Sermon October 24, 2021: Power of Prayer (Pentecost 22)

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If you prefer to worship at home at this time or simply wish to listen to the service or sermon again, please click on the link below to watch the entire worship service as a video on your home computer, tablet or smartphone:

Link to Video:

Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/638227103

Screencast-o-matic: https://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/cr600PVlfQt

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If you would prefer not to view the video, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just right click on the link to “open link in a new tab” to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate 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 WESLEY COVENANT PRAYER:

I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee,
exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.
Amen.

HYMN God of Grace and God of Glory
God of Grace and God of Glory by the Grosse Pointe (Michigan) Memorial Church Virtual Choir, James Biery, organ.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9rWrw3XBO8

(Just right click on the link to “open link in a new tab” to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate tab, and close that tab when finished.)

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer − Reinhold Niebuhr

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference … living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; taking this world as it is and not as I would have it; trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will; so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You forever in the next. Amen.

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 Surely the Presence of the Lord Is In This Place
Surely the Presence of the Lord – Nashville Singers (worship video with lyrics)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsc3o5Oupno

(Just right click on the link to “open link in a new tab” to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate tab, and close that tab when finished.)

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: Power of Prayer
Text: James 5:13-20, Galatians 5:13-14
Series: Doers of the Word

Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.
Saturday Video AudioWesley Audio Sermon

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SERMON NOTES

James 5:13 Is any one among you suffering? Let him pray. Is any cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; 15 and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.

16 Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects. 17 Eli’jah was a man of like nature with ourselves and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18 Then he prayed again and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth its fruit.

19 My brethren, if any one among you wanders from the truth and some one brings him back, 20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

Galatians 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.“

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HYMN Spirit Song
Spirit Song – Maranatha Singers
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6arsF6RW5I

(Just right click on the link to “open link in a new tab” to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate tab, and close that tab when finished.)

BENEDICTION: Please recommit your life to the service of Jesus as Lord with the words of The Prayer of St 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

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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

TRANSCRIPT

We’ve been talking about the power of prayer. We’ve been talking about the lessons of prayer. We’ve been talking about what the Book of James has to say in each chapter about prayer. Let’s make a quick review of what we discussed.

Chapter one, a long time ago. “Know this my beloved brethren,” James writes, “Let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.” That’s not what we’re finding in the world around us. Everybody doesn’t listen. And people too quickly speak and too quickly get angry. But here’s what James says. Look at verse 20, “For the anger of man does not work…” Now, there might be somebody who would say, “Yes, it does. It can totally ruin your family. It works just fine to ruin your job.” Well, that’s true. It works to do harm.

So James goes on to say, “The anger of man does not work the righteousness of God.” Somebody might want to argue with James. But the point that James is making is that when God goes to work, God does not use anger to do God’s will.

In the second chapter, James talks about how we should show no partiality as we hold the faith… If you listen to the angry arguments that are going on in our society, you know what you’ll hear, and it’s really quite strange. People will blame the poor people for the fact that they don’t have enough for themselves. Do you know why that’s true? The people who have nothing can’t defend themselves. We have a faith that should show no partiality because whenever we see someone poor, we can thank God. Thank God for the grace of God … because that could be me or you. Whenever we see someone who has less than we do, we never know the whole story.

In the third chapter, James points out that the tongue is a fire because when the anger ramps up, the tongue starts talking. And the tongue is just like a match in a dry forest. It sets things on fire. (A very large part of the United States right now is on fire and they can’t put it out.) But the simple cure for a fiery tongue is this: In your car, if you have an automatic transmission, you recognize those letters, the PRNDL. Far too many people put their tongue in drive and take off. But the cure for this is simple. We need to simply put our tongue in park.

You remember that glass of water story? About a woman who came to the doctor and said, “Doctor, I don’t know how to deal with my husband’s anger”? And the doctor said, “Get a glass of water. And when your husband starts to act angry, take a big drink and just swish it back and forth in your mouth!” The woman came back a month later and said that it worked like a miracle. She said to the doctor, “What is it about that water that affects my husband so strongly?” And the doctor says, “Ma’am, it’s not that it affects your hunger, it keeps your mouth shut.”

Friends, if we don’t talk, we won’t add wood to the fire. If we simply take a step back when we are tempted to talk too much, the fire will go out. And certainly all around us, families, schools, companies, places where people work, politics, everything’s on fire. And in some places, churches are on fire too. The simple cure is to put your tongue in park and wait.

The knowledge that we want to encounter … because all too often, anger happens because we are reacting to knowledge that’s bad, we’re reacting to facts that aren’t actually true. When something true comes to you from God, it will have these characteristics: The wisdom from above is first pure. And then – think of it like a checklist – it’s peaceable, it’s gentle, it’s open to reason, people can talk about it without losing their temper. It’s full of mercy and good fruits. Without uncertainty and insincerity. The knowledge that we want is from God and will guide us into the truth. Look at verse 18, it’s sown in peace like seeds. It is spread by people who behave peacefully, by those who make peace. Whenever you encounter knowledge that comes from someone who’s angry, put your tongue in park and wait just a bit before you react. Because we need to listen and then respond in the very best way.

And then last week, James chapter four. James chapter four begins, “Why are you at war with each other? Why are you fighting? Why are you arguing?” James says, “You do not have because you do not ask.” Now – get the point here. Before you went to war, you didn’t bother to ask God for help. You just jumped right into the battle. But then James goes on to say, verse three, “You ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly to spend it on your passions.” Lord, help me to win that fight. Help me to win that argument. Help me to be right. The person who disagrees with me, make them go home weeping, won’t that be wonderful? That’s not likely to be a prayer that God will answer.

The example I used last week was God is not going to allow me, even though I pray for the ability to eat a thousand éclairs– and on a good day, I could probably eat at least 100. (I’ll be honest with you, I love éclairs!) God is not likely to answer a prayer for me to be able to gorge myself on food that’s bad for me and not have consequences. We need to ask … wisely, and God will go to work and our prayers will be answered.

And now we come to the fifth chapter where James reminds us, “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray.” Friends, that’s the answer to suffering.

“Is any one of us cheerful? Well, it’s time for a happy song. Let him sing praise.

Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.”

I would like to show you something. It’s not a secret, but you may not know about it. Up here in the pulpit, there is this little vial of oil so that if any of you asked for prayers on a Sunday morning for an illness, we can make the sign of the cross on your forehead in oil and pray for you to be healed because this is what the Bible says. The oil is here. But in all sincerity, friends, you do not have because you do not ask.

James goes on to say, “The prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.” In fact, the purpose of this altar is for people to find forgiveness for their sins. If you need that forgiveness, you’re welcome to come to the altar. “Therefore–” James says in verse 16. “Therefore confess your sins to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed.”

Do me a favor, turn to the person next to you or across from you and say to them right now, “I need your prayers–“ (people do this) “–because I’m a sinner and I need forgiveness.” (people do this).

Okay. Now let’s be honest. Have you ever done that before in church? We are supposed to be people praying like this. To look to the person next to you and say, “I need your prayers,” and let that person pray for you so that we are surrounded by prayer so that we may be healed. Because the prayer of a righteous person has great power in its effects.

James writes, Elijah was a man of like nature with ourselves and that’s kind of aa assumption there. But James is saying that Elijah is not different from you and I. Elijah prayed fervently that it might not rain. And for three years and six months, it did not rain. Then he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the Earth brought forth its fruit.

Friends, our prayers are powerful as God answers them. But let it sink in. Is it true that we don’t have the answer to prayer because we have not asked God for that answer? We have not asked others to pray for us? I think it’s very possible.

And here’s the final conclusions that James makes: “My brethren, if any one among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let them know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”

Now, do me a favor and look at the person next to you and say, “I’m going to pray for you.”
I’m going to pray for you.
“I’m going to bring you back.
I’m going to bring you back.
“I’m going to hunt you down!”
“And I’m not going to let you disappear!”
I’m not going to let you disappear.
“Because I’m not going to give up … on you.”

Friends, when I was 19 years old, I decided I would grow a beard. It was so bad, I’ve never tried since. [laughter]

The worst thing anybody said about my beard was that it was a Texas beard. And I said, “What exactly is a Texas beard?” And they said, “There’s plenty of wide open spaces!” [laughter]

And I think you’ve noticed since this pandemic began– Since this pandemic began, church has been full of wide-open spaces.

There are wide open spaces these days. Some churches, for example, the Salem Grace United Methodist Church, I noticed this, I was so surprised. They actually have more people watching their worship service at home on the internet than they have participating at the location of the church. I know people right here in our town, not members of our church, but they’ll tell you they’ve not been in church since late March, 2020. A year ago. They attend their church in their living room

So, some of the people who normally sit in that place on the picture, they’re watching it at home, that’s okay. Some people are away, visiting relatives. Some people don’t feel well today. But there’s a lot of wide-open spaces in the church pews.

And frankly, we have to ask the question, who’s not here?

Now, it’s very likely the person you said to just a moment ago, I’m not gonna let you disappear. When they are not here, we need to be praying for them. We need to be praying for each other.

In fact, here’s what I think James is saying to us, we need to be a little “pushy” in our prayers. Now, not pushy with people, because that doesn’t work. But pushing with our prayers, and you have that little abbreviation P-U-S-H, what God needs us to do is to pray until something happens.

Because if nothing has happened, you’re not done praying. If you haven’t received your answer, you’re not done – keep praying. If God has not come to heal the person anointed with oil, you’re not done praying. You need to keep praying … until something happens.

Because what James wants to tell you, is it the cure for those wide-open spaces, is you and I begin to pray for people. We pray until something happens. And we pray until God’s Church is full. Again, it may take a while. It may take until a pandemic is over. But God’s people need to keep praying until something happens because the person who brings someone back is doing God’s will. Because not only will that person’s soul be saved and their sins forgiven, it will cover a multitude of sins, including our own.

I have noticed something. And I believe this was much more common back in the days before the pandemic. But when the sermon is really good, when the Holy Spirit is present, and people feel touched by God, you don’t want to leave. I can always tell when the sermon was good because God’s people want to talk to each other.

And friends, if someone who used to be here isn’t here, I will honestly tell you, there’s nothing more powerful that you can do than to talk with them. And show them love. Because that’s what will bring people back … that and your faithful prayers.

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, help us to keep praying until something happens. Help us to be aware of who’s here. And who’s not. May it be that somebody who is not here … his phone would ring and they would hear a caring voice say I missed you today. How are you? How can I pray for you?
Lord, help us to not be angry with people. But to care deeply and pray for people and pray until something happens in their life. Pray until we see that You have touched their hearts and are bringing them home to You. Lord, we ask you to be with every person who’s grieving. Every person who’s in the hospital. Every person who is sick, but also Lord with every person who’s just too busy, just too distracted. Just unaware of how deeply meaningful it is to have a loving relationship with God to help us through every day, we face. Lord, help us to be a part of you reaching out to bring people back. And 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.

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

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