Prayer

...if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles. 7.14

Today in our family service we explore the theme of ‘Prayer’ as part of our ongoing series in WORSHIP.

The programme takes the form of short sharp addresses, drama, activities, music and dance

May I highly recommend a book by Sue Mayfield entitled EXPLORING PRAYER. It is indeed exploratory and contains many practical advice and creative ideas for prayer workshops .

Worship is:

Ø to quicken the conscience by the holiness of God

Ø to feed the mind with the truth of God

Ø to purge the imagination by the beauty of God

Ø to open the heart to the love of God

Ø to devote the will to the purpose of God

Quote by William Temple

In other words our consciences are sharpened up in Worship, our minds fed with spiritual food, our imaginations cleansed and enlivened, ur hearts opened up to a deeper love for God and others, nd we should leave this place with a sense of new purpose and vision.

Address 1

In Ephesians it says that when we meet together, we must seek to be filled with the Spirit, and speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs; we must sing and make music in our hearts to the Lord, giving thanks to God for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

It doesn’t say WHICH order we do these in, as long as everything is done decently and orderly.

Worship should be an experience we come away from not picking out what we have liked or disliked, not a service where we measure how the worship leader has done, or how the music group have performed...rather it should have been a real coming together of a body of believers as one, who have placed God at the very centre in their worship and grown in some way, in their understanding, of his ways and his purposes and desires for us as his precious children

Drama: PRAYERFUL WAYS

(Lots of practice and very careful choreography is needed in this drama, so that no-one gets injured!

The actors A B C D E enter and stand in a long line facing the audience, and each one in turn will step forward and remain there, in position. They will each in turn say the introductory sentence plus their own lines. Each verse is accompanied by actions, which eventually will all interlink. The drama can be all spoken out OR the words may be fitted into a song called:

'If I were not upon the stage, someone else I'd like to be'.

It is very funny to watch, but rehearsals can be dangerous. Proceed with caution.

The point that should be made at the end is that there are many ways to pray! All these are valid routes; the most important thing to remember is whatever we pray, it should come from the heart, as well as using the mind. ©sheilahamil 2009

All say first) Let ME inform you brothers, sisters

(Persuade you if I may!)

That there is only, ONE WAY only ,

One way we should pray.

You’ll hear me all day long

Don’t tell me I am wrong . . .

(all repeat these lines twice. Once B delivers his/her lines, then A starts up again along with B. Once C delivers his/her lines the A and B start up again, and so on along the line)

+A) I am dust (beat chest)

O Lord have mercy (beat chest)

Save me from my sin (kneel quickly, head down)

+B) Raise my hands (raise arms)

And throw my head back (head back and smile)

Praise the Lord all day (throw arms out above to side)

+C Discipline (point at congregation)

And concentration (with same finger tap head)

We all need ROUTINE! (sitting position hands together)

+D Fight the evil (fist forward up and pulled to right)

Win the battle (other fist up and pulled to the left)

This is all out war (left arm on hip, right fist outwards

+E Lord I want (praying hands together forward)

to get to know you, (place them on right cheek)

Will you be my friend? (now lie head over to right)

(c)sheilahamil

Address 2

All these methods of prayer are right and good, and can be found in the bible, along with meditating on scripture, prayers for healing, praying in tongues, quick arrow prayers, repetitive choruses, silence, songs and hymns etc and there are many others but they all come under the ONE UMBRELLA WE CALL PRAYER... just as red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet, are classed as one rainbow. The sad part comes when individuals put upon others their own preferred ways, and say the other’s person's ways of prayer are wrong or inadequate or simple or weird.

St Paul even recommends that we pray without ceasing. That means that each moment of the day ican be brought into a oneness and a connection with God.

Prayer also involves LISTENING.

Many of us don’t want to listen to God, for if He does He may say something we don’t want to hear! Or perhaps ask us to do something we don’t want to do!

Many of us in prayer are really saying 'Listen Lord your servant is speaking'...'not Speak Lord your servant is listening.'

So let us worship today with all our hearts, to please God and not man.

ADORATION AND PRAISE

I was taught that all kinds of prayer fell into 4 main categories, (ACTS i.e. Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication) : the first of these we look at today is Adoration and Praise, where we focus upon God, express our love towards him and give him his rightful place in our gathering.

We put aside for a while the pressures and burdens of life, and an ‘over’ concern about ourselves, in order to concentrate upon God and hear what he has to say to us through the ministry of his word throughout a service of worship.

Worship itself is a bowing down, a sign of profound respect and humility, an awareness of the holiness of God; worship is also not only praising God with our lives but serving him with our lives.

Hymn Medley: Praise my Soul the King of Heaven into the chorus We have come into this place(v 1&2) into o Come let us adore Him

Activity for the family:

Invite three children out to stand in front of the congregation, along with accompanying adults, one for each child, e.g. mums, dads or grandparents etc., those who know them best. Invite the adults to give reasons why they love and admire these children, they speak one at a time, using a microphone.

Afterwards comment upon the reasons for their praise...

Address 3

Similarly we praise God too, out of our love for him. We adore him not because he demands it, not because he is a proud, jealous, petulant God who will take a sulk if we don’t... we do it because we appreciate WHO He is, what he has done for us, and the sheer the wonder of His creation, praise speaks of our love for God. It all should come from the overflow of hearts filled with love.

What do the psalms tell us about Praise?

Psalm 139. 14 has this to say: I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made

Psalm 147 reminds us, ‘How good it is to sing praise to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him!

Psalm 149 invites people to praise God with dancing and make music to him with tambourine and harp.

Psalm 150 invites everything that has breath to praise God.

The psalms are full of praise and adoration.

We praise God also for sending his own Son to us, because of his great love for each one of us, to save us. Like a lantern bringing light into darkness, he came down to show us what God and his love is like, and that by some great mystery he and the Father were one and the same, and his Spirit lives in us today.

Hymn: Light of the World

Address 4

So we come to CONFESSION

Jesus the Light of the world came down from heaven to to our darkness, to light our way? What darkness?

There are things we do in life that we would prefer others not to see, things we would certainly not do in the light of day or in front of anyone else...

so we keep our wrongs hidden and secret...but God sees all...and he calls us all to be holy as He is holy.

Psalm 24. 4

Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in His holy place?

He that has clean hands and a pure heart! Who does not lift up his soul to an idol, or swear by what is false!

CONFESSION is recognising what is wrong in our lives and deciding to turn away from it completely, and begin to walk in God’s ways of truth and justice and freedom.

Sometimes we don’t even recognise when something IS wrong in our lives, and we must pray for God to bring it to our minds and make it clear to us.

O wad some power, the giftie gie' us

to see ourselves as other see us!

Quote by Robert Burns

Jesus told a story, which demonstrated how to confess our sins properly.

Two men went into the temple to pray. One was a very religious man who went into the temple full of his own importance, and he wanted God to know how good he was, yet he was brim full of scorn and pride and judgement;

The second man was very sinful, but desperately wanted to change his ways. His prayer was simple but heartfelt.

Both prayed, BUT which one of these people went on their way forgiven?

Drama: The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

Luke 18 vv9-14

Two people once went into church to pray, and this is how they prayed:-

I'm good , I'm great, there's no-one quite like me!

Look at all the others and you'll see.

They're lazy, they're selfish, they gossip all day long,

And I cannot be faulted for I never go far wrong.

In fact… I'm perfect, so cheerful,

A pleasure to have around,

I do just as God bids me, and my doctrine very sound.

She's loopy, O.T.T and always in a state.

And me I never stop, there's always something on my plate.

I give my money to the poor, I give them what I can,

I go to church each Sunday, and I'm your biggest fan God,

But I'm pleased that I'm not like her…

She hardly ever prays…..

And I am always at it, for days and days and days.

I know I'm in your good book, I know that I am saved,

I don't live the ugly life, of those who are depraved,

But I'm pleased I'm not like her, always in a mess,

And what I AM about to say, you'll never ever guess!

My record is quite spotless,

And all admire me,

So am I getting through to you God,

Aren't you pleased, you've got a child, like me?

The other woman on the other hand, would not even raise her eyes to heaven, but prayed thus:-

'Oh God I can't help myself at times, I'm so sorry'

As they leave church, judge for yourselves, which of these two found forgiveness in the eyes of God?

(c)sheilahamil

(Which one are we most like?All introspection, all bound up in self-interests and judgements, centred on our own attributes, abilities, our own self-importance?

Or are we open and honest before God, is there a greater desire to simply know him ad be one with him?)

The Bible says that ‘if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.(1 John 1.9)

To be forgiven is to be given life again.

THANKSGIVING Family activity

Last week we heard from Psalm 104.

This psalm spoke of a great God, both Creator and Designer who made the vast splendour of the heavens, it told of the formation of a solid and fertile earth,

It set out the natural Life Cycle. It spoke of streams of water flowing down the mountains into springs from which animals are fed...

It spoke of his provision of food for all his creatures, and of man’s ability to produce oil, wine and bread. It marvelled at the created order of all things.

It is right that we give thanks.

Ask the congregation the question "Is anyone feeling really thankful today about something?"

Take the microphone to the people, and let everyone hear their answers.

Doesn't it follow to be thankful before God, without whom we would not exist?

Song: Who put the colours in the rainbow

Address 5

SUPPLICATION(Prayer requests)

Prayer doesn’t always come easily to some people. Because it can be so difficult to settle down to pray, many people come to it only when there’s an emergency, or when someone they love is in trouble, or in the case of those in ministry when help and guidance is needed. Some pray only when they come to church,

some find themselves too busy to think, never mind pray. Read out the following poem:-

Poem: Concentration Now Begins

Father God I thank you, I can come into your presence,

And be still before you every single day,

But I’m just thinking ‘bout those dirty dishes piled up in the sink,

I should have tackled them before I knelt to pray

Lord help me to forget myself, and make me wholly yours,

To be filled with the compassion of your Son...

Now what was that important thing to add onto my list

Of jobs to do before the day is done?

Lord keep me from unselfish ways, and let me do your will

And save me from my selfishness and pride,

But I just have to ask myself where did I put my keys,

I don’t know these days, I’m so... preoccupied...

O Lord please take away my unforgiving spirit,

Take away my strife and all my trouble,

But it seems I am distracted no matter how I try,

The more I pray, the more I burst the bubble!

I know that life is fragile Lord,

I try to handle it with prayer

But this lack of concentration Lord,

My failure to communicate,

My not even ‘scratching the surface’ prayers...

are more than I can bear.

(c)sheilahamil

The best way to handle lack of concentration when praying , is perhaps to write down our thoughts, our prayers, or even speak them out loud. We could even try and set up a holy space somewhere in our houses.

Let us also remember today those who are in too much pain to pray; real people, real problems, real pain. Read out the prayer list now so we can think about each person and bring them and their needs before God.

A TIME FOR INTERCESSIONS

‘ Singing the praises of our Almighty Father may come as second nature when things are going well. How easy it can be to sing in times of great joy and excitement. But when the tough times come, and the world isn’t how we want it, can we sing ‘Blessed be the name of the Lord? When we sing , ‘On the road marked with suffering’ and ‘There’s pain in the offering’ will our hearts still sing, ‘Blessed be the name of the Lord?

Susanne Geske and her children can humbly say we did.

Quote from 'Married to a Martyr' by Susanne Geske

They say the only way to learn how to pray or return to prayer is to actually DO it, rather like riding a bike or learning to swim. And it’s important to remember that PRAYER does not rely for its effectiveness on our FEELINGS. It is based on the fact that God is our Father, and the promise that God hears us when we pray.

PRAYER SPACES set out around the building, give us that choice..(See Sue Mayfield's book, Exploring Prayer for the following actions in prayer groups:-

Explain...

  1. Place a stone in a bucket to represent some burden you carry

  2. Light a candle to pray specifically for one person

  3. Rainbow cubes of promise placed before a cross

  4. Prayer requests cards written out, and reply on the reverse side answering, 'What would God reply to this prayer?'

  5. A place of silence

A song will invite us to take our seats again as these prayers come to a close..

Hymn : CD CHOICE Either Walls of Jerusalem . This song can also take the form of dance.

from the CD The Road to Jerusalem: on Youtube or by contacting www.galileeofthenations.com

(See quotation from Isaiah 62.6-7)

THE GOSPEL READING

How should we pray, was a question directed at Jesus by his disciples. They wanted to do it right and not get it wrong. They saw how it benefitted him. He gave them a prayer which was brilliant; simple and direct, one which contained Adoration, Praise, Confession, Prayer requests all rolled into one.

A prayer which has been treasured by Christians way down through the ages.

The Lord's Prayer

Gospel Reading: Matthew 6. 5-15

To pray is to enter that secret room, that space inside ourselves, shut off from others where we can communicate, speak and listen to our wonderful God, who has no favourites and who cares about each one of us. No way is the wrong way, if we come with full and grateful hearts, determined to be open and honest before him.

Hymn: Be Thou My Vision

Blessing: God be in our heads and in our understanding

God be in our eyes and in our looking

God be in our mouths and in our speaking

God be in our hearts, and in our thinking

God be at our end and at our departing...

The Lord bless us and keep us,

the Lord make his face shine upon us and be gracious to us,

the Lord turn his face towards us and give us peace. Amen

Let one of the stones fall into the bucket. The stone can be what you want it to be...a burden, a worry, a fear...Give it to God.

Cast all your anxiety upon him,

because He cares for you!

1 Peter 5.7

Take a glass ‘rainbow’ cube and make a promise to God

Therefore brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, offer your bodies as living sacrifices...holy and pleasing to God.

Romans 12.1-2

Light a prayer candle for someone you are concerned about, and place it in the tray of sand

I urge you, then first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession, thanksgiving be made for everyone...

1 Timothy 2.1

Have you a question for God? Write it out on one side of the card, then turn it over and imagine what God’s answer might be to your question. Write down your ‘God’ thoughts on the back, and tie the card to the prayer tree.

To the Lord I cry aloud, and He answers me from His holy hill.

Psalm 4.2

I have posted watchmen on your walls O Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night.

You who call on the Lord, give yourselves no rest, and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem

and makes her the praise of the earth.

Isaiah 62. 6-7