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Where To Pray

October 2, 2016

40 Days of Prayer – Week 3

Where To Pray

            Matt. 6:5-6  In Your Closet

            Acts 2:42  In Public With Others           

 

Children’s Sermon:  (Green Eggs and Ham) Would you could you here or there?  Talk about being able to pray anywhere.  Where was Sam inviting the grumpy guy to eat?  Where do you think God invites us to pray?

 

Read both Scriptures

 

Intro: The two short scriptures we’ve just read out teach us the general two places we can pray 1) alone – in a closet, on a train, in the rain . . . or 2) with others – in a room, on a train, in the rain.  Pray where you are and with who you’re with.

 

Praying on our own:  We read the account in Matthew where the disciples ask Jesus for a lesson on prayer.  He begins with what not to do.  Don’t make it a performance.  Don’t pray to make a show of how holy you are.  Instead – go to your private place and pray. 

 

Do you have a place you go alone to pray?  Is it the cab of your truck?  Is it a room in your house?  Do you have a literal closet that you pray in like in the movie “The War Room”? 

 

Why it is a good thing to do  Praying on our own is an important practice because it is a one on one conversation with God.  You can say everything you need to say in the privacy of an audience of One.  You can confess your sin, you can ask for things you know need to happen in someone’s life without anyone taking offense to your words.  You can pour out your deepest needs and desires and not have anyone dash your hopes and dreams by telling you that you are overreaching.

 

Ways you might encounter God when you pray alone  There are many examples in the gospels of Jesus praying to His Father when they were alone.  On the mountain side before he walked on water.  In the garden before he faced betrayal and death.  The pattern that emerges from Jesus’ time alone is strength for whatever comes next.  And while we don’t always know what Jesus prayed, we know that time alone with His Father gave him the strength and wisdom to act in the coming moments.  Isn’t that something we need?  To be empowered to get through our day in a way that brings glory to God?  We should start with prayer.

 

 

Praying with others:  Praying as a body of believers has roots in our Jewish history.  Many of the psalms were written to be sung or prayed by the whole assembly of God.  Praying together was one of the things the early church did when they gathered as we read in Acts.  They prayed together.  And most likely not the way we do it today where I stand in front and pray for your requests.  They were about the business of praying with and for each other from where they were.

 

In the OT, when the people gathered to pray it was often to repent of their sin against God.  That’s why we practice a corporate prayer of confession, although we are pretty gentle compared to our OT ancestors who would tear their garments, and weep over their sin.

 

Why is corporate prayer a good thing to do:  Let’s look at some examples from Scripture.  If you are trying to write them down for later use, raise your hand if you need me to repeat anything.

 

Exodus 24:3  Moses, having received the Law from God

Then Moses came and recounted to the people all the words of the LORD and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice and said, "All the words which the LORD has spoken we will do!"

 

Together they committed themselves to God.  There is encouragement and influence in numbers.  For good or ill.  It was about 40 days later that these same people were melting all their gold to make a calf to honor other gods.  Let us not be fickle in our devotion to God and seeking together his will for our lives.

 

Matthew 18:19

"Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven.

We are meant to work together for the purposes of God.  How can we really do that if we do not seek him together and discern together his will in prayer?

Jesus has given us this great authority and I’m not sure we treat this gift with the awe, respect or responsibility it deserves.

 

Acts 1:14  The following is Luke’s account of what occurred after the the disciples had witnessed the ascension of Christ on the Mount of Olives.  They returned to the Upper Room they seemed to be using as a gathering place and then Luke tells us this:

These (the disciples) all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.

 

Together, they were continually devoting themselves to prayer.  Sometimes we wonder why things don’t happen in the church the way they did in the NT.  Here is one reason.  We are not continually devoting ourselves to prayer.  If we want the church to experience revival we are going to have to ask God for it – intentionally and with commitment.

 

Revelation 5:13-14  This is a glimpse of what John saw in his revelation. Listen

And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, "To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever." And the four living creatures kept saying, "Amen " And the elders fell down and worshiped.

 

A good chunk of time in eternity is going to be spent praying to and worshiping God.  It would be good to start practicing now.

 

When we pray together, God is glorified and when those prayers are answered there are many witnesses to attest to the action of God.

 

This weekend I was part of a team to teach another church about discipleship.  There were some struggles among the church staff so the other leader and I met to pray together.  When we were done, Tim said, “That was powerful.  I could have prayed on my own, but together, it was much better.”  He was right.  And then, when we continued to pray on our own and share what we heard God saying, there was a lot of agreement on what needed to be done and said in the situation we were dealing with.  God made himself know in our midst.

 

What if we put this into practice this week?  I’m tossing out a challenge. The focus in our 40 Days of Prayer Journal this week is around this narrative question:  How is the congregation living into its baptismal vow? How are children and new believers growing in maturity of faith in Christ?

And the prayer we are to pray each day goes like this: Father, guide us to come along side our children in such a way to speak to them of your truth.  Show us how to invest in the lives of children and new believers.  Help us develop spiritual relationships and conversations modeling spiritual maturity.  Thank you for choosing me.

 

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this Thursday is our first XFA.  We certainly didn’t plan it this way!  Anyway, what if on Thursday, sometime between 4 and 6, people gathered on their way home from work at Gladys’ house or here in my office, or wherever (in a box, with a fox) and prayed for the leaders, the children and the families that will be impacted by XFA.  What if while we are doing that ministry – you are praying for that ministry?  What if you even started with that prayer from the journal?  What might God do?  How might God be honored and glorified?  I would so love to hear stories about who met where to pray and what happened.

 

Concl. 

Neither is it a coincidence that this past week was the Global Week of Student Prayer.  On Wednesday, Jenna led Lydia, Janet, myself, 2 other students, another mom and about 8 NEB staff in prayer around the flagpole at 7:30 in the morning.  We joined people all over the world praying for our national and local leaders, our teachers and friends.  Praying together is what Christians do!

 

On this World Communion Sunday, we gather around our communion table and join a great host of saints in prayer today.  We may not see them and some met hours ago to worship, but it’s almost like a global wave of prayer is going on and we are part of that movement.  Let’s keep our eyes open to what God will do in and through us.

 

It began last night- as you were going to bed—World communion Sunday.

 

  • Asian Christians shared the bread and the wine.
  • Churches in China met in secret so that they would not be arrested.
  • Christians in the Middle East, some of whom were saved only by having dreams of Jesus, met under the watchful eye of the government as they celebrated the Eucharist.
  • In Europe, Christians gathered in churches that used to be much fuller and celebrated the Lord’s Supper.
  • In Africa the sacrament was celebrated in great numbers by a growing number of Christians, many of whom bare scars of persecution as they Communed together.

 

Those celebrating today include Presbyterians, Methodists, Catholics, Lutherans, Pentecostals, Baptists, thousands of other denominations, and even those without denominations.

 

Christ followers met both in public and in secret. Some met in freedom while others gathered under threat of persecution and death. Some take the sacrament today with organ music, others with simple singing, and still others in quiet so as not to be arrested.

 

In wealthy churches and in desperate poverty the sacrament is observed. In churches, homes, huts, and in God’s creation this seal of the covenant was experienced. The bread is given to people that could overeat all day and to people who had no idea what they would eat or where they would get it today.

 

The one thing in common- We all come to the same table of our Lord.

 

In many different languages, by ordained clergy and volunteer pastors, something like these words of institution are given.

 

On the night He was betrayed Jesus took bread. And when he had given thanks and blessed it, He broke it and gave it to His disciples, saying,

“This is my body, broken for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

 

In the same way after supper Jesus took the cup and gave it to His disciples, saying,

“This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Drink you all of it.”

 

The bread is many different types and colors and from many places. Some created primarily from wheat, others from rice or other kinds of grain. Some will have bread left over. Some with very small pieces that could barely give every Christian there a morsel. Still- it represents the body of Christ broken and sustained the body of Christ around the world today.

(Break Bread)

 

The juice around the world will be different. For many it will be wine, some will have juice, some will celebrate with water that had to be carried from a dirty well some miles away. Some will use individual cups, others fancy goblets, still others have been passing around whatever cup was in the home where they were meeting. Still- it represents the blood of the covenant in their place and in their communities, just as it does in ours.

(Pour Cup)

 

Let us pray, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we thank you for this sacrament of communion shared with Christians around the world. Pour out your Holy Spirit on these elements and on those who partake—that we may be your body and the representation of your covenant in our lives and throughout the world. Amen.

 

 

 

In the submarines and tanks

In the S and Ls and banks

In the cancer wards, the prisons and the bars

On the earth and on the moon

In the closet, in your room

In the flop houses, the think tanks and the farms

To the salesman forever trying to sell

To the faithful daughter walking to the well

 

Oh, pray where you are

Pray where you are

In the fields and in the factories

There's no limits, rules or boundaries

At work or school or driving in your car

Pray where you are

 

In the strip joints, in the church

On a desperate lost child search

On the airplanes and the backroads and the rails

On the blacktops, on the beach

Down a sewer and up a creek

In the penthouses, the gulags and the jails

To the criminal with no one left to con

To the movie star whose day has come and gone

 

To the junky with his back against the wall

To the lawman as he breaks another law

In the desert, off the shore

In peacetime and in war

In the pentagon, the court rooms and the malls

In the tents and in the caves

At the truckstops, by the graves

In our hopes and fears and struggles great and small

To the corner bum that no one seems to hear

To the president who prays for four more years

 

Pray where you are