Day 2: Inside Out
Tuesday, February 8, 2022
During our time of prayer and fasting as a church, our aim is to walk in the way of Jesus as we seek to live life in the way he modeled for us. It truly is the secret of living a free life. Our primary motive through these next few weeks comes from Pastor John Mark Comer’s book The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry: If we want to experience the life of Jesus, we have to adopt the lifestyle of Jesus.
Doing so means learning to pray the way that Jesus prayed. One cannot study his words and actions without grasping how crucial prayer was to his life and teaching. Yesterday, we saw in Matthew 6:6 how Jesus urges us to spend time alone with our Heavenly Father by saying:
“But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.”
Some translations use the term “secret place” for where we meet with God. As we will see in the coming days, Jesus did not merely teach that; he also lived it. We shape our inner world by spending time with God in the secret place, closing the door, and getting away from the world to be with Him. The Hebrew word for “heart” means inner self: Our thoughts, emotions, will, and desires. We cultivate the kind of heart He wants us to have by meeting with God in prayer.
To live life in Jesus’ way, we must first have a right heart. That inner transformation leads to an outward shift in how we live. In reading Jesus’ infamous teachings in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapters 5-7), we repeatedly see the pattern of inward change leading to outward action. In short, Jesus wants us to live inside out. Let’s explore how this applies to what Jesus teaches about prayer.
“Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today the food we need, forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.”
We refer to this as the Lord’s Prayer in the Christian tradition. Chances are, you have heard and even prayed these words before. Memorizing this prayer is one of my earliest memories. Because it is so familiar, it can be easy to miss some of what Jesus intended for us to glean from praying this way.
Jesus’ words in the prayer are for both internal and external change. Praying for God’s Kingdom to come and for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven is to genuinely see the world around us transformed. However, it also aligns our hearts with God’s. We need His Kingdom to come in our lives and for His will to be done in us first. It is a prayer for inner transformation and to see the world around us transformed. Praying for the food we need reinforces our reliance upon God in every part of our lives. To forgive those who have wronged us, we first need to be forgiven. Being guarded against temptation means receiving help dealing with the circumstances we face. Still, the greatest temptations we face are what’s inside of us (Matthew 15:18-20).
Inward change precedes outward change. Therefore, we must pray for both. Much of our prayer life tends to be focused on people and circumstances, which is a good thing! But also, let’s develop the kind of private prayer life with God that transforms us from the inside out. As we grow in this and live life more like Jesus, God will use us in greater measure to impact the world around us as He makes the earth more like heaven.
Begin praying for the ways God wants to cultivate the inner world inside of you. Pray for your world to become more like heaven and that God’s will is done in and around you. Follow Jesus’ example as you seek inside-out transformation.
Prayer: Lord, You are so worthy of all praise. I want to be more like You. I pray for Your will to be done in me and around me as I become more like You. Cultivate the kind of heart You want me to have. I trust You with all the details of my life. Provide all that I need internally and circumstantially. Forgive me for the ways I’ve fallen short. And help me stay guarded against sin in both my heart and in my actions. Transform me from the inside out. Amen.
By Dave Mann
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