Summary: #4 in a series. God is pouring out a whole new level of city-wide cooperation amongst churches and church leaders. Prayer-Care-Share is a concentrated effort focusing on "Building Bridges to our Community"...loving our communities to Christ.
PRAYING FOR MY CIRCLE OF INFLUENCE: MY STORY
By Intern Pastor Dave Doyle
I’ve been excited by the whole concept of churches in Cedar Rapids coming together in prayer. Think about it. Jesus said that wherever two or more are gathered in His name, He is there as well.
Now try to imagine the power of 10,000 Christians "gathering together" in prayer through the Prayer, Care, Share process. I am asking.....no I am pleading with the Lord that He will show Himself in mighty ways in our midst as we all turn our collective prayers to Him, for those who we want to touch. This entire process will allow us to literally "pray others to the Lord."
Since I’ve been excited by this, I naturally went to the scriptures to research prayer. I wanted to know what makes prayer acceptable to God so that it is answered. Also, I wanted to know what makes prayer unacceptable to God. I found myself totally immersed in this search through the Scriptures in no time at all, but something happened that stopped me in my tracks.
SLIDE 2: "The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." James 5: 16
During my quiet time of reading the scriptures at the end of the day, I came across the story in the book of John about the man who had been blind since birth. One day, Jesus and His disciples walked past this man as he was begging near the temple. Jesus stopped, picked up a handfull of earth, spit in it, made it into a mud paste, and smeared this concoction on the man’s eyes. He told him to go to the pool of Siloam and wash his eyes. As soon as the mud was washed off, the man who had been blind since birth realized he could see. Jesus had miraculously given him his sight! As the man went about proclaiming the power of Jesus’ miracle, the Pharisees caught wind of this, and jumped into action. After all.......Jesus had the audacity to heal someone on the Sabbath!! Right away, the man who had been healed was pulled before an investigative council of the religious leaders of the time. As the Pharisees badgered the man, and repeatedly demanded to know how this healing took place, and who did it, the man who had been given his sight finally got frustrated and started pushing back at the Pharisees and insulting them about their lack of knowledge concerning Jesus.
SLIDE 3: We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the Godly man who does His will." John 9: 31
When they told him that they knew Jesus had to be a sinner since he had healed him on the Sabbath, they man’s reply was, "Whether this Jesus is a sinner or not....I do not know. One thing I do know is that I was blind......but now I see!! In John 9:31, the man who had been blind made a remarkable statement in his defense of Jesus that struck me to my very core. He said, "We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the Godly man who does His will."
As soon as I read that, I realized that all my research to find the things that would make my prayers acceptable in God’s sight was absolutely the wrong thing to do. Unknowingly, I had been doing the same thing the Pharisees were guilty of. I was trying to turn my prayers into a formula!! A formula I could use to get God to answer my prayers....the way I wanted Him to......and when I wanted Him to. I could hear the words of the blind man playing over and over in my mind. "We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the Godly man who does His will."
SLIDE 4: Prayer-Care-Share Bookmark
I pulled out the list of names of the people who I was going to put on my bookmark, and looked at the first name. That person I had listed was someone who had hurt me, very deeply, many years ago. It’s someone who truly needs to know the Lord. As I considered the feelings I’ve harbored in my heart for years about this person I came to understand that I love them deeply.....but the "old hurt" is still there. I had never completely "Let Go" of all that. As I came to the knowlege that this was an issue of forgiveness, I could hear the phrase from the Lord’s Prayer playing in my mind........."and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us."
With a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, I had to quietly lower my head and confess to the Lord that I had never completely forgiven that person. I had to ask forgiveness for my unwillingness to do that and I asked for the Spirit of Christ to help me. I needed help in understanding the Lord’s ability to forgive those who hurt Him, even those who nailed Him to a cross. More importantly, I needed His help to understand how He could forgive someone like me, who even after receiving so many blessings from God continued to walk in my own stubborn ways.