Sermon 10/11/20: The Prayer Recipe (Kingdomtide V)

WORSHIP AT HOME for 10/11/20. If illness or travel prevented you from joining us for worship Sunday, or if you would like to experience the worship again, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just right click on the link to play each hymn or the sermon in a new tab, and close that tab when finished.)

CALL TO WORSHIP: Please recommit your life to follow Jesus as Savior and Lord with the words of the Centering Prayer: Lord Jesus, today I am far less than the person I want to be or can be with your help. I ask today that you would be more and more the center of my life. Guide me to all that is good, cleanse me from all that is not. Teach me Your ways and form in me Your nature. Help me to serve you in flow as I am gifted. Help me to notice my neighbor and work through me to redeem my neighborhood. I am a sinner; please be my Shepherd, my Savior and my Lord. Amen.

HYMN It Is Well with My Soul | BYU Vocal Point (A Cappella)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FexGqNDBK3g

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

Please pray for yourself and your neighbors, lifting up your needs to God while giving thanks for answered prayer.

The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven; hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

HYMN Breathe – Marie Barnett Lyric Video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZhUesUaM98

MOMENTS WITH THE CHILDREN – If you are blessed to have children with you, ask them what they are thankful for, and then thank God together!

GIVING OF OUR TITHES AND OFFERINGS – these can be mailed to the church office.

MESSAGE: The Prayer Recipe
1 Thessalonians 5:16-25
Series: Tiny Habits for Growing Christians
Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.

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SERMON NOTES

1 Thessalonians 5:16 Rejoice always, 17 pray constantly, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit, 20 do not despise prophesying, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good, 22 abstain from every form of evil. 23 May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. 25 Brethren, pray for us.

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HYMN Gaither Vocal Band – Amazing Grace (Live)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FERANWPVBm8

BENEDICTION: Let us dedicate ourselves to the service of Jesus by joining in the Prayer of Saint Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy
O Divine Master, grant that I may
Not so much seek to be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to Eternal Life
Amen

(If you wish, you can listen to this prayer being sung:
Sarah McLachlan – Prayer of St. Francis
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agPnMxp5Occ )

If you worship at home, please let us know so we can pray for you!

TRANSCRIPT

I’d like to tell you a story about my mother. My mother grew up as the middle daughter in a family of four daughters and one son and her mother was not as nice as you would wish. My grandmother. My grandmother was actually kind of mean. And when it came to being in the kitchen my grandmother was a very critical cook. Now, every single one of us here knows somebody who never measures anything. Every one of us here knows somebody who never ever looks at a recipe and my grandmother was that kind of cook. And my mother would stand in the kitchen and want to help and no matter what she did it was always wrong. My mother turned out to be a very anxious, nervous cook who did fine because for the rest of her adult life she never ever cooked anything where she didn’t have a recipe. And not only that, she never ever changed anything about the recipe. So she was still anxious but she was confident because if we follow the recipe and it tastes awful, it’s the cookbook’s fault. And that worked for her.

Now, let me tell you a story about my father. My father graduated from high school in 1945 and he immediately joined the Navy. His older brother was in the army and his older brother said, “You do not want to be in the army.” My uncle actually won medals for surviving on a Japanese island as the last survivor of his unit. So he knew what he was talking about with regard to how tough it is to be in the army.

Well, my dad went to Great Lakes Naval Station and then he was on this little ship. It was a landing ship tank and they transported tanks into the Pacific. And as they were on their way across the Pacific, the war ended. But here’s the problem with being on a ship. The crew was made of 30 people. 30 young men who had never been away from home in their life. And the way it works is the guy who’s best with engines works with the engines. The guy who’s best with the machine guns works with the machine guns. And the guy who is worst at everything is told that he is the cook.

And they’re on their way across the Pacific and I don’t think they had a cookbook. Because my dad said is they would sit in the wardroom which is kind of like the dining room and they would watch the cook in the galley and they would talk about how their mother made things. And the cook was a Polish boy from Chicago. And he listened very carefully as the men would say, “Well, these were the ingredients my mother used and this is how my mother cooked it.” And the Polish cook was taking notes. And so my dad came home from the Navy with the weirdest recipe for spaghetti sauce that you’ve ever heard of because the cook had to take what Mama put in the spaghetti sauce and then substitute something that they had in stock on a Navy ship. So you’ve got Italian spaghetti sauce with no oregano in it because they don’t have oregano on a military ship. You have Italian spaghetti sauce with no garlic in it because there is no garlic. But you know what they put in it? Worcester sauce, mustard which will give it a bite, dry mustard, and sugar, and pepper And it’s utterly marvelous.

When I was growing up we called it long spaghetti because my dad always insisted you had to eat it with the long noodles and you had to twirl, long spaghetti. When my kids were growing up we called it Dad’s spaghetti and because it was so hard to explain it, I started calling it Polish Navy spaghetti in honor of the Navy and in honor of the Polish cook who wouldn’t know anything about Italian cooking. [laughter]

But if you can get the ingredients right and you can get the steps to make it right, you can do it right … even when you don’t know what you’re doing. Because the only other option you have is just to wing it and I’m sure the first few times those Navy boys tried to eat that spaghetti, it was pretty awful. Here’s the thing I think it’s good for us to understand for our faith.

I think with regard to many things of the faith we are winging it. And the results we get are mixed. And that’s because even though your momma may have been so good at prayer that she might have prayed so naturally and beautifully that she never needed a recipe for prayer. Well, friends, you might be good but you’re not that good. I think we could look through the Bible and discover recipes for how to do what Christians do with a high level of excellence. And I want to say to you unless you’re a genius, unless you are a prodigy … Unless you already know, you’d be wise to follow the recipe and when you’ve got the recipe memorized then, if you want to play around, you can do that. But find a recipe because you’re good but you’re not that good. And there are I believe in the Bible there are recipes that tell us how to do everything that God wants us to do. God put them in there on purpose and we want to talk for the next few weeks about recipes for prayer. There is a recipe for praise. There is a recipe for asking for forgiveness. And we can find the verses in the Bible that will tell us what’s a part of that activity and how to go about it every year at Thanksgiving, I like to talk about what I call “The Recipe.””

And so I pick that Scripture for today because it’s a good recipe. But a recipe for prayer has two parts. The first part is the list of ingredients and in prayer what goes into it is a list of people that you’re praying for and a list of needs that you’re praying for. And I want to suggest to you that, just like you have a recipe written out, don’t trust your memory. It’s wise for you to keep a list of the prayers that you pray. A list of the people who need your prayers.

That’s why we have this back page in the bulletin to help remind us all. A list of what is needed in the community. That’s the ingredients for prayer. But then sometimes we need to know how to pray step by step to assemble all the ingredients into the best sort of prayer. Why is this important? Nothing can stop a praying people. The pandemic can shut down a public school but it can’t shut down Christians from praying. The government can tell us it’s not safe to go out of our homes, but the government cannot stop Christian people from praying. You can not be stopped from practicing your faith. But when it comes to prayer, if you know who and you know how, you’re going to be able to do what God needs you to do. We can’t have the church activities we’ve always had. We can’t meet as committees. We can’t send out mission teams. But they can’t stop you from praying. They can’t stop you from singing hymns. They can’t stop you from witnessing to your faith to others. They can’t stop you. Nothing can stop a praying people.

What I like to call the recipe our six statements in 1 Thessalonians 5. Here are the ingredients. Rejoice always. Pray constantly. King James says pray without ceasing. Give thanks in all circumstances. There’s your recipe. In this situation that I’m facing, what is there about which I can rejoice? Well, whatever that is, write it down on your list.

The recipe calls for us to pray without ceasing. Why is that? All too often, people stop praying before they should. What happens when you’re stirring something and you are supposed to stir it for five minutes longer? Not good. Pray and keep on praying. Pray constantly. Why do people stop? Well, they get tired. Don’t get too tired to pray. Why do people stop? They think they’ve done enough. You probably haven’t prayed enough. Don’t stop praying because you’ve given up hope. Don’t stop hoping. Keep on praying. Pray without ceasing for the people on your list, until you reach a point where you know there’s no more need for prayer. Now think about that for just a minute. Is there ever no more need for prayer? Pray without ceasing. It’s an important ingredient for prayer.

Finally, Paul, says, “Give thanks. Not just when everything’s going great, give thanks “in all circumstances.” Now, why is that? No matter how bad something is, there’s something in the mix for which you can be thankful. You need to find what that is and write it down, and then give thanks to God for what’s good … because you know what happens? You give thanks to God for what’s good, and the good gets bigger. You have a little spark of what’s good and you blow on it, and the spark gets brighter. Give thanks in all circumstances. Find something to be thankful for!

You’ve heard me say this before, the Minnesota state motto is “could be worse.” That’s a joke, but to be honest, if we can’t find anything else to be thankful for we can be thankful because it could be worse. It could be worse.

The rest of verse 18 says, very plainly, “For this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” You cannot get more plain than that. Find a reason to be joyful. Add it to your prayers. Find a reason to keep on praying and add it to your prayers. Find a reason to be thankful and add it to your prayers because those are the ingredients for this recipe for prayer in 1 Thessalonians 5.

This is followed by three steps. Three things we’re encouraged to do. Verse 19, “Do not quench the Spirit.” The assumption is that God is trying to do something inside of you. God is trying to communicate with you. God is trying to send a message to you. Don’t pour water on that spark that could become a flame. Don’t quench the Spirit.

Last week I talked about the Holy Spirit’s influence as being a little bit like the tide that is nudging you to go in a particular direction. Pay attention when you’re praying, for the Spirits’ urging.

And not only that, verse 20, “Do not despise prophesying.” When you look at the Old Testament, you have prophets; God gives them a message and they speak it, and people are in trouble if they don’t follow what the prophet says.

But in the New Testament, prophesying has a different nature. Prophesying is God is having an influence on you, an influence to do something or say something. It is the tide of the Holy Spirit pushing you toward fulfilling God’s will. Do not despise the fact that God speaks to us, and don’t make your ear deaf to what God is telling you! And if what God is telling you is something for you to tell someone else do not despise the fact that God can talk through other people in order to talk to people who won’t listen directly to God. Do not despise prophesying because when you pray all of a sudden you’ll get a sense there’s something God wants you to do. There’s something God wants you to say.

Do not despise the leading of the Holy Spirit, but verse 21 also says this, “Test everything Hold fast to what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.” What you feel the Spirit is giving to you, test it.

You’ve heard me say before that you don’t want me to work on your car because when I open the hood and look at your courage and I think to myself, “What if I take that hose and disconnect it and plug it in over here? What would that do?” You don’t want me working on your car! In the same way, you want to test when you feel God is telling you to make certain that is something that you should do. How do you test it? You use scripture to test what you feel God is telling you to do. If what you feel God is telling you to do, there is a scripture over here that tells you to do that, ought to do that, you’re probably making the right decision.

I’m someone who, when I make my dad’s spaghetti, I don’t measure it. And there’s times I’ve forgotten how much mustard is supposed to go in, to my great regret. You have to learn sometimes by testing it. Test what you feel God is leading you to do. Maybe I’ll eat some bad batches of spaghetti sauce. But if you test, you will learn.

Business expert Brian Tracy once said that every failure is a failure to plan. Because when there is a failure, when things go wrong, the plan ideally should have figured out what you would do if that thing went wrong. So every failure is a failure to anticipate and plan what should have happened! Or to say it in a different way, you either had a recipe that wasn’t perfect or you missed one part of the recipe because, of course, a recipe is a plan of how to do that.

When you apply that principle to the church, you get a very simple truth. Every failure is a failure to pray. Because if we pray and we hear from God, then we’re able to do things according to God’s will. If we fail to do things well, every failure is an opportunity to learn by repenting. We need to open the Bible and look for our mistakes. We need to learn from our mistakes. But if we pray, we’ll have a leading that will help us to avoid mistakes. If you know how to pray, if you know who to pray for, you can build God’s will into your life.

In the sermon slides, I have a picture of a blueprint. I once knew someone who worked for an electrical contractor. They had the contract to put in the outlets and the lighting for the St. Peter’s Mall in suburban St Louis. And I said to her, “Why would it take you five days to do that?” And she said, “Dave, on a blueprint, it will tell the electrician exactly the place to put an outlet. This many feet from here. This many inches up from the floor. Every outlet in the entire mall must be on a blueprint.” All too often the reason we fail is we don’t pray enough till everything is blueprint clear. And that’s because we have this natural kind of teenage urge to wing it. But, friends, when you wing electrician stuff, it’s dangerous. There are some things that we need to think through carefully. And in the church, what we do is we think and we pray and let God think with us.

W. Edward Deming said, “Every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets.” Now let that sink in. I’m a Type 2 diabetic. If I lost 75 pounds, my diabetes would very likely go away. Please pray for me. But I want to tell you that this body is the actual perfect result of the way I’m living. The plan that I have for what I should eat, for what I should do, is perfectly designed to get me this body, which has 75 pounds more than doctors think it should have.

It’s the same way in society. It’s the same way in the church. It’s the same way in your work. It’s the same way in your kitchen. The results you’re getting are the natural results that come from what you’re doing. And if you pray, God may be able to show you how to shift what you’re doing in order to get different results. So far, apparently, I have been unwilling to shift what I’m doing to get different results, and I might as well smile about it because it’s my plan. I can change it! But if I pray, God will guide me from where I am to where I need to be. It’s very humbling, but my body is the outcome of how I live.

One day, one of Mr. Edison’s friends came up to him, and this good friend saw how tired the man was and said, “Mr. Edison, isn’t it a shame that with the tremendous amount of work that you’ve done, you’ve not been able to get any results?” Edison turned in a flash, and his friend wrote this down, “With a smile, he replied, ‘Results? Why, man, I have gotten a lot of results. I know thousands of things that won’t work.'” And sometimes you may feel like that. The way life is going, I know thousands of things that don’t work.

Well, I don’t know if you remember the Saturday Night Live routine and the joke, “It hurts when I do this.” You know what the answer is. Don’t do that.

But the thousands of things that we know that don’t work can help us if we pray about them, if we learn from them, if we let God teach us about that, can send us in the right direction. The Israelites traveled for 40 years in the wilderness until they finally got it right. If we pay attention to what we’re doing, if we pray for God to clearly speak to us, I believe that we’ll receive the guidance to go in the direction we need to go to get to the promised land, whatever that is for your life, whatever that is for our church. If we pray, I believe that God will guide us.

John chapter 20 verse 21. We’ve talked about it week after week after week because I think it sincerely is an instruction for us today. On Easter Sunday, Jesus says, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” Everything God sent me to do to help people, Jesus says, I’m now sending you. But think for a moment. Out of all the things that Jesus did and said, what did Jesus probably spend more hours doing every day than anything else? Based on what Scripture says, I believe I can tell you with a great assurance that Jesus spent more time praying than anything else he did. And because of that, he was able to say, “I always do what my father wants me to do.”

Jesus has set an example for us in prayer. More than anything, Jesus prayed. Prayed for a who, and Jesus is sending us to love our neighbors, so that’s our who. How do we love our neighbor? I think the argument from Jesus’ life is the very first thing for us is that we need to pray for our neighbor. And maybe we need to pray until we understand what we’re supposed to do … rather than go off half-cocked, say things we really ought not to say, do things we wouldn’t do if we really thought about it. Let’s take time to pray.

Please pray with me, and then we’re going to sing. Lord Jesus, you prayed. Remind us to pray. You got up early in the morning so that before anything else you did, you prayed. Lord, remind us to pray. Help us, Lord, to get clear and then move forward to do your will. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION: Let’s have a conversation! Please reflect upon the questions below as you consider the material presented above. In a comment, share your thoughts and additional questions. What would you like to know?

What grabbed your attention?
What is the human need or problem?
What questions do you have about any quotes provided?
Does the Bible say anything about this?
What solutions do you see for the problem?
What specifically could we begin to do to make a change?

Additional Resources
Kinmundy United Methodist Church is located at 308 E. Third Street, Kinmundy, IL 62854. Worship begins at 9 am Sundays. The building is handicap accessible.
Wesley United Methodist Church is located at 3381 Kinoka Road, Patoka, IL 62875 in the country between Kinmundy and Patoka. Worship begins at 10.45 am Sundays.
VISION: We are a functional family of God, where Jesus is Lord and people grow.
MISSION: Every layperson is called to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20); every layperson is called to be missional. (¶126 of the 2016 Book of Discipline)
Paradigm: There are two kinds of people in this world: people who need to become disciples and disciples who need to become disciple makers.
 

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