ALL TO WORSHIP:
ONE: God, our God, how glorious is Your name in all the earth!
ALL: Your glory is sung by all Your creation!
ONE: When we look to the heavens, the work of Your hands, the moon and the stars, we wonder- who are we that You care for us and for this world?
ALL: You are the God of life, crowning us with glory and honour to serve You all our days. 0 God, our God, how glorious is Your name in all the earth!
OPENING PRAYER: Be gracious to us today our Lord, for we are in need of Your mercy. We are often too quick to doubt and slow to pray. We are tempted to let go of faith when we need to hang on. We are discouraged by wrong when we need to be encouraged by Your Spirit. 0 God, we are thankful for the strength You give us to trust in You all the days of our lives. Amen.
Dear Lord, we offer our gifts to You, who claims us as children, who names us beloved, and who celebrates our presence. Use these gifts and our service to further Your kingdom. Thanks be to God. Amen
PRAYER & THE LORD'S PRAYER: (Choir sings 0 Lord, hear my prayer )
Lord God, You are the father of all people and we come before You today with our prayers, knowing that You will hear us, help us and guide us.
We have come together in the name of Christ to offer our praise and thanksgiving, to hear and receive God's holy Word, and to pray for the needs of the world. We come to seek the forgiveness of our sins, that by the power of the Holy Spirit, we may give ourselves to the service of God. As we rejoice in the gift of this new day, so may the light of Your presence, 0 God, set our hearts on fire with love for You, now and forever.
Gathering our prayers and praises into one, as our Saviour has taught us, so we pray: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever, Amen.
SCRIPTURE READING: 1 Samuel 2:1-10 (Page 41-8)
When Hannah, received the child Samuel she had begged God for, her first instinct is to praise the One who provided. She wants to thank Him for His greatness and His deliverance. Too often we pray before receiving, but forget to pray after God answers. Let this prayer, Hannah's prayer of praise, guide you in thanks.
EDITATION: Teach Me To Pray
A five year old girl was attending a formal wedding with her grandmother.
She had gone to Sunday school every week but she had never attended a formal church service. During the wedding, the minister said, "Let us pray." Each person bowed his or her head in prayer. The little girl looked around and saw all heads bowed and eyes turned toward the floor, and she whispered,
"Grandmother, what are they all looking for?"
That's the question: what are we all looking for when we pray? Prayer is
one of the most powerful privileges God has granted us. Prayer is a crucial and integral part of being a Christian. It's one of the most important things we can do. We need to know that even if all the world seems too busy, or when it seems like no one is listening to us, God is always there to hear our prayers and care about the things we do. We have a loving God with whom we can communicate, anytime, anywhere.
Just think about it — we can have a conversation with the creator of the entire universe! So how can we make our prayers the up close and personal interaction with God that we desire? Does anyone here like to talk on the phone? Do you Skype, email, message or text? Talking with people is important to us. We make sure we can communicate with others wherever and whenever we want. So if talking to other people is easy, and we do it all the time, why is it so hard spending time talking to God?
If you have a friend, you want to talk to him or her, and you want to hear what he or she has to say in return. Friends talk. They talk about all kinds of things. We're rarely too busy to communicate with our family and friends, so why do we say we're busy to talk with God? Or maybe it's because we don't see Him. Out of sight — out of mind. Or maybe it's because we just don't know how to talk to God. We might question whether He is really listening. Or maybe we think our problems are too small and inconsequential to bother God with.
Sometimes we wonder if God is really there, but trust me, He is. When we look around us and see all that has been created, we can't help but know that there is a God. In the past, and even now, people have pretended that God didn't exist. They wouldn't acknowledge Him as Creator or give thanks to Him for all that He had made. As a result, the Bible says, "Their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened."
I'm sure no one here wants anything like that to happen to us. And this gives us an excellent reason to pray. We're able to pray and give thanks to God for who He is and for all that He has done. If you don't pray already, perhaps a good way to start would be to pray and thank God when you notice something in nature that reminds you of who He is and what He has created.
If you stop and think about it, praying is really very easy. It's as simple as talking to someone you love. All you have to do is remember the 4 letters in the word TALK.
T: Take the time. Find time in your day to talk to God. Pray at the
same every day. Make it a habit, like brushing your teeth or taking a shower.
A: Ahhhhh Quiet! Find a quiet place. Turn off the TV, turn your music
off and find a way to escape. Sit out in your backyard, find a quiet corner or hide away in your bedroom if that's what it takes.
L: Learn from God's word. Read one verse a day. And if you're up for the
challenge, read one chapter a day. Try to understand what God is saying to you.
K: Keep a prayer plan. Write down praises, prayer requests or verses that
mean a lot to you. It's really easy. Take a look at your hand — you have 5 fingers, and there are 5 parts of prayer.
I'm going to pass around some jelly beans. I want each of you to take one jelly bean at random, but don't eat it until I tell you to. I went to a lot of trouble getting these jelly beans. I had to taste test several kinds before I made my final selection. And since it was a candy store, I also had to try several other kinds of candy and chocolates. So I hope you can appreciate the sacrifice I had to make.
Now, as they're passed around, let's think about when and why we are supposed to pray. As Christians, we are instructed to pray continually and to pray in every situation, especially if we are anxious about it. The reason for this is that prayer accomplishes things. Remember what Jesus said, "Whatever you ask in my name, the Father will give You." This means if you ask something which is in God's will for us, He will give it to us. We are also told if we pray with thanksgiving and present our requests to God, that the peace of God which passes all understanding, will keep our hearts and minds in Jesus Christ. This is a very great promise, and it gives us a good reason to begin praying in every situation. What would the world give for peace of mind?
Alright, does everyone have a jelly bean? No, don't eat it just yet. Before
you do, I want to let you know that all the jelly beans are not the same. Some are sweet, some are hot and spicy, some are sour and some taste like dark chocolate.
If you get a sweet tasting jelly bean, I want you to thank God for a sweet time in your life. If your jelly bean is sour or bitter, ask God to help you add sweetness to someone else's day. If you taste hot and spicy, ask God to keep you excited about serving Him. And if the flavour of your jelly bean is dark chocolate, pray for someone who is going through a difficult time. Now, let's all taste and pray.
This jelly bean tasting exercise is a demonstration of how easy it is to pray. There is always something or someone to pray for. We are so fortunate to know God and know that He loves us. By praying to Him, by praising Him and giving Him thanks, our lives will be filled with the love, grace and goodness of God.
Offering praise at the beginning of our prayers is a way to focus us on the blessings we've received, and serves as a brief worship before starting our conversation with God, the creator of all things. We serve a God who cares deeply for His creation and longs so very much to be in a relationship with each and every one of us. Prayer is absolutely necessary to that relationship because prayer is the way we can talk personally and intimately with God.
Let us pray together. You'll find the prayer on the back of your bulletin.
Heavenly Father, You have brought me to the beginning of a new day. As the world is renewed fresh and clean, so I ask you to renew my heart with Your strength and purpose. Forgive me the errors of yesterday and bless me to walk closer in Your ways today. This is the day I begin my life anew; shine through me so that every person I meet may feel Your presence in my soul. Take my hand, precious Lord, for I cannot make it by myself.
Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering or embarrassing
others. Give me the physical strength to bear the labours of this day. Direct my will, teach me to pray and pray in me. All this we ask in Jesus' name. Amen.
BENEDICTION & CHORAL AMEN: Loving God, we thank You for hearing our prayers, feeding us with Your word and encouraging us in our gathering today. Take us and use us to love and serve You and all people in the power of Your Spirit and in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
“The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.”
― Søren Kierkegaard
What are some of the things that cause you worry and anxiety? I can tell you, every morning, I get out of bed and swear to myself that I'm not gonna pick up the newspaper.I'm not gonna switch on CNN. I'm not gonna even wonder what he's doing, or planning, or thinking today. And if you don't know who HE is, ask me later., and I promise I'll rant
about it for a couple of hours.
Each of us deals with worry in big and small ways at various points in our lives and for various reasons. There might be times when we are anxious about our health, or maybe our big worry is finances. Sometimes, when the hospital bills begin mounting, we worry about both at the same time. Or maybe we worry about our children. Are they healthy? Are they doing okay in school? Will they be able to care for me as get older? Then there are the smaller worries that fill our thoughts from day-to-day. When will I have time to get in touch with that friend that messaged me last week?
Will the recently completed project at work be acceptable to my boss or will I need to start all over again? Will I ever be able to get the house clean again?
We usually say, "Nothing is certain in this life but death and taxes." I think we could also say fairly, "Nothing is certain in this life but death, and taxes...and worry." I suspect we'd be tying if any of us said we never worry about anything. But how about this one: have you ever worried about being imprisoned and killed because of your faith? I'd almost be
willing to bet this is one matter that has never caused any of us anxiety. We are fortunate that we live in a country where, we are free to live out faith and practice our religion without fear of persecution. But this has not always been true, even as it is still not true in every country today. Almost 2,000 years ago when Paul wrote this letter to the Church in Philipi, it is believed he was imprisoned in Rome.
Early on in the letter, he speaks of his upcoming sentence, and he also shares his optimism in the face of death. Where we pick up this morning, Paul is urging the Philippians to always rejoice in the Lord, to be glad in every circumstance. Paul, imprisoned in Rome and facing a sentence of death is enthusiasticaly encouraging his brothers and sisters in Christ to always be glad and rejoice. And he's not talking about some simplr feeling of happiness within; when Paul says, "Rejoice!" He means get out and celebrate exuberantly, dance with reckless abandon, hug all your riends, neighbors, relatives, and even strangers! Be glad! Can you imagine? Can you imagine be so happy when there is so much to worry about? Clearly, Paul has a handle on something that frees him from anxiety, and today we are going to spend some time talking about what that is.
Now, there is the obvious reason for Paul's near exuberance in his letter written from a Roman prison, and that is simply his faith in the risen Christ. With the promise of life, who needs to fear death? Certainly, our faith should be so strong and sure that we do not worry about anything. But in all truthfulness, even when our faith is strong, we still worry, don't we? So let's dig a little deeper into Paul's instructions to the Philippians because in this case, faith is basically assumed. Paul has been to Philippi, he has shared the Good News, a community of believers in Jesus Christ has built up, and now Paul is checking in after being away from them for some time. We know he is talking to faithful people. And yet he also knows there are problems. There is some strife and disagreement among some of the Christians in Philippi, but Paul knows there is something greater here than a conflict between a few people. The Christians are worried, they are anxious, and so Paul says, "Don't be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers andpetitions, along with giving thanks!' Instead of worrying, Paul instructs, Christians should pray. That sounds pretty easy, doesn't it? Yet most of us know that praying instead of worryinE_Y is much easier said than done. So what I want to try and do today js help all of us think of ways we can improve our prayer practices in order to overcome worry and experience greater peace. Let me begin by saying that none of us are perfect, and we are all human. No matter how much we might pray and present our petitions to God with thanksgiving, there will still be times when things worry us. But even if we can just find that right way to connect with God's peace in anxious times, then we are at least moving in the right direction. So how do we use prayer to find peace?
As we begin to look for this answer, I'd like to ask a few questions, for your consideration:
Do you pray only at church?
Do you p! ay only before meals?
Do you pray a few times a week, but not every day?
Do you pray every single morning?
Do you pray each and every night?
Do you pray several times each day?
Every time, every single time you worry, do you stop and pray?
If you're like me, you probably just realized a few ways you could improve your prayer life. I mean, I'm pretty good at returning thanks before holiday meals and special dinners, but e certainly don't pray before every meat, I very often forget. And though i try to say a pray at least once a day, I would probably benefit from a more disciplined practice where I actually set aside time specifically to talk and listen
to God, rather than just squeezing in a few minutes wherever i can fit it each day. Prayer is like a lot of things; the more you practice it, the better you will be at it, and the more beneficial it will be in our iives. The youth director at a camp I once volunteered at said to us that, "Prayer is like underwear; nobody has to know when you're praying, just like nobody has to know if you're wearing underwear." His point was that we should pray without ceasing, that we should not be afraid to pray as we walked the halls at school, or practiced bail on the field with our teammates. If we develop such habits of prayer, then it certainly is much easier to turn to prayer when life gets chaotic and worry creeps in.
But you know; I've learned something about prayer as I've developed spiritually, and that is that prayer is as much about listening as it is about talking. think this is very important in particular when it comes to prayer as a source of peace. Let me explain what I mean. Talk is easy. It's a lot easier to go to God and tell God everything that is wrong in our lives and then to expect that because we have shared our need with God, God will fix the problem. But if what we want is peace, then we need to he willing to listen to the God of peace. We need to allow God to guide our hearts, minds, and lives. We need to push aside the busyness of our lives long enough to rest in God's presence and discern God's ways. We might not hear an audible voice, but God speaks to us in many ways, and we can "hear" God if we will close our mouths for a moment and open ourselves up to simply listening. Just the thought of it is peaceful to me, especially at this time in my life with my kids running about and filling my time and my ears, with the animals to take care of on the farm, with all my rock and roll gigs. I imagine myself finding a comfy chair, a glass of hot chocolate in hand, laying my head back, closing my eyes; no noise, no talk, just a simple, "Tell me what I need to know God," and then waiting. The scene might be a little different for you, but here's the thing, none of us are very good at this because we worry that if we sit down and don't "do" anything, then we are wasting time. But we're not. We need time for prayer every day. We need to share our hearts with God, and we need to allow God to speak peace into our lives. Time spent in such prayer is not wasted, not at all. And if we want peace in our lives, as Paul instructs, we need to pray. Think of it like this: what would your marriage be like if you never talked o your spouse? As I asked the kids earlier, what would school be like if the teachers never talked and we never asked questions? What would our family relationships be like if we just waved at each other in passing? We know that relationship without communication
is a recipe for disaster. So why would we expect our relationship with God to be any different? We have to keep the lines of communication with God open through regular prayer—at least every day, if not multiple times every day. If what we want is peace, then we have to share our burdens with God a t invite God in Christ Jesus to guide our lives toward peace.
Somehow, in the midst of persecution and impending death; Paul was able to find joy and peace. We are the very fortunate beneficiaries of Paul's instruction about how to experience the same peace in our lives. We have to make time for prayer. We have to be intentional about regularly connecting with God; sharing our sorrows, celebrating our victories, unloading our burdens, giving thanks for our blessings, and offering our worries. But we also have to take time in prayer to listen, so that God can talk back to us.
Communication is a two-way street, just as much as we open our mouths, we also need to open our ears. If we want to experience God's peace, then we need to allow the God of peace to guide us.
"Don't be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus."
May it be so.
The Gift of Prayer, The Power of Thanks, Sunday, Oct.8, 2017
Thanksgiving, a time for family, a time for prayer, a time for thanks, and a time for humour. So, to start it off, let’s open with a story….
A man in Huntingdon calls his son in Toronto the Saturday before Thanksgiving and says, I hate to ruin your weekend, but I have to tell you that your mother and I are divorcing; forty-five years of misery is enough.
The son is shocked, ”Pop, what are you talking about? You and Mom are inseparable.”
“No, son, we just can't do it any more," the father says. "We're tired of each other, and I don’t want to talk about it. It’s over. Call your sister in Halifax and tell her, too.”
Frantic, the son calls his sister, who explodes on the phone. "Like heck they're getting divorced," she shouts, "I'll take care of this,"
She calls Huntingdon immediately, and screams at her father, "You are NOT getting divorced. Don't do a single thing until I get there. I'm calling my brother back, and we'll both be there by tomorrow night. Until then, don't do a thing, DO YOU HEAR ME?" and hangs up.
The old man hangs up his phone and turns to his wife. "Okay," he says, "they're coming for Thanksgiving, and paying their own way.”
But to get to the heart of my message, The gift of prayer, The power of thanks…
Nowadays, you often hear comments that say prayer is a waste of time. We have prayed for 1000s of years, it is said, but we still kill. We still hate. We still can’t just get along.
When 50 people were killed recently in Las Vegas with hundreds more wounded, some responses called for everyone to pray. One person said, prayer is the one thing we can all do. And while there was general agreement in that caring thought, there were also those who scoffed at the notion that prayer does any good. These would say, Prayer is useless. We have to take action, not practice superstition. We have to get involved politically, organize, and put pressure on our elected leaders to change our laws and to demand results.”
To my way of thinking, there’s certainly nothing wrong with getting actively involved to bring about change designed to better our society. In fact, it should be done on some level by every able-bodied person. It certainly is not enough to leave everything up to the politicians, unless maybe you believe they can do no wrong.
So, what about prayer? Does it work? The bible basically says, in Matthew, whatever you ask of the Father in Jesus’ name, He will grant you. In order for that to be true, one important ingredient is needed. BELIEF. No, not that you have to believe that all prayers are answered, but I think you do have to believe in THE POSSIBILITY that all prayers are answered in some way. Now, if it is so, I will ask, do you believe all prayers will be answered exactly in the way you want them to be answered? Or, will answers from God be very different from what we would expect?
A little humorous question asks, “How do you make God laugh?” The answer, “Tell him your plans.”
The movie “Rudy,” shows what happens when a person prays with an expectation of a certain result. Rudy Ruettiger, was a young man who had a dream. He dreamed he would someday attend Notre Dame University and play football for the school team, nicknamed “The Fighting Irish.” With that goal in mind he packed his bags, said goodbye to his parents, and took a bus to South Bend, Indiana, home of Notre Dame.
Only two problems with Rudy’s plans. One, he didn’t have the marks to get into Notre Dame. So, he had to attend a junior college in order to get his grades up. He tried and tried, prayed and prayed, but after 3 semesters, he still hadn’t qualified. Unbeknownst to Rudy, he suffered from dyslexia, which made it difficult for him to grasp educational concepts. Once this was diagnosed, a great weight was lifted off his shoulders.
The second problem was that, even if he did get into Notre Dame, it was doubtful he could make the team. After all, he was only 5’6” tall, and weighed 160 lbs. Not exactly American college football material. But he still carried on with a firm resolve and a whole lot of prayer.
Notre Dame was a Catholic college, so Rudy found it convenient to pray in the school church. He did so often. One day, while he was there on his knees, a priest who knew him well saw him at prayer.
Here is the transcript from the movie which, by the way, is a real story about a real person. The dialogue is between Rudy and Fr. Cavanaugh, the priest.
Fr. Cavanaugh: “Rudy, are you appealing to a higher authority?”
Rudy: I'm desperate. If I don't get in next semester, it's over. Notre Dame doesn't accept senior transfers.
Father Cavanaugh: Well, you've done a hell of a job kid, chasing down your dream.
Rudy: Who cares what kind of job I did if it doesn't produce results? It doesn't mean anything.
Father Cavanaugh: I think you'll find that it will.
Rudy: Maybe I haven't prayed enough.
Father Cavanaugh: I don't think that's the problem. Praying is something we do in our time, the answers come in God's time.
Rudy: If I've done everything I possibly can, can you help me?
Father Cavanaugh: Son, in thirty-five years of religious study, I've come up with only two hard, incontrovertible facts; there is a God, and, I'm not Him.
Well, without giving you more story details because maybe you’ll want to see the movie yourself someday, suffice to say that in all of Notre Dame’s illustrious football history, Rudy Ruettiger was only one of two Fighting Irish alumni who were carried off the field after a game by his teammates on their shoulders, in praise. In the end, Rudy was the first of his 13 brothers and sisters who graduated from university, followed eventually by all his younger siblings. Did God answer Rudy’s prayers to play football for Notre Dame? I’d say emphatically yes, and so much more. But the key here in following up on prayer experience is, when your prayer is answered, pause and reflect. Recognize that it was your God who made the difference, not just yourself.
So, what do I mean when I call prayer, a gift from God? What I mean is that prayer allows us to communicate with Him at the most basic spiritual level. Prayer does not rely on any Tower of Babel language. We can use English, French, Spanish, Greek or any of the 6,909 living languages listed by The Ethnologue catalogue of world languages. Prayer is multilingual, as is God. I personally say two sets of prayers every night. One set is the prayers my mother taught me in Hungarian. The other set is prayers I learned over the years in English, including naturally, The Lord’s Prayer.
Prayer is our bridge to God. Formal or informal, memorized or not. Verbal or in silence.Through prayer we are reaching out. We are acknowledging that what we experience with our senses is not enough. It is not enough to see, hear, touch, taste or smell. It is not enough even to think, calculate and conclude. Prayer is the vehicle to belief. Without it, we are hobbling along in a 4-wheel carriage with one wheel missing or weak. With it, we are wheeling along smoothly, and our direction is true.
So, how does the power of thanks come into it? In my mind, thanking someone for something done for you is an acknowledgement that you have received a benefit that didn’t come entirely from your own resources or power. The power of thanks recognizes the duality of an accomplishment. The duality being you and someone else. One gives to another. One returns a gift to another. The power of this recognition, the power of admitting this other, is the admission that we are not alone. We admit that every time we thank another person, and every time we thank God.
The poet and Anglican cleric, John Donne, wrote these lines hundreds of years ago…..
“No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man's death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”
Never ask for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee. You are not alone. You are a part of mankind. And as such, if a part of you is diminished, we are all diminished. And, as such, we are a part of God, and when we give thanks, we recognize the power of our relationship to God, and that recognition allows us to understand that together, in God, we can accomplish great things because we don’t have to rely solely on our own strengths, but the combined strength of us together, and together with God.
In yet another example from the world of football, a panel of sports prognosticators - a fancy word for sports tv analysts - were discussing various teams and players. One of them asked the question, “What makes Tom Brady tick?” For anyone who doesn’t know, Tom Brady is the 40-year-old quarterback of the New England Patriots who won the league championship last February, the Super Bowl. In fact, Brady has won 5 of them over 17 years, the only player ever to accomplish that.
Well, one of these experts tried to formulate an answer to, “What makes Tom Brady tick?” He said, “It’s almost as if he acknowledges that he has been given this immense power to compete and to excel, and his constant striving to use these gifts is his way of giving thanks.” This said by an ordinary tv sports guy, one who, I believe, has tapped into the power of thanks.”
And now, I will resort to a line by George Burns, that wonderful comedian:
“The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending, and to have the two as close together as possible.”
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.