A few years ago, I was with some friends listening to a speaker at the Nashville Chapter Grammy Block Party when I heard a nearby door squeak open and closed. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a taller blonde who slipped in with a friend. You never know who’ll show up at these types of industry events, so naturally I glanced again to see if it was anyone recognizable. Sure enough it was.

I nudged my friend and whisper-shouted — you know, like a four-year-old that doesn’t really understand the concept of whispering yet — “That’s! Taylor! Swift!”

I quickly surveyed the room to see if anyone else noticed she was there. Most people were completely oblivious. The room was so focused on the person on stage that they missed the fact that one of the biggest names in the industry had stepped into the room.

Not me.

I was keenly aware. In fact, at an event like this I was anticipating it! I was determined to get her attention. A moment of subtle applause interrupted the speech … that was my moment!

With pro-level comedic timing, I shouted out the cultural adage of the day — “Turn up!” — and immediately looked back at Taylor. She noticed. She and her friend laughed as they looked in my direction. I approached her as soon as the speaker wrapped up, and we chatted and got a few photos together. It was a pretty cool moment for her. Ha! Well, and me, too.

Later on, I was mulling over that moment at the Grammy party and I realized something profound, at least to me.

“Awareness determines access.”

In this particular scenario, because I was aware that T Swizzle was at the party, I had access to her. While others carried on in typical conversations, eating expensive cheeses, and sipping Sprite, I was connecting with a musical icon.

This situation taught me something valuable about my relationship with God, worship, and His divine presence in my life.

My awareness of His presence determines my access to Him.

This proves to be true in scripture. Check out what the Bible says about Jacob in Genesis 28:16: “Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, ‘Surely the LORD is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it!’

Jacob was asleep with the Lord in His midst.

We tell ourselves that if Jesus walked into the room, surely we couldn’t help but notice. But the truth is, we miss Him everyday. Perhaps, like Jacob, we’re spiritually asleep, going through the motions, but numb to the miracle of His presence happening in our midst day after day.

We need the awareness of blind Bartimaeus, who even without sight could sense that the healer was close. His awareness gave him access to seeing a world in vivid color for the first time. We need the awareness of the woman with the issue of blood that knew Jesus was walking past her house. Her awareness gave her access to the healing she’d been seeking for over a decade. We need the awareness of Jarius, who gave his daughter life, even from a distance.

Do you see the theme of the miraculous throughout scripture? It starts with someone realizing that something bigger than them is close.

More and more, the cry of my heart is becoming, “Lord, make me more aware of you.”  The truth is that He is present — at the office, in the car, at the kitchen table, everywhere, right now. With God, we never have an attendance problem; we typically have an attention problem.

Could it be that we are so rich in activity that we are bankrupt in attention? Are we so consumed with our priorities that we are missing God’s presence because we cannot engage with whom we do not acknowledge?

The beautiful reality is that we serve a God who wants our attention. He desires communion and a relationship with you, that you may be fulfilled and satisfied in Him.

God. Wants. You.

He’s in this moment right now. Are you aware of Him? Let us live with the expectation of His presence, because the reality that God is here, now, makes anything possible.

“And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

 

Written exclusively for Praise.com->.

Confession:

I’ve been praying all wrong. Shocking, I know. A church staff pastor/worship leader/Christian artist praying wrong? Absolutely.

I know supposedly there’s no “wrong way” to pray, right? Well, I’m not so sure. To be clear, I’m not talking about our choice of words — whether or not filling sentences with old-timey English is required to talk to God, or if it matters if you cry out or whisper your prayers. I think those types of things are up to you and that God hears them all. However, what I realized about my prayers is that they were usually starting in the wrong place.

With coffee in hand, sitting on about the fourth row (which is worth mentioning because you get extra points for sitting in the first five rows at church) in a small but thriving church plant, the pastor dropped a quote that seemed to weigh 1,000 pounds squarely on all ten of my toes.

In a message about prayer, he said this: “If God were to answer all the prayers you’ve been praying, would it change anyone else’s life but your own?”

It was then and there that I realized that my prayers were not prioritized correctly.

You see, my life and the things that concerned only me were at the top of a very short list. It made me wonder, “How much of God’s miraculous power are we unable to experience because we never pray prayers that are bigger than us?”

Now, of course, God is concerned with the details of our lives, and what a glorious truth that is! But, He’s much more concerned with His kingdom, will, and glory being expressed through our lives as we activate His power through our prayers on behalf of others.

When Jesus teaches us to pray, the first request Jesus leads us to make to God is a request for the kingdom of heaven to be present in the earth. “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

I realized I was praying all wrong because I had been missing the priority and emphasis on the “kingdom” in the Lord’s Prayer. I found that I always skipped to the line that said, “Give us this day our daily bread…” — you know, the part where we ask for all the things we want. In fact, if I’m being honest, most of my prayers have always been “daily bread” prayers and not “kingdom come” prayers.

If we want to see more of heaven present in humanity, we need to touch heaven on our collective behalf, not just our own personal behalf. The world needs followers of Jesus praying beyond the scope of our own lives. We must pray kingdom prayers.

In the world in which we live, with the deep issues and problems we face, we often look to governments, kings, policies, presidents, and world systems to cure the symptoms of the spiritual depravity present in humanity. The truth is, we will always come up short hoping to cure the ills of society with man-made systems.

There are many strongholds that dominate our culture. We often point to a people group or a person on which to place all the blame for the issues of our culture. However, the Bible teaches us that it is never merely a person (“flesh and blood”), but spirits (“principalities and powers”) that we actually fight.

Spiritual issues require spiritual solutions. The answer to spiritual strongholds is prayer. It will do more than politics, protests, or even pulpits. Practical solutions are good and necessary to manage symptoms, but they are ultimately inadequate in overcoming them.

When we pray, let us pray kingdom prayers, prayers that invite the dominion of heaven to rule over the things of the earth. In the very spirit of Christ, let’s consider the plight of others before we submit requests for our own lives. Perhaps solutions to the deepest needs of humanity can be found in the prayers we have yet to pray.

 

Written exclusively for Praise.com->.

There is an unshakeable commonality of both the pain that we all experience at some level in our lives and the times of unquestionable hope we also experience. Everyone has ups and everyone has downs. There is no life sorrow leaves untouched and there is no life absent of at least a moment of true joy.

Life is full of both wonder and wounds.

So, how do we handle it? Hopefully, this message help!

Best,
Tauren

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