The apostle Paul wrote to the Christians at Thessalonica two letters that are preserved for us and included in the New Testament. In his first epistle near the end of the fifth and final chapter, as he was beginning to wrap up his letter Paul wrote these very important words, “Pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17). Perhaps our greatest challenge in life is prayer. We believe in the power of prayer. We admire those who pray. We read about prayer and we talk about prayer. We like to hear stories about answered prayer but the real question is this, “How much do we actually pray?” At the height of the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther said that if he did not spend three hours a day in prayer, he could never accomplish all that needed to be done each day. Now, I’m not saying each of us should pray three hours a day but I am challenging you to take prayer seriously and begin a daily disciple of engaging God in prayer more each day. Consider this story in light of Paul’s words to the Thessalonians. It was a horrible accident. The driver didn’t see the other car coming. Because of his negligence both drivers died. One driver was in his taxi going to the airport to pick up someone who just arrived. The other driver was a pastor on his way to the hospital to visit a sick parishioner. Fortunately, both men immediately went to heaven. The taxi driver was met with rewards. He was given a fabulous mansion, a golden crown, and a number of angels to help him. The pastor was taken to wooden shack of a house. The pastor simply could not understand the discrepancy. He confronted St. Peter and said, “I spent my entire life ministering to other people. I was a faithful and diligent servant of Christ. If the taxi cab driver deserves a mansion, why don't I get one, too?” St. Peter immediately responded by saying, “Well, up here, we go strictly by results. When you preached, people slept but when that taxi cab driver drove, believe me, those people in his cab, they prayed!” In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given unto you.” In James 4:2 we read, “You have not because you ask not.” We need to learn to pray in accord with the will of our Heavenly Father and we do that by reading His Word where He has revealed His will to us. We also need to ask for the “right things” as well. We need to know God’s will through the regular and disciplined reading and study of His Holy Word and we need to pray for those things that we know God desires for us and not simply for the things that we desire for ourselves. This is why James goes on to write, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (James 4:3). A few years back a little book took the Evangelical Christian community by storm. The book was titled, Prayer of Jabez by Bruce Wilkinson. In his book, Wilkinson told the story of taking five year old David to a public playground. There were swings, monkey bars, and seesaws. However, most engaging to David were the three sliding boards—one small, one medium, one enormous. David shot for the small one first. He climbed right up the steps, slid down the slide, waved on his way around. He continued to go again and again smiling every time. You know how it is with small sliding boards; you get bored. David moved quickly to the medium sized slide. He hesitated just a brief moment at the bottom as he looked up but he overcame that moment of hesitation and David went right up the steps. With a look of fear combined with excitement, he went down the slide with a big smile on his face. Immediately, David headed toward the enormous slide. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. Now, brave and confident, David didn’t tarry long. He just started climbing the steps. Half-way up he literally froze. Fear gripped him completely. Then, at that moment, David turned to his father and yelled, “Daddy, will you come over and slide with me? I can't do it without you." Wilkinson said, “I was standing there all the time just waiting for him to ask. And with one simple request I ran to him, came up the slide behind him, picked him up, carried him to the top, sat down at the top of the slide, pulled him between my legs, put my big arms around him, and with one sign of joy between the two of us, we went down that enormous slide bound together." Bruce Wilkinson wrote, “Many of us seldom pray because we have never been on the big sliding board." We have chosen to live our lives in fears and doubts. We go through life needing to be in charge remaining in our “comfort zone” and not venturing outside of our self-imposed boundaries. We may want to feel like we are in control but the truth is, only God is in complete control of all things including our lives. Jesus encourages us to make our requests, petitions, and supplications unto Him in our prayers. We need to pray. We need to learn to pray by practicing and actually engaging our Heavenly Father in disciplined prayer for His will to be done in our lives, in the lives of our family and friends, the church, and the world. As we rejoice in the victory of our Saviour’s resurrection and the joy of the Easter Season, let us daily commit ourselves to what one has called “the practice of the presence of God” beginning with a new and empowered desire to grow in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ through His most gracious gift of personal prayer. God’s peace! Pastor Jim

Pastor’s Article – May 2019


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