I sat at the Together for the Gospel leadership conference in 2012 with a pastor friend. They had some vets take the stage who were household names in reformed circles: John Piper, Mark Dever, Al Mohler, and Lig Duncan. And another who often goes by his first name only like Bono or Oprah…his name is Thabiti. I wonder if he’s usually known by one name only because people can’t pronounce Anyabwile. In fact they might even have a hard time with his first name and have too much trouble on it, so they don’t even attempt his last. Anyway…there were a few new kids on the block like Kevin DeYoung, Matt Chandler, and David Platt. Platt had been making a few waves with a new book called ‘Radical’.
And Platt rocked the pulpit. We showed his sermon called ‘Divine Sovereignty: The Fuel of Death-Defying Missions’ in a Sunday School class. And I learned a whole lot about God’s sovereignty in mission the few times I watched it…but at the same time I also learned about feeling the text. Platt had obviously been digging in Revelation 5 and other supporting texts because as he preached, you could tell he felt it. As the Word took us to the depths of Hell and the lostness of unbelievers, David was feeling it. Someone asked me if he was crying. The text moved him. There were other places in the text that there were reasons to celebrate: Heaven and the redemption of believers…and when David preached, that guy was lit! His heart phoned his face to tell it about his joy…and it showed! He felt the text.
I was talking to a pastor friend a while ago and he told me about a particular text that he came across mid-minister. It rattled his soul and it took deep roots. He felt the truth. Many things in his ministry changed because of that particular text. His church got smaller because of that text…and then it grew numerically…over time. I had the same mid-course correction through the Word. I can’t name a particular day, month, or year, but the priority of the Word in my ministry was a resounding gong in my heart. Matthew 4:1-11 and 2 Timothy 4:1-5 were so key.
So how does that relate to prayer? How many times have you been in sin up to your eyeballs and you know that if something causes you to sin, you are to hack it off and throw it away? (Matthew 5:30)…and you know it’s figurative and it really means to cut off contact with the thing that trips you up. Or Peter or Paul or David are revelling in God, and you just ain’t feeling it? Or you’re reading in the Word about sharing your faith and all you want to do is strangle your next door neighbour because his dog barked all night…and you don’t want to share you faith, you just want to share a swift kick to his heinie…in love?
I want to feel the text. I want God’s Word to be the thing that moves me, that grips me, that rocks me, not some superficial experience that last for a few moments, a few minutes, a few hours. I want to linger over the text until I’m feeling it. I want to feel the weight of it. When the text is joyful, I want to be rocked with joy. When the text confronts me about my sin, I want to be humbled and repentant. When the text is serious, I want to linger and listen with teachability. I want to memorize it and meditate on it and study it and hear it preached and read it so that I’m moved…it is a living book! When Paul was rounding past chapter eleven of Romans, he didn’t run to twelve until he gives praise to God. The truth of God’s Word moved him.
And as we’re thinking about prayer, we want to pray that God would help us wrap our puny minds around the largeness of His love for us. That His love would move us.
 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,  from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,  that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,  so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love,  may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,  and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:14-19 ESV)
Do you want to know better the love of Christ? Do I? That’s a biblical prayer that we can be praying. I want us to know the love of God better and as it rocks us more, it’ll be amazing how it spills over into our homes, into our workplaces, into our churches, and into our communities.  We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19 ESV) Oh, that we would be moved by the love of God better so that we could show the love of God better.