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Sunday Morning Together with Tim Hanna

by | Tue, Mar 5 2024

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Dr Tim Hanna has served in a diverse range of ministry roles across multiple states, including leading churches, teaching at a Theological College, and engaging in leadership coaching. With a decade as the CEO of Compassion Australia and experience in the Not-for-profit sector, Tim has a passion for supporting leaders in their roles.

Alongside his love for sports, having played competitively in Aussie Rules football, cricket, and tennis, Tim is now dedicated to helping leaders flourish in their responsibilities. Married to Chris, Tim is a father to nine children and a proud grandfather of 24.

Recently, Tim shared a special 5-minute sermon with us during Sunday Morning Together, highlighting the importance of prayer, and how it can help us grow closer to Jesus. Read Tim’s full message below:

‘You can tell a lot by people’s prayers. I think that’s why I pay attention to the prayers Jesus prayed, the prayers Paul prayed, the prayers in the old days. It’s why the Psalms are so important.

Because you don’t always know how to pray when someone asks you to pray for something. And somebody, I think quite cynically, once said that prayer is worry in the general direction of God.

But I want us to look at a prayer that Paul prayed to the Ephesian church. It comes from Ephesians chapter one, starting at verse 15. And Paul’s already prayed, already said in that letter, all the things that people have already received as followers of Jesus. They’ve been chosen for the creation of the world, they’ve received every spiritual blessing in Christ, and they’ve been redeemed.

Then he comes to verse 15, For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms.

There are four beautiful aspects of that prayer that I think are important and can be a good framework for prayer when you’re not sure how to pray. The first one is, he prays for a growing closeness to Jesus. He keeps praying that God will give you the spirit of wisdom so that you may know Him better.

It’s not knowing about Him, but it’s knowing Him better through wisdom and revelation. The revelation of what God says in His Word, the revelation of how He speaks and His revelation of other people. But also from wisdom, those things that we know ourselves because God has given us His Spirit to dwell within us. So he prays for a growing closeness to Jesus.

He prays secondly that people would live with an unshakeable hope. I pray that the eyes of your heart will be enlightened, that you may know the hope to which is called you. And hope today is in short supply. It’s missing a lot in our society. It’s not wishful thinking. It’s not optimism. They’re all good things, supposedly, but hope is a certainty. It’s because of the certainty of the future. How does it play out in my here and now? That’s the hope that we have.

And Paul reminds us, we’ve got two sets of eyes. He said, I pray that the eyes of your heart will be open to see the hope, because the eyes of your head don’t always see it. You read newspapers, you watch news, and you see visions of conflict and war and crime and danger. The eyes of your head doesn’t always see hope. They see disappointment. They see despair.

Paul prays that they will get it. He says in another place, the reason we face tribulation is because it builds perseverance, which builds character, which builds hope. Then he says, and hope will not disappoint you. And the opposite of hope is not just always despair. It could be disappointment.

He says, make sure you don’t just look at the world through the eyes of our head. We look with the eyes of our heart to see what God is doing within us.

Thirdly, he prays that we will know the richness of belonging.  I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.

There’s a richness in belonging to God’s community, a richness in belonging to God’s church. God’s people are not perfect and not ideal in all ways. So it’s easy to judge, but there’s a richness. And being part of that, sometimes we lose that richness because we have ideals of what that should be like.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book Life Together, said, those who love their dream of a Christian community more than the Christian community itself become destroyers of that Christian community, even though their personal intentions may be honest, earnest and sacrificial.

So it’s when we have an ideal of what church should be, or what life together should be like. We can love that ideal more than actual. That can be destructive when people in our sphere are falling in love with the ideal more then the people who are part of it.

So there’s a richness in belonging to people, and that does mean people who maybe naturally get on your nerves. It does mean people who don’t dot every theological line the same as you do. There’s a richness in that.

And finally, Paul tells us to trust in the power of God we have living within us, the same power, that took Jesus from the grave to heaven. We have the same power in us by God’s Spirit.

He prays that their lives would be growing nearer to Jesus, would be hoping in Jesus, would be belonging to Jesus and trusting in the power of God in their lives. And I trust that’s a helpful encouragement to you.

Father, we thank you so much that we can look at the prayers of Biblical writers and then come to you in prayer ourselves. And Lord, I pray that we will take for ourselves that really important aspect of knowing Jesus better.

Not just knowing about Him, but knowing Him to live with an unshakeable hope. To look with the eyes of our heart that we will really be part of God’s people and recognise the richness in that. And that we will live trusting in the power of God in our lives day by day. In Jesus name, Amen.’

Listen to Tim’s full message below: