Summary: A sermon at the start of a series on prayer, given at a Covenant (re-dedication) service

“Devote yourselves to prayer”, “pray continually” Col 4:2, 1Th5:17

Covenant service 5 Jan 2003 pm

In his book Living Life on Purpose, Greg Anderson shares the story of one man’s journey to joy: ... his wife had left him and he was completely depressed. He had lost faith in himself, in other people, in God—he found no joy in living.

One rainy morning this man went to a small neighbourhood restaurant for breakfast. Although several people were at the diner, no one was speaking to anyone else. Our miserable friend hunched over the counter, stirring his coffee with a spoon. In one of the small booths along the window was a young mother with a little girl. They had just been served their food when the little girl broke the sad silence by almost shouting, "Momma, why don’t we say our prayers here?" The waitress who had just served their breakfast turned around and said, "Sure, honey, we pray here. Will you say the prayer for us?" And she turned and looked at the rest of the people in the restaurant and said, "Bow your heads."

Surprisingly, one by one, the heads went down. The little girl then bowed her head, folded her hands, and said, "God is great, God is good, and we thank him for our food. Amen." That prayer changed the entire atmosphere. People began to talk with one another. The waitress said, "We should do that every morning." "All of a sudden," said our friend, "my whole frame of mind started to improve. From that little girl’s example, I started to thank God for all that I did have and stop majoring in all that I didn’t have. I started to choose happiness."

We are here to commit ourselves to:

- the Lord- Jesus

- the gospel- hence the creed. Central/historic tenants of the faith

- this fellowship (& fellowship with other Xians)

- His purposes

o In our lives… here… being a disciple…

o Sharing the gospel we are committed to (word, deed)

o But particularly His purposes as achieved through PRAYER

We are here to ‘devote ourselves to prayer’

- it’s something Christians do!

What a man is on his knees before God: that a man is, and no more.

Robert Murray McCheyne

- It’s how we commune/communicate with God

- It is, primarily, how we bring about His Kingdom

o “unless the LORD builds the house…”

- that’s NOT to say WE don’t do our part

o we are His hands, lips, feet

o cf our social action project, ch meeting….

- … but unless THE LORD comes and helps us out

o as a church, nation… individuals

- … we’re scuppered, really!

o ‘not by might,, nor by power”

o “oh how I need you, Lord, you are my only hope!”

I believe we won’t be disappointed if we trust God

- we may be SURPRISED!

- have found prayer is not a slot machine

- blessing often comes elsewhere to where you’ve been praying!

And so, tonight, in committing ourselves to all these central things

- we also commit ourselves to prayer… and this focus on prayer

Now, if you’re anything like me, you’ll feel some things inside, now

- “been there! Done that! Knackered!”

- “advocating some form of prayer that I just can’t get into”

- not sure it made a difference…. Before

So, let me address these issues…. All of which I’ve tackled, deeply

1) Made a difference?

Our problem often is we’re looking in the wrong place for the result

- truth is, don’t know HOW our prayers will be answered!

It’s OUR responsibility to pray

It’s GOD’S responsibility to act…

- how He’ll do that

o takes real trusting faith on our part

o is up to Him

So this one as to how it makes a difference doesn’t wash with me!

- Jesus says: “Pray!”. “watch and pray”

- So, pray we must!

2) Been there… tired out!

- I want to ask, ARE you tired out… or do you just THINK you are?

o With some of us, it’s not ‘tried and found tiring’, but ‘tired and not tried’!

 And we’re tired because we’re not feeding on the bread of life… doing the Father’s will

• “I have food that you know nothing about”

Or, maybe, you ARE tired out by what you’ve experienced.

Again: ‘not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit’, says the Lord

- length, mode, frequency etc doesn’t matter

o we’re talking to a PERSON, here… NOT

o manipulating a force!

So- you don’t HAVE to KNACKER yourself!

- unless God specifically calls you to

o and He may!!

o (He does certainly expect us to exert ourselves)

- or we burn the WICK and not the OIL

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