1st Timothy 2: 1-7

"Prayers"

 

Let’s take a deep breath and open our hearts, mind, soul and spirit to receive the message that God has for us this morning. Let’s focus our thoughts on the message that the Holy One is giving to us today. Let us pray: Lord God, Lord Jesus Christ and Holy Spirit, please let the words of my mouth, and the meditations of all of our hearts, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord our Strength, our Rock and our Redeemer. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Philosopher Alfred North Whitehead once said that, "Religion is the vision of something which stands beyond, behind, and within, the passing flux of immediate things; something which is real, and yet waiting to be realized; something which is a remote possibility, and yet the greatest of present facts; something that gives meaning to all that passes, and yet eludes apprehension; something whose possession is the final good, and yet is beyond all reach; something which is the ultimate ideal, and the hopeless quest."

Scripture has many layers of meaning, and we humans also have many layers of meaning, that include the physical, emotional and psychological, as well as the spiritual. In the same way, scripture is a mirror to our emotional, psychological and spiritual self. And although some of us occasionally have an allergic reaction to certain forms of reality, God calls us to be in a prayerful relationship with Him, no matter what the case might

be. Have you ever wondered if God was listening to your prayers? In today's scripture lesson, we see Paul talking about the leaders of his time. For the Apostle Paul, you can imagine what striking difference there was between the Roman culture of Paul's time and the life that Paul is asking Christians to live into. Yet, through all the turmoil and oppression that Christians suffered, Paul continues to call Christians to prayer. He says, "I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone…This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth." This is reminiscent of John 3:17 that states, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world (That would be THE WHOLE WORLD) through Him.” Paul is not saying to rebel and make war against the Romans and turn away from the people who govern. He is asking Christians of his time to pray for the people who rule them, and that out of the prayers made for the rulers, peace would come. So, when Paul is talking to the Ephesians, I believe he is taking note of what Jesus said, which was to love others, and pray for the leaders of their world, as well as to pray for each other. Love God, and love our neighbors as ourselves,

Paul was willing to stake his career and his life on the premise of prayer: and what is that premise? It is that God listens to our prayers; that

God discerns our prayers; and that God answers our prayers. God wants each of us to be in relationship to God and others, and God asks us to do what we can to communicate with God AND others, no matter what. You know, God has big arms and is also beyond all of our theologies. God has big arms, and always hears our prayers, even or maybe especially, when they express our hurts, and our woundedness. God hears and handles all that you give Him. God hears and answers us even when we might think that God’s not listening. There have been times in my life when I needed to tell God of my hurts and my wounds and even my anger. But I think that it's not always a good thing to shake your fist at God, because it’s like a child throwing a tantrum. Yet, even Jesus Christ referred to God as ABBA Father, which basically translates as Big Daddy. God sent His Son to us to confirm for us what is important. And love is certainly at the very top of any list of what is important to God.

In fact, in the Gospels we read that God IS love, so when Paul tells us to continue in prayer, he is also confirming for us that our loving God knows each one of us completely; so stay in touch with God, and continue to pray on many levels; for ourselves, our families, for the people around us, our church and even our country, and world. Prayer, like love, covers a variety of things. I don't think we can ever go wrong by taking any problem or need

or thought to God. God's there to hear us and act out of love for us to make our lives better. Then, we might respond to God's answer to our prayers, by trying to be a better person, or try to respond to life in ways that we know would be pleasing to God and others. Repentance and love, for example.

Do you remember your baptism? When we were baptized, did we see the heavens opened and our minds suddenly see the light as Jesus did, after His baptism? Of course, God works in mysterious ways, and it might take some time for the Holy Spirit to work in us. Yet each of us knows from our experiences that God works within us to bless us in many ways. Even if we can’t get our arms completely around the idea or concept of God’s presence, or the love of God, we know that we can still communicate with God. And Paul invites us today to be in relationship with God through prayer.

The Bible says to pray without ceasing! So, how's your prayer life? Do you pray every day and bring to God, our ABBA Father, the concerns, hurts and love that we know God wants to hear about? Do we pray a lot, or only on Sunday? Do we honor God by being in thankful prayerful relationship with God, or do we shake our fist at God and accuse, rather than pray? In a way, it's OK. God's not just listening! God answers our prayers!

God-moments in life are the results of many prayers that have been offered by each of us. God listens to our prayers, and answers each of them,

lovingly. But for a God-moment to happen, we need to first pray, and allow time for the Holy Spirit to work in our lives to answer the prayers that we give to God. We've also got to remember that God isn’t Santa Claus. We may not always appreciate the answers we get to our prayers, but if we're in prayer, we'll always know that God hears us, and works to answer our prayers in God’s timing. And remember, it’s all for God’s glory, not ours.

Because we have the freedom of choice that we came out of the Garden of Eden with, we can make wrong decisions that pull us away from God's blessing and into sin (Hamartia in the Greek); but God will always be there to hear and respond to us if we will only be in a prayerful relationship with Him. God has said, "I will never leave you, nor will I ever forsake you." God is revealed in our lives as power to resist temptation and the strength to overcome evil. “Lead us NOT into temptation but deliver us from evil!” The grace of God is that power that helps us to change our uselessness and hopelessness into a useful, normal person. God loves us and is compassionate toward we sinners and is willing to help us if we are willing to let go and let God work within us, indwelling us with the Holy Spirit. God’s grace gives each of us the peace of mind and the serenity of character to always be willing to change for the better. Then, we can pray to

see God’s grace in the strength God gives us, and the love, forgiveness, peace and mercy that God’s presence promises to each of us.

In today’s scripture lesson, Paul speaks about the prayer life that we can all have with God. He says, "This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and humankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all humanity--the testimony given in its proper time. And for this purpose, I, Paul, was appointed a herald and an apostle--I am telling the truth, I am not lying--and a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles."

Paul invites us to a prayerful relationship with Jesus Christ, God’s Son. For God, many times a miracle is the outcome of sincere prayer: an extravagant blessing and a natural happening that is brought about by spiritual forces. If we search and look around a little, we’ll discover that miracles happen much more than we might imagine. We live in a world where the possibility for love, extravagant blessings and radical hospitality are ever present as an answer to our prayers. God’s living spirit, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that fills us, and our belief in Christ Jesus, is a beacon that keeps our body, mind, soul and spirit on the positive, the Godly, and the Holy. “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things,

endures all things. Love never fails.” Jesus said, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to them..." Prayer is the way to God’s heart, and God always hears our knocking. Today, Jesus Christ is knocking at the door to your heart of hearts and wants to give you His radical hospitality that is in fact, eternal life. Let Jesus Christ into your heart today and I promise you that you will always have the Godly love, the joy, and the real life that you never thought possible. God always loves, always blesses and will always feed you, if you will only ask him. Amen? Amen!

Let us pray: Lord God, away from the world and hidden from public view, I exchange my weariness for Your strength, my weakness for Your power, my darkness for Your light, my problems for Your solution, my burdens for Your freedom, my frustrations for Your peace, my turmoil for Your calm, my hopes for Your promises, my afflictions for Your balm of comfort, my questions for Your answers, my confusion for Your knowledge, my doubt for Your assurance, my nothingness for Your awesomeness, the temporal for the eternal and the impossible for the possible. Amen.