The Motive Of Prayer For Men
SUMMARY: Mother Teresa said, ““Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.” In this Resolute Leadership Podcast, Vince Miller is joined by Pastor and leader Justin Jeppesen as they discuss the topic of prayer. Today they focus on how to build a prayer as a discipline with the right motive.
Vince: This is Resolute and the Resolute Leadership Podcast. I’m Vince Miller, your founder, and host. And today we’re starting a new series on prayer, and we’re discussing the topic – the motive of prayer.
So men, welcome back to the program. If this is your very first time tuning in, well thank you for joining us. Our mission, as an organization is to disciple and develop men to lead. And if you’re looking for content for your men’s group or even just your men’s ministry – then you need to go to our website today, which is beresolute.org.
We have a number of great tools for men who are leading other men, including a couple of new small group series’ that we know that your men would love in your groups. And so if you want to take a look at those, we would love to put those in your hand. You can reach out today through – to us, through the website. But now, let’s dive in.
I’m joined by a good friend of mine, Justin Jepson. And Justin has been a staff person with Resolute and also is on staff at a local church. And he’s had a heart for a long time to build prayer into the lives of men. And I’ve just been taken back by his faithfulness to this over the last few years, even though it’s a slow growing ministry – he has given his heart to it and his all. And today we’re going to be looking at the topic of the motive of prayer. And just simply getting after the heart of it, to begin with. So Justin, thank you so much for being with us.
Justin: Thank you, Vince, it’s an honor to be here.
Vince: So Justin, as a good friend and as a partner in ministry, you’ve had for a while – this passion around prayer. And I’ve, I’ve watched you in your own church build a house of prayer there. You have focused on moving men into praying together and to praying for the church, for their life, for their family, for their world, for their work etc. And I’m really moved by it. Because you have this incredible heart.
But over the years, you’ve learned a few things about prayer. And in this series, we’re looking at the motive of prayer, the method of prayer, and the mission of prayer. And today I want to spend some time talking about the motive of prayer. Because I think this is really important. As we dive into prayer, we’ve really got to understand our motives behind it, and how to understand the particular purpose in our own heart regarding our engagement in conversation with God. So tell us what you’ve learned Justin, about why prayer is so vital to the Christian life?
Justin: Yeah well, this has been a continual journey of learning, and just – something the Lord has been doing in my life for several years. And so you mentioned this phrase, “House of Prayer.” And that’s coming from the text Matthew 21. Specifically verse 13, Jesus said, it is written, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for the nations. But you have made it a den of robbers.”
And it’s really, it’s taking Jesus at his word. Where the reality of prayer and why it’s so important is – and why Jesus sought to restore the priority of prayer in his house – in his temple, with his people. Is because we were made, we were created to live in continual communion with our creator. And that’s what prayer is for. Prayer in it’s most basic definition. We can complicate it, but it’s real simple. It’s communication with God. And we were made to be and live in that vital connection and communication with – with our God.
Vince: Oh, let me ask you something along those lines. I – as you talk about this continual communication with God, Justin – I think about – probably how most guys think about it, or how I used to think about it is – it’s something that you do once in a while. That’s what prayer is. It’s something that maybe you do when you wake up in the morning, like I did this morning – probably like you did. We cast a prayer to God, we ask him for some things.
But we don’t really look at it as something that we’re doing all the time. But we really do live – we live in a physical world, but we’re spiritual creatures. And you say that we’re in constant communication with God. Do you think that most men and leaders look at it that way?
Justin: Well I think maybe in theory. But I think the – the hard reality is, is how do you actually do that? And really, it boils down to a heart issue. I’ve heard it said that prayer in the Christian life is what breathing is to our physical life. It’s our essential lifeline. And if – driving here this morning, if I would’ve held my breath – I wouldn’t have made it here. And really – prayer is really our declaration of our dependence upon God.
And conversely, our prayerlessness, it’s been said – is our declaration of independence from God. And it’s saying, “God, we don’t need you.” Or, “I only need you when I have a need or I have a – a trial or a crisis in my life.” But really prayer is – distilling it all the way back down, and that’s what Jesus is doing here in this text. It’s about living with, walking with your creator – no matter what you’re doing, no matter where you are. Where you’re going or who you’re with.
And while it’s important – yeah, to have those moments that are set aside in solitude – moments of concentrated prayer with others. It’s really a reality that we can be engaging in ongoing, continually. No matter what the circumstance, and no matter what our location or position is.
Vince: I think that’s a little bit of what Jesus is getting at here, isn’t it? When he says – he’s contrasting 2 ideas. First a den of robbers with a house of prayer. And he’s – I think saying to us that we’ve turned certain things into things that they’re not supposed to be. While we’re missing the ultimate point of what communion with God is really about. And it’s about this constant, incessant communion with God all the time. Yet we don’t engage in it.
Kinda like you say, until we need something, right? We – we’re kinda looking for God to give us something, or to give us a handout or a solution. Or we have an issue in our life that we bring to him, and we need an answer for. And unfortunately, that probably says something about our motives – when we only go to God when we need him, right? Have you found that to be true in people’s lives as you’ve tried to teach them about prayer?
Justin: Yeah, definitely. And honestly, I find that to be true in my own life all time.
Vince: Okay, yeah, yeah.
Justin: And that’s why – right before Jesus makes the declaration, “My house was a house of prayer.” It says that “He entered the temple and he drove out all who sold and bought in the temple. He overturned the tables of money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons.” This is a big deal for Jesus. And really what – a house of prayer, and a life of prayer, a man of prayer – is, is a man of purity. And we need to ask Jesus to purify us from our hypocrisy and our religiosity – and to give us that pure motive. ‘Cause ultimately, it’s something that He must do.
And so – something that I, that I do and I encourage and lead other men to do – is to ask Jesus to do it. Only he can do it do it just to purify our hearts so that we see him clearly. Because prayer is less about our activity, and it’s mostly about our intimacy. And we could use prayer as a crutch or as something to help us do what we think we’re supposed to do or accomplish our agenda.
But prayer is first supposed to bring us into an intimate connection with Jesus, from which we then do life with him – walking with him. And in this text, they had it the other way around. They had their own agenda. They had their own – their own perspective, their own purpose of why they were gathering in God’s house. And Jesus said, “No, no, no. You’re here to be with me. And right now, you’re so focused on yourself and all of your own activity – and not intimacy with me.”
Vince: Wow that – that’s a great explanation there. And I couldn’t agree with you more that we as men or leaders are going to struggle with this from time to time. I have felt the ebb and flow – I think as you’re insinuating – that there are times that prayer is just something that I go for when I need something from God, unfortunately, I have to confess that.
And there are times where – conversation with God in prayer is so intimate and so meaningful. It’s very just life giving. Just in general – not that I’m trying to get something from God, but that I’m really deeply communing with him, and I’m kinda lost in that conversation with Him. So I think what you’re saying is – when we approach prayer, we have to make sure our hearts are in the right place. That our motives are present to them.
And that we’ve got to be conscious of it throughout our lifetime. That there’s going to be times that we are going to ask for things. But it’s not exclusively just trying to get the things that we want. That we watch our heart, and we give it attention. Because there’s something different, something changed in a man and a leader when his motives are in the right place.
And as you say, Jesus cares deeply about this. I mean this is a pretty shocking moment, right? I mean Jesus is walking in and he’s – essentially slaying people that are sitting at tables and stealing – extorting money from people so that they can bring their prayers to God. And unfortunately, they’ve been leading people down the wrong path. And so I think it’s interesting that we as Christian men and leaders need to be guiding people toward true motive in prayer, by setting ourselves as an example as well in prayer.
I’ve got to tell you, Justin. I think one of the – the saddest things that I’ve seen in the church is a lack of prayer. I’m talking about a lack of prayer just generally, right? Would you say this is true in the church? That we don’t go to prayer enough?
Justin: Yeah. I think – sadly, we go to prayer as a, as a last resort – rather than our first action. And larger part, I think we don’t recognize our true dependence upon God. And we don’t recognize the actual desperation that we all have of Him. And there are numerous reasons why.
Vince: Yeah, sure.
Justin: I think it’s – large in part, I think we – we think we have all these other options. And we can, we can act first. And then when that doesn’t work – then we pray. Rather than if we were to pray first – and then we actually are led by the Holy Spirit through the Scriptures, towards the right actions. I think we’d save ourselves a lot of heartaches. And ultimately, I think the church would have the supernatural impact that it’s intended to have.
Prayer really is the forgotten power of the church. If were to even go – I mean, the fact that Jesus – he expects his church to pray. Jesus himself modeled the life of prayer. If there’s anybody that didn’t need to pray, and could still be effective in this life, it would be Jesus. But he – he was the one. There’s a sense in which Jesus was the only person who lived on this earth, who didn’t need to pray – but did, in order to teach those who don’t pray, know how to – but do, and don’t know how to pray.
Justin: And it sounds like a little bit of a tongue twister. But in other words – that’s why the early church practiced a life of prayer. We all want this, this Acts 2 Pentecost experience of an explosion of power, and people coming to faith. But we often forget that Acts 1 precedes Acts 2. And what were they doing in Acts 1? Well, it says in Acts 1:14 that they met together continually in the place of prayer.
Vince: Yeah. There, there you go. And that’s probably where – prayer is not only a place of transformation, it’s a place where our heart motives get changed, right? And the less we do it properly – the more our motives begin to sway. And I – I would just ask you this one last question here, Justin for today on this topic. What would you say to a guy or a leader out there who are dealing with this question on the motive of prayer?
Like probably, I would assume there are some guys out there right now that are like you and me. They are probably having this moment as they listen to this podcast, realizing – well maybe their motives aren’t all that great. How do you get the motives aligned with God? What would you suggest to guys out there about how to get – how to get our heart in the right place?
Justin: Yeah, yeah. It’s a great question. I – I think it boils down to having a humble attitude and posture of saying, “I can’t purify my own heart.” It’s something that God needs to do. And it comes through seeking – our motive is really about seeking God for who he is. It’s been said that we seek God’s face, not his hand. And we could – and he wants to open his hand to us. He wants to give us, and answer our request. We’re commanded to bring our request to him. But if we only seek God’s hand for what he can give, and for what he can do – we may miss his face. But if we seek his face, he’s glad to open his hand to us.
And so, our motive for prayer is ultimate – it needs to be rooted in who God is, not in who we are or what we need. It’s founded upon his unchanging character, not our changing needs. And so, we need an enduring motive rooted in something that is unchanging. ‘Cause I’m – I’m turbulent every day, I’m changing all the time. But and if my prayer life is rooted in me, it’s going to be all over the place and inconsistent. But if it’s rooted in God, then it’s something that’s going to endure.
And a mentor of mine said that the only enduring motive of prayer is that God is worthy to be sought. It’s about his glory and who he is. And really that’s the type of prayer that we’re going to be doing in heaven. There’s going to be no requests in heaven.
Justin: It’s going to be a – of worship based. So I would say the best way to purify our heart motive, is to worship God for who he is. Have that high view of God that then will produce a humble heart and a pure heart, to have that pure motive that will endure in prayer.
Vince: I think that’s a good challenge for today, Justin. I – ’cause I think that often as men we sway towards the things that we want – as you say, the hand – the things that we need to receive. And that we forget that we’re talking to the God of all the universe. The infinite God, whose character we worship. And that we need to be focusing on Him all the time and the praise and the adoration and the thanksgiving that we give to him. And yes, he wants us to ask for things. But when we’re solely asking for things, then maybe it’s time to check the motive. Well Justin, thank you again for being with us.
Justin: Thank you so much, Vince. It’s great to be here with you.
Vince: And that’s the show, thanks for listening. As we close our time today, I want to remind you that we have great content for your men’s groups. Excellent small group videos and participant handbooks that will empower the men of your church to lead, and equip them to build the men around them. Check it all out at beresolute.org. Or you can send me a direct email at [email protected]. And if you do that – you send me a personal email – I will give you a trial membership so that you can give it a spin with the men that you lead.
So I hope that you enjoyed this podcast today. But please know – that the time that we spent together is worthless unless you choose to act on it. So do something today by getting off the bench and into the game. And I will see you right back here next time, for another edition of the Resolute Podcast.