— Brother Phil Enlow: It’s interesting to me the emphasis that the Lord has put in some of the things that have been said so far on prayer, because my thoughts have been along that line. I wish I could stand here and tell you that I’m an expert in that area, but I’m far from it. But then, I don’t believe any of us are experts. I believe we all are in a place where we need to learn more.
You know, we spoke recently about what’s happening and the fact that the real battle is not the social issues and the virus and all the things that are happening. The real issue is spiritual. There is a Devil that is raging, that is behind what is happening in our world, and the Lord wants us not…He’s not gonna whisk us out and take us away before all the trouble hits. He’s gonna empower us to stand. Those who look to Him will have everything we need, because He is faithful. He promised to be with us to the end of the age. Thank God! He keeps His promises.
And, just by way of introduction, one scripture we use and often refer to is in Ephesians 6 about warfare. And I thank God for the first part of it, because Paul gives us pieces of armor as an illustration of the full provision of Christ…peace, righteousness, truth…His Word, and all those kinds of things. I’m not gonna enumerate them all. But it represents the fact that we are equipped.
And we’re not equipped because of who we are, but he tells us to be strong in the power of His might, not in ours. Thank God, it’s in Him.
But there’s one part of that that tends to get…doesn’t often become the central emphasis when you talk about the armor, because then he goes immediately and says…and goes into prayer, and how we’re supposed to pray in the Spirit with all kinds of prayers and all kinds of occasions for God’s people.
And so, that is a very big, major part of the battle that God has called us to in this hour. And I believe God wants us to learn more of what that means, and how to pray. And I know we’ve often used the scripture where Daniel talked about a people yet to come who would go through a terrible time. “…But the people who do know their God shall be strong…” and be able to take action, is the sense of the Hebrew there. (KJV). And I believe God wants us to be in a position to take action.
Now, you know, we remember another scripture that we’ve often referred to in James, where he says, you don’t have because you don’t ask. I’m paraphrasing a bit. But then he says, you ask and don’t receive, “…because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (NIV). And so, the thoughts that really have come to me this morning have less to do with prayer as a technique and more what it takes to be able to pray.
You know, a lot of people you ask what prayer means, it’s, well you’ve got a need, you go to God and you ask Him to fix it. And, it really doesn’t get a whole lot beyond that. It’s very self-centered, it’s very earthly oriented. I’ve got a problem, I’m sick, I need this, I need that, and so we go to God, and there’s a place for that in the context of prayer, but the center of it is that.
And I’ll tell you, there are a lot of people who will come upon a need…who will come to a place of need in their lives, and they’ll take it to God, but they take it to God with a perspective that, I know how this is supposed to work out. I know what He’s supposed to do. I know what I want Him to do.
And so, when it doesn’t happen, then they actually get mad at God. And they get sort of upset with Him. Or, what’s wrong with me? Boohoo. You know, why does God answer this prayer and not that one? There’s a lot we don’t know about God that we need to learn.
But why…the thoughts that I had this morning…now I don’t know how long this is gonna be. We’ll see what the Lord has. But, it’s to back to Matthew chapter 6 and what is called the Lord’s Prayer. And, I guess if I had to title this, it would be something like “A Foundation for Prayer.”
You know, I think Carl made the reference or somebody that wrote to him made the reference about standing in the gap. Do you believe God wants a people who will stand in the gap?
( congregational amens ).
Who will be able to…there’ll be a need and we know there’s a God that wants to help and wants to move, but He does move through His people. And so, He needs those who are able to stand in that gap and be effective. And I fear that much of the time when we’re trying to stand in the gap, we’re standing in the way.
And God is a lot more interested in working in us and changing us than He is in fixing whatever it is we think needs to be fixed, in the way we want it to be fixed and when we want it to be fixed. You know what I’m talking about? And so, I feel my need in this area.
And I see God working and I see Him doing it in ways that I would prefer He didn’t, but He knows what He’s doing. And so, I don’t know, let’s just take this, and just ask God to kind of unfold some of this, and what the implications of this prayer are for us.
Now, of course, the prayer begins, “Our Father….” And, most of the time, I think, when I have talked about this, my emphasis has been on the Father part. But I believe there’s a significance in the fact that He says, ‘our’ Father. Why doesn’t He say, My Father?
God wants us, as a foundation of being able to be an intercessor, to go to Him…which we’re told we can go freely because of Christ and not because of us. But how do we go and with what mindset? Do we truly get it? Do we truly understand our place in the scheme of things? Because if you’re thinking self-centeredly, this is not gonna do a lot of good, is it?
We have this expression about certain kinds of people, that they are self-absorbed, you know what I mean? And what we mean by that is their entire world is centered on me, what’s happening to me, what people do to me and my feelings about that, and that’s their whole world! I mean, somebody once said that a person wrapped up in themselves makes a very small package.
And, this is the polar opposite of God’s nature, when He is other-centered. We need to be in a position where we’re so grounded in Him, who we are, who He is, what He wants, that we are able to get out of that trap of our world being all about me.
God has not called us to be just an island, serving Him individually, separately, doing our thing and it’s me and Jesus, as we’ve heard so many times. We are part of a body. We are part of a family. And, there are plenty of scriptures that talk about that, the fact that we are a family in God.
You know, you recall the time when Jesus was ministering and it was crowded and somebody came and said, your mother and your brothers are here to see you…sisters, I think also, perhaps. And so, He took the opportunity to say, who is My mother, who is My sister, who is My brother? Those who hear the Word of God and keep it, the same is my…you know.
In other words, we have the earthly relationships that we naturally find they’re important to us and in a sense they are. But, the relationship that matters is the eternal one because God has brought us into a family of which we are an integral part.
And if our life, if we’re coming to God with this ‘me’ centered approach, right off the bat we’re in the way. We’re not in a position to do much good in the Kingdom of God. We need to come and say, our Father. I’m a part of a kingdom. I’m a part of something that is bigger than myself. I am not…I don’t even live for me.
You know, we’ve mentioned how Paul described his own ministry. He didn’t take a high and mighty place, did he? He didn’t even…I mean, I think if Paul had had his way, he would’ve been comfortable being quiet. He was in prison a lot of the time of his ministry. He wasn’t up in front in people talking…my message is not me. I didn’t come to promote me. I came to promote Him and I’m your servant. I mean, what a mindset.
But I’ll tell you, if we could start out our approach to God with this sense that I’m a part of something, that is bigger than me, and God has called me to be a vital part of that. That’s a pretty good start, isn’t it? How are you thinking? How do I think?
Oh, how easy it is when something happens to begin to just close in and, oh my God, fix my situation. But God wants us to have a bigger picture and a sense of where we’re at. You know, a lot of this prayer here winds up being about personal things, but we’re talking about a foundation for prayer. If I can’t get this right, how can I help anybody else? How can I even be in a position to help somebody else?
And of course, the second word is Father because we are part of a family and the thing that makes us part of that family is not just because we decided to follow Jesus and go to church and be religious. There is a birth—there is a real birth that happens because we come…we’ve said these things many times, we come into this world with a life that has a death sentence upon it. It will end—one way or the other, it will end! There is another life that doesn’t end, and the question is, which one do we have?
And the only one that matters is the one that we receive when we surrender this earthly life, that we can’t keep anyway, in order to obtain the one that we cannot lose! And there is a real birth that happens when the Spirit of God, who is everywhere, literally comes to reside in these earthly vessels. We are temples meant to be temples of the Holy Spirit, right? God wants to come to reside to find a home in the heart.
And I’ll tell you, once we surrender and come to Him, laying down our lives, we do become a part of a family. I mean, you can build churches and you can…there are all kinds of church growth programs out there. This is how you make your church bigger. I’m not interested in that. I’m interested in just giving out what God gives me, or seeing it given out by whatever means God chooses, and letting Him build His church.
And I’ll tell you, like I’ve said and many others…Brother Thomas used to say, give me five people who really want to serve God, rather than 5,000 people that just want to play church. Thank God, I believe there’s a lot more than four, than five here. But thank God!
But He is our Father. But it’s beyond that because the ultimate model of what a Father is meant to be is our God. He’s not just some monarch way off somewhere in the distance that we hope to somehow get a handle on.
So many people think about prayer as a technique for getting what they want. And they don’t see Him as Father, they see Him as Santa Clause. Lord, I’m sick, or I need money, or I’m this, I’m that and they’ll go to Him when they sense that need, and then, okay, what’s the technique? How does this work?
You’ll hear unbelievers talk about, well, how does that prayer thing work? You know, why doesn’t God answer? Did I not believe enough, did I not try hard enough, as though there’s a technique to it? This is not technique.
You say, oh, you’ve got to believe. Well…how many of you have the power, based upon the nature you got from Adam, to have real faith? I don’t. I need Him! You know, we’re gonna have to have a relationship to God in order to be able to possess the abilities to do what He’s talking about here. It’s got to come from Him.
But He is a Father who loves His children, okay? And one thing I thought about mentioning is this. You know, there are people out there who have a view of God that makes Him of one sort and Jesus as another. God is this angry monarch, angry about sin, pouring out wrath and fire and brimstone, and He’s this…and here’s Jesus, and He’s become one of us and so now He’s sympathetic. And so, He’s trying to convince His Father to go…to let us off the hook. I mean, I’m putting this in extreme terms, but they make a difference between the two.
Folks, they’re not! Jesus is the perfect expression of the Father. I guess…this fits better in something that’s coming here. But I want to get that across. This heart of the Father towards you…I don’t care how small you are, how weak you are, if you are literally His child because you have been born of His Spirit, He cares about you and will never forget you.
And He wants us to come to One that has a compassion for your needs. He sees your needs. He’s not unmindful of where we’re at. I mean, we need to see ourselves more as what we are. Little children who don’t get it, who don’t understand. And we need Somebody who does.
You know, some of you are old enough to remember a program that aired and was very popular in the 1950s. It would be laughed off the air today. “Father Knows Best.” But anyway, this is one case where Father definitely knows best.
And so, coming to Him…if I’m really coming to Him, I need that sense of community, but I need that sense that He’s my Father and He knows what the deal is. I don’t come to Him and tell Him what to do. I don’t come and demand that He do this and do that. I’m coming to a Father who knows and cares, and I need to have that mindset when I look to Him. There’s a humility.
I need to know my place. And yes, my place is being loved with an everlasting love, but my place is not to sit up here and talk over to God and say, here’s what I want You to do. It’s to come to Him with a humbleness. Didn’t Peter say to humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God and He’ll lift you up at the proper time? That’s a paraphrase of it but…you know the scripture I’m talking about in chapter 5, I believe it is.
So, our Father…and again, it’s, “Our Father in heaven…” There’s a place of exaltation. That needs to remind us that we’re not where He is. He’s the One that’s way up there. He’s the One that we need to always bow before, bow to when we come into Him, again, we’re not coming with this angry, You’re not doing what I want…what’s the matter with You…talking almost down to God. Some people actually do that. It’s amazing. But, our Father in heaven. He occupies the highest place in the order of things.
The human race decided it didn’t need Him. It wanted to go its own way and seek for its own godhood. I’ll tell you, if we’re gonna ever have the relationship with God where prayer means anything, we’re gonna have to get off of that high horse and take the place that is rightfully ours. I need a heavenly Father. I don’t have the knowledge. I don’t have the wisdom. I don’t have the ability. I am in need. And I’m gonna thankfully, gratefully, humbly take that place.
Oh, what a place of peace that is, too, when we can just be what we are. We don’t have to pretend. It’s not like we have to hold our mouth right to get God to do stuff. That’s not what this is about. This is about humbly coming with a degree of understanding of who He is, who I am, what my place is in the scheme of things, and willingly taking that place before Him.
Our Father in heaven…simple words, but don’t they mean something when you start to meditate on those words? Oh my God. It needs to make us take a step backwards and say, Lord, am I in the way here? I need You to change me.
There are things that I don’t even know about myself that You know, and here I am trying to focus on getting You to do stuff, and You’re wanting to do stuff, all right, it’s just that I’m the one You’re wanting to do it in. Help me to occupy a place where whatever the need is, whatever You want to say, You’re the One who knows and I humble myself to Your hand. It’s a good place to be, isn’t it?
“…Hallowed be your name….” Hallowed, holy, set apart, lifted up. It’s a name that’s above every name, isn’t it? And, I’ll kind of put this together with the ‘name’ part. There’s a scripture…I’m gonna turn over there. Just hold this, but in John chapter 17…that is kind of mind blowing, because this really highlights what we said earlier about the Son being an expression of the Father.
There is no…what you see in the Son comes from the Father’s heart. It’s not like He’s trying to convince an unwilling, reluctant God to be good to us. This comes from, this originates in the heart of God. Jesus is the visible, human expression of that. He is the perfect, full representation of the unseen God. Praise God!
All right, in verse 11, somewhere in the middle of verse 11, when He says, “…I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name…” Jesus is praying for His followers. “Holy Father…” He’s calling Him Father, too, isn’t He? “…Protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.”
So where did the name Jesus really originate? ‘Your name you gave me.’ What does Jesus mean? It means ‘God saves’…it’s a Savior, yes. When the angel told Mary, I believe it was, you’ll, “…call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.” (KJV). It means really, God saves.
And that’s the whole point. The whole idea of seeing our need and reaching out to us comes from the heart of the Father. Man, we need to lift up that name and it’s above every name. That name was given to Jesus after what He did. And He was given a name, as he says in Philippians, I believe it is, “…a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow…and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God.”
I’ll tell you, you want to know what the Father is like, you look at Jesus and you’ll see. But I want to respect that name above every name, but I want to understand its implications. If the name means ‘Savior,’ does that not imply that that’s what I need? He’s not looking to me to get up to this high, spiritual place where I just…okay, now I’ve got it. I need a Savior every day.
From the time that I come into this world until the time that I leave it, there will be things from which I need to be delivered. I need to be delivered from me. Now, I’m not trying to paint salvation as something that, oh my God, if I don’t measure up, I’m gonna lose it, lose it. No, if there is real salvation going on, we’re not gonna lose it.
But there is a progressive aspect to salvation. We don’t ever get to the point where we say, okay…I’ve arrived, I don’t need any more saving. Man, I need it every single day. If I’m gonna approach this God, our Father in heaven, I’m gonna have to understand my relationship to Him, that there are things that I need to be delivered from. I need His help! I just need Him!
I can’t even pray without His help. I need Him to save me and to help me. Doesn’t the scripture tell us that we don’t even know what to pray for, we don’t know how to pray, but the Holy Spirit helps us, “…with groanings which cannot be uttered.” Sometimes there are just things that well up in our heart and in our spirit…I know that some of you know what I’m talking about. There’s just something that’s there, that’s yearning, and that’s God.
What a wonderful place it is to come to a place where we can just be so, yielded, is the word, so trusting in this Heavenly Father who invites us into His presence, that we can just…we can feel what He feels about something, and actually give expression to that.
But oh God, there’s so much self in the way! There’s so much of us that gets in the way of what God has called us to, and God wants to purge and help us.