This is the morning sermon for Sunday, September 7th, 2008.
PRAYER IT DOES THE BODY GOOD
We are continuing our Sunday morning series, “Prayer – it does the body good.” When we say, “body,” we are not talking about individual’s bodies, but we are talking about a community of believers, the local body of Christ.
Here is our theme verse for this series.
James 5:16b HCSB – The intense prayer of the righteous is very powerful.
Here at Faith United Church we support Rick Morgan and his missionary ministry to El Salvador. We’ve had him as well as a few other associate missionaries of his here to minister and share what is taking place in that country. And God is blessing them greatly.
I remember a time many years ago that the church we were attending had a missionary come and preach. He brought with him a pastor from the country in Africa he was ministering in. He let that pastor preach, while he translated. They told the story of how there were certain parts of their country, being muslim, they couldn’t get into, but they could use shortwave radio and they were broadcasting into those areas. There were people hearing the gospel for the first time and coming to faith in Jesus. It came time for the offering for the missionary and Laura looked at me and asked how much we should give. I told her the standard about, which was 5 dollars. She felt led to give a hundred. I was shocked, but told her to go ahead if that is what the Lord told her. You see, a hundred was a lot of money and definitely a step of faith for us. But she felt the Lord spoke to her, and there was harmony between us to be obedient to the Lord, and the Lord blessed our togetherness of being obedient to Him.
Have you ever thought about why missions is so important? How about unity and harmony when it comes to giving in missions, or just unity and harmony within the ranks of the church?
Well, this morning these are a few things that we are going to look into. It is my goal to give you a few prayer points that we can pray concerning missions, togetherness, unity, and harmony within our church. Should we pray for these things? Absolutely!
Once again, remember our series theme? Ordinary people praying to an extraordinary God produces powerful results.
Let’s look at three prayer points that we can see God move powerfully in if we just seek His face. But before we look, let’s ask the Holy Spirit to bless both the reading and preaching of His Word this morning.
1. A prayer to God for our supported missionaries.
Romans 15:25-32 ESV – 25 At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem bringing aid to the saints. 26 For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem. 27 For they were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings. 28 When therefore I have completed this and have delivered to them what has been collected, I will leave for Spain by way of you. 29 I know that when I come to you I will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ. 30 I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, 31 that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, 32 so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company.
A. Paul asks the believers in Rome for their support for his missionary journey back to Jerusalem and Judea.
He asks for their financial support (v. 27). He asks for their prayer support (v. 30). He asks for prayers for protection from unbelievers in Judea (v. 31). He asks for prayers that his ministry would be accepted by the saints (v. 31). And finally, he asks them to pray that he might come back to them, share with them in joy, and be refreshed with them (v. 32).
B. What are the prayer points to pray for the missionaries we support?
Not only do we need to financially support their ministry, we need to prayer for their financial support. Pray for protection against the enemy. Pray that their ministry would prosper and grow and be accepted by the believers in that country. Pray that they would come back and we can rejoice with them over what God is doing, and that while they are in the states, they might be refreshed in the Lord.
C. Our next prayer point doesn’t have anything really to do with missions, but it does have to do with something that is very vital within the church today.
2. A prayer for spiritual unity and harmony within the church.
John 17:20-23 ESV – 20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
A. Here we have Jesus great prayer.
He is crying out to God before he must face rejection, persecution and ultimately, death. And during this prayer, He is not only praying for Himself, but also His disciples, and also every Christian throughout history. How do we know this? Because what He says in v. 20, “I pray not only for these (the 11), but also for those who believe in me through their word.” That is us.
B. What did Jesus pray here?
For unity. And not just unity for unity’s sake, but to be just as united as Christ is with the Father (v. 21). That the world may know the truth of who He is by our love for one another and our unity (v. 23b).
C. What is our prayer point?
That God would unite our church together just like Christ is united with the Father. By that unity and love for one another the lost would see Christ as a reality.
D. Our final prayer point is one that is best accomplished when the church does live with one another in unity as Christ would want us too.
3. A prayer for encouraging believers going through difficulties.
1 Thessalonians 3:7 ESV – for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith.
A. In the surrounding passages here is what we see in context.
Paul was going through distress and persecution. During this time, Paul was worried about the Thessalonian Church. He sends Timothy, so that he might come back to him and give him a report. Timothy comes back and gives a good report about their faith and love and the fact they want to see Paul and the other Christians with him. This report encourages Paul in the midst of his own distress and persecution.
B. How can we use this passage as a prayer point?
Pray for members of our body who are going through times of distress, ask the Lord to deliver them and be with them. Be an encouragement to them as well. Don’t tear them down because they are going through a distressful time, but just love them and encourage them. Maybe tell them your story of how you went through times of distress and the Lord was with you.
There is one thing that both the missionaries we sponsor and those within our local church body going through distress have in common: The need our love, encouragement, prayers, and support. If you don’t give to our missions fund, I encourage you to go above your regular giving and give to missions. You can either support Rick Morgan directly, or the others helping him we’ve had here, or you can give it to the missions fund of the church. Maybe you want to designate extra giving for local outreach, then do that. Be obedient if the Lord is speaking to you.
Maybe this morning you know someone within our church that is going through times of distress. Pray for them, let them know you are praying for them, and be an encouragement to them.
Our desire for Faith United Church should not be just church as usual. That has it problems, conflicts, and everyday struggles. We should be the unusual church: A church that desires to be one just like the Lord wants us to be, and we prove it to the world by our love for one another. A Church that gives both to local outreach within the church and missions, takes missions trips ourselves to minister, and encourages those within this body going through times of distress.
You say it can’t happen; then I say your faith isn’t big enough. We serve a big God that can turn our church direction around supernaturally, if we would just trust in Him and be obedient to the Word.
Imagine what would happen in our community if we do these things.