LISTEN TO EP.66
Learn And Live The Prayer God Always Answers
We all “know” we should pray more, but is it actually making a difference in ourselves and the world around us? Dr. Derwin Gray, founding and lead pastor of Transformation Church, a multiethnic, multigenerational, mission-shaped community just south of Charlotte, North Carolina, joins co-host Scott Young to discuss the prayer that God uses as the foundation on which to build your life. Learn how prayer is the secret place where you find God waiting for you. It’s not about “getting stuff” but becoming who you were meant to be. This episode may just transform your prayer life forever.
Well, my friends and welcome to the Influencers Podcast, where we want to see your influence increase and make this a better world. And we’ve got a wonderful program planned today. And let me just ask this question. When was the last time you prayed and did it change anything as your prayers become weak and anemic, or are they exciting and vibrant? How does prayer change you and do people who pray make a greater impact and influence in the world? Well, our guest today, Dr. Derwin L Gray has a book that’s out that we’re gonna talk about and some ideas and concepts that are gonna be revolutionary. He is the founder and senior pastor of Transformation Church, and I love that name, Transformation Church. It is a multiethnic multi-generational and that’s a mouthful right there. He’s gotta have the wisdom of Solomon. It is a mission shaped community that meets just south of Charlotte, North Carolina. He’s written several books, including a recent bestseller, The Good Life. What Jesus teaches us about finding true happiness, Dr. Gray and his wife, Vicky have been married since 1992. They have two adult children and pastor, we are so glad have you here on the influencers podcast. Thanks for joining us. Well,
Pastor Scott, it is an honor and privilege for me to join you. And man, I, I mean your voice is just like smooth, man. I wish I could just preach one sermon with a voice like that. I mean, good gracious. Well,
Rhythms of Grace
Listen, let me ask you, when was the last time you prayed and did it make any difference?
Well, actually, as we are speaking, I am praying right now. Okay.
Explain that we’re in conversation and you’re praying as we’re talking.
I am, I am. And so it’s a spiritual rhythm of grace that I have just developed over the years, that as I am having a conversation with you, I am asking for the spirit of God to give me wisdom, to give me grace to also bring to remembrance, whatever I need to remember to communicate number one so that whoever is listening can can see Jesus, like not Derwin. Derwin, can’t do anything for you, but to see Jesus in me and through me and there’s incredible joy. I I think, you know, you know, you mentioned happy this God’s glory and our happiness are two sides of the same coin. When God says, follow me, trust me, let me love you. What he’s saying is I want to satisfy you because nothing else will. So when we’re satisfied in God, God is glorified.
And when, and when God is glorified, we’re satisfied in him. And so I wanna have a perpetual open line of communion and communication with the Lord. So yeah, I’m, I’m praying right now. Is it making a difference? Well I think we have to go back to why do we pray? Sure. Do we pray be because we want God to make a difference in an outcome or do we pray because we want God to make a difference in us. Wow. Wow. And so the beautiful mystery of prayer is that what we typically do as Western Christians, what we typically do as people in the 21st century, we are consumers. And so in essence, we approach God, not from a posture of participation in his kingdom. We approach God as ways of how can I say the right thing, do the right thing. So you can give me what I want.
The Prayer God Always Answers
So therefore, the question is, does prayer work it well? What do you mean? Does prayer work? Because according to God, there’s a prayer that he always answers and it’s more about God working in the person to make them like Jesus than God, simply working to make our wishes come true. And so if I could take a step back, the question that you’re asking pastor, and the question that so many of us are asking is, well, number one, does God hear me? And number two, am I praying the right right way? And in Luke 11 verse one, Jesus is disciples. See him praying and they say Lord, will you us to pray? I mean, that is one of the most beautiful words in scripture. They could have asked Jesus for a lot of things. They could have asked them for, you know, a new house in the suburbs.
They could have asked them for, you know, a tricked out camel with Chrome hoods and an air conditioner. Right. But they, I ask them, will you teach us to pray? And then Matthew picks up that conversation. And in Matthew chapter six, verse nine through 13, Jesus says, therefore, when you pray, you should pray like this, that word pray. The way it’s written in a Greek language means a habitual pattern, almost a a meditation an openness to God’s divine presence. And so the Lord’s prayer is like choreography that allows us to dance to the rhythm of his grace and life is the stage in which he does that. And so let’s just take a moment to listen to how Jesus told his disciples pray. He starts with this, our father in heaven. He doesn’t start with, give me this, give me that he starts with his statement of what kind of God we have. Okay. So when I talk about Jesus, I get really excited. Some happens in my heart. So if I get going, please forgive me. But, but think about how the Lord’s prayer starts.
God, A Father
It starts with describing the kind of God that exists. Father is a term of intimacy into me. You see the Lord’s prayer is insight and the kind of God that we serve and the kind of people that we can become. So many of us have grown up without dads or bad dads. And, and sometimes it’s hard to understand, well, how can God be a father? If you ever have trouble viewing God as father always look at Jesus, because Jesus is the image of the invisible God, he’s the eternal son of God. He’s the human face of God to father. He is, he is God incarnate. That’s what advent, our Christmas time is all about. And so we have a father who loves us. We, we have a father who is sovereign, which means this. He’s working all things together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. So it starts with father and then the Lord’s prayer moves into honor him as holy. What does that mean? It means that God is unlike anybody else. And he is worthy of our total allegiance. And then the, the next part of prayer says, do on earth as it is in heaven, your kingdom come, what does God’s kingdom look like? It looks like Jesus healing to sit it. It looks like Jesus down and across. It looks like Jesus raising again. It looks like Jesus reaching and forgiving a prostitute. It looks like Jesus confronting a Pharisees.
So many Christians are obsessed with leaving earth. And Jesus seems to be obsessed with bringing heaven to earth through his people. Wow.
Meeting Our Needs, Not Our Greed
And then the text moves into give us this day, our daily bread. So this is supplication. So in essence, Jesus is saying, seek first, the king of God is writes this and all that you need will be provided. We have a good father who meets our needs, not our greed. So we can pray for Jesus to meet our physical health, emotional health, spiritual health, mental health financial health. And he meet our needs, but not our greed. So that’s a prayer of dependence. And then it moves into forgiveness of this day. As we forgive those who sin against us. Well, Jesus is the new lamb of God. His blood breaks the power of sin, but Jesus is also the new day of atonement.
Yom Kippur, his blood atones for our sin. So we’re free from the power of sin. And we’re completely forgiven, declared righteous, forever friends of God by the blood of Jesus. So therefore we can move into the world as forgivers, as peacemakers, as people who speak to truth and love. And then finally lead us not to temptation, but delivers from the evil one. What that is saying is that Jesus ultimately defeats sin and death and evil as followers of Jesus. We are not exempt from tragedy, but we are recipients of his triumph. The, that the devil in his dominions day is coming to an end. But until then, he’s given us the full armor of God. And the armor of God is the helmet of salvation, breast plate of righteousness or spirit gospel peace on your feet, the belt and the shield of faith. Notice everything is covered in front, but not the back. And here’s why, because God’s people don’t retreat. We advance and we advance with the weapons of faith, hope, and love. And so the Lord’s prayer is this beautiful choreography of who God is and who he has called, called us to be. So back to your initial question. Yes, God’s prayer works when we pray the Lord’s prayer. And if we’re looking for what he’s looking for and that’s to transform us into the image of Christ. Wow.
From NFL to Pastor
So good. And, and these, those are, are deep, deep, spiritual waters and deep thoughts that you are, are bringing to us. If, if someone Googles your name, Derwin Gray, they’re gonna find out that there’s a football background, there’s an NFL background. And where in your life to this spiritual wisdom and revelation, when did it, it begin in your journey?
Yeah. You know, as, as a little boy, my grandmother would, would talk to me about the Bible. But we didn’t, we didn’t attend church. When I was about 13 I came from a real difficult environment. At 13. I decided football was not just a game, but my way out of where I was. Okay. So football was my religion.
Where where’d you grow up? Where was home? San Antonio, Texas. I grew up on the west side. And so, so football was football gave me affirmation, identity and mission. And that’s what a God does. So I worked really hard, got a football scholarship to BYU in Utah, played there, met my wife, became all American, got drafted to the NFL. And for me, that was my heaven. But one problem though, Scott, it was miserable.
I had, I had worked my whole life and I go, wait a minute. So this is it. It was miserable. Second year got better. Third year, I’m a team captain I’m playing really well. But at the end of that year, I distinctly remember looking in the mirror night after night, where I get got totally drunk, threw up everywhere. And I looked in the mirror, Scott and I, I said, something’s wrong with you? And I believe that’s when the Holy Spirit began to awaken me that money and fame and accomplishment could not heal. My security could not heal my broken heart. I, I wouldn’t have known the word sin, but I knew I did bad stuff and I needed to do good stuff to fix it. Well, God and his grace had a, a teammate of mine. His name was Steve Grant, but his nickname was the naked preacher.
Because every, every day after practice, he would take a shower dry off and wrap a towel around his waist. And then he would get his Bible and ask my teammates. Do you know Jesus? Wow. And in, and in my mind, I’m going, do you know, you’re half naked. And so I asked the veterans on the team, I’m like, who is this guy? And they were like, don’t pay no attention to him because that’s the naked preacher. And one day I’m sitting in my locker and I see him coming and I turn away and he taps me in a back. And then he asks me a question to change my life. He said, he, he said, Rookie Dre, do you know Jesus? And that began a five year process.
I knew I couldn’t love my wife the way she deserved to be loved, because my experience taught me that if people get close to you, they hurt you. So I’m not gonna let anybody get close. Number two, I couldn’t get over the fact that my dad lived a few blocks away, but never went to any of my games number or three. I knew there were things I needed to fix in me, but I didn’t know the word sin. Also I was afraid of who would I be after the NFL because the NFL stands for “not for long.” So when your identity is built upon a career that doesn’t last long, that is super problematic. And man, that was that was, that was really, really tough. So through a five year of experiencing that, experiencing my sin, being aware of my sin, but also going through injuries on August 2nd, 1997, fifth year in training camp at Anderson and Anderson college in Anderson, Indiana after lunchtime, I went back to my dorm room and I called my wife on the phone and I said, I wanna be more committed to you and I wanna be committed to you and Jesus.
And I believe that that’s when I was born again. I felt physically the transformation and I just began to weep and I began to cry. I, I could not understand how someone like Jesus could love someone like me and I have never gotten over that. Grace. I’ve never gotten over. Wait a minute, Jesus. So you know about this, you know about this, you know about this, you know about this and you still went to the cross for me. It took my breath away and he’s the most beautiful person that I’ve ever seen. And I’ve just grown deeper and deeper in love with him because of the depth of his love. And so, yeah, so that’s how I came to know Christ and yeah.
And, and you used the word transformation and it must be an important word because when you founded your church, when did you found the church that you pastor?
February 7th, 2010, my wife and I co-founded Transformation Church. And, and, and it’s an utter joke. She is, she is from a little town in Montana where they had more bars than churches. So she was lost. She goes to BYU on a track academic scholarship. I go to BYU. So you got two, non-Mormans who meet at a Mormon school, get married in college. And now who pastor and lead a multiethnic church. I mean only God can do that.
Well and transformation, which is your story. Yeah. Is, is also so important in the value of your ministry with your wife, that you called your church transformation and your you’re a multiethnic, that’s a huge issue. Multi-Generational is a huge issue. So tell us how you blend all that together and what is going on in your faith community. Yeah.
Okay. So, so let’s start with the first question. Right? So transformation, Romans 12 one and two says this urge your brothers and sisters in view of God’s mercy to present your bodies as a holy and living sacrifice, do not be conformed to this world. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. You may test and prove what God’s good and pleasing and perfect w Willis. So EC energetically. And in context, the apostle Paul is speaking to Jewish believers in Rome and Gentiles Jews and Gentiles had incredible ethnic and class division. So Paul is telling them in view of God’s mercy. In other words, look at the cross, look at the blood, look at God’s grace, present your bodies as a living sacrifice. So we put down our preferences and we pick up our crosses to be unified and then be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
What transforms our mind, the mercy of God, the gospel of God. So the way the church in Rome was able to be unified through ethnic division was through the mercy of God and the transforming of their minds. And for people listening, going, are you sure about that, pastor? Well, continue to read the rest of Romans chapter 12 and it’s all of about community and how to get, get along, read the opening verses of Romans. And you’ll see it’s about Jews and Gentiles becoming the new people of God. So our church, our, our church transformation is based on Romans chapter 12 versus one and two. And we have to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. You ready for, for, for this, to see ourselves as beloved of God, to father and siblings equally righteous in the blood of Jesus. So good. So, so, so let me get a little the here and I’m gonna explain it.
We Are All the Body
One of the doctrines of the Protestant reformation that moved us out, the Catholic church was the doctrine of salvation by grace, through faith and justification by faith and alone. The word justification means to declare righteous that an only way we can be with God is to be as righteous as God. Well, none of us can do it. So Jesus does it for us by living the Torah or the 10 commandments. So for the apostle Paul, he’s telling Jews and Gentiles, it makes no sense to be prejudice or racist towards your brothers and sisters in Christ. When both of you are the righteousness of Christ for a Christian to be prejudice for a Christian to be sexist towards what women or men for a Christian to be to look down upon anybody. You’re looking to down upon yourself because we’re the body of Christ and the blood of Christ declares us to be righteous.
And so we have to stop seeing ourselves as Democrats, as Republicans, we have to see ourselves as believers in Jesus, being an American citizen is secondary to my citizenship in the kingdom of God. Yeah. And so we have to de reattach ourselves, or as Paul says, be transformed by the renewing of your mind. So for us here at transformation church, God has been incredibly risk to us. We are here in the Southeastern part of the United States of America and 40 years ago, the idea of a black lead pastor in the South having a church that’s probably 55 to 60% white, 40%, everything else there would’ve been crosses burning in our yard, but God and his grace has made us one of the fastest growing churches in America, 15 to 20,000 people per weekend, via video or in person watch our messages, our churches, a multiethnic church.
It’s multi-generational as a matter of fact act, you know, I wanna say this lovingly, when I first got in ministry, it was cool to have a young church and not growing up in a church. I’m like, well, isn’t the church of family. So in a family, you got grandmas grandpas. And so it’s kind of like having an advanced youth group if there’s no older folks there. And so we love our wisdom, haired people. And so we’re, multi-generational, we’re multiethnic love it, but it’s, that’s not the goal. The goal is the exaltation of Jesus Christ and the overflow of as Jesus, not only forgives us for our sins, but he creates a family of brothers and sisters with different colored skins.
God, Do You Hear Me?
So the message like my heart just beats quicker when I’m listening to you, because the message you are giving is a message that our nation needs to face. So more power to you. Amazing. And now this book that you’ve written now on prayer and that you’re practicing even while we are together. And, and I think it’s working, I think God is like communicating here, but you’ve written this book. “God, do you hear me?” What’s the inspiration and the story behind that. And who would you really like to read that book?
Wow. So the inspiration flows out of, you know, two decades of pastor ministry. It flows out of seeing Gen Z and younger millennials in their faith, ‘cause they’re like prayer doesn’t work. It, it, it, it flows out of people who have been suffering deeply through the pandemic. Who’ve lost, loved ones to COVID. And so what I wanted to do is I really wanted to, like, I was holding your hand, walking with you on a hike, like we’re in Western Montana, seeing beautiful blue skies. And we’re talking about what does it mean to pray and where tour get gathered. Jesus is in our midst. And so this book would be great for a more mature Christ to disciple Christians. It would be good for people who’ve lost their faith. It would be good for people who’ve gotten stagnant in their prayer life and pastor Scott. Here’s another thing too about the Lord’s prayer is the Lord’s prayer is actually a mini catechism of Jesus’ life. Yeah. And so prayer is not just about getting stuff from God. Prayer is about knowing God that God’s greatest goal is for us to get him because when we have him are so circumstances no longer determine our effectiveness or our satisfaction.
Why Prayer is Important
So prayer is a really hot topic right now. So I think this is so timely that God has inspired you to write in 2020, the, the Google searches for prayer hit the highest level of all time. But I don’t know if everybody is praying the right way, is it possible to be like praying, but praying amiss is praying wrong? And, and how do we call people back to a prayer that really genuinely brings them to the place God wants ’em to be? Yeah.
You know, that is a wonderful question, and what I would say is is this oatmeal is better than no meal. And what I mean by that is this is, there are some people, people who, who really don’t know, they’ve never read the Bible or they haven’t been taught properly. But on the flip side there are people who are walking in rebellion and open sin. God’s not gonna answer your prayers. And then sadly, a lot of people actually, aren’t praying what we’re doing is superstitious mantras, trying to change God’s mind, prayer, prayer, doesn’t change. God’s mind. Prayer aligns our to his. And so I, the first thing is oatmeal’s better than no meal, just pray. The second thing is, let me help you learn how to pray. And what you’re gonna find is prayer is so much more than a spiritual Venmo account. And what I mean by spirit, spiritual Venmo account is you can Venmo people money if you have their account.
And we think that we can get God to give us blessings. If we just Venmo him and, and God doesn’t want to be used, he wants to be worshiped. And so that’s why the Lord’s prayer is structured. The way that it is to show us what’s important to God, right? We’re so busy asking God for things. And both Matthew chapter six and Matthew 6:32 both say your heaven father already knows what your physical needs are. So like if God already knows what our physical needs are, why does he want us to pray for intimacy into me? You see if I could give this illustration, Thanksgiving is about to come. It’s gonna be awesome. But picture a family. The table is long. 20 people are there, grandpa and grandma at the head of the table. They’ve provided everything and everybody’s eating and grandma and grandpa are smiling, but no one’s talking to ’em. They’re just saying past a cranberry sauce, past a Turkey, Turkey, they’re eating. And then the, the apple pie comes with the ice cream on top. And everybody’s having a good time and people one by one, or getting up to leave. And as they leave, they say, okay, grandma, grandpa, we see you for Christmas.
I often wonder if God feels that way that we sit down at the table and say past a grand cranberry sauce. And he smiles and he’s going, I invited you not simply to eat so good, but to be with me. So good. And so the goal of prayer is getting God. And if we seek first, the kingdom of God and its righteousness, he’ll provide all of our needs, not our greed and the access that we have meets someone else’s need. Wow.
How to Get the Book
Now, if people want to connect with the material that is flowing through you, if they want to get your best selling book, if they books or they want to get the book that you’re just, this is just out now, God, do you hear me? How can people connect with what God is laying in you and through you?
Yeah. So basically you can buy “God, Do You Hear Me” any where books are sold. You can go to Amazon. You can go to Christian book, distributors, Barnes, and Nobles, wherever books are sold, you can order “God, Do You Hear Me?” There’s study questions at the end of every chapter, also at Transformation Church that’s transformation church dot “TC”. You can actually listen to an eight week series that we did on the book. Also you can find me at derwinlgray.com, Derwin L Gray.com, but I would love to journey with the listeners for them to purchase “God, Do You Hear Me” for someone for Christmas for about seven or eight, say to your friends and have a study group and grow and learn and, and just pay it forward. Let’s start a prayer movement. Let, let listen. We know that our nation is hurting. We know that the world is. And so often we go, God, where are you? And God is going, where are you? Hmm. And the way we as believers tap into God’s power is by knocking on his door in prayer. And the Lord’s prayer is the prayer that he always answers.
Well, listen, thank you so much. And those that are listening may just say right now, just listening, I need to pray. I need a practice that I could do this coming week. I need, I need to, I need to up my prayer priority. Yeah. What, what can we say to people and say, I’d like to do something this week that would increase my prayer influence and really the influence of my life.
Yes. So this is what this is. This is what I do. So in the morning time, just get up and read Matthew chapter six, nine through 13, pray the Lord’s prayer and sit there and pause and begin to say like, Father, thank you for your grace today. I wanna honor you as holy. I want your kingdom to come and Lord you’re the bread of life. Provide everything that I need. And Lord, may I walk in your forgiveness? Give that away. Lord, give me power over sin and death. May I live on mission with, with you? So pray the Lord’s prayer in the morning at noontime. And then at night I pray Psalm 23:1 through 6. I’ve been doing that for about five years now, where I pray that every night and what you’ll find is all throughout the day, you’ll start praying, but let the Lords prayer be choreography for you. And what you’ll find is you begin to read about who our father is. Our father’s El Roi. The God who sees. Our father is Yahweh. The God who is self existent, our father’s El Shaddai. The God who is all powerful. Yeah.
I, that’s why I feel, I feel a kinship. Like you are a brother to me. I pray the Lords prayer. I run in the morning. And as I run, I pray through that prayer. It has been so powerful. And thank you so much for just sharing with us. I hope people in your area will find Transformation Church. We bless you and thank you for sharing just so freely from your life. And you’ve really enriched me personally. And I think the listeners here at the Influencers Podcast, thanks so much, pastor. Thank you, pastor.