Sermon on September 18th 2016

 

Let us pray:   Dear Lord we are seeking you this morning to learn about the how to pray.  We ask that this morning we will see not through the eyes of the world but the eyes of God.  Help us to know that you are constantly trying to reach us through the life and teaching of your Son and our Savior Jesus.  Father make this message one that is not my words but your words.  Lord Help us all to focus on the message of Jesus and truly with all our heart learn to pray.  This I pray in Jesus Holy and Precious name.                                             Amen

Today we are going to focus on a four letter word!  Now for some this first line would be fighting words.  Yet I want us to consider God’s dialogue not the crass terminology of the world.

When the world says four letter words they are talking about things I would not insert into this sermon.  The mind immediately goes to short bad words used by those of limited thought.  Yet this morning we are going to focus on God’s four letter words.  You know like Best, Calm, Give, Glad, Heal, Hope, Kind, Life, Live, Nice, Pure.  And of course let’s not forget that one special four letter word Pray.

This is the four letter word that we are going to focus on today.  We are going to as a body learn how to pray.

When Grant was fighting his last campaign with cancer at Mount McGregor, General O. O. Howard, who had honestly won the title “The Christian Soldier,” came to call on him. He spoke for a time to Grant about some of the battles and campaigns of the war in which both men had played so illustrious a part. Grant listened for a time and then, interrupting him, said, “Howard, tell me what you know about prayer.” Face to face with death and the unknown, the question of prayer was of greater interest to the dying soldier than the reminiscences of his battles.

Like Grant I would pray that we also would have more interest in learning how to speak to and listen to God than in remembering the events of our own lives.  Yet how can we do this?

Well I believe we need to return to the basics.  This for me means returning to God’s Word.  So I would like us to open to our text and take a look at what it means to pray.

Our lesson this morning will be coming from 1st Timothy 2: 1 – 7 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people

So the first step in our process is that with all prayers all petitions all intercessions and thanksgiving be made for all people.  Some ask why I spend so much time each Sunday morning with prayers of Joy and Concern.   Sometimes it takes up fifteen to twenty minutes of our service.  The reason is the point Paul is trying to make.  We need to remember and lift up and pray for all people.  For our Friends our families and what is going on in our lives.

You see so many in this world turn to prayer as the last contingency or in times of dire emergency.  I like how Pat Boone in God is not dead 2 said it, they turn to prayer as a last resort when they should turn to prayer first, instead of praying all day every day, instead of praying without ceasing.  Also so many turn to God and pray only for themselves, not don’t get me wrong many of our prayers should be related to ourselves.  We need to pray both for thanks for all we have been given, we need to pray for strength and help in our daily needs, and we need to pray for forgiveness at those times when we do not live up to the promises we make to God.

 

Yet as I said this should only be a portion of our prayers.  We also need to pray for our family and friends yet this alone would limit our prayer life.  We need to go beyond our inner circle go beyond our Church family and beyond city state or nation.  We need to be lifting prayers for the whole world.

Let’s continue with Paul and see how he challenges us to stretch ourselves in prayer.  Pray for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

So our mandate is to pray for those who are in authority.  Now some will say the person in power is the other party how can I pray for them?  Well let me remind you that In 2nd Timothy Paul was calling his people to pray for Kings.

Kings like Nero or Caesar, just like most of the kings during this time wanted nothing but the destruction of the new Christian cult.  They killed the disciples they persecuted the early Church members.  Yet Paul calls to pray for them.

Knowing this, I ask that we put parties lines aside and ask is it really such a stretch for us to pray for our president, our Governor or other elected leaders.

So what happens when we do this?  Well thankfully Paul tells us.  By praying like this we are doing what is good and will please God our Savior.

Why would this please God?  Because of who God is, and how He wants all people to be saved as well as coming to the knowledge of the truth.   Salvation and knowledge what more could God want for us.

At the same time that we are using prayer to talk to God He is working so hard to reach us.

How does he do this?  Once again Paul brings us the answer.  For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people.

So while every other religion is telling its worshipers they have to earn a place in the afterlife.  In the Old Testament we saw religions needing sacrifice of children, shedding of blood, or worshiping tree, rocks or graven images.  Other religions show us needing to climb a mountain, travel to a distant city on a holy pilgrimage or find nirvana somewhere within ourselves.

Christianity and Christianity alone shows a divine being not demanding that we reach Him but He through the gift of His Son He created a bridge a mediator between Himself and us.  More to the point His care was such that Jesus sacrificed all even His life for us.

Then Paul goes on to share a few last thoughts.  This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle

So Paul was appointed as a herald.  So what is a Herald?  Well besides being the name of many famous newspapers a Herald is a person who is a messenger and declares joyous news.  The world’s first Heralds where God’s Angels.

So Paul was also an apostle please note this is different than a disciple.  The disciples were the original twelve plus Mathias.  Yet being an apostle was different.  They had many of the same duties and responsibilities but where followers of Jesus attached to the early church.  Then Paul goes on to the give his credentials.

I am telling the truth, I am not lying and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles.

So where so many others are working with the Jewish people.  Paul wants it known that he is setting himself aside as a missionary to the Gentiles or non-Jewish people.

Folks He is the one who cared enough about people like us that he wanted a way for his truth and teaching to reach us and a way for us to reach Him.

Jesus said it Himself; I am the Way the Truth and the Life!  This was not just for the Jews Not just for the Greeks Not just for the Methodist or Episcopalians or Reformed But for anyone who believes in Him will have life and will have it abundantly.

Today I am asked how do we pray?   Well the matter is not so much in the how but in us just doing it.  It is not so much the words but the intent behind them.  When we pray say Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name.  Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. (or sins as we forgive those who sin against us,  Trespass as we forgive those who trespass against us), And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.

 After this what else is there to say but Amen!

 

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