July 30, 2023, Four Powerful Prayers from Paul, Pentecost 9

If you prefer to worship at home at this time or simply wish to listen to the service or sermon again,, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just click on the link to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate tab, and close that tab when finished.)

CALL TO WORSHIP:
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.
Holy Spirit, come alongside of us, fill us, comfort and counsel us, speak through us, and empower us to do God’s will. Amen.

HYMN 496 Sweet Hour of Prayer
Casting Crowns – Sweet Hour of Prayer (Acoustic)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EwOPwAVDN7s

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer − Dear Lord, This morning as I contemplate a new day, I ask you to help me. I want to be aware of and filled with your Spirit—leading me in the decisions I take, the conversations I have, and the work I do. I want to be more like you, Jesus, as I relate to the people I meet today—friends or strangers. 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 328 Surely The Presence Of The Lord
Surely the Presence of the Lord is in This Place – Don Marsh (Lyrics)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hD9-1ZQctV4

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: Four Powerful Prayers from Paul
James 4:1-3, Phil 1:9-11, Col 1:9-12, Eph 3:14-21, Eph 1:16-23
Series: You Have Not Because You Ask Not

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

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SERMON NOTES

James 4:1 What causes wars, and what causes fightings among you? Is it not your passions that are at war in your members? 2 You desire and do not have; so you kill. And you covet and cannot obtain; so you fight and wage war. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

Phil. 1: 9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruits of righteousness which come through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Col. 1: 9 And so, from the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 to lead a life worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. 11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.

Eph. 3: 14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with might through his Spirit in the inner man, 17 and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have power to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fulness of God. 20 Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.

Eph. 1: 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 which he accomplished in Christ when he raised him from the dead and made him sit at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come; 22 and he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, 23 which is his body, the fulness of him who fills all in all.

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HYMN 314 In The Garden
Alan Jackson – In The Garden (Live)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhIGIfsLxVk

BENEDICTION 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.

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

This morning I would like to talk to you about a way to pray that is better and more powerful and more productive. And I want to use as examples four powerful prayers from the Apostle Paul. But before we do that, I want to remind you last week we talked about what God wants from us after Pentecost. And what I suggested to you and what you’re looking at here are irrigation circles. Maybe you’ve seen those great long arms that rotate around a central pivot to put water on the fields. Where water flows, life grows. And I want to suggest that, around you and me is a circle of influence … that as God flows through us as the Holy Spirit overflows, as we said last week, “out of his heart shall flow rivers of the living water.” And that’s the Holy Spirit overflowing us. We have the opportunity for green growth, love and joy and peace to grow all around us amid the people with whom we have influence, the people who are a part of our neighborhood, so to speak. So what God wants from us after Pentecost is for the Holy Spirit to spread out to the people around us, each one of us.

But here’s what James has to say about prayer, which I think is a beautiful foundation. James 4:1, “What causes war, what causes findings among you?” Take a look at every example of conflict you run across, every argument among people, every feud that people carry on; what’s the cause of that? James says, “Is it not your passions that are at war in your members? You desire, and you do not have, so you kill. And you covet, which is a form of envy. And you cannot obtain the thing that you covet, and so you fight. And you wage war.”

What’s the cause of that? What’s the solution to that? And here’s what James says to us, “You do not have because you do not ask.” Everything boils down to whether you and I asked in prayer. Because if you don’t ask in prayer, what happens is you fall into that place of blaming and feuding with other people instead of turning to God who can help us. And not only that, James goes on to say, the third verse there, “You ask and don’t receive.” Why? Because all you’re worried about is yourself. “You ask and do not receive,” James says, “because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. Your desires.

If we want to pray more powerful prayers, nothing can lead directly to a better life than that. It’s a wonderful thing for us to learn, to ask better. And not only that, it’s one way to change the world around us. Because there is such a thing as the holy envy of consequences.

The early Methodist people followed three rules. We spent time in January in sermons talking about these three rules. The first one is there are things that we should stop. And if you stop those things, your life will get better. John Wesley put it this way. “Do no harm.” Stop doing things that harm you. Stop doing things that harm other people. Your life will instantly get better.

Number two, there are things we need to start doing. John Wesley puts it this way. “Do all the good you can,” and that’ll make your life better and the lives of people around you better.

Third, John Wesley says, and this phrase is a little hard to understand and as a result, people keep watering it down. John Wesley says, “Attend upon all the ordinances of God.” In other words, everything that God provides for you to be strong or as a spiritual person, show up and attend. Worship, Bible study, opportunities to learn, and Wesley describes each of these things.

And because the Methodist people followed these rules, instead of spending what little money they had on alcohol, which was the crack cocaine of their day, there was food on the tables in Methodist homes. Instead of spending money on gambling, the Methodist people had money to pay their rent. Instead of spending money on clothing, Methodist people were known for dressing in very plain clothing, but consequently, their children had clothing.

Now, you remember that first slide, what causes wars and fighting between you? What happened with the early Methodist people is this. People around them saw that Methodist children had clothes. Methodist children had shoes. Methodist children had food. Methodist families could pay their rent. And they wanted that. And they saw that by investing in their spiritual life, God could help them, and this holy envy for the consequences of living a spiritual life caused many people to want to follow Jesus … because they saw the benefits of following Jesus in the lives of people who were faithful. Now, the early Methodist people, they did a lot to help people. They did a lot to help the poor. But you have to imagine, as one mother looks at the family living across the street, that she’s wondering, “Why can’t our children have what they have?” And so Jesus says in Matthew 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your father who is in heaven.” Because as my prayers and your prayers are answered for yourself, people will want to come and also receive the blessing of what God is doing. And then, you can see their lives change and be blessed.

So Paul gives us four powerful prayers. There’s a pastor by the name of Larry Stockstill. He shared a practice he has involving four powerful prayers from Paul. He prays the first one in the morning, prays the second one at noon, prays the third one at supper time, and prays the fourth one at bedtime; he says that this practice increases the powers of his prayers. And we can learn from that, too.

Philippians 1:9, Paul writes, “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more with knowledge and all discernment.” And you and I can take that phrase and turn it into a prayer. “Lord Jesus, we ask that our love may abound more and more and that our love will have knowledge and discernment.”

And that prayer has consequences. Look at what they are. Paul names them, verse 10– So that you may approve what is excellent. You will know the difference between right and wrong but also between what’s good and what’s not good. And you may be pure in blameless for the day of Christ. In verse 11, You can be filled with the fruits of righteousness, which come through Jesus Christ of the glory and praise of God.

Here’s the noon prayer. “And so from the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you,” Paul writes, “Asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His Will and all spiritual wisdom and understanding.” Make it a prayer: Lord, I ask that we may be filled with the knowledge of Your Will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding. You see, you can turn that phrase into a prayer. And here are the consequences of that prayer. Verse 10– As God answers that prayer, it will empower you to lead a life worthy of the Lord, a life that is fully pleasing to Him, a life where you are bearing fruit in every good work, a life where you are increasing in the knowledge of God. Paul goes on to say, “May you be strengthened with all power.” Make it a prayer: Lord, strengthen us with all power according to your glorious might. And here are the consequences of that prayer. You’ll find that you have endurance. You will find that you have patience with joy even when times are difficult. Verse 12– You’ll find that you’ll be able to give thanks to the Father who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in life. Do you see how that works? You turn a phrase from the Scripture into a prayer and ask God to do what God says God wants to do within us.

Here’s the supper-time prayer. Ephesians 3:14. For this reason, Paul writes, I bow my knees before the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named. And this is what he prays: That according to the riches of his glory, God’s glory, he may grant you to be strengthened with might through his Spirit in the inner man. And what happens when you’re strengthened in this way? Look at verse 17. And that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. Make it a prayer: Lord, I pray that you would grant to us to be strengthened with might through your Spirit, in the inner person. And through that, Lord, we pray that Christ would dwell in our hearts through faith. And here are the consequences of that prayer. The consequence of that prayer is that you will be rooted and grounded in love. And because you are rooted and grounded in love, verse 18, you’ll have power to comprehend, to understand with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and death. You’ll be able to understand the world around you. You will be able to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge. And you will be able to be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to him, Paul writes, who by the power at work within us, because God is working in you, is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think. You see, if God answers this prayer, there will be a consequence. You will become aware of the power that God has, which is far more abundant than anything we might be able to conceive, anything that we can ask or think.

The bedtime prayer, Ephesians 1:16: I do not cease to give thanks for you, Paul writes, remembering you in my prayers that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the father of glory – here’s the prayer – may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation, in other words, of God’s will and what God is doing will be revealed– a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him. And here are the consequences of that prayer. Having the eyes of your heart enlightened, you will see what others are unable to see – and here’s the consequence – that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you. Friends, sometimes we need hope in this difficult world. That you may know, Paul writes, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints – God is able to help us. And the third consequence, you will now know the immeasurable greatness of his power working within us who believe.

Friends, these consequences are worth praying for, and in fact, the truth is, as you read the scripture, you can take any saying of Jesus and turn it into a prayer. You can take any idea that Jesus gives you about what life should be like, or what should be different. You can turn that into a prayer. Lord, help me. You can take any command of Jesus, that we are to do this or to do that, and you can say, “Lord, help me to follow you.” You can take any word of Jesus and turn it into a prayer. And you see, here’s the truth, Friends. If Jesus said it, when you pray it, you are praying according to God’s will, and you’re praying a prayer that God delights in answering. Consequently, in whatever difficulties you or I might face, also remember, we’re not in this alone; there’s this circle of people around us where we have influence. Any difficulty that other people face, the question for us is, What did Jesus say about this? And that will guide us in knowing how to pray.

Here’s an example. We pray this every week, it sinks in. This circle of influence, what is it? Help me to notice my neighbor. Why? Because the commandment is this; love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. And oh, love your neighbor as yourself.

I’ve been thinking about this for two weeks. As I would lay down at night and wait to fall asleep, I would always pray for all of my needs. And I became convicted. I now pray for my neighbor as I pray for my own needs. Lord Jesus, heal me of this illness. Oh, and heal my neighbor, Kim, she is my closest neighbor (she is my wife). But I also mention your names as they come to me because you’re my neighbors, too. Help me to notice my neighbor, and Lord work through me. Let the Holy Spirit flow through me, so that the people who are connected to me, their lives will change because it’s true, friends, you have a neighbor.

We are supposed to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. You have a circle of influence, and there are people in it, and those people are your mission field. And there might just be a few of them, but they are your mission field, and God can help them through your prayers.

So Lord, help me to notice my neighbor, and as you notice your neighbor, add your neighbors to your prayers. Because here’s the reality as you come in contact your neighbors, as you bump into them, as you see them, you know this first part of the Centering Prayer is true for you and me, but it’s also true for them.

How many times do I find myself saying, Lord, today, I am far less than the person I want to be. But what’s really smart is to include my neighbor in my prayers. Lord Jesus, we are far less than the people we want to be, far less than the people we can be with Your help. Lord Jesus, I ask today that You would be more and more the center of our lives. It’s very easy to include our neighbors in our prayers because our needs are often very similar.

And as the center of our lives, Lord, guide us to all that is good. Cleanse us from all that is not. Teach us Your ways. And form in us Your nature. Because if you only pray for yourself, you will miss seeing the great power of God flowing onward and outward from you to bless the people who are in that circle of influence. Where, as the Holy Spirit overflows you, God’s life will lift them up, solve their problems, and turn them around.

Let me remind you of what James said, “You do not have because you do not ask.” But not only that, I don’t think it’s unfair to take that third verse and say it this way: Sometimes, your neighbors do not have because you do not ask. Let’s learn to be more powerful in prayer. Let’s learn to ask God to flow through us, not just to help us, but so that people around us would be blessed. Let’s learn how to ask and pray in a better and more powerful way.

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, You look upon us in our lives, and you see our struggles. We are so thankful for Your help. We are so thankful, Lord Jesus, that You are the shepherd of the 23rd Psalm in our lives. And when we find ourselves in that place that frightens us, that place that is like the valley of the shadow of death, Lord, You come and comfort us. But Lord, help us to also be aware that around us are people who are just as afraid, just as hurt, just as much in need as we are. Lord, help our prayers to embrace them so that they might feel Your presence and Your help as well along their journey. 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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