Each month, you’ll hear from one of us on what we’re reading and a little bit about the book. This month we’re sharing book notes on Dr. Derwin Gray’s, God, Do You Hear Me? Enjoy!
“Discover the prayer God always answers.”
Like a good tagline should, I became intrigued to know what the prayer is that God always answers. Having a full decade of Bible study under my belt, I was somewhat embarrassed I didn’t know exactly the prayer Pastor Derwin Gray was referencing. I must admit I felt a little deflated when I read that it was the prayer Jesus spoke when teaching the disciples to pray, the same prayer I’ve heard groups of Christians recite from memory, typically rather monotone. Truthfully, I have never made an effort to memorize the Lord’s Prayer because I don’t like how unexciting and inauthentically it’s often uttered.
“Our Father in heaven, your name be honored as holy. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matt. 6:9-13).
I don’t know what secret prayer I expected to unlock, but I am certain it isn’t as great as the treasures Gray unpacks from Jesus’s prayer. Like most, I suspect, my prayers typically ask for provision, healing, protection, and strength for myself and my loved ones. I hope my desire is not to bypass the reverence of God and just ask for what I want or think I need, but this seems to be more the reality of my prayer life than I’d like to admit. Neither do I wish to monotonically recite the Lord’s Prayer as a means of proving my spirituality to others without any real heart transformation.
Reading this book, I am reminded if this prayer was important enough for Jesus to share with us, perhaps I can give the true meaning behind it a real chance.
Gray says, “Prayer is not making stuff up as we go along. Prayer is us reminding ourselves of what Abba has already accomplished in and through Jesus. … Prayer is rehearsing God’s story and how we fit in his story for his glory.”
When I think of prayer this way, it doesn’t sound inauthentic and unexciting. It sounds like something I want to do more effectively to experience God more closely.
The book unpacks every line of the Lord’s Prayer and what Jesus meant by it and what we are really praying when we recite it. I’ll share two key takeaways.
The first is that we can stop praying for provision so often. Reflecting on the words from Matthew 6 when Jesus affirms the disciples not to worry, Gray asks, “why do we worry about God meeting our needs so much when he said he would?”
Gray paraphrases Jesus:
“Precious child of Abba, you ask for so little. You have been blood-bought by me to share in my glory. Because you are ‘in me,’ you are a royal priest, created by grace to be my coheir in Abba’s kingdom. You are praying for trinkets, and Abba wants to give you something greater—himself—so you can live out righteousness in an unrighteous world. The prayers for stuff that dominate your mind and cause anxiety will never satisfy you. Desire Abba’s kingdom and righteousness above all. Do not sweat the small stuff. I got you. You can trust me. I am not going to send you on a mission without the proper provisions.”
When we pray “give us today our daily bread,” (v. 11) Jesus wants to remind us that Christ is the Bread of Life. “The subtle shift, from praying for stuff to praying primarily for the inbreaking of the kingdom into your life, can transform your prayers.”
The second biggest takeaway relates to healing. Perhaps another reason I’ve struggled with taking the Lord’s Prayer to heart is that there is no mention of healing, at least overtly. Much of my prayer life, especially the past two years, has been focused on healing—healing my sons of a possible degenerative genetic disorder, healing my friends, family, and coworkers of COVID-19, healing the deep soul wounds of those around me who don’t know Christ, and healing those who are in the throes of depression or addiction.
I teared up at several things in the book. One is the story Gray tells of a teenager, Colby, in his congregation who had an incurable brain tumor. When his parents received the diagnosis, they called Pastor Gray to be present with their son when they shared the news. I can’t imagine being in any one of their shoes during this conversation. Only Jesus. As I read and the tears started to well, I hoped he was telling this story to share a miraculous ending and he does, but not the way I envisioned. Instead of a miraculous cure of his incurable cancer (and there is one such example in the book), he talks of a discouraged, challenged, and faith-shaken boy who changed overnight when he got a visit from Jesus, but who eventually died from his cancer.
“Abba does not promise that our hearts will not be crushed, but he does promise to bottle our every tear and walk with us through every fear.”
If we only view healing as physical healing of the body in time, and not of the spirit in eternity, we will miss the crux of our faith. Gray reminds us “for those in Christ—healing is guaranteed—it is called the resurrection. There are times that Abba will physically heal us of sickness here on earth, but even those who are healed will eventually die. … Should we pray for healing when people are sick? Yes, because Abba has guaranteed our ultimate healing. Because Jesus rose from the dead, so shall we.”
If you’re wrestling with unforgiveness (for yourself or someone else), if you’re in a season of regular struggle with temptation, if you’ve forgotten your significance in the magnitude of God’s kingdom, there are life-giving, Holy Spirit-infused truths in Gray’s book that are going to bless you. Each chapter ends with a prayer. I’ll end by sharing this one.
“Abba, attune my will to your will. May your kingdom come to earth as it is in heaven through me. Help me believe that I am a member of your family, the bride to your Son, and the dwelling place of the Spirit. Help me believe that I am who you say I am. Help me to embrace that I am the church, the transcultural family you promised Abraham. I am a part of the people that you show yourself through.
King Jesus, release the love and justice of heaven on this hellish earth through me and my brothers and sisters.
Holy Spirit, thank you that I am your sacred place of presence and grace; faithfully display the Kingdom of God in me and through me for the sake of the world and the glory of Abba. In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, Amen.”
Kathleen Allen is a wife and mom from Nashville, Tennessee. She came to Christ at age 21 and now loves women’s ministry, studying Scripture, reading, and writing to point others to Him. She serves and supports her local church’s special needs ministry, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, local pregnancy crisis center, and SearchforJesus.net. She works in human resources and organizational development at Lifeway Christian Resources.