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Sermon 10-04-19 Calvary UMC Rev. Elaine Wing
Second in a Series on Prayer: Praying for Others
It is said that the shortest sermon is based on these two-word verse in the Bible: Jesus wept. Two words, just two!
If that is true, then I’d like to suggest the shortest sermon on how to pray for others would be these three words: Be a branch!
John’s gospel records Jesus saying to his disciples:
“Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.” (John 14:7)
Nothing is more important to the life of prayer than learning how to become a branch.
Abiding in Jesus means that we became familiar enough with Jesus to ask and do, as we know He would ask and do.
Even with that familiarity, we need one more thing in order to effectively prayer for others.
We need Jesus as our Intercessor.
In Chapters 13 -17 of John’s Gospel we read about Jesus’ conversation with the disciples in the Upper Room. Jesus said,
“My children, I will be with you only a little longer. Where I am going you cannot come. I am going to my Father’s house to prepare a place for you. Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Now my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name….”
What is it about Jesus going to the Father that made a difference in the prayer life of the disciples and in ours?
The difference is that our ministry of intercession is only possible because of Jesus’ continuing ministry of intercession.
Jesus said that we need to pray in his name. What does that mean in practice?
It is more than simply tacking on “In the Name of Jesus we pray” at the end of one’s prayer. It means:
By faith, we believe what Jesus said and did during his earthly ministry, by his death, through his resurrection and continued place next to God.
Praying in Jesus’ name also means we are making the kinds of intercessions Jesus would make if he were among us in the flesh.
Because we are representing our Lord, our prayers need to be in unity with his nature. Intercessory prayer is work that can be easily discouraging. It requires persistence.
Unlike God, we tend to be impatient. And, we often want to compel people or God to go a certain direction or at a certain pace.
Yet, we are to pray in Jesus’ name and according to his divine nature. I like Richard Foster’s description of God’s way…
“His way is like the rain and the snow that gently fall to earth, disappearing into the ground as they nourish it. When the time is right, up springs new life. No manipulation, no control; perfect freedom, perfect liberty. This is God’s way.”
There are many ways to pray for others. I learned of one woman who is confined to her bed. She prays through her “family album” of some 200 photographs of people for whom she has concern. She works through the album each week, flipping pages and praying over the pictures.
In closing, let me share some thoughts from Philip Yancy, one of my favorite Christian authors.
Yancy approaches intercessory prayer from the premise that God wants the other person to be whole in body, mind, and spirit. We know that God wants their relationships to be strong; their loved ones to stay out of trouble etcera.
Praying is a way of lifting up our mind to God and entering into the stream of God’s unconditional love. That sounds pretty darn good to me! I don’t have to be right on target with what I’m asking for… God’s got that covered.
I just need to be a branch dispensing love from Jesus, who is the vine.
Amen and amen