14 Oct Seeking God’s Will in Prayer
Our Need to Give
Here at Good Shepherd we are in the midst of launching a three-year capital appeal. To do that we are in week two of a five-week sermon series built on the foundation of Jeremiah 29:11 along with including Gospel and other readings to help us frame the scope of the task in front of us, how we intend to tackle that task, and why our church is called to eliminate our debt in the first place!
Last week fittingly we heard messages around the idea of our need to give. Ronda Beggs made a very insightful comment in her temple talk when she noticed that often our generosity campaigns are centered on the church’s need to receive. Lutherans are sometimes very passive when it comes to the need to give beyond ourselves as a spiritual discipline. We are nervous that it sounds, perhaps, like just another money-raising scheme. We are perhaps anxious that in an oversubscribed community we will be lost in the noise of all of the other worthy organizations seeking support. We reminded ourselves that in the midst of the chaos of the world when anxiety is running high and certainty is running low, communities of faith (like this one) are called upon by God to remember to have hope and to continue to build and plant and pray. In the midst of Israel’s exile from Jerusalem, they were called upon to build, plant and pray. Just as Israel did we too are being called upon to remind ourselves and our community that God has plans for us here in Madison and Verona. We are being called into a new generation of ministry and that requires us to make sure that our buildings are functioning as true mission bases, that we are using every technology available to us to make that ministry and mission have an impact here and beyond our walls, and that we have the ability to fully fund our operations.
In Jeremiah 29 we hear of God’s expectation that his people be found at prayer. “Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you.” These words from Jeremiah to the exiles are a reminder to them and to us that God has promised to listen to our prayers to him. This is a powerful and humbling reminder that the God who created us seeks to be in a relationship with us. Our personal contact with God affects the course and nature of our relationship with Him. Have you ever found relationships with little to no communication to be satisfying to you? The same goes for your relationship with God.
Jeremiah was the first prophet whose personal prayer life was known. He meditated with God quite often and his meditations were conversations of a sort: a form of prayer that included praise, confession, and petition.
In Jeremiah 10 it is written, “I know, O Lord, that the way of human beings is not in their control, that mortals, as they walk, cannot direct their steps. Correct me, O Lord, but in just measure; not in your anger, or you will be me to nothing.” In these words, Jeremiah confesses that he knows exactly the nature of humanity’s situation. That we are not in control, God is. This act of utter surrender is one that it does us well to remind ourselves about especially when things get as sad or chaotic as they seem to be all around us. We do not have control over everything that is going to happen to us in this life but we do have control over our relationship with God. Why waste the precious moments God has given us over things we can’t control?
Components of Prayer
It is through regular prayer with God that God’s grace and mercy move from being just words on a page or something that you heard in church once to being found in our hearts because the relationship that you heard someone else has with God has now become a relationship you have as well.
Martin Luther broke down the basic components of prayer and found that their were four:
- We pray because God commanded it and so when we pray we will often remind God that we are speaking to Him because he told us to.
- God has promised to hear us just as we heard from Jeremiah this morning
- When we pray we should always examine our own needs or miseries. This seems to be common sense but what a wonderful permission we have been given to actually ask our God, our creator for what we need.
- Finally, Luther says that we are to pray in true faith based on the Word and the Promise that God will hear us and help us. In short, have confidence.
And all of this we do in the name of Jesus Christ for it is on His account that God gives us grace and every good.
Brothers and sisters, a life of prayer is not optional. Every time you hear that tiny voice saying that you aren’t good enough to pray or good enough at prayer – that is the voice of the evil one lying to you. Each of us is equipped with everything we need to pray to God. Do not wait until you deem yourself worthy to approach your creator for in sending Jesus Christ God deemed us worthy, He wants to be in a personal relationship with you. He has big plans for you as he does for us.
I invite you all to give the power of prayer during this campaign. Pray with me that our members respond to God’s call to be generous with the gifts that God has given us. Prayerfully consider your own response when the time comes.
Don’t misread me. It is hard work to establish a spiritual connection between ourselves and our God, but that connection, once established, can accomplish amazing things for you, for us, and for our world!
Thanks be to God.