"The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays"
- Søren Kierkegaard
I diligently attempt to start my day with prayer, but I suspect I do it differently than most. Though I probably should, I start my day with prayer later than I typically "start my day". Yes, there are the breath prayers and short petitions, "Lord, help me here"-but it isn't until I get into my office that I usually offer up my start of day prayer. There, in a drawer that I can get into without even looking, is a small hand-held cross that fits in the palm of my hand, and I can wrap my fingers around. The New Horizons Sunday School class gave it to me a few years ago during the Christmas season, and it has been a blessing ever since.
The prayer that I like to start my day with is seldom a litany of my to-do lists. Yes, I do have a written list of people that have asked to be specifically named in prayers. Yes, there are the fears and hopes that weigh heavily on my heart. But most often my prayers are more along the lines of, "Lord, give me the wisdom to know the right things. Lord, give me the courage to make the right decisions. Lord, give me the strength to follow where you send me and the ability to help those whose paths I cross. Lord, help me to be the person you want me to be."
I know this sounds almost Solomonic. It's not supposed to. I'm not really wise enough to have gotten to this point without making a LOT of mistakes and poor decisions. Eventually I achieved the willingness to let go of MY petty wants and focus on what I believe Jesus taught us about going into a private audience with our Creator.
Too many people think that prayer is a great opportunity to win the Heavenly Sweepstakes. "Lord, smite my enemies, reward me for asking, take away the obstacles that I, myself have either created or feel powerless to change...oh, and could you give me the Powerball numbers." After all Jesus told us that if we truly believed and asked, God was waiting to grant our requests. Earlier the Bible says that He will "open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it." (Malachi 3:10 KJV).
I can't help but think we confuse what a blessing really is. It's not a seven-figure investment portfolio (though I wouldn't turn one down): it's a peace that passeth understanding; a confidence that we are children of God redeemed by a Savior that gave Himself for us when He was innocent and blameless. Feeling this in our hearts-in our bones-that's a blessing.
I know that when I start my day asking God to keep me focused; I have better days. I know when I pray for His will and not mine; I'm closer to Him. I know that I DON'T know so many things, but I ask God to help me learn. I ask because I'm told to. He gives because He promised. Praise God.
Peace and Love,
I simply wanted to take a moment and celebrate all the good things I've been seeing here at our Church. I have witnessed God doing some great things. So often we get caught up in the work of the church or in the details of things happening, that we may not see what God is doing. Every now and then I try to take a moment to step back and take a look at what God is doing. So let me share a couple of ways I've seen God's handiwork.
As many of you know, a couple weeks ago, we had an adult baptism and reaffirmation of faith. It was awesome to welcome Chuck Taylor and Kimberly Williams into our congregation. Then, the very next Sunday, we welcomed Lisa Adams and her two daughters, Savannah and Kinsey, into the life of our congregation. Lisa comes also as a reaffirmation of faith. That is three adults who are making commitments to follow Jesus and be part of the church! A number of Methodist churches don't even have a single adult baptism in an entire year. I see God doing amazing things!
Also, we are seeing more faces in worship. Our average worship attendance two years ago had fallen to 164. This was when we had a singular combined service. By the end of this past year we began to see an uptick in worship attendance and began trending upwards. This is mainly because the last six months we've seen more people and more faces. We ended 2019 with 166 averages. This year, we are already averaging 177 in our worship services. All to say, God is working wonders. Last year, we also saw 113 first time guests as I've mentioned. Wow! Numbers don't tell the whole story, but it certainly tells me the Spirit is at work among us.
This past Sunday, the Chancel Choir sang "I Choose Love" and "Lean on Me." My heart was moved. God's Spirit was moving. In the Traditional Service, we witnessed loads of food come in for the "Souper Bowl" pantry blessing. It was amazing to see.
All to say, I already see God doing great things for 2020 with us and through us. Jesus is being worshiped and people are coming to know and follow Jesus, and we are barely are a full month into the year. Let's keep up the good work. Let's witness God's Kingdom grow and expand!