Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Blessed to Bless With Our Prayers

Our Stewardship/Discipleship theme is Blessed to Bless. With this theme in mind we embark on that annual journey of renewing our faith commitments to uphold the church with our prayers, our presence, our gifts, our service and our witness. These five things are the marks of discipleship for us. What does a Christian look like? A Christian prays, presents him/herself in worship and study, gives, serves and witnesses in the name of Jesus Christ.

So, at this time of the year we call each other to account and ask: “How have we done?” or “Where can we improve and move forward in our commitment to Christ?”

Last Sunday, I invited the congregation to see how they were doing with their prayers. John Stott, great evangelist, was speaking to a conference. He started his remarks by saying: “We all know that we need to pray more…”

One could look at this Pharisaically and ask: “What is enough?” Maxie Dunnam says that there are some things that God will not do unless we pray. Some say that the world is such a mess right now because Christian are not praying. I offered Sunday three things about prayer.

1. Prayer is naming God. This means that when we pray as follower of Christ, we call on God as Father. We name God as the God of our lives. We acknowledge that prayer is a hunger here. Psalm 42 says: “As a deer longs for flowing streams, O God, so my soul longs for you.” The text was Luke 18:9ff. It’s the story of the two prayers: the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. The Pharisee stands up at the altar physically but is far from God when he says; “I thank you God that I am not like other people…especially this tax collector. The tax collector then cries out for God’s mercy. The one who asked for mercy went home right with God, says Jesus.

2. Prayer is name ourselves as we are before God. We don’t come to God pretending to be something we are not. We come as we are- named as a child of God through Christ. My friend says that he told his spiritual director: “Sometimes I don’t feel that my prayers get through the ceiling.” The spiritual director leaned over and touch my friend’s chest with his finger and said: “ Your prayers only need to get this far.” Bring your needs and your wants/desires to God, just as you are.

3. Prayer is allowing God to name us. When we are praying and offer God our own needs as honestly as we can, God comes to us giving us the assurance of his presence with us. Isaiah 43 says that when we pass through the waters they will not overwhelm us…when we pass through the fire…it will not burn us…God will be with us wherever we go, in whatever circumstance we find ourselves in.

How are you doing with this gift of prayer? Are you using prayer to bless others? Are you growing in your prayer life? Are you moving from praying only about yourself to praying about others and to the point where prayer is listening to God- when prayer is as important to you as breathing? We are blessed to bless with our prayers.

Dave Nichiols

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Thanks for checking out my blog. I'm new to this, as you can probably see. But, I, like you, have convictions and ideas worth sharing. I hope this will be an opportunity to connect with others who are Christian and/or religious. I am happily United Methodist. I am committed to the basic teachings of our church, and to the compassionate outreach to the world.

I hope these pastoral ponderings will generate something in you that is hopeful.

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A graduate of Newberry College and Duke University Divinity School.  I have served as a pastor in the United Methodist Church since 1975.

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