Song “I will enter his gates” Song no 337 2 verses
Father we come to you as people who have had our lives disrupted for a year now and we are all feeling frustrated with not being able to meet and share fellowship with others, but Lord, we thank you for the protection you have provided during this pandemic and pause for a moment to remember those who were not so fortunate and the families that are grieving at this time. Lord you know who they are and we ask you to be a remarkably close presence at this very vulnerable time. We thank you for the selfless service of the NHS staff and all emergency personal who are taking on roles that they would not normally be responsible for; we thank you for the troops that are involved with helping the NHS at this terribly busy time. I don’t think anyone has ever experienced times such as these but, Lord this is no surprise for you and we come to you today with hearts full of love and gratitude in the knowledge that you are in control and although your will can be delayed by the actions of man it will always ultimately come to pass. Holy spirt stay with us as we continue to worship you.
In Jesus name
Song “What a friend we have in Jesus” Song no 795l
1One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
2 He said to them, “When you pray, say:
“‘Father,[a] hallowed be your name, your kingdom come.[b] 3 Give us each day our daily bread. 4 Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.[c]And lead us not into temptation.[d]’”
5 Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6 a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ 7 And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed.
I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity[e] he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.
9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
Song “Take my life” Song no 623
Have you ever wondered what it would have been like to be one of Jesus disciples? To have spent three years watching him, listening to his teachings, seeing him work some of the most wonderful miracles and even raise the dead. What must that have been like? To witness the joy of a parent whose child was dying, now standing completely healed. Or the expression on the face of a man as he embraces his wife, children, and family for the first time in years having now been cured of leprosy no longer an outcast. Life for them had to be full of expectation they probably never knew what would happen next.
So, I find it interesting that, having witnessed all this, the only thing they ever asked Jesus to do was to teach them to pray. They did not ask for a seminar on raising the dead or a lecture on demon possession and how to expel demons, they asked him to teach them how to pray. I am also confused that they asked this question because they are Jews, they had attended temple and witnessed priests praying to God, surely they knew how to pray.
But they had watched Jesus talking to the Father and they wanted to talk to God like that. They may have noticed that Jesus received his power to heal and work miracles through prayer and they wanted Gods power themselves. (I know I would not mind being able to heal people).
He starts by telling them to address God as Father, the word used here is ‘Abba’ the closest word we have in English is ‘Daddy’. Now I cannot help feeling that perhaps this sounded a little disrespectful, after all this is the creator of the universe that we are talking about. But I think it has more to do with Jesus teaching us how we approach God. You see it is extremely hard to approach God full of self-pride when you are using words like daddy. You are forced to approach in a childlike manner; much like a child approaches their Father.
I have friends who have small children and when I have accompanied them to pick their children up from school there are just as many dad’s pickings their children up as there are mum’s and to hear the children run out and greet their dad’s with: -
Hi Dad, have you got the car with you?
Hi, Dad, this is Tommy can he come home for tea with us?
Hi, Dad, I just need some money and I can go on this trip, it will be great.
I heard children excited to talk to their dad, to tell him about their day. However, what I didn’t hear was: -
Most merciful and caring Father, how self-sacrificing it is of you to come to my place of education and take time out of your day to provide me with domestic transportation. I am of course filled with gratitude. Would it be at all possible for my friend to dine with us tonight? I know my transgressions have been many this week, and I have gone astray from the path you would have had me walk, but if you can show me grace and grant my request I would be so grateful, but of course, only if it is your will?
So many of us approach God and feel as if we need to address Him in a certain way. That if we incorporate scripture into our prayers that somehow God will have to answer our prayers in the way we want. But Jesus is encouraging us to approach God as a child approaches their parent and expect him to answer. I found a story in a book by Helen Roseveare, Missionary to Africa
One night I had worked hard to help a mother in the labour ward; but despite all we could do, she died leaving us with a tiny premature baby and a crying two-year-old daughter. We would have difficulty keeping the baby alive as we had no incubator (we had no electricity to run an incubator).
We also had no special feeding facilities. Although we lived on the equator, nights were often chilly with treacherous drafts. One student midwife went for the box we had for such babies and the cotton wool that the baby would be wrapped in. Another went to stoke up the fire and fill a hot water bottle. She came back shortly in distress to tell me that in filling the bottle, it had burst (rubber perishes easily in tropical climates). “And it is our last hot water bottle!” she exclaimed. “All right,” I said, “put the baby as near the fire as you safely can, and sleep between the baby and the door to keep it free from drafts. Your job is to keep the baby warm.”
The following noon, as I did most days, I went to have prayers with any of the orphanage children who chose to gather with me. I gave the youngsters various suggestions of things to pray about and told them about the tiny baby. I explained our problem about keeping the baby warm enough, mentioning the hot water bottle, and that the baby could so easily die if it got chills. I also told them of the two-year-old sister, crying because her mother had died. During prayer time, one ten-year old girl, Ruth, prayed with the usual blunt conciseness of our African children. “Please, God” she prayed, “send us a hot water bottle. It’ll be no good tomorrow, God, as the baby will be dead, so please send it this afternoon.”
While I gasped inwardly at the audacity of the prayer, she added, “And while you are about it, would you please send a dolly for the little girl so she’ll know you really love her?”
As often with children’s prayers, I was put on the spot. Could I honestly say, “Amen”? I just did not believe that God could do this. Oh, yes, I know that He can do everything, the Bible says so. But there are limits, aren’t there? The only way God could answer this particular prayer would be by sending me a parcel from homeland. I had been in Africa for almost four years at that time, and I had never, ever received a parcel from home. Anyway, if anyone did send me a parcel, who would put in a hot water bottle? I lived on the equator! Halfway through the afternoon, while I was teaching in the nurses’ training school, a message was sent that there was a car at my front door.
By the time I reached home, the car had gone, but there, on the veranda, was a large twenty-two pound parcel. I felt tears pricking my eyes. I could not open the parcel alone, so I sent for the orphanage children. Together we pulled off the string, carefully. Excitement was mounting. Some thirty or forty pairs of eyes were focused on the large cardboard box.
From the top, I lifted out brightly coloured, knitted jerseys. Eyes sparkled as I gave them out. Then there were the knitted bandages for the leprosy patients, and the children looked a little bored. Then came a box of mixed raisins and sultanas – that would make a batch of buns for the weekend. Then, as I put my hand in again, I felt the … could it really be? I grasped it and pulled it out – yes, a brand-new, rubber hot water bottle. I cried. I had not asked God to send it; I had not truly believed that He could. Ruth was in the front row of the children. She rushed forward, crying out, “If God has sent the bottle, and He must have sent the dolly too! Rummaging down to the bottom of the box, she pulled out the small, beautifully dressed dolly. Her eyes shone! She had never doubted! Looking up at me, she asked: “Can I go over with you and give this dolly to that little girl, so she’ll know that Jesus really loves her?”
That parcel had been on the way for five whole months. Packed up by my former Sunday school class, whose leader had heard and obeyed God’s prompting to send a hot water bottle, even to the equator. And one of the girls had put in a dolly for an African child – five months before, in answer to the believing prayer of a ten-year-old to bring it “that afternoon.”
In Isaiah 65:24 it says: -
Before they call, I will answer; while they are still speaking, I will hear.
And Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:7-8
And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
We really should not worry about approaching God with anything. He already knows our situations and what we need before we ask. We should be bold with our prayers and ask expectantly.
Jesus continues his teaching with a story of perseverance. Now at this point I want to remind you that two thousand years ago rabbis used to teach using extremes, the moral of this story is not that if your prayer long enough God will eventually give you what you want in order just to get rid of you.
So, let take a look at what Jesus is trying to teach. First thing to notice is that the man is extremely specific when making his request, he didn’t ask for some loaves but three loaves. This shows us that we need to be specific when asking God for our needs When we pray generally, we are ignoring our need for God and his power in all areas of our life. Plus, it makes it hard to identify answered prayer.
If I pray God bless the missionaries, I can rejoice that the missionaries were blessed, but if I pray that a certain missionary is blessed in a specific way and they are, I know my prayer was answered. And by praying persistently we acknowledge our continued dependence on God and can agree with Jesus when he says In Johns gospel “apart from me you can do nothing”. If I think I can go it on my own I will be humbled by God, I will experience irritation, aggravation and frustration in my life.
A young boy once asked his father to explain what the difference was between irritation, aggravation and frustration and his father said come with me and he picked up the phone and dialled a random number. When a man answered he asked, “Can I speak to Joe please?” “Sorry, there is no Joe here you must have the wrong number” the man said. That is irritation said his father. Hitting redial the man answered again “Can I speak to Joe please?” his father asked. “I told you there is no Joe here” the man said, “and if you call again, I will call the police”. That is aggravation his father said. “What about frustration his son asked?” Picking up the phone his father hit redial again and when the man answered he said, “Hi, I’m Joe, do I have any messages?”
But I do not think I need to explain what frustration is to you but, if you want less of it in your life can I suggest that you pray more and persistently. God wants the best for you and prayer is the power supply to keep your Christian life vibrant and effective. Daddy is waiting to hear from you. The bible says cast all your care upon him because he cares for you.
Song “I need thee” Song no 707
Father it is our hearts desire to serve you to the best of our ability. But as we gain experience and step out in faith, we are tempted to forget it is not we who are achieving anything but your spirit that is that is achieving your will through us.
Father we can only follow you if we spend time receiving your plan for us and this can only be achieved by spending time in your presence in prayer. Father help us to prioritise this time above anything else in our lives. Help us to resist the thought that we can always pray later and then run out of time.
Lord we need you, please help us to use our time in lockdown to spend more time in your word and in conversation with you.
In Jesus name
Song “O Happy Day” Song no 882
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:5-6)
Thank you for reading
Written by Fiona H