Everybody Wins! When People Pray: Prayer?

2Chronicles 7:13-16;Acts 1:12-14
Just what is prayer?  That is a question that has nagged at me for most of my life.  On the one hand, the answer is quite simple, prayer is talking to God.  On the other hand, it is much more complicated as it is also listening to God.  Listening is a much more difficult operation.  We all can talk up storm if we are so inclined, but listening is a much more difficult art.  Scripture is quite clear that if we ask we shall receive (Matthew 21:22).  But why should I have to ask if Father already knows what it is that I need?  Why wouldn’t He give me what I need?  The general culture of the Church has this idea of ‘praying saints’, people who somehow have a special connection with God and are willing to go to great extremes in order to have their prayers heard.  Do I really have to prove myself to God, prove that I really am in earnest in order for my prayer to be heard and get an answer?

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Everybody Wins! Get In The Game: Seek

1Corinthians 12
In the realm of the Spirit and spiritual gifts, it would seem to me that we are by definition, clueless.  Our entire world, our perceptions, our thinking, our experience is rooted in the physical and the temporal.  That point of view is what we operate out of, it is how we define life and see the world around us.  We see the sun rise and set, we think in terms of seasons and years, yesterday, today and tomorrow.  We relate to the people around us and tend to see them in physical terms, short, tall, big, small, blond or brunette.  We see our days as centered around physical tasks, of getting the mail in, making breakfast, eating supper, getting that deal done or the kids off to school or off to bed.  The world in its’ physical manifestation is the foundation of our perceptions and thinking.  And that is as it should be.

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Everybody Wins! Get In The Game: Team

1Corinthians 12:7-11
“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.  To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.  All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines” (1Corinthians 12:7-11 NIV).

Do you like sports?  Whether we’re fans or not, most of us have watched enough team sporting events to appreciate that it takes specifically different skills to play each position.  In baseball, for example, a catcher can certainly throw a ball the distance between home plate and the pitcher’s mound, but he could not compete with the speed and pin-point accuracy of the pitcher.  On the other hand, the pitcher is not skilled in getting his glove on a fastball thrown at him the way the catcher is.  Evidence of this is seen as the pitcher ducks when the ball is hit directly in his path.

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Everybody Wins! Get In The Game: Partners

2Timothy 1:1-14
‘For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.  For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline’ (2Timothy 1:6-7 NASB).  These words are written by Paul to his protégé Timothy.  Paul left Timothy to lead the church in Ephesus as he continued on his mission to preach the Gospel and plant churches within the Mediterranean basin.  The church at Ephesus is not an easy charge.  It is full of lively debate and conflict as the people there wrestle with just what it is the Gospel means and a significant portion of that conflict and debate centered around the Law and just who was really going to lead the Ephesian church (1Timothy 1:3-7).  Timothy has been in the game and it doesn’t take much to see in these words of Paul that Timothy has taken a beating.  The good news for Timothy is that even though Paul has left Ephesus, he is still in Timothy’s corner.

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Everybody Wins! When Hearts Break: Jesus’ Grief

John 11:1-43
Lazarus is sick.  This is an understatement, as Lazarus is at the point of death in Bethany.  So his sisters, Mary and Martha, send word to Jesus, the Great Physician, requesting healing on his behalf.  Mary is the same one who poured perfume on Jesus’ feet and wiped them with her own hair (John 12:1-11).  This same Mary sat at Jesus’ feet while her sister, Martha was busy with the housekeeping (Luke 10: 38-42).  Mary’s place seems to be assumed at Jesus’ feet.  Jesus matters to Mary.

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Everybody Wins! When Hearts Break: Burdens

Galatians 6:1-5
“Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.  For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself” (Galatians 6:2-3 NASB).  It would seem to me that the implication of Paul’s statement here in Galatians is that the fundamental barrier to bearing one another’s burdens and fulfilling the law of Christ, is our own thinking, our own perceptions of our own value.  When we think of ourselves as ‘something’ when the reality is that we are nothing, we put ourselves in a position we have no business being in and just plain get in the way.  We get in the way of the Holy Spirit, we get in the way of the Church, we get in the way of ourselves and we just plain ‘gum up’ the works.

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