Sermon 10/18/20 The Power of A Morning Prayer (Kingdomtide VI)

WORSHIP AT HOME for 10/18/20. 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 Ann Downing, Squire Parsons, Amy Lambert, Mike Allen – Hallelujah! We Shall Rise (Live)

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 Alan Jackson – Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus (Live)

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 Power of A Morning Prayer
Text: Mark 1:32-38, 14:32-41
Series: The Prayer Recipes
Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.


Mark 1:32 That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. 33 And the whole city was gathered together about the door. 34 And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
35 And in the morning, a great while before day, he rose and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed. 36 And Simon and those who were with him pursued him, 37 and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” 38 And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also; for that is why I came out.”

Mark 14:32 They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34 “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.” 35 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36 “Abba,Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” 37 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? 38 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 39 Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. 40 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him. 41 Returning the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”


HYMN Sweet Hour of Prayer – Barbershop Chorus Song – HD – Multitrack

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

(If you wish, you can listen to this prayer being sung:
Sarah McLachlan – Prayer of St. Francis )

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


We shared this last week, but it’s a good thing to remember. Business expert Brian Tracy says every failure is a failure to plan. Why? Because when you’re planning, you’re wanting to be ready for every possible thing that could go wrong. You want to be ready for every possible thing that could go right. And if something causes your plans to completely fail, it’s because you didn’t foresee it and you didn’t prepare for it. You didn’t notice it. Something snuck up on you and knocked your hopes all the pieces. Every failure is a failure to plan.

And that’s why, as I recommended to you last week, unless you’re absolutely sure, unless you’re absolutely perfect, it’s a smart thing to use a recipe. Because I know if you’re like me, from time to time you realize: this doesn’t quite taste the way it should. And you realize, “I left something out. I forgot to do something.” That’s why you have a recipe. Because our minds can’t always catch every necessary detail, because our minds are frequently distracted, so we miss what’s important and get focused on something that’s not important at all. That’s why we need a recipe.

In the same way, when a church tries to do something and it falls apart, it’s not only that we did not anticipate the problem in our plan, but when you think about it, churches plan by praying. Because as we pray, we are figuring out what God is planning. And if we do those prayers exceedingly well, we’ll protect ourselves from any kind of embarrassing failure. God will give us the recipe for what it is that we’re about to do for God’s sake.

And so in these weeks beginning this morning, I want to talk about recipes for how our prayers could become more powerful, because more powerful prayers will inevitably lead to a better life and a better church and a better neighborhood, because we’re to love our neighbors, and a better world. Because every failure in a church is a failure to powerfully pray.

So here’s the first principle. If you call the help desk and say to them, “My computer won’t work,” or, “My printer won’t work, or, “My whatever it is that’s plugged into my computer won’t work,” the very first thing they will ask you is whether your computer is plugged in. You would not believe how often that’s the problem. And not only that, as this picture shows, is everything that’s supposed to be plugged in plugged in?

The second question they will ask you once they know it’s plugged in is, is it turned on? The first question for our spirits in praying more powerfully is are we connected to God? Are we plugged into our heavenly power source? Or are we trying to do God’s work without being plugged into God’s power? That’s the first thing we want to check.

Then the second thing is we want to take some time to turn our spiritual life on. Every morning I get up and I go turn on the coffee pot, and I’m astonished. When I turn it on, it makes coffee. But if I don’t turn it on, it just sits there and does nothing, and your own spiritual life can be like that. God is waiting for you to pay attention to him. Jesus is waiting for you. And when you turn your eyes upon Jesus, you are turning on what is alive in your spirit toward God. Therefore, just like the first thing with a computer is you plug it in and turn it on, it would be wise if the first thing we did each day was to plug our spirit into God’s life and power and turn them on. Because when we read through the life of Jesus for what he said about prayers, one of the very first things we discover is the priority that he gave it.

Let me tell you the story that comes from Mark, chapter 1, which is a story about crowds. They learned that Jesus was at Peter’s mother in law’s house, and they gathered all around him, and a gigantic crowd came together. Jesus drew a crowd. People were filling up the room. People were standing in the doorway. Here’s the scripture: “That evening at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons, and the whole city was gathered together about the door. And he, Jesus, healed many who were sick with various diseases and cast out many demons, and the whole crowd was there to hear whatever he wanted to say to them.”

The very next morning, the first thing in the morning, a great while before day – I assume when it was still dark – instead of going back to sleep, Jesus rose and went out to a lonely – I assume quiet place – where he was alone. A lonely place, and there He prayed.

First thing in the morning, Jesus went out to pray, and an odd thing happened. The disciples got up, noticed he was gone, and began to pursue him, to search for him, and they found him. And what’s the very first thing they said? Could be, Lord, what are we going to do today? Because maybe what Jesus wanted was the high priority. I wish I could tell you that.

Here’s what they said to Him. Verse 37: “Everyone is searching for you.”

Apparently, the crowd that showed up the night before came back the next day. “Hey, we found some more sick people. Do that magic stuff and let us watch. Hey, we found some more people who need your help, and we’re all here, and we’re standing in line. And where is Jesus? How could he let us down? All of us are here demanding that Jesus pay attention to us.” Or as the disciples said to Jesus, “Everyone is searching for you.”

It’s astonishing how our society, still today, idolizes a crowd. If there is a crowd of people around you, who want you, or need you, or admire you, or look up to you, we think that’s amazing. I can imagine the disciples thinking that they’ve won the lottery. “We’re going to build the hospital right over there, and we’re going to charge them for everything we do. We’re going to make tons of money. Look, this whole crowd is here. We can become the healing center of all of Israel. All we need is Jesus, and we can plug him in and we can make a fortune. Because all the crowd is here.”

And the disciples are thinking, “You know, what we need to do is do what the crowd of people want.” Now, by the way, if you’re a teenager they call that peer pressure. By the time we are adults, we often call that politics. We live in an age to where people are really worried about what everyone else thinks. And people are really worried about making everyone else happy. Friends, it ain’t gonna happen.

A little girl at Sunday school hears the teacher say, “Class, can you tell me one thing that God cannot do?” And the little girl’s hand just shot right up. And the teacher thinks, “Oh no. When I explain that God is all-powerful and all-knowing, this little girl’s going to be so humiliated.” So she goes into great depth about how powerful God is, and how strong God is, and how smart God is. The little girl’s hand just gets even crazier because she wants to be called on, because she knows something that even God can’t do. And the teacher couldn’t talk her out of it.

Finally, the teacher said, “Honey, what is it that you feel that God can’t do?” And the little girl folded her hands in her lap and said proudly, “I know that even God can’t please everybody.”

But here’s the problem. We should know that, but we still act as if it’s what we should be trying to do to please the crowd.

I’ve also heard, it’s sad and I’ve read it, various people – even pastors who should know better – will say, “Read the Bible. Jesus never turned his back on someone who needed him.” And unfortunately, if you read the Bible, very plainly, that’s just simply not true. Because here’s the verse that contradicts it. Jesus, everyone’s searching for you. We need to go take care of them and do what they want. And Jesus says, “I’ve been out here praying and focusing on what God wants.” And what God wants is for us to go on to other places and preach the gospel. We’ll be back.

But right now what God wants is more important than what the crowd wants. Because that’s the why for Jesus. He says, “That is why I came out, not just to go to other places and preach but to do the Father’s will.” In fact, he said in another place he has always done what pleases his Father. And this is the thing that we need to worry about because the crowd will turn us away from pleasing God because it’s natural for us to try to please them.

And the only protection you have from this is to begin the day by focusing on God and what God wants. And that’s what Jesus did. That’s how he began the day.

And it goes right onto that starry night when they’re in the garden of Gethsemane and Jesus says, “Please stay awake and pray with me.” And he goes apart to pray. And he says, “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me but yet not what I will, but what you will.” Because that’s how Jesus prayed.

Then he returns to the disciples and he finds that they’re all sound asleep. See that’s the problem with waiting to pray at night. You can’t always stay awake. Probably better start in the morning when you are awake. And Jesus looks at the men who were his disciples and he says, “Simon–” he said to Peter, “Are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch? Couldn’t you stay awake for one hour?” Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.

This is how Jesus prayed, starting every morning. And it protected him. Jesus goes on to say, “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” That’s why the first thing we want to do is the right thing, which is to pray. Every time we pray the Lord’s prayer we say, “Thy will be done.” Every time we think of Gethsemane we think, “Thy will be done.” If that’s how you feel we should live our lives, it’s better that you know what thy will be done means on this day. Because it could be that only one of those seven doors in the picture is right. How will you know the one that is God’s choice if you don’t take time to pray?

The saddest thing in life is someone who has lived their life by trial and error. And it’s not a great way for us to live our faith, either. If you just simply try everything, most of it is going to harm you and hurt you. You need to let God guide you. Not only that… If you don’t know the goal for your life, your goal or your goal from God, do you know what happens? Somebody else who has strong goals will give you a goal so that you take care of them, so that your life meets their goals rather than your goals, and you get swept away following someone else or follow a new crowd because the way is wide that leads to destruction, Jesus said, and many people travel the easy way.

It’s not easy to figure out what God wants. And consequently, it’s a good thing to start first thing in the morning on that project. Jesus chose early in the morning to rededicate himself. Jesus chose early in the morning to reorient himself. Jesus chose early in the morning to repent of anything that could be wrong and focus on what God wants and what would be right. And one of the wisest things that any one of us can do is to be like Jesus.

My practice, which has become a habit, is to take up to half an hour every morning to pray. And I open up the Bible and I read it. And I do that every morning of the week until Sunday morning because I think to myself, “surely, church is enough.”

But I felt just a little bit convicted this morning, just felt a little bit like I might be a hypocrite, so I set my alarm today and got up a half an hour early to pray. And I don’t mind telling you, I miss that half an hour really bad! But it was still a good thing to do. It was still the right thing to do because, you see, I needed to find out what my purpose is for today. And if what’s at the heart of my life is Thy will be done, I need to find out God’s purpose for my life today.

I don’t want to sleep through when Jesus is praying in Gethsemane. I want to know what God wants me to do, here and now. Because this life, when you think about it, it’s not about you and what you want. But even more than that, it’s not about them (whoever them is) and what they want. God did not create you and I to please some other group of people. God created you and I to do one thing. Jesus said it: Follow me.

And so when all the rest of them go down that easy path, we need to go a different way because that’s how this thing called faith works. It’s all about follow Me. Following Jesus.

And so we need to pay attention. Lord, which way are you going today? Are you wanting me to drop by that house and encourage that person? Lord, are you wanting me to pray by somebody’s hospital bed? What is it, Lord, that you want from me today? Lord, what’s on your to-do list today that’s my part to take care of so that this person over here, what they do helps and that fits with what this person is doing, but my part that you’ve chosen for me is something important too?

And you know what you’re doing when you’re building that to-do list? That’s your prayer list. But you know what else it is besides being a prayer list? It’s the recipe for what you’re going to do today. And you know something? You may be able to wing it quite well. But if you’re in trouble, you’ll be glad you wrote it all down and you have the recipe with you. God wants that. I’d better take care of that first.

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, a lot of people needed you in that city that day, but you were aware of everyone in the nation of Israel and how they needed you. You were aware of what God wanted you to do, and, Lord, that’s the choice you took. You knew you would be back and could then heal some more, but you always chose to do the will of your Father. And you tried to teach your disciples and, throughout the centuries, us as well, that Thy will be done should come first. And Lord, I pray that even though there are days you might say, “You’re off duty today, Dave. Do what you think best,” there are other days to where you have definite and specific things for me to do, for each one of us to do. And Lord, I pray that you will help us to follow the recipe and to discover and then do what it is that you ask of your people. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. 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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