School has started again and I wasn’t able to find time for last weeks post; so this week you get a 2 FOR 1 SPECIAL! On week 3 of the “Prayer Series” I spoke about “Beginning & Ending with Prayer,” and last week I spoke about “Praying for One Another.” So buckle up and get ready for two weeks worth of sermon in one post!
It Begins & Ends with Prayer:
“If we are not a people of prayer than who are we?” I posed that question as I began week three of talking about “prayer.” Reverend Randy Cross writes about this question by saying “We have no roots and no capacity if all we do is ‘think’ about God and never open our hearts his care and love.” Prayer is a way to open ourselves up to do more than just thinking about God intellectually. I am guilty so often of wanting to think and connect with God using my head; while thinking about God isn’t a bad thing, it is vital that we also open our hearts to him through prayer.
The idea of “beginning” and “ending” with prayer comes from my challenge that we start and end each day with prayer. If we become resolute in our determination that we will wake up and pray as well as say a prayer before we go to bed, then we are opening ourselves to be cared for and loved by God at the beginning of each day. This sounds easier than it actually is. So often I wake up and the first thing I think of is coffee or my daily tasks. The last thing I think of before I go to bed is usually what I have scheduled for the next day. I believe that if we “begin & end” each day with prayer, we will be much more open to hearing and experiencing God in our lives. What more powerful way to start and end each day then by experiencing God, seeing what he wills for you, feeling the embrace of his love and care for you.
We Pray for One Another:
Last Tuesday morning, I was walking to class around 7:40AM and the sky was lit up with hues of red, purple, blue and yellow. There were a few clouds in the sky that made the colors even more beautiful. The only word I could find to say was, “wow.” I looked and was just amazed by the shear beauty of the sky on that day. As I stood for a moment appreciating the beauty that was spread out above me, I began to say “thank you, God. Thank you for this beautiful gift of the sun and especially for letting me start my day with beauty like this.” I started with awe and ended the prayer in thanks.
Now I have to start with that story because I am a pastor; but that was Tuesday, then came Thursday. Thursday was one of those days that we all have where we would prefer to stay at home and do nothing. I can’t tell you exactly why, I don’t really know, but I was just not feeling great. I was a little tired, my stomach hurt a little, I had a lot of work still to do and had already completed more than 30 pages of writing that week… if I am really honest, I was just a little grumpy. When I found myself walking to class around the same time as Tuesday when I had seen the sunrise, I realized I needed to do something to snap out of this bad mood. So I stopped, almost in the same spot as Tuesday and instead of “wow” or “thank you, God” all I could muster for a prayer was, “God, please help me. I don’t know why I am in a bad mood this morning but I don’t want to be. Help.”
On Tuesday, I prayed prayers of gratitude and adoration and by Thursday I felt like the Psalmist who says, “why have you forgotten me, O Lord?”
I read a book this past week by Anne Lamott that is titled, “Help, Thanks, Wow: Three Essential Prayers.” This book goes through the same three prayers I prayed last week as I walked to class and I encourage you to pick up a copy and read this helpful, clever and easy-to-read book.
The challenge this week is to pray and pray for each other. I present the three prayers of “Help,” “Thanks” and “Wow” because I know how difficult prayer can be sometimes. It is the easiest thing we can do (simply talk to God) and yet it can be the hardest thing to do at the same time. Praying for each other is crucial to the vitality of the Body of Christ. If all you can do is muster 3 simple words this week, you can pray for those around you.