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On the Journey...
Monthly Insight From Pastor Phil Yoder
For the past several months, we have been studying prayer in our sermon series, trying to better understand the dynamics of prayer and why it is important for Christians to make disciplined prayer a part of their daily routine. Without a doubt, one of the greatest gifts God gives to His people is prayer, the right to have the ear of the one who created the universe. It is not that nonbelievers don’t have this same privilege, they do. It’s just that they don’t see any value in it, think it’s like talking to the air, that it’s wasted time.
Prayer is a privilege unlike anything else in this world, a phenomenal privilege to enter an arena with the ruler of the universe, and to present our cases. And the amazing thing is that God stops and listens to us… and then answers us! If I had access to the White House, the FED, or the United Nations, or any of the other great power centers of the world, I would have a well-worn path to those places to air my opinions. And yet those places are piddly small compared to the place God invites us to! God invites His children to enter His throne room, to come before His throne, and to come boldly. Why, oh why, are Christians reluctant to pray?
There are many reasons to pray. I have found prayer to be a great stress reliever. I Peter 5:7 reminds us to “cast our cares on God, because God cares for us.” Prayer is the channel through which the peace of God flows into our hearts. Prayer is power. Many people, especially oppressed people, turn to God in prayer because they have no other place to find power for their lives. In Acts 12 there is the story of an angel coming into prison and leading Peter out of prison as the church was praying for him. God answered the church’s prayers in a much greater way than anyone expected. The church has now tasted the power of God, of God working on their behalf, and all of a sudden, nothing is hopeless anymore. If God does this, what else might God do? God has unleashed a power in this world, and it so often comes through the prayers of the church.
But most of all, prayer is relationship. Prayer is a relationship with God in which we learn to trust the goodness of God, and the wisdom of God, and to cast ourselves into the arms of God, and there, discover the depths of God’s love for us. The Bible tells us that God loves us, but it is in prayer that we feel it.
When I was a small boy, one night I awoke just a few hours after going to bed, and I got up to use the bathroom. Very quietly, I came out of my room, and there, I heard my mother and father praying. I stopped to listen to what they were saying, and they were praying for me. I heard my name!! That was the night I began to suspect that I may be important, not only to my parents, but also to God. That is still one of the most powerful moments of my life. We are very fortunate to belong to a church that prays for each other. In recent months, I have heard testimony after testimony of those who have said they felt the arms of the congregation around them as they went through some crisis, and the prayers of the congregation enabled them to face their crisis without fear or anxiety, knowing that both God and the church were there lifting them up. In two places the Bible tells us that Jesus is in heaven interceding for us (Hebrews 7:25, and Romans 8:34). God hears my name, and God hears your name, in heaven, and on a regular basis. And God is paying attention! That is no small thing!
Written by Philip Yoder