Book Summary: “The PAPA prayer” by Larry Crabb

Intro: This book is for people who long to hear God’s voice – to know God so well that His life actually becomes theirs.

Part 1:  Getting Ready to Pray the PAPA Prayer

  1. Ever ask for something from God that you didn’t get?
  2. Every pray for guidance, esp. in difficult relationship that never came?
  3. Ever really need to hear God’s voice and then try to believe you did, even though you weren’t sure?
  4.  Do you something feel that God is turning a deaf ear to your most desperate prayer requests?
  5. Have you ever prayed for comfort yet ended up feeling more empty and alone after you prayer
  6. Has praying for strength to overcome temptation ever left you feeling just a weak and the temptation just s strong or even stronger?
  7. Do you know God well enough to enjoy His simply, the same way you enjoy being with a family member or close friend?
  8. Do you want to know God better and enjoy His more that you know and enjoy anyone else?
  9. Do you connect with God in such a way that enables you to hear His voice and to know He’s right there with you?
  10. You’ve lost sight of the fact that He sees you as His ally in His purposes – not God as our ally in our purposes.

Your Dream of the Perfect Papa can come true – for many of us we can’t hear the sound of His footsteps as He enters our live, or if we do we back away or cringe – just hearing the word Pap or Daddy or Father provokes feelings of pain or absence in many of us.  The idea that our heavenly Father is sitting on the floor, holding out His arms to embrace us when we run to Him, this seems far-fetched – we have no reference point – it never happened with our earthly dad.

Introducing the PAPA prayer –

P: present your self to God without pretense – be a real person in the relationship – tell him whatever is going on inside you that you can identify.

A: Attend to how you’re thinking of God – no pretending – ask yourself, How am I experiencing God right now?  Is He a vending machine, frowning father, a distant, cold force?  Or is He your gloriously strong but intimate Papa?

P:  Purge yourself of anything blocking your relationship with God. Put into words whatever makes you uncomfortable or embarrassed when you’re real in your relationship with Him.  How are you thinking more about yourself and your satisfaction than about anyone else, including God and His pleasure?

A:  Approach God as the first thing in your life, as your most valuable treasure, the Person you most want to know.  Admit that other people and things really do matter more to you right now, but you long to want God so much that every other good thing in your life becomes a “second thing” desire.

– coming to God in this way creates space in me that the Spirit always fills – I may not know it’s happening but it is – when we are so busy filling our emptiness, there’s not much of a vacuum for Him to fill – narcissists never meet God – they are too busy trying to fill themselves – as I pray this prayer I see my sin more quickly and clearly than I see someone else’s even in an argument – I feel a little less entitlement bound, less whiny and demanding, less superior and condescending.  It puts relating with God more and more real.


Prayed used to be dull, but not now – when we take time to just be with God – we start to sense His rhythm and we start responding to His love by falling in love with Him – it is a dance where He leads.

Get God before Praying to Get Things from God – petionary prayer is a privilege and power for God’s children – but after relational prayer John 15:4-7  – even efforts to worship God without first getting to know Him tend to reduce worship to mere appreciation when God cooperates with our agendas – thanking God without being stunned first that the holy God has revealed Himself –  – also when we get to know Him, worship Him and thank Him in all things our hearts go out to others – the mind of Christ takes over and we become more concerned for others than for ourselves – we care more about their relationship with God than their impact on us – we want them to know God and our intercession out of worship and revelation prays on their behalf with selfless motives – but if we intercede for others without attending to our own relationship with God – our intercession will have more to do with out well-being than ours – when relational prayers yields worship and worship gratitude and lead us to intercede with the mind of the Spirit and then the prayers of petition flow out of a surrender heart.

The Prayer of a Spoiled Child – Ravi Zacharias said “prayer is not the means of bringing our will to pass but the means by which He brings our will into line to gladly receive His will – find a plan for your times of prayer and implement it to His honor and glory and for your joy and sustenance.  E. Stanley Jones wrote – the first thing in prayer is to get God – if you get Him everything else follows – allow God to get at you, to invade you, to take possession of you and then He pours His very prayers through  – John 15:7-8 – to remain in Him means to live for the single purpose that ruled His life, with the same passion that kept Him on track = -Jesus wanted nothing more than to let everyone see how wonderful His Father was – even if it cost Him His life – and that life – His Life is now in us – His passion and purpose are in our hearts.  Relational Prayer – Draw Near and Listen – remain in Christ – Let God’s word remain in you

Relationship Prayer is About God and Me – a little prayer that the author uses each day is “Father help us to recognize and resist the evil one and draw us closer into Yourself and to each other”.  We have a hard time with much more than that prayer on a regular basis – if you want to humble someone or yourself – ask about your prayer life?

This is No Gimmick – It’s a Way to Relate – The Lord’s Prayer shows us how to pray in a way that honors the purpose of prayer – it moves us toward abiding in Christ – toward becoming aware of His life in us.  Relational prayer was what Jesus did and taught – in the garden of Gethsemane the thing that terrified Jesus more than the nails was the separation from God – Christ’s relationship with His Father as the driving passion behind every request HE made – today’s preachers teach us that Christianity is about gaining God’s favor in our lives, that by confident and persistent prayer we can have the blessings we want – they are false prophets.  WE are to do what’s right with a growing awareness of our poverty and dependence – the rest is up to Papa – that’s obedience that is trust and humility.  WE will sense a deeper brokenness when we realize how strongly I don’t want God’s kingdom to come if it interferes with the arrival of mine – that becomes clear when I look at the motives that direct how I sometimes relate to people I love – and then I realize that my weakness and brokenness are God’s opportunity to release His life more fully through me – get in touch with your emptiness ad God’s sufficiency – follow it.

Stay at Home with Christ – When we are demanding of our spouse, family or friends for closeness without going to God first –  we have not energy to relate to others – people who stay close to Christ often see good things happen too –  but second thing blessings can feel so good that we start thinking they are the first thing – Deut 8:10-14 God warned Israel not to eat and get satisfied – do not forget the Lord and observe his commands.  When a marriage improves or a ministry takes off we often feel stronger and it brings more pleasure than our experience of God – we are foolish to dampen that pleasure – but we are in danger of living for it – thinking that blessings from god satisfy our souls more deeply than God Himself –  – the problem is that our relationship with God is so shallow that the pleasure it brings really is less than the pleasure we feel when life goes well – the truth is that relationship with God this side of heaven does not always feel good – living for God doesn’t always generate the pleasurable experience of meaning and joy – God lets us experience seasons of emptiness and futility that simply cannot be endured if our real aim is satisfaction in this life.  Jesus’s greatest moment of surrender came when He faces his most terrifying prospect of aloneness – remaining faithful in relationship to God sometimes produces agony in our souls that only compromise can relieve – be on guard and keep first things first – Jesus hold us to remain in Him – to stay home with Him and not settle down in the comfortable world of blessings –  and then I will give you whatever you ask – he seems to be saying – the power of petitionary prayer depends on the priority of relational prayer. John 15 – separated you can produce nothing –  – it is possible to move away from the reality of God’s love and remain in ourselves – self obsessed and concerned with nothing more than our experience of fullness and satisfaction.  Every time we pray harder for our marriage to feel better than we pray to more closely relate with God – when we remain in self and lose awareness of Papa’s love – we value second things about God –  we are not drawing on God’s love and the most treasured reality in our lives – it doesn’t cross our minds that we are praying for a second thing – the danger is especially great when the thing we’re praying for is a promised perk of the Spiritual life – Oswald Chambers says :we utilize God for the sake of getting peace and joy, we do not realize Jesus Christ – but only our enjoyment of Him – their is the first step in a wrong direction – it is very subtle – Jesus does satisfy our souls – but not always right away – in the moment however giving priority to our relationship with God may not produce the maximum satisfaction our souls that we legitimately desire.

If we value our satisfaction in Christ more than Christ Himself, we remain committed to ourselves and not Christ’s – sometimes we are only committed to him as a means to an end – that end is not Christ’ glory but our satisfaction – we may thing we are worshipping God and praying in the Spirit when all we are doing is using Him – as a woman who wants a bay may use a main to gain what she believers is the greatest good – the fruit of the relationship is more treasured than the relationship itself – Jesus warns us that is we focus on what we need more than the One we come to with our needs – we’ll keep babbling like pagans – Jesus idea was to find a quiet place so you won’t be tempted to role place  the focus will shift from you to God – get to know your heavenly Father – if you are looking or soul satisfaction which is only available in God – that is foolish and wrong – when you realize how foolish you are – you’ll value Jesus and the cross more than ever – you will discover a new power to forgive – nothing is more important than your relationship with Jesus – the acid test of whether it’s really Papa’s life trickling out of you or a counterfeit is whether it trickles most toward the people closest to you , those who can be the most difficult to love –  this comes out of us only when we relate to God before I request from God – – so how do we remain in Christ – the illustration that helps me is to realize how much more I want to be with my wife than something I may want from her –  – as I sit with her I sense what she wants the most and then that is what I want – relational prayer is the condition for power in petitionary prayer – it changes what we most fervently ask for and it dissolves our spirit of entitlement when we request anything – remaining in Christ requires us to focus on 3 things – 1) the value of what Christ has done for us that we could never do for ourselves – getting us adopted into Papa’s family 2) our radical helplessness to arrange for our satisfaction or to do something of real significance without daily break from Him 3) our need to spend time being with God in silence and solution – that may be a retreat or our inner world can become a monastery where we sit with God in the middle of a busy life – don’t let that thought justify your driven busyness thought – if I wave a warm good’ but to my wife as I run to catch my next plane – yet I never take the time to sit and talk with her – I will not be remaining with her – so to sum up – remaining in Christi means that we consciously every day – value Him as our source of life and stop demanding anyone else fill us up – it means that we depend on Him for everything good coming our of us and that we want His goodness coming out of us into others more than we want His goodness coming out of others into us and it means that we pay whatever price is required and sacrifice whatever ambition we must in order to draw close to Him – to experience a level of union that arouses our awareness of His life within us.

How I’ll Learning to Pray – The P stands for Presenting yourself – as Jesus taught us to say Our Father – we need to begin with the realization we are talking to the hold God who invites me to cal Him Father – “Father if it weren’t for grace you couldn’t look at me”  Before I make requests I reflect on what ‘s going on in me – that doesn’t come naturally – don’t obsess or probe into the depths – the Spirit will eventually bring to mind what He wants me to see that’s hidden if I make a habit of presenting myself to Him.

A – Attend to how I am thinking of God =- whatever I am experiencing that I think might be God – am I aware of His presence – when was I most recently aware that He was present – do I see Him as my sovereign Lord – one rule is never to pretend – never to convince myself that I sense something supernatural – you can say – yesterday you seemed real – right now I don’t sense you….

P – Purge myself of anything that blocks we can’t help thinking about ourselves – that is okay – it’s relational – but when I’m thinking about God I have a better perspective of myself – “no man stands on the edge of the Grand Canyon and says – “Aren’t I something” – when people met God in the Scripture they often fell flat on their faces – that’s real – purging is about telling God what I see is going on in me that might be dulling my experience of Him – I need His help to get rid of it – I recognize saying yes to immediate satisfaction is often a way of saying no to trusting God with the hope that deeper satisfaction is available in Him – filling up with junk food – when I see my cry for satisfaction as unholy desire when it is put first – self-obsession – I bow before God in brokenness which is the proper position for listing

A – Approach God – acknowledge that His is my greatest good – the first three parts of the prayer free me to tell God I really do want Him to be first in my thinking, affections, purposes and choices – I want to trust Him with my satisfaction by devotional my life to His pleasure.  Then it becomes clear that everything else is a second thing – for example as he drove to counsel something he prayers “God I long to be free from the need to help her – the first thing is to rest in You – to trust you – to please you and to reflect to her who You are and what You’re like – I want her to be helped, I love to be helpful – but those are second things – I hear Your voice saying  that I am Yours and You’re mine and that I can pour Your life into Mary as we talk today – as we learn to present ourselves, attend to who we think we are talking to, purge ourselves of whatever is blocking us from coming to God and approach Him as our most wonderful treasure – then prayer – though still a mystery – will become a delight – we’ll be relating to the One who knows us best and loves us most.


A New Paradigm for Prayer – Prayer is more about us hearing God than about Him hearing us – we’re the audience – helps us get to know Him as Papa – as you converse with your Heavenly Father – wounds about your earthly father get healed – knowing God changes what we most want in this life and that changes what we most fervently request – be confident – you will have every empty space filled as you empty – yearn to know Him better until knowing Him will become the point of your life.

Part 2:    Learning to Pray the PAPA Prayer

Stop Trying to Be Who You Think You Should Be – Just find where you are right now – like the red dot on the map at the mall – then talk it over with God – it will be uncomfortable – it won’t make you feel good – but it will make you think more about god – you’ll realize that you need to think about and experience your relationship with God before you worry about anything else and you will begin to see how helpless you are – God sees everything – you can change nothing – what will He do – your focus will shift from yourself to God – are you willing to admit how tired you are – scared, worn out trying so hard –

Enter Your Red Dot- Don’t Just Describe It – enter it – most of us live life on its surface – we may think we’ve gone beneath but  – we try to ignore that deep down we fear something is wrong with us – or that we are not adequate or beautiful –  – also pay attention to your dreams – they may tell you something you aren’t willing to admit –  – also be aware of your emotions around others and how they change –  – don’t analyze – don’t try to see what your emotions mean or where they come from – simply flow with them – follow their lead to show you where you really are at

Who Do you Think You’re Taking To – not what picture or idea you consciously choose and then try to keep in your mind – but what conception of God is already in you that perhaps beneath your awareness rumbles around when you talk to him – if we don’t sense His present that is okay – we pray most meaningfully when we have no sense – that takes a strong act f the will and the richest prayers often arise out of an emotionally empty heart – C.S. Lewis’ book the Screw tape Letters – we are never more fully who we really are than when we follow God whether we experience Him or not – faith that believes when it cannot see releases our true identity – weakens both he defenses that blur that identity and the self=serving passions that too often rule our choices – most of us if we pay deliberate attention to the picture of God that without effort forms in our mind see something – but this idea is fixed in our minds and may come more from early encounters with church or earthly dads.  Ten Common images – 1) smiling buddy – He’s always there when I need Him – we hate mystery so we boil it down to that  2) backroom watchmaker – whatever will be will be – why bother praying  3) Preoccupied King – despite He says that no sparrow will fall to the ground without Him knowing – we feel we are too small and petty 4) Vending Machine 5) Stern Patriarch – God to be obeyed but not enjoyed –  6) Kindly Grandfather 7) Impersonal Force 8) Cruel Tyrant 9) Moral Crusader 10) Romantic Lover

Who Has God Shown Himself to Be? – Do I even know Him – Heb 1:3 says that Jesus is the exact representation of His Father – we can look at Jesus?  Read the book of Revelation – John had seen the resurrected Jesus – but nothing like this – he fell down as dead – he saw someone like a son of man – dressed in a robe with a sash – the robe of a priest – sash around his chest  (when it is fastened around the waist it was a man preparing to work – Jesus was finished his work – Head and hair while   – holy – eyes  like blazing fire – he sees everything feet were like bronze glowing – tested and tried – able to carry the weight of the church – in his right hand he held seven starts – He is in charge – when He spoke he said Don’t be afraid – I’m alive and because I live you also live – advance my kingdom until I return with great power to finish the job.

Who Do You Turn to When You’re Scared – when we live out of the center of our soul – where the glory of God resides – all the self-seeking, self-serving, energy that guides so much of what we think and feel and do, often without even knowing it is miraculously displaced by love.- we have to admit we don’t usually live out of that center – some crust must be surrounding it – blocking our access to it – we don’t hear the Spirit because something’s getting in the way – we will realize through presenting and attending that we are wanting to get close to God and how we foolishly resist or get distracted – also we will feel impotent and humbled – that we have no power to make this relationship with God – that any true experience of God is given – not achieved and we will see that our part in making ourselves available for this relationship involves our willingness to recognize and confess the obstacles we have created between ourselves and our Papa – we also run into the problem of self-deception – we are blind to our worst faults – we hurt people we love and don’t even know it – we are dealing with the fear of not measuring up – or being abandon – we don’t grasp the truth that right now in the center of our heart the Spirit is there – Jesus is praying for us – Papa is watching over us, loving us, arranging everything for our good – but we don’t totally believe that – we live trying to protect ourselves – that is relational sin – we protect ourselves from what God tells us we don’t need to fear – we devote our creative energies to calm our terror to find some way to feel alive and wanted and happy.  Terror goes underground – God often uses discerning loving community to lead us to new levels of purging, but He always uses prayer – wisdom and love

Abandon Yourself to Holiness – Purging continues until we are home.  When you purge yourself before Papa, when you abandon yourself to holiness, you think more of how you fall short of God’s holy way of relating than of how others fail you or how badly you feel or how difficult your life may be.  It even means admitting that we may be mad at God for allowing things in our life – and then it also means we come to God wanting not only to see where we’re wrong but also to claim the privilege of letting others experience how God relates to them by the way we relate to them.  Be holy for I am holy doesn’t mean we are to work really hard to be good enough – we’ll never rise to that standard by trying hard – we are forgiven for not being holy – so what now? – a closer look at the passage Peter quoted from Leviticus – read both verse 44 and 45 – putting these passages together consecrate yourselves to the Lord your God who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God – its message comes into focus – we’re being told to set ourselves apart to our primary relationship – to depend on no one, not even ourselves, the way we depend on God – to set our sights on actually becoming holy, a goal we know we can’t reach – to give ourselves over to the holy God who wants us and has made it possible to share His life – abandon ourselves to holiness –t o share in the way God relates – with radical other-centeredness with sacrifice and humble love.  But we’ll never come even close to God’s example of love until we clearly understand that sin is relational – we may never rob a bank or tell a lie but still be sinning – relational sin is a category we don’t often thing about except in obvious forms such as adultery – but relational sin is anything we do for the primary purpose of getting something for ourselves –  – that means the primary thought behind everything we do is to trust Him with our deepest needs and longings –t o bring Him pleasure by putting all our eggs in His basket – to fix our hope for everything we hold dear on who He is and what He is doing and what He will yet do –  so to come to Him and purge we need to ask “Papa. I really want to see where I’m wrong in the way I relate to You and to my spouse and friends.  Will you show me?  And more than anything else – I know that way down deep I have a desire a holy desire to treat other people the way You treat me – will you release that desire? But your focus on your own failure doesn’t make you hate yourself, not when you’re relating to your Papa.  It makes you hate your sin, not yourself.  And that focus doesn’t leave you discouraged and feeling heavy.  Broken, yes.  Despairing, no.  You know that purging lights up the path of holiness, the road paved by grace that leads into God’s presence, into Pap’s lap.  The rhythm that carries you from presenting to attending through purging carries you toward approaching God, to walking right up to God in order to enjoy the relationship with the Father you’ve always wanted.

You Will Hear God’s Voice

Become Someone God Can Really Enjoy

The PAPA Prayer:  It’s a Way of Life

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