The Lighthouse Keeper

Greetings from Pastor Kerry, former pastor of Spring City UMC. This blog contains my sermon outlines and/or manuscripts from my pastorate among the people of Spring City PA, from 2006 to 2011. Pastor Dennis is now the lighthouse keeper. Come and worship on Sundays at 10:00 a.m.!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Ask A Pastor: Does God Answer Prayer?

July 8, 2007

from Matthew 6:5-15, 7:7-8 and James 5:13-18

"Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed." – James 5:16

My sermon outline:

Who hasn’t prayed for a loved one to be healed, and they died? Unanswered prayer?

What about the prayer of the qualified worker passed up for promotion by an outsider? Unanswered prayer?

You were able to get a last-minute appointment at the doctor’s, but being unable to find your car keys despite praying for the ability, you miss the appointment. Unanswered prayer?

We have in this congregation persons who have prayed and prayed, whom we’ve prayed for again and again, who remain undiagnosed or untreatable in illness, who continue to suffer with depression or cancer, who bear chronic pain.

• Unanswered prayer is one of the biggest problems we face as Christians. We believe in prayer, we practice prayer, yet it seems some of our prayers go unanswered. What’s worse is that unanswered prayer becomes ammunition for those who don’t follow Christ. “If God existed or if God loved you, these bad things wouldn’t happen, or God would answer your prayers.” Conversely, think of what a witness for nonbelievers it would be to witness a miracle cure following the prayer of the righteous.

• When do you feel that your prayers have been answered / not answered? asking for something. Petition. Limited view of prayer, santa-God to grant our requests: We decide before we pray what the answer should be, we tell God what we want. God does not exist to grant our every wish but to do what God sees fit. God is sovereign. (When Job questioned his suffering, God came back with “were you there when the foundations of the earth were laid? do you know so much? trust me. I was there.)

• looking at the way Jesus taught us to pray (including time, place, object of prayer), prayer includes blessing / honoring of God (i.e. worship), it includes proclamation of thanksgiving, it states humility, it includes confession. Perhaps you’ve heard ACTS (adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication (petition)).

• also biblical examples we might call unanswered prayers: Paul prayed for thorn removal, Jesus points out that though there were many in need in Israel during the time of Elijah, Elijah was sent to one widow, and that, an outsider (zarephath). Jesus himself, a righteous person if ever there was one, prayed that he be spared the suffering of the cross… yet thy will be done.

"No," though perhaps an answer we don’t want, is not the same thing as unanswered prayer.

• Jesus teaches us to pray with persistence… that we ask of God who loves us and knows our needs better than we do; that we seek, that is put some effort into what we pray (give us bread, and work; thy kingdom come, and witness;); that we knock (persistence, make requests seriously)

• Pray with humility. confession and forgiveness linked to both Jesus’ example in Matthew and James

• Pray with patience. Yes, No, Wait. God’s schedule.

I Asked God.........
-Author Unknown

I asked God to take away my pain.
God said, No.
It is not for me to take away,
but for you to give it up.

I asked God to make my handicapped child whole.
God said, No.
Her spirit was whole,
her body was only temporary.

I asked God to grant me patience.
God said, No
Patience is a by-product of tribulations,
it isn't granted, it is earned.

I asked God to give me happiness.
God said, No.
I give you blessings, Happiness is up to you.

I asked God to spare me pain.
God said, No.
Suffering draws you apart from worldly cares
and brings you closer to me.

I asked God to make my spirit grow.
God said, No.
You must grow on your own,
but I will prune you to make you fruitful.

I asked for all things that I might enjoy life.
God said, No.
I will give you life so that
you may enjoy all things.

I ask God to help me LOVE others,
as much as he loves me.
God said... Ahhhh,
finally you have the idea.

• 496 Sweet Hour of Prayer

- Pastor Kerry
This Sunday: 57 in worship. Getting warmer.


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