Microsoft word - the vitality of prayer.doc

At the Sunshine Cathedral MCC on 02/19/06 Johnny, a very bright 5 year old, told his daddy he'd like to have a baby brother and, along with his request, offered to do whatever he could to help. His dad, a very bright 35 year old, paused for a moment and then replied, " I'll tell you what, Johnny, if you pray every day for two months for a baby brother, I guarantee that God will give you one!" Johnny responded eagerly to his dad's challenge and went to his bedroom early that night to start praying for a baby brother. He prayed every night for a whole month, but after that time, he began to get skeptical. He checked around the neighborhood and found out that what he thought was going to happen, had never occurred in the history of the neighborhood. You just don't pray for two months and then, whammo- a new baby brother. So, Johnny quit praying. After another month, Johnny's mother went to the hospital. When she came back home, Johnny's parents called him into the bedroom. He cautiously walked into the room, not expecting to find anything, and there next to his mother was a little bundle. His dad pulled back the blanket and there was -- not one baby brother, but two!! His mother had twins! Johnny's dad looked down at him and said, "Now aren't you glad you prayed?" Johnny hesitated a little and then looked up at his dad and said, "Yes, but aren't you glad I quit when I did?" A while back an advertisement for the drug Prozac was “singing the praises” so to speak, of this wonder drug for human emotions. A cheerful, vivacious woman in her mid-life years was telling how she had never felt better since she started taking Prozac. Life was now full of happiness and she didn’t worry about the “little things” any more. I guess you could look at it like a pharmaceutical Isaiah 40: 31, “Those that take their Prozac shall renew their strength! They will soar on wings like eagles.” I want to be careful to say that this drug, manufactured by the Eli Lilly company is indeed the treatment of choice for some people who struggle with depression. I am all for drugs that help people who suffer from emotional illnesses that keep them from enjoying their life. There is, however, a very strong spiritual prescription that relates to the joy of life in today’s reading from Isaiah. It can help in the recovery of joy for living. “Those who hope in the Infinite will renew their strength.” Both the old and new testament the readings for today point to two central issues in our lives today. Let’s think of these issues in the form of two questions. “Where do we get our strength for living?” “What are we to do with this strength when we receive it?” The answers to these questions are very much connected and take us to our spiritual foundations. Vitality! Do you have it? The word vitality comes from the Latin word “vita” which means “life”. The vitamins we take are supposedly a substance that nourishes our vitality or life. We all know that the vitamin industry is a booming business. I am not knocking vitamins. I take them myself along with several types of herbs. To have life without vitality is to not really have life as God created it to be. From the beginning of time when God breathed into humanity the breath of life; it was the gift of vitality. When we are living our lives in fellowship with God---when we have a sense of intimacy and harmony with God---we have vitality. The problem is that there is a huge gap between life as it was intended to be and life as we experience it. That is what is commonly referred to as the “human condition”. In order to help improve our situation, we must do what is necessary to restore our intimacy with God. God wants us to live a happy and full life. That is why Jesus said “I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10) When God created the world, the intent was not to have us live in some Utopian Colony but rather the design was for us to live in peace and harmony that comes from intimacy with our Creator. So, the short answer to the question, “What are we to do with this energy when we get it?” is “I want energy so that I can live the life God intended for me to live”. Now for the answer to the other question; “Where do we get our energy or strength for living?” If you remember in the reading from Mark it said, “Early the next morning, before dawn, Jesus got up and went off to a secluded place so he could pray.” Jesus knew he needed help and he went to the one source he knew could provide him with all he needed. Jesus knew that it was not humanly possible to accomplish all that he needed to accomplish every day of his life by just relying on his own strength. Not when, God, his Heavenly Parent was ever present and ready to provide whatever he needed, whenever he needed it, however he needed it. All he had to do was ask. As it says in the Bible, we have not because we ask not. If we ask, we will receive. That is what prayer is. Prayer is coming to God. Prayer is the appeal of the soul to God. It is living an intimate relationship with God, surrendering all that we are to God just as Jesus did. If Jesus needed this in his life, what about you and me? Prayer is what gives us our strength and energy to live our lives as God intended us to live them. Being in close communion and relationship with God will gives us all we will ever need to face any challenge/opportunity that comes our way. Prayer will give us the vitality to go our and live our lives as God intended; and to live it abundantly. Amen. God of all there is, you know us better than we know ourselves. You know what troubles us, what illnesses or stresses we are experiencing. You are our source of strength and energy that can lift us up and help us in our daily struggles. You are the answer to all we need in this life. We thank you for your patience, your comforting embrace that takes away all fear and provides us with your love. Bless those who could not be with us today due to illness, or traveling. Keep them safe and well. Be with those who are mourning the loss of someone special in their lives. Give them the comfort only you can provide. Be with those who are incarcerated, guiding them and bringing them the hope of a better life. Be with those serving in the military. Please bring them safely home. Hear us O God in our praise for you as we affirm our love for you… I am energized by your spirit. I am ready to live my life fully. I trust in you for all I will ever need. I am full of vitality. I desire to answer your calling. I know you will lift me up when needed. I cherish our relationship. I love my life and will live it abundantly. And so it is. Amen. “Prayer is a kind of calling home every day. And there can come to you a serenity, a feeling of at-homeness in God’s universe, a peace that the world can neither give nor disturb, a fresh courage, a new insight, a holy boldness that you’ll never, never get any other way.” Earl G. Hunt, Jr.



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