Page 120 was a Sunday but it found me awake early as there was a lot I needed to get done before our Bible School and worship gathering times began. With a group in the building, I had cut my Friday evening cleaning a little short so I began today with finishing up that cleaning and prep before people began arriving. As I cleaned bathrooms, glass doors, and floors, I kept running through the sermon in my mind as God continued to refine if before my opportunity to share it. Once the building was cleaned and ready, I turned my attention to setting up the prayer ministry display as I would have the opportunity to share about Impact Prayer Ministry prior to preaching. As people began arriving, I would answer any questions they had about the prayer ministry and encourage them to take any of the printed material that they would use.
During the morning worship gathering I was privileged to share a message from the book of James that I titled, “A Prayer of FAITH”. The initial text was James 5:13-16 where James says that the “prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up.” Considering that I know of no individuals alive today that was living at the time James wrote these instructions, I believe we may need to examine how the sick person becoming well and the Lord raising them up are connected. In fact, the next verse goes on to say the person will be forgiven if they have sinned. The Bible teaches that those who have been buried with Christ will be raised with Christ, so I believe that being made well and raised by the Lord in response to the prayer offered in faith is a wellness that goes way beyond our physical infirmities. But the heart of that discussion may be for another time, today’s focus was on having a lifestyle of prayer that continually prays prayers of faith. As with most of my preaching, the outline followed a word and today’s word was FAITH.
- A prayer of faith is a prayer of Focus: The Bible teaches that we should “set our minds on things above, not on things of this earth.” This is critical in our prayer life as we focus on what God desires rather than on what we want. A prayer of focus seeks to bring God’s view of everything into clarity and practice. When we set our mind, and our prayers, on the things of God, we seek to follow a steadfast path that the Bible describes as “straight and narrow”.
- A prayer of faith is a prayer of Acceptance: James teaches that we should “accept the word [of God]” that is planted within us. When we apply this to our prayer life, we begin to accept God’s word as authoritative in everything. We accept that God’s love for us desires only our good, so we pray with a submissive spirit that accepts, and follows, the example of Jesus who prayed, “not my will, but Thine be done.”
- A prayer of faith is a prayer of Insight: Part of our prayer of faith are prayers that are prayed with insight that can only come from God and His presence revealed to us through His Son and His Word. James tells us that we should “gaze intently into the perfect law which gives freedom, and then continue to do what it says.” It is Gods Word that gives us insight into the heart, will, and desires of God so that we can pray according to what He wants.
- A prayer of faith is a prayer of Trust: One of the great hindrances in the prayer lives of many is the level of trust, or lack of it, when it comes to God coming through for us. We hear things, like “the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well”, and we interpret them according to what we want. When we pray and the sickness persists we begin to think God can’t be trusted because our expectation was a physical wellness. James says that a person should “humble yourself before the Lord, and He will lift you up.” A prayer of faith trusts that God will do just that no matter what.
- A prayer of faith is a prayer of Hope: Hope can be a difficult word in our modern culture because we often dismiss it as simply wishful thinking. When the Bible talks about the hope we have in Christ, it is a confident expectation that if we “don’t become weary in doing good, that in due season we will reap a harvest.” When James writes to those who are being persecuted, he tells them to “be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming in near.” It is the coming of Christ, who promises to raise all those who are in Christ, that gives the Christian great hope in the midst of any and all circumstances. Our prayers of faith aren’t wishful thinking, rather they are prayers of hope knowing that when Christ returns He will make all things right.
After the worship gathering I spent some more time talking with people about the prayer ministry before going to lunch with my family. The afternoon has been spent relaxing and unwinding as I get ready for the start of another work week. As I went through some photos I took on Friday, I chose today’s photo of a pair of osprey on a nesting pole at Potato Creek State Park. I believe they are working on hatching some eggs as they took turns sitting on the nest and appeared very deliberate in the changing roles from sitting to standing guard. God has called us into relationship with Him not just to free us from the penalty of sin, but to also equip us to care for one another as we nurture the young and stand guard against anything that may be a source of danger.
As I reflect on the day, here are some thoughts/lessons that stand out to me:
- God’s desire is that all of His children serve one another.
- Sometimes we like how, and who, God wants us to serve, sometimes we don’t. Serve anyway!
- Our attitude in serving usually improves when someone appreciates what we do. Be the one who appreciates the service of others and be sure to tell them so.
- When we surrender to God, He will use our weaknesses for His glory.
- God’s gifts to me are gifts He expects me to share with others.
- “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” That truth explains why faith must be the fuel that powers our prayers.
- Authentic Christianity will lead us to caring for others as we learn to bear one another’s burdens through both prayer and action.