I’m not musically gifted, but I like music. I’m intrigued by lyrics that touch on the same topics addressed in Scripture. Songwriters and prophets both attempt to explain the human experience and give meaning to life. Take PRAYER for instance.
Marc Cohn sings an incredible song he called, “Walking In Memphis.” I think about it every time I pass through that city on my way to Florida.
When I was walking in Memphis
I was walking with my feet ten feet off of Beale
Walking in Memphis
But do I really feel the way I feel?
Now, they've got catfish on the table
They've got gospel in the air
And Reverend Green, be glad to see you
When you haven't got a prayer
But boy you got a prayer in Memphis
Now, Muriel plays piano
Every Friday at the Hollywood
And they brought me down to see her
And they asked me if I would
Do a little number
And I sang with all my might
She said, "Tell me are you a Christian, child?"
And I said, "Ma'am, I am tonight!"
I especially like the honesty of the lyric, “Tell me are you a Christian child? And I said, “Ma’am I am tonight.” That is honest and real. When we haven’t got a prayer is when most of us turn to prayer.
I’m not so different. Even though I’m a Christian pastor, I am not inclined to pray as often as I should. But I do believe in the power of prayer and the miracles God can AND DOES perform in response prayer. I’ve seen it happen. Some of my favorite passages on prayer confirm that my faith is well placed.
Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. James 5
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. 1 John 5
Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High, and call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me. Psalm 50
Another songwriter made this important observation; “What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer! O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.”
God wants to do so much more for you than you expect. He’s your wise and extremely gracious Heavenly Father who is eager to help but won’t force Himself on those who would rather go it alone. There is a Scripture that says,
You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. James 4.
What do you need from God? What are you praying for? To what end? How will the answer to your prayer bless others and honor the Lord?
You have a right to have your prayer answered. Not because of anything you have done, or avoided, or even the promises you make about your future. No. You are worthy because your Savior Jesus made you worthy. Your prayers are heard because Jesus stands before the throne of God as your advocate. Paul explained it so clearly:
We have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4
So pray boldly. Fall into His arms. Let the Lord determine your future which is always best, even if it is not your preference. Israel experienced hard times as the consequence of bad decisions. Yet even though they had abandoned Him, God did not abandon them. He reminded them of His unconditional love. “I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29
Do you believe that? Just like a bank check must be cashed to realize its value, a promise made by God must be believed to realize its power.
A father once begged Jesus to heal his son, saying “If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”… “If you can?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”
Cohn, the guy who wrote “Walking In Memphis,” was later shot in the head in an attempted car-jacking. Amazingly, the bullet barely missed his eye and lodged against his skull. Cohn was hospitalized for observation but released after eight hours, and is quoted as saying, "The doctors told me I was the luckiest unlucky guy they had met in a long, long time."
I’m pretty sure the lyrics to his song came to mind…. "Tell me are you a Christian, child?" And I said, "Ma'am, I am tonight!" Click here to listen to it.
They will not labor in vain, nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune; for they will be a people blessed by the Lord, they and their descendants with them. Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. Isaiah 65
- What should a child expect to receive from a wise, and loving parent?
- God once said, “If you know how to give your children good things, how much more will God give good things to those who love Him?” What limitations do your earthly parents experience that are not applicable to God?
- If God knows all things, why do we pray?
When it comes to prayer,
A. I’m in constant communication to the Lord.
B. I admit I go way too long without communicating to the Lord.
C. I ask for way more personal things that I give him thanks and praise for blessings received.
Take the survey and leave a comment on the subject of prayer and your personal experience.
If you were unable to attend services last weekend and would like to listen to the message, visit our homepage at stjstl.net and click on Media at the top right of the web page. Growing Deeper, a Bible study, written to accompany the message series is also available to download.
St. John Church live streams Sunday services at 9:00am and 10:45am. Join us!
The Perfect Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
We all know someone who is struggling with grief. That person may actually be you. Help is available through GriefShare starting on September 12.
Support Christian education in West County. Come on out and play at St. John School’s Annual Golf Scramble. Register now.
Join our LIFEgroup as they work their way through The Daniel Plan. It begins on September 22 at 7pm.
Bring your family out for the St. John Wellness and Safety Expo in partnership with the Ellisville Police Department's Kid's Safety Day on Saturday, October 1 from 10am-2pm on the west parking lot of St. John Church.
Stephen Hower, Pastor