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Living Generously With My Prayers

Sharing God's Word, Living His Love
Generosity 1

Luke 6:12-19

March 3, 2024

There is a story of a couple living in a remote location who finally decided to have electricity installed in their house. However, after a few months the electric company noticed that this couple used a very small amount of electricity. The company was a little curious, especially considering that the couple spent a lot of money to have electrical power installed in their home.  Thinking there might be a problem, the power company sent someone out to read their meter.  The company employee read the meter and it appeared to be working, so he went to the front door, rang the bell, and when the couple answered he said, “I’m from the electric company and I  just checked your meter, because we noticed that you had electricity installed in your house a  few months ago but don’t seem to use hardly any electricity. Is everything working properly or are there any problems? The couple replied, “Oh, no, we are very satisfied. Every night we turn  on the electric lights in our home to see how to light our oil burning lamps and then we switch  the electric lights off again.” 

Now, why would this couple not make more use of their electricity? They believed in electricity, they believed the promises of the electric company when they told them how everything would work, and they spent a lot of money to have their house wired for it; but apparently they did not understand the potential of electricity in their home, and so they used it sparingly.  I would suspect that there are people who use prayer in much the same way. They believe in prayer. They know the promises God has made to hear and answer our prayers. They have even read and heard stories about some of the miraculous ways God answers prayer; but they do not understand the power or potential of prayer, and so they use it sparingly.

I think the reason for this is that many people do not understand what prayer is or how it works. Some people believe that it doesn’t do any good to pray – after all, God’s going to do what God’s going to do, so why bother. Others view prayer as a last resort. It’s something you do when all of your other efforts have failed. Some view prayer like a 911 call – to be used only in the event of an emergency. The thinking goes that unless there is a disaster, you should be able to handle things on your own. And still others view prayer as a means of convincing God to do what we want, so they fire off a list of arguments like an attorney in a courtroom.  All of these images of prayer are misconceptions. God has something very different in mind when He talks about prayer. It is far more than just getting what you want, and it is way beyond being an emergency lifeline. Prayer is about our relationship and communication with God. It is not about asking God to do our will. Instead, it helps to bring us into conformity with God’s  will. Prayer is one important avenue through which God has chosen to share with us His purpose and direction for the world. God wants us to pray, and He is waiting for us to talk with Him.  In our Gospel lesson for today Jesus is out on a mountain praying to God. He has an important decision to make. Who will He choose to be His apostles – people who will intentionally go out on a mission to preach, heal, and cast out demons? In verse 12 it says that  Jesus spent all night praying to God. Jesus knew that the 12 men, each one representing one of  the 12 tribes of Israel from the Old Testament, would face many difficult and challenging  situations, because His teachings were rubbing some people – namely the religious leaders of the land – the wrong way. Early on in His ministry, Jesus made it very clear that in Him the  Kingdom of God was present among the people and all people (not just Jews) were invited to enter the Kingdom of God by trusting in Him as their Savior. Jesus then did many miraculous healings by touching people who were considered “unclean,” and He said that people could have  a relationship with God and talk to God in their prayers by referring to Him as “Father.”  The religious leaders were stunned at what He said. How could this man named Jesus, from the small town of Nazareth, whose parents they knew, possibly claim to be the Messiah sent from  God and how dare He suggest that people could talk to God and have a relationship with Him like any earthly father. 

But that’s exactly the kind of relationship Jesus had with God, His Heavenly Father. Jesus prayed constantly to God and prayed all night in our text not only because He had an important decision to make, but because He knew God, He had a relationship with God, He loved Him, and  He loved talking with Him. Think about someone you love to talk to – a best friend when you were a teenager, or a family member like grandma or grandpa because they are good listeners.  That’s the kind of relationship Jesus had with God and it’s the kind of relationship He wants with each one of us through prayer. 

In fact, when Jesus gave us the Lord’s Prayer and said that you may begin that prayer by  saying “Our Father, who art in heaven;” He was actually giving us permission to call the  Almighty God of the universe, “Father,” just as a child calls for his/her “daddy.” Consider, do  you think you know God well enough to call Him your “dad” or “daddy?” If you are a parent,  then you know how much you love to hear your child calling your name in love and trust.  I know a pastor who used to meet with a group of people from his church 5 days a week,  Monday through Friday, to pray for their church. And for several months some amazing things happened – people were healed, the church grew, and new ministries started; but then the group hit what you might call a dry patch. God did not seem to answer their prayers any longer in the way they wanted. They would pray for some struggling marriage to be strengthened, but it seemed like they only got worse. They prayed for people who were struggling with illnesses to be healed, but many of them did not improve and some of them died. As a result, some members started to give up praying and one member asked, “Pastor, does it really pay to get together to pray? Does it matter, because it doesn’t seem like it is working.” And the pastor replied, “Let  me ask you, does it pay for you to talk to your wife?” “Of course,” said the man, “my marriage  would fall apart if we did not talk to each other.” Think about that for a moment. Can you imagine talking to your spouse or your children as often as you talk to God? How strong would your marriage be in that case? The pastor then asked a follow up question, “Do you talk to your  wife because it pays – you get something out of it, or because you love her?” The pastor’s point was that if you talk to someone only because it pays, you’re doing it for the wrong reason. The man understood and He continued to pray with the pastor and the group every day.  When we view prayer in terms of the number of times God answers in the way we want, are we not destroying our relationship with God? Do we evaluate every conversation with our spouse or with a dear friend in terms of what we get out of it? We must never view prayer as some kind of mechanical program for getting our way. Prayer must be a priority in our lives as it was for Jesus.  It needs to be as natural and exciting to us as sharing our joys and concerns with our family and friends. Prayer changes us, and it also changes others for whom we pray. That’s why we pray for people here every week and why we need to be generous with our prayers.   I would like to invite Chuck Munson to come forward this morning to tell us a little bit about prayer in his life. Chuck has gone through some serious challenges and while God has not always answered his prayers in the way he wants, Chuck knows God is always with Him, He always listens, and He always cares.

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