Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Passion for Prayer

We Methodists sort of define what it means to be a Christian, a Christ follower, by saying that we support the church (Christ’s body) with our prayers, our presence, our gifts, our service, and our witness. The last one was added just a few years ago, but it’s one that we Methodists ought to take heed of. Last Sunday, was the Sunday in our Discipleship Series when we look at prayer. There are so many ways to talk about prayer and to do prayer that it seems old hat. And yet, there is always something more to learn about prayer. I learn everyday as I pray that I can trust God more and more with my whole life. In the sermon I said three things. I said that when we pray we are saying that we believe: 1. God is here. When you say that you pray but it seems as if your prayers don’t get passed the ceiling, do you think God is on the other side of the ceiling. No, scripture, if it teaches us anything, teaches us that God is here, as near as your breath. Your prayers only have to get as far as you heart and mind. God is sitting right beside you. God is standing right near you. God is with you in and through everything that you face. When we pray we pray to the God of Jesus Christ who is never far away. 2. God is able. Many of us pray but we have trouble believing that God will or can actually do something about our prayers. Scripture teaches that all things are possible with God and it bids us ask, seek, and knock. Sometimes it feels like we’ve been knocking so hard that our knuckles are bruised, but we keep knocking. God is able to do far more abundantly than we can ask or think. John Wesley goes so far as to say that there are some things that God will not do unless we pray. A custodian friend used to say to me when I was a boy: “If you take one step, God will take two.” 3. God is good. That means that we believe that God intends our good. John Claypool once said in one of his books that Jesus Christ was God’s answer to a bad reputation. He says that we believed the devil when he whispered in our ears that God didn’t know what he was doing and certainly couldn’t be trusted. In Jesus, we learn that God is for us and if God is for us, who can be against us? The God who made the good and beautiful world and the God who made you wondrously (Psalm 139) is the God who means our good. It also means that when bad things happen to us God will make good come even out of evil. I am challenging Bethel people to take one step up in their commitment to pray. If you’re not praying daily, then start. Pray every day. Set aside a time, read a verse or passage of scriptures, and listen and pray. Are you praying for each other? Are you asking God to uphold the church, to make it strong in witness and service? Are you asking God to show you what your ministry is? I asked the church to pray the following prayer every day: DAILY PRAYER FOR BETHEL AND ME Dear Lord, we pray for Bethel Church. We pray that we may be truly the church where everyone is welcome, where no one is perfect, and where anything is possible. We believe that our mission is to make disciples of Jesus Christ. Give us the courage to fulfill our mission and to invite others, to join in nurturing each other in the faith, and to send others to bring Christ’s love to the world. We believe that Jesus is Lord and that you have called us to serve Christ where we are with what you have given us. We pray that you will do a great work among us and bring more people to Christ here. Double our attendance and give us the courage to do what we need to do to participate in fulfilling this prayer. In Jesus’ name. Amen. If you’re a Bethelite, thanks for your prayers. If you’re not, use the prayer and pray it for your church. Blessings! Dave Nichols

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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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About Me

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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