This sermon was delivered to to congregation at his home church, Trinity United Methodist Church in Youngstown, Ohio on November 9, 1997. Dad also shared this message with the congregation at Struthers United Methodist Church in Struthers, Ohio on July 3, 2005.
Watch the Video…
When Dr. Kline asked me to conduct this morning’s worship service, the subject of PRAYER immediately came to mind. I pondered that for quite a while. I felt like Moses when God asked him to lead the Israelite’s out of Egypt. Moses protested that he was not right person for such a formidable task. He felt that there were many more people better equipped and capable to be the leader in such an important undertaking. But, God persisted and instructed Moses to do as he was told.
I feel that there are many more experienced, veteran “prayer warriors” in this congregation better suited to talk about prayer and their prayer experiences. But, in the silence of God’s answer, one word kept echoing in my mind…PRAYER. Be still! Think about prayer…that’s all…just think about it. Gather your thoughts about prayer. Look for the thoughts of others concerning prayer. Write them down. Ponder them. Then, as a Christian layman go before the congregation and talk about them. It doesn’t have to be a deep, heavy theological presentation or a doctoral thesis…just words from the heart. Well, I pondered and procrastinated…and finally began to investigate this beautiful act of worshipful communication we call prayer.
The dictionary, in my opinion, contains a shallow definition of prayer. “PRAYER”…an entreaty, a supplication, a humble request as to God. A set of words used in praying. To implore. To ask for by prayer to God.”
So, I searched other writings and found that in true prayer we take words audibly or silently and individually, or as a congregation our attention to the very center of our being where our Father God dwells. We speak the words to Him as we would an earthly father. Prayer, to me, is not begging God for something. It is simply asking for an affirmation of that which we know is available to us from the hands of our Father God. Jesus tells us this from the pages of the Gospels. The act of prayer…whether with audible words or in the deep silence of our souls, is putting ourselves more completely into the power of God’s working so that good may be obtained or evil escaped.
Understanding prayer is knowing that prayer is meaningless unless it is answered…yes or no. And, when it is answered, and how it is answered. I’ll comment more on that in a few moments.
Prayer is a certain attitude or predisposition of our personalities by which we give ourselves more completely to the creativity of God. We use “prayer language” to acquire this predisposition. Some people prefer to use the words “thee” and”thou” in their prayers. Others prefer a less formal conversational tone as they communicate with their Creator.
When prayer is genuine it puts us under the control of God’s creativity which, in turn, makes us more sensitive and responsive the people around us, and all of humanity as well.
Jesus taught that God was His Father … and our Heavenly Father. He showed people then, and He shows us here today, that our Father God cares for each one of us personally…just as a loving earthly father cares for each of his children…and if you will allow me, I might add grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Jesus spoke to His Father God as a child would speak to his or her father. He explained again and again that God the Father loves us, His children who accept Jesus into our lives as Savior and Redeemer. He reminded them, and He reminds us here today, that our Father God cares for the smallest details of our everyday needs.
Jesus taught that our Father God is Holy and that He, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit share the same divine Holiness. Jesus intervenes to save us from our sins. I ave a sermon entitled, “The Art of Talking To Yourself”…putting positive thought into your subconscious mind. Allow me to carry that one step further.
It is estimated that there are two billion nerve and brain cells in the human body. They are miniature electric batteries which produce a magnetic field that projects our thoughts. They also serve as “receiving sets” through which we are able to receive the thoughts of others. Does it not seem reasonable then that if this “communicating system” works for humans that it would certainly work in communicating with our Creator. This is one of the basic principals of prayer. It is the method by which we communicate with the Supreme Being who created us. We call him God.
We are also reminded that this tremendous power we call prayer is far greater than the power of nuclear fission. Prayer is transforming, Prayer is healing, Prayer is motivating, Prayer can inspire a Spirit-Filled congregation to make it capable of creat1ively spreading the Gospel all over this area.
Prayer can transform a negative, depressed, despondent, downhearted person into a dynamic radiant, positive, persuasive person. It can make the sin-sick whole. But, it is sometimes hard for us to comprehend the words of the Seventh Chapter of Matthew where Jesus says in the 8th and 9th verses.
” Ask, and it shall be given unto you. Seek, and you shall find. Knock and it shall be opened unto you. For everyone that asks receives. You that seek shall find, and you who knock it shall be opened.” Jesus said that. There are no strings attached…no limitations. The plain words of promise are there for each one of us here this morning to claim as his or her own.
It is interesting to note here that the disciples were with Jesus for three years. They saw him turn water into wine…heal lepers…make the blind to see…the lame to walk…the insane sane…the dead raised to living. But, not once did they ever ask Him how he did those things or how he was able to hold sway over thousands with His message of hope and redemption, and a new free, vibrant lifestyle.
But, they had seen Him pray … talk to His Heavenly Father, and they asked Him how to pray. “Teach us to pray.”, they said. And, He gave them a prayer that was simplicity itself. We “speak” it every Sunday in our worship service, but how many of us think about what vie are saying.
Listen to His prayer. Pray it with me:
Our Father who art in Heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.
Gve us this day our daily bread
And, forgive our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Lead us not into temptation, but, deliver us from evil.
For thine is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory for ever.
Jesus also made His disciples, and us here today, a bold promise. ” Whatever.you ask in my name, that I will do.” And that is a promise from one who has never, and never will break a promise. And, as they say, “You can take that one to the bank.”
And, here are some more examples of Jesus’s teachings on prayer. From Mathew 12/22 – “All things whatsoever you ask in prayer believing, you shall receive.”
From Mark 11/24 – “Therefore I say unto you what things you desire, when you pray believe that you receive them, and you shall have them.”
From Luke 11/13 – “If you, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him.”
From John 14/ 13 and 14 – “Whatsoever you shall ask in my name, that will I do that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in my name, I will do it.”
I firmly believe that God answers prayers through individuals…particularly through His coworkers…the doctors, nurses and technicians who earnestly work to relieve suffering and help God in His healing the sick.
Listen to what medical doctor Larry Dossey says in his book ” Heavenly Words – The Power of Prayer and ‘the Practice of Medicine.” “The most practical reason to examine prayer in healing is simply that it works. The evidence is overwhelming. The fact that prayer may not work s powerfully and as predictably as it might may reflect deficiencies in the pray-er, not the prayer itself.”
A few moments ago I commented on God’s answering our prayers. We must realize that God recons time differently than we mortals do. In this age of instant oatmeal, instant mashed potatoes, E-Mail and fax machines we want whatever is to happen to happen immediately. We recon time in seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years.
But, God recons time in eons. His time frame is forever. So, when we pray and our prayers seem to go unanswered or unheeded we must remember the differing time frames between us and God. We must remember what Jesus taught us in the Gospels about our prayers.
There is also some good advice from the prophet Isaiah where he writes in Chapter 40 verse 3, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles. They shall run and not grow weary. They shall walk and not faint. Teach me Lord to wait.”
Now, if you will permit me, I would like to give you examples of how God has answered my prayers, even when I did not realize I was
At this point, Dad spoke extemporaneously about four incidents in his life where God answered his prayers. If you listen to the audio recording, or watch the video, you will hear about those experiences.
His manuscript contains only these notes:
1983 – Heart attack – Ashtabula, 5 years before.
1993 – Kay – praying for her healing. She died.
1997 – Praying for sight. Legally blind in left eye. Can’t drive at night without glasses.
Doctor’s prayer, “Christ Jesus, our Lord, without whose aid we can do nothing, look down upon us as we perform this surgery. Direct our minds and our hands that our work may be praiseworthy unto thee and successful to those who suffer. In all things thy will be done, Amen.”
1997 – Golf course prayer, Hole-in-one.
A CLOSING PRAYER:
Our Father God we, your children, yearn for your presence in our lives. Your Son, Jesus, taught us that you care for us because we are your children. We pray that you will instill in us the child-like believing and acceptance that you do hear our prayers and that you do answer them. We thank you for this and all the wonderful blessings you shower on us daily. In Jesus Holy Name we pray,