The Lord’s Message:  Prayer is the Key to Faith

The Lord’s Message:  Prayer is the Key to Faith
Date:  January 7, 2024
Where:  Tilghman Methodist Church
Scripture Reference:  Mark 1:35-39

            We are in the third season of the church year.  We started with the Advent season – preparing to receive Jesus.  The next season was Christmas – the celebration of Jesus’ birth.  We have come now to Epiphany.  Epiphany is a Greek word meaning the manifestation, the appearing, or the showing forth.  This is celebrated with the gifts of the Magi revealing that Jesus would be a different king.  Gold represented that He was a King.  Frankincense that He was a Healer.  Myrrh that He was a Savior.

This King wanted to identify Himself with us.  Jesus was born as one of us.  He was born not in a palace or a church, but in a stable, a very humble place. 

Jesus was baptized in the river Jordan, further identifying Himself with the sinners that came to be baptized, but Jesus did not sin.  Please open your Bible to Mark 1:9-11. 

            If this was not enough, Jesus further identifies Himself with you and me by being tempted by Satan.  Look at Mark 1:12-13.  The Son of God faced temptation for 40 days and nights in the desert where it can be hot during the day and freezing at night.  He did this without food and water.  Still, He did not sin.  Jesus identified with us to prove that He loved us.  Jesus submitted His body and mind to the temptation of sin by Satan.  Here is Holy God, who cannot be around sin, being tempted by sin.  Jesus had to resist all power not to just remove Himself from Satan’s temptation.   These are the lengths to which Jesus was willing to go to identify with us. 

            Then when He saw the sick and demon-possessed as it says in Mark 1:32-34, His compassion was to heal them.

            Can you grasp this?  I have a hard time understanding that the King of all Kings, the Lord of all Lords, would humble Himself to that level just to identify with me, so that I would have a relationship with Him. In order that I would come to know how much He loves me.  So that I would believe, without a doubt, that Jesus came to save me.  This still boggles my mind. 

            Let us pray.

The Lord impressed upon me that for this year our theme will be “Growing in Faith Together.”  My prayer is that at the end of this year that we will all be closer to each other and closer to God.    

For this to happen we need to follow the example of Jesus.  Looking at Mark 1:35, we find that Jesus has gotten up very early in the morning and gone to a solitary place to pray.  Jesus is in relationship with the Father, but Jesus at this time, is here on earth. He cannot communicate with the Father as He could in heaven.  Prayer is the form of communication that Jesus uses to connect with God.  It is the form of communication that we should use to connect with God.  Prayer is the Key to Faith. 

Let me ask you a question.  How often do you pray?  Do you start off your morning in prayer?  Do you pray during the day?  Do you end your day in prayer?  Paul tells us that we should be constantly in prayer.  Look at I Thessalonians 5:16-17.  Is Paul saying that we should be constantly on our hands and knees in prayer?  No!  Through the day, we should be thanking God for the beauty that we see around us.  We should be in constant communication with God.  Our thoughts should be focused on Him.  Some of my best prayer time is simply riding in my truck.  Maybe with the radio on to a Christian music station or a sermon. Maybe just having all my electronics off and talking out loud to God. 

 It is through prayer that we deepen our relationship and faith with God.  The more we pray the more that we come to know more about God.  We learn that God loves us so much that His plan of saving us from our sin is to send His only Son to become one of us, to die on the cross for us, John 3:16-17.  We trust God with our lives and the lives of our loved ones. 

            It is through prayer for others that we come to part of God’s healing plan.  Our prayers do not need to use biblical words or theological terms.  We can, and should, pray for everyone.  When I was in the hospital, some people asked if they could pray for me.  I said I would love it.  They said that they had never prayed for a pastor before.  I said just relax and allow God to give you the words.  No one is here to judge your prayers.  Just speak from the heart.  They were some of the most beautiful prayers that I have ever heard.  I know that it was the prayers of all of you that brought about my healing.  In James 5:13-16, James the brother of Jesus, says that our prayers are powerful and effective in healing.  James goes on to give us an example in James 5:17-18. 

Prayer is also how we grow together in faith.  The more that we pray for each other.  The more that we grow together in our faith in God. 

Jesus tells us to ask for anything in His name and it will be given, John 14:13.  Now, we can ask God to give us a new car and we may not get it.  We can ask God to heal our loved ones and we may not get it.  Does that mean that God has not heard our prayers?  Does that mean that Jesus was lying when He said ask for anything in my name and it will be given?  No to both questions.  Do you as a parent give your children everything that they ask for?  I suspect that you do not.  If your twelve-year-old son asks for a boat, you do not give him a yacht.  If you did you would not be a loving parent.  You might give him a kayak or a rowboat.  Something that he could handle.  The same is true with God.  God loves us, so much that He knows what is good for us and the person that we are praying for. The importance is that we should pray and God who loves us will answer our prayers in accordance with what is good for us and our loved ones.

Just as Jesus, early in the morning. went to a solitary place to pray, we should start our day with prayer. 

            In one region of Africa, the first converts to Christianity were very diligent about prayer.  In fact, the believers each had their own special place outside of the village where they went to pray in solitude.  The villagers reached these “prayer rooms” by using their own private footpaths through the brush.  When grass began to grow over one of these trails, it was evident that the person to whom it belonged was not praying very much.  Because these new Christians were concerned for each other’s spiritual welfare, a unique custom sprang up.  Whenever anyone noticed an overgrown “Prayer path” he or she would go to the person and lovingly warn, “Friend, there is grass on your path!”.  I am saying to everyone of you to examine and see if there is grass on your prayer path.  If so, I encourage you to make a resolution to pray every day.

Jesus wants to identify with us.  We should also want to identify with Jesus and follow Him.  Jesus prayed.  We should pray.  Prayer is the key to Faith.  Prayer is also the key for growing in faith together.  Have you prayed to God today? Amen.

January 8, 2024 10:51 am