October 14, 2018
Power in Prayer “Be still and know that I am God.”
Ps. 46:10 and Phil .4:6-7
PRAYER: God of inspiration, rest and peace—Grant us wisdom and courage to step away from practical priorities and worries every once in a while. Help us to discern Your abiding presence and listen for your guiding Spirit... Re-fuel us so that we can love and serve you and the people all around us. Amen
Prayer is especially important as this church goes through a transition to find a new long-term pastor. What is God’s vision for this congregation? It would be tempting to rely on the way things have been done in the past. It would be easy to establish priorities based on what is comfortable.
Henri Nouwen, a much loved Catholic leader highlighted the value of prayer, saying:
Prayer leads you to see new paths and to hear new melodies in the air. Prayer is the breath of your life which gives you the freedom to go and… to stay where you wish and to find the many signs which point out the way to a new land. Praying is not simply some necessary compartment in the daily schedule of a Christian or a source of support in a time or need, nor is it restricted to Sunday mornings or mealtimes. Praying is living.
With prayer as our compass, we are stronger, more fully grounded and more courageous. We also become more reconciled to whatever may happen, because we trust God in the big picture.
Children’s perspectives about faith can inspire us.
For example, the parents of a young boy overheard his ardent prayer:
God—Bless everybody in the world. And take care of YOURSELF,
because if anything happens to you, we’re done for. AMEN.
When our daughter, Sarah was in grade school, she prayed each night for her beloved pets by name: Rollie, Billy, and Shadow. Then, wanting to get to sleep, Sarah prayed for PEOPLE,
saying, “and be with everyone who needs to be be’d with.“
All of us need to be be’d with by God. Even Jesus, who is totally intimate with God, sought out prayerful companionship with God.
The Gospels often recount that Jesus prayed during crisis and significant events. The Gospels imply that Jesus prayed all the time, to keep intimately connected with God.
Jesus also instructed his disciples to devote themselves to prayer.
After Jesus’ death, his disciples focused on prayer. After Pentecost, they continued to pray for guidance and strength to face life-threatening opposition and to equip them to act boldly, and even to perform healings and miracles.
The disciples’ confidence comes from openness to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Their personal courage and power are rooted in prayer power. Another important reason motivates us to pray: Numerous Christians ALL opening to God’s will can focus the power of God.
In his book, Windows of Heaven, Glenn Clark uses an analogy for this awesome compounded power of prayer:
The old beekeeper stopped at a hive.
We listened to a sound like distant ocean waves,
sibilant and persistent. He whispered:
”Those are fanner bees at work.
It is their job to keep the hive sweet and fresh.
They lower their heads and face the center of the hive.
Their wings move so RAPIDLY that they look like a gray mist.
Fanner bees draw out STALE air and suck in FRESH air.”
The beekeeper lit a candle and held it near the hive.
The strong air current instantly extinguished the candlelight.
Those infin-i-tesimal bee wings / MOVING IN UNISON
quenched the candle. Think of it!
If Christians, (including even the very young, very aged.
severely handicapped and even faith weaklings)
thought of ourselves as fanner-bees;
then, united with many Christians in PRAYER,
the power of prayer would be fabulous!
Can every member of Union Presbyterian Church make a commitment to pray for this church every day? And members who have school age children, can guide their children to pray for the church, as well.
Prayer connects our awareness’s with God’s vision.
Mother Teresa explained: "God shapes the world by prayer. The more praying there is in the world the better the world will be, the mightier the forces against evil." Bumper stickers usually display a message that the car owner feels strongly about. Yesterday, George and I noticed a bumper sticker that said: Prayer is the mightiest force against evil. [period] Prayer can be the strongest force in the world.
Frank Laubach was conviced that prayer IS the mightiest force in the world. Frank Laubach, was a great American missionary and spiritual leader. He prayed about the heart-wrenching limitations that poor people face and became known as the “apostle of Literacy.” According to the publication, Glimpses of Christianity,
Tribesmen of the Zaire had a name for Frank Laubach: "Mender of Old Baskets." An old leaky basket can be patched so that it can carry grain without dribbling it on the ground. In the same way, an old, leaky mind can be taught new ideas. Reading is a significant source of discovering new ideas. Laubach made minds stronger and more useful by teaching them how to read.
Laubach became a missionary among Maranao Moro Muslims in the Philippines where poverty and injustice crushed most of the people’s lives. Laubach decided that much of the suffering could be remedied, if only people could read. Laubach conceived simple instructional primers and charts that empowered these poor people to read. Laubach also founded a community newspaper for them.
Gradually he realized that he could enlist the newly literate to teach their neighbors and friends. "Each one teach one," became his slogan. Laubach’s methods were adapted for worldwide use, and his literacy methods are credited with equipping over one hundred million people
with the ability to read, relieving mental and spiritual poverty.
Laubach credits prayer for this transformation. He noted that most people are poorer than we need to be in spiritual matters. He urged constant turning to prayer in order to discern what to do next. He told people:
"All during the day, in the chinks of time between the things we find ourselves obliged to do, there are the moments when our minds ask: 'What next?' In these chinks of time, ask: 'Lord, think Your thoughts in my mind. Lord, what is on Your mind for me to do now?'
When we ask 'What next?' in our prayers, we tune in and open ourselves to God’s ideas through our enkindled imagination. If we persist, it becomes a habit." Laubach further challenged:
Try to think of God at least one second per minute. Try it!
As the result of many years of being a part of the Christian faith community, I know that I need to pray, I see that the grace to offer my real presence with other people and my ability to listen deeply takes connection with God’s grace. It’s not because prayer is so super pious, but because prayer fortifies us with God’s love and power.
Ps. 46 tells us: “Be still and know that I am God.” As we open up to God in prayer, God is always present, waiting for us. Even more so than our most intimate friend-- God desires to connect with us.
Our lesson from Paul’s letter to the Philippians assures us:
“Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Real prayer does not ask God for something, as if we know what’s best. Rather, authentic prayer seeks to discover God’s will. Even as he faced death, Jesus prayed, “Not my will but thy will be done.”
Our prayers have the greatest potential if we seek to make the connection with God regarding all aspects of our own life and we reach out in prayer for the wellbeing of the whole world. Please make a firm commitment to pray for Union Presbyterian Church every day. And in our prayers—may we give thanks to God and pray for ALL who need God’s strength and love.
Let us Pray:
Thank You, Lord, for helping us to become people
You want us to be. THY WILL BE DONE. Amen.
Holy God—You help us to clearly see your priorities for us.
Help us as we wrestle not just with money, but also with our time
and talents, as well. Sometimes it's not easy to recognize
all you've sent our way. Open our minds so that we might discern your vision.
Inspire us through Your Spirit to make our chief desire to serve you faithfully
with all the talents and resources that we have been given.
With gratitude we pray, in Jesus' name we pray. Amen.