Sermons

Summary: Lets face the reality of this. Much, if not most, of what we have to thank God for comes to us through other people. They are the primary tools of God to achieve His purpose in history.

My earliest childhood memories of being in church are of the rope that I could ride. The

thick rope hung down through the ceiling in the church entry way. I was so little that when

the rope was pulled to ring the bell in the belfry, I could hang on to it and get a ride as it

would pull me up off the floor, and then set me down again. It is a pleasant memory in my

mind, and my earliest thoughts of being in church are memories of church being a fun place

to be. This memory was brought back to my mind when I read this statement by Christmas

Evans, the great Welsh preacher. He said, "Prayer is the rope up in the belfry; we pull it and

it rings the bell up in heaven.

For the first time in my life this image linked prayer and fun. I had never given it a

thought that prayer and fun could be compatible partners. After all, prayer is a solemn and

serious business, and that is why we tell children to be quiet, and stop having fun and

clowning around. Bow you head and close your eyes and knock off anything you are doing

that could be construed as having fun. From this childhood lesson we move on to a life time

of having it drilled into our brain that prayer is anything but fun. It is a chore; it is a

challenge; it is such a burdensome labor that it is one of the hardest aspects of the Christian

life to develop.

C. S. Lewis, one of the greatest Christians of the 20th century, describes the feelings of

millions of Christians when it comes to prayer.

"...Prayer is irksome. And excuse to omit it

is never unwelcome. When it is over, this

casts a feeling of relief and holiday over the

rest of the day. We are reluctant to begin.

We are delighted to finish. While we are at

prayer but not while we are reading a novel

or solving a cross-word puzzle, any trifle is

enough to distract us....

The odd thing is that this reluctance to

pray is not confined to periods of dryness.

When yesterday's prayers are full of comfort

and exaltation, today's will still be felt as, in

some degree, a burden."

We could quote many others who feel the same, and all the evidence indicates the

majority of Christians feel that prayer is a hard part of the Christian life. Seldom to never

does anyone relate prayer and fun. I must confess I certainly never did until this past week

when I saw, for the first time, that for Paul prayer was fun. It was a time to be joyful, and a

time of happy memories, and thanksgiving to God for His abundant goodness and grace.

Let me show you what has been before my eyes for years, but which I never saw until the

Holy Spirit opened my eyes to see. Now I want to be the instrument to illumine you on what

is clearly revealed in God's Word, but is also hidden because Satan does not want God's

people to discover that prayer can be fun. Look at the facts. Paul says in verse 4, "I always

pray with joy." Then in chapter 4 Paul goes all out to make it clear that prayer is to be

surrounded with positive joyful feelings, and the negative feelings of life are to be eliminated.

Listen to 4:4-7, "Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again, rejoice! Let your gentleness

be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by

prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God,

which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Paul is clearly revealing a life of prayer full of joy and thanksgiving. Eliminate the

negative and accentuate the positive. Prayer is to be a fun and enjoyable time, and not a

time we dread as a duty we have to be dragged into. Paul lived the way he wrote for others to

live, and he demonstrated these words in his own life. When he was in the prison there is

Philippi, having been attacked, beaten, flogged, and locked in stocks in a cell, we read this of

Paul's attitude in Acts 16:25, "About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing

hymns to God..."

It was one of the most miserable days of his life, yet Paul is enjoying his prayer time, and

he is singing hymns to God. In the midst of pain he is finding pleasure in prayer. He is

singing songs of thanksgiving, and rejoicing in the Lord with the peace that passes

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