Episode | July 10, 2023

Transcript for Justin Rizzo’s Episode of The Walk

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Joshua Swanson: Welcome to The Walk, a devotionals podcast for worshipers. Justin Rizzo is our guest and he’s one of those special worship leaders who’s clocked at least 10,000 hours leading worship and prayer at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City. He brings us a great devotional today on, appropriately, prayer.

Here we go.

Justin Rizzo: I used to feel, uh, like such a failure when it came to my prayer life. I’m so excited to share with you guys today a bit of how the Lord, uh, encountered me in this reality and gave me courage and strength, um, to learn that encountering him in prayer is a beautiful thing and something that no matter how weak I felt doing it, um, was incredibly meaningful to him.

So it was, uh, many years ago, in January of 2005. I was 19 years old, had just arrived, uh, for a conference event in North Carolina. And, uh, at this conference I met a woman named Susan, who, uh, I would end up having a five minute conversation with that would end up changing my life forever when it came to prayer.

I had heard about Susan. Uh, many times before I’d seen her from a distance at, um, a lot of different, um, prayer meetings and worship sets that I had led. And, um, I noticed her because she was this person who would sit in her seat in Indian style and, um, she would just close her eyes for like, 30, 45 minutes at a time, like not move a muscle.

Um, she didn’t have any, you know, external charisma she was showing. She didn’t shout. Um, sometimes I could barely, you know, see her mouth moving as she was sitting there, uh, during the worship time. And I was so kind of like perplexed and drawn to her. I’m like, what, what is this woman doing? And I was also super impressed that, um, her head didn’t like bob down, like she was falling asleep, cuz that would be my, uh, typical thing that when I try and sit and pray and, you know, meditate on the scriptures, I, I fall asleep a lot.

But she didn’t do that. She would just stay in the same position. And so I, uh, I met her at this conference. She was actually picking us up from the airport, me and my team, and I said, um, I’m gonna ride in the front seat and I’m gonna plague this woman with questions because I so clearly saw something in her, um, that I desperately wanted, that I desperately needed, um, this connection that she seemed to have to the Lord in prayer that I, um, really felt like I did not have. I really felt like a, a failure, um, in my prayer life.

I was so distracted. Um, you know, I’d sit down to pray and immediately, you know, all these things I had to do, um, would come to my attention and I would just get so distracted and I felt like I had to fight for, you know, five seconds of undistracted time of prayer, and so I was like, I’m gonna just plague Susan with questions and learn everything I possibly can from her.

Joshua Swanson: When we come back, Justin tells us more about his conversation with Susan. Stick around.

Justin Rizzo: So I’m sitting in the front seat of, uh, of this car and I start asking her, you know, “Hey, I’ve seen you for, you know, so many times you sit in these worship sets and these, these prayer meetings and you just, you know, sit there. Um, you know, how do you do that? How do you not fall asleep?” You know? And I, and I share with her how I’m, you know, so distracted and, um, and immediately her, her response, um, just like jarred me.

And it was so, so impactful. Um, in the sweetest tone possible, she’s like, “Justin, there is never a wasted time of prayer. Even when you’re distracted, even if you don’t feel anything in the moment, I guarantee you that three things are happening. Number one, things in the heavens are shifting with your weak words. Even if it feels so weak, things in heaven are shifting.

Number two, your heart, your mind, and your soul, they’re being changed. It’s not about a feeling of, you know, suddenly I have this, um, you know, this feeling of love or I feel, you know, whatever. It’s like you don’t have to feel it, believe, and know that you are being changed.

And the third thing, and this one really got me, she said, is God’s heart is being deeply moved.” And she stared a verse, uh, from the Song of Solomon where he says that, you know, one look from your eye captures his attention. One look from your eye to the Lord, his heart is undone. Because there’s, you know, billions of people on this earth, and so many of them never look to God. She’s like, “when you sit down to pray to him. Even in your distraction, even in your, you know, anxiety or whatever you might be feeling, you’re looking at him, his heart is deeply moved.”

And, uh, my prayer life changed that day. And, you know, sometimes a, a lack of confidence, um, of God being pleased with me or that he’ll even hear my prayers, um, would determine whether or not I, I would even pray because, you know, I had already counted myself out so many times, so I was like, why would I sit down and pray? I’m just gonna fail again. You know, God will be frustrated with me. Or whatever.

Um, but that day really began a journey of confidence, uh, confidence to continue, um, sitting before him in prayer. And, uh, and you know, what happened? I was, uh, I was still really distracted. It wasn’t a, uh, it wasn’t a quick, you know, suddenly I was never distracted again in prayer, and suddenly I just had the warm fuzzies all the time.

My mind would still wander, I’d still be distracted. But as I continued over those, the days and the weeks and the months following, I began to find that, that I would have longer focused times in prayer, um, as my confidence began to grow that, you know what, like Jesus is absolutely in love with me. He’s so, um, excited that I’m sitting before him right now in prayer.

I would be like distracted, like, you know what? Like God loves me and I would just bam, I would just recommit and I get distracted again, then I’ll just, you know, set my heart again. And, um, my weak love that I, I have to offer the Lord that all of us have to offer the Lord, began to just be rooted in me as real love. My weak prayer is real prayer. Your weak prayers to the Lord are real prayers. Your weak love that you offer to Jesus is real love before his eyes.

And so I want to encourage you today to to have boldness, um, in your heart to have confidence in your spirit, um, that he sees you and that he knows you. Um, and he’s, the delight is in you when you come before him, and there’s never ever a wasted prayer.

Joshua Swanson: We’ll be right back with more from Justin.

Okay, back to Justin to close us out.

Justin Rizzo: So in closing, I wanna read, um, song, Song of Solomon, chapter four, the verse i I referenced earlier, and then just pray over you, um, for your prayer life. But in, in the Song of Solomon, which if you’ve never read the Song of Solomon, um, I understand it can be a very, very, uh, interesting, unique book to read. But, uh, I encourage you, don’t, don’t shy away from it. There’s so much packed in this. It’s called, uh, the Song of all songs, uh, that Solomon wrote. Uh, there’s so much packed in here about, um, yes, about, um, married love between a man and a woman, but, uh, it’s ultimately about the affections that our, our, our God, who’s called our bridegroom in the Bible, has for us as we are his bride.

And so in Song of Solomon, chapter four, um, God is just declaring so many things about what he thinks and what he feels about us. And, um, again, I encourage to, to take some time and read through that, but I wanna specifically focus in on the verse, I, I referenced earlier, verse nine. Then also go down to verse 12.

But in, in Song of Solomon, chapter four, verse nine, he says, “you have captivated my heart, my sister, my bride. You have captivated my heart,” here it is, “with one glance of your eyes. And it says with one jewel of your necklace.” And that is speaking of where, where your neck turns is a movement of your will.

Right? And so he says, one turning of your will, um, away from perversion, one turning of your will to the Bible. One turning of your will to prayer. He says it, it deeply touches one verse actually says it ravishes the heart of God. He feels such intense love and affection and passion with one glance of your eyes.

Now again, if you’ve never read this, that could be hard to comprehend and hard to even believe. But I want to encourage you, um, to take some time and, and meditate even as I pray here in a second, and meditate, um, upon this reality, upon this biblical truth. And down in verse 12, he says, another amazing, um, declaration over us, his bride.

Um, he says, “you are a garden locked. You’re a spring locked. You are a fountain sealed.” And that’s referencing, you know, in, in the ancient times there was gardens, right? And there was literally, um, doors where they would lock them, where only the owner and who, who the owner wanted, could go in and out, right?

And he says, that’s what you are to me. He says, you are a, like a beautiful, lush garden, and you’re locked and you’re reserved for me and alone.

And so, Lord, I just, I just thank you, God for each and every person who’s, who’s listening to this right now. And Lord, I just, um, pray against all anxiety or, um, shame or self-hatred, specifically related to, um, the life of prayer. Um, even Lord, I, I just pray against, Lord, even just the, the shame of, of smallness, where maybe someone’s listening to this and they just feel like I have so little to give. I’m just little old me and little old nowhere, you know, doing little old whatever. And I just feel like the Lord has such pleasure over your life. He has such pleasure over the, the one movement of your eyes, in the midst of your situation.

Maybe you’re experiencing loss in your life, maybe you’re experiencing, um, great challenge in your life, or maybe you’re in an awesome season and you know, cuz in both seasons it, it can be challenging to, to turn our eyes to him. Um, Lord, I just ask that we would feel the pleasure that you feel over us.

As you say in John chapter 15 verse nine, you say that the same way that the Father in heaven loves you, Jesus, that is how you love us. Lord, I pray over every listener that John 15:9 reality, that we would know the love of our father. As we sit down to pray, as we sit down to read your Word, as we love our neighbor, as we talk with a friend in need, that we would just feel your affection and your love for us, that we would know that you are moved by one glance from our eyes. In Jesus name, amen.

Joshua Swanson: Thank you Justin for contributing to our podcast. There is no wasted prayer. We’re gonna close out this episode with one of Justin’s songs called We Lift You Up.

As always, special thanks to Matt McCartie for producing and Lucas McCartie for editing today’s episode. Jacob Fairclough produced our theme song. The Walk is brought to you by Worship Leader.

I also want to thank the team at Life Audio for their partnership. If you go to life audio.com, you’ll find dozens of other faith centered podcasts. Shows about prayer, parenting, relationships, bible studies, and more. So check ’em out at lifeaudio.com. I’m Joshua Swanson. Here’s, We Life You Up.