to achieve the goal".  Having the door opened to you (gaining your own, personal revelation of Jesus) is our goal!  If you listen to the religions of the world, they want you to think the door will swing open all by itself.  Jesus says agonizing effort is required to open this door.

This leads me to one last point.  When we’re persistent in our pursuit of God, develop that sense of dependence on Him, show the Father our determination to know Him, and commit ourselves to submit to Him, then we begin to experience the revelation of Christ in our lives through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.  Always keep in mind it is the ministry of the Holy Spirit to reveal Jesus to the true believers who are determined to obey Jesus’ commands (John 14:21-26, 15:26).  Regardless of what religion says, the revelation of Jesus comes only as a result of individual, personal obedience.  It has nothing to do with what others do or tell you.

And that obedience is very specific.  I’m not talking about obedience to man-made religious rules and rituals.  I’m talking about obedience to what the Father says to you personally when you go in to a private place, shut the door, submit to Him and await His command (real prayer and worship).  I know this is a foreign concept to most of you, but God wants to have the same kind of relationship with you that He had with the men and women you read about in the Scriptures.  Read your Bible from cover to cover and see if you can find any evidence that God ever changed the rules and boundaries of relationship.  I’m telling you, He didn’t.  And the reason I know is that Jesus said so.

In John 6 there are 7 verses that I want to show you.  We find them in the midst of another running confrontation between Jesus and the crowd that was following Him.  These people were a mixture of those who believed in Him, the curious who couldn’t decide what to do, and the religious leaders who opposed Him.  It is in this chapter that we see Jesus revealing Himself as the Bread of Life.  His message was graphic (see verses 51-56 to see what I mean) and difficult to understand, to the extent that many of his followers turned back and did not follow Him after the events described here (verse 66).

The first verse is John 6:37.  It goes something like this:

"All those My Father gives to Me will come to Me.  And I will never reject anyone who comes to Me."

What this verse tells us is that there are those who are given to Jesus by the Father.  All of them come to Jesus.  And He accepts all those that have been given to Him.  It doesn’t matter what translation you read.  They all pretty much express the same idea.  The next verse is John 6:44.

"No one is able to come to Me unless the Father draws him and gives him the desire to come to Me.  Then I will raise him up from the dead on the last day."

Well, here we go again.  This exposes religious evangelism for what it really is – deception.  Men want to think they can draw people to God and they want the people to think they can lead them to God.  According to what Jesus says here, neither can be true.  When I was 18 years old, I heard an evangelistic message about Jesus dying on the cross for my sin.  I was convicted and went forward to receive Christ.  A man showed me some scripture verses, led me through a "sinner’s prayer" and then told me that I was now "saved" and when I died I’d go to heaven.  I wish he would have given me some understanding of John 6:45, instead.  This is what it says.

"As it is written in the book of the Prophets, And they shall all be taught of God and have Him for their own, personal Teacher.  Everyone who has listened to the Father and learned from Him will come to Me."

That evangelistic message was my wake-up call.  It was my introduction to God.  It was my opportunity to begin pursuing God so I could hear Him and learn from Him.  But, instead, religious men told me that it was my completed salvation.  And not soon after that they told me that God doesn’t speak to men anymore.  This was the beginning of 35 frustrating years in the traditional church that finally convinced me religion doesn’t work!

Maybe if I had been told that it was now my responsibility to begin spending time alone with God so He could talk to me, teach me and draw me to Jesus, I wouldn’t have to be unlearning now everything religion taught me all those years.

The last four verses are John 6:63-66, and should be looked at together.  Let me quote them first.

"It is the Holy Spirit who gives you life.  You can’t get real, everlasting lifethrough the religious efforts of your flesh. The things that I have been teaching you are of the Spirit and show you how to get this kind of life.  But some of you still will not listen to me and do what I say.  Now, Jesus said this because He knew from the beginning who would not follow Him and who would betray Him.  Then He said, This is why I told you that no one could come to Me unless the Father allows him to come.  And after this, many of them no longer followed Him."

Let me make it easy for you.  When you look at what Jesus says in these 7 verses in the light of everything else we’ve been looking at in both Part One and Part Two, this is what you should conclude.  We must be willing to pursue God by getting alone with Him and allowing Him the opportunity to teach us so we can learn from Him.  When we do this, He sees the desire and sincerity of our hearts and sends the Holy Spirit to show us Jesus.  He then gives us to Jesus and Jesus receives us.  Isn’t it ironic?  Religion talks about us receiving Jesus.  Jesus talks about Him receiving us!

It is the Father that allows us to be drawn to Jesus.  It is the Holy Spirit that gives us the revelation of Jesus.  This gives us the opportunity to imitate what is revealed to us, so we can be like Jesus.  This is our salvation.  The whole purpose of God is summed up in this: God wants to change us from who we are into who He is.  And He does this through the revelation of Jesus in our lives.

In most translations the word "believe" is used in verse 64.  Here, Jesus is telling the crowd that even though they’ve heard what He had to say, they still did not believe.  This word is translated from the Greek word pistueo.  This word does not imply simple assent or agreement.  Instead, it illustrates a confidence in what is heard, so that the confidence leads to action on the part of the hearer.  So, when you believe in Jesus, you listen to what He says, and then you do it!  Our salvation is not based on what we agree with, it’s based on what we do when we hear God.

There were those in the crowd that day in John 6 that failed to do what Jesus said.  They were following Him.  They were interested.  They thought they wanted to be like Him.  But they couldn’t do it.  It was just too hard for them.  They were the seed sown in rocky soil (Matthew 13:20-21).  They had no root, no revelation of Jesus.  They had not progressed far enough to catch hold.  They didn’t want it bad enough.  The Father had not yet given them to Jesus.

The purpose of the kind of prayer Jesus is talking about in Matthew 6 and 7 is to allow us to be confronted with the reality of the presence of God.  When we realize that we are, in fact, in the presence of a Holy and Righteous God, we submit (or get nervous and run).  When we submit to Him, He begins to teach us and tell us what He wants.  When He determines that we want what He wants, He draws us to Jesus and gives us to Him.  Jesus receives us and the Holy Spirit then begins to give us a revelation of Jesus.  We see Jesus, fall in love with Him, commit ourselves to imitate Him and are changed into His image.

I think I told you a couple of pages back that this would be the last point.  I have to show you one more thing.  This is Colossians 1:15, 19-23.

"Now Jesus is the visible representation of the unseen God who sees.  And it was the Father’s good pleasure to show us His divine perfection in the person of His Son Jesus, and to reconcile all things to Himself through the death of His Son on the cross.  And we were once hostile towards God and His enemies, because of our evil ways.  But Jesus has made peace between us through His death, so that He can one day present us faultless and free from accusation in the presence of His Father.  And this He will certainly do, if we continue to listen to Him and do what He says.  We must remain firm and constant in these things and not stray from the hope that we first felt when we heard this message, a message that has been offered without exception to every person under heaven.  The same message to which I, Paul, am indebted."

What a fantastic promise!  If we listen to God and do what He says, the day will come when we’ll be just like Jesus.  It is His intention then to take us (all whom the Father has given Him) and present us back to the Father.  Can you possibly picture this in your mind?  If this doesn’t motivate you to forget about religion, go into a private place, close the door and cry out to God, then I don’t know what will.