JOIN US ONLINE. Sundays at 10:30 A.M.

How to Bless Your Neighbor - Pray

How to BLESS Your Neighbor - Begin with Prayer

   “Nothing Like that ever happens to me.” Extraordinary moments where you are a recipient of a random act of kindness or a winner of a drawing.  I used to say that until it happened to me.  I won baseball tickets!  I couldn’t believe it.
   Sometimes we have the same attitude towards divine moments—moments when God uses us in an unexpected way to bless someone else.   Nothing like that ever happens to me.  Well, maybe it’s because we don’t pray for such things to happen?  If we truly seek to follow the mission of Jesus to bless others then none of us will ever make the excuse that “nothing like that ever happens to me!”  Blessing others shouldn’t be a random event but a regular part of our everyday lives.
  The aim of “How to Bless Your Neighbor,” is to equip you to live out the adventurous mission to lead others to love and live for Jesus.   Understand, this isn’t just the purpose of FCC, this is your purpose, this is my purpose, this is our purpose.
   And yet, too often rather than getting into the game, we sit on the sidelines waiting for someone else to carry out the mission. Instead of helping people find their way back to God, we sit back hoping people find their way back to God.  Through the years I’ve discovered that the best way to live this mission is to be a BLESSING to the people and places God puts in our lives.
   Prayer is one of those things – like flossing or exercise or going to bed at a decent hour – that we know we should do but often don’t do.
   Every time I go to the dentist, my dentist asks me if I’m flossing regularly. How many of us are tempted to lie in that situation? Now, I don’t want to tell my dentist that I’m not doing what I know I should do so I usually respond, “I’m flossing the same amount as the last time you asked me.”
   Prayer can be like that for most of us. It’s something we know we should do, something we even want to do, but it can be hard to be consistent at it. Why is that? There are a lot of reasons. Here are a few:
•Sometimes we don’t pray because we feel we don’t know how. Many of us learned to pray as children—mostly at meals and at bedtime. But how many people reach adulthood without any additional instruction? We know we should pray, but many of us aren’t sure how.

•Sometimes we don’t pray because we think we’re too busy.  Let’s face it… prayer takes time, it takes focus, it takes energy; and many of us feel like we’re running short on all of those things. Our busy lives crowd out a lot of things we know are important, and oftentimes that includes prayer.

•And sometimes we don’t pray because we doubt it works.  We think, “I prayed, I really did, and it didn't seem to make any difference.” I’ve felt that way before. Maybe it’s led you to question whether you even believe in prayer. When we pray and nothing seems to happen, it makes prayer really difficult.
   There are lots of reasons why we don’t pray, but I’m going to challenge you to move beyond just hoping people find their way back to God and start helping.  It begins with prayer. We have a great motivation for praying… The best reason to become a person who consistently prays is because we follow someone whose life was characterized by prayer.
   Jesus Begins With Prayer
   Jesus is the one we follow. His whole life was a blessing to the world. Every place that he went, every person he encountered experienced a “God moment” in his presence. Jesus lived out the BLESS practices in his daily life on earth, and he did that by beginning with prayer.
   If you read through the first four books of the New Testament that tell Jesus’ story, you see a consistent pattern of prayer.
•(Luke 3:21) Jesus prays at his baptism, and the heavens are opened as he is filled with the Holy Spirit and blessed by the Father.
•(Luke 5:16) Jesus had a regular practice of withdrawing from the crowds by himself to pray.
•(Luke 9:16a) Jesus prayed before performing miracles asking the Father to bless the work he was doing.
•(Luke 22:32) Jesus prayed for his friends, that they would remain strong in their faith.
•(Luke 22:41) Jesus spent the night before his crucifixion alone in a garden praying.
   Over and over again, we see Jesus prioritizing prayer.  Jesus spent time in prayer even when life was pressing in on him.  How many of you ever feel like life is pressing in on you?  Oh, yeah. What happens when life presses?  Yes, we stress!  
   Jesus didn’t stress.  Jesus didn’t let the pace of life derail him for making space for prayer.  Jesus disengaged from the fast pace of life and purposely paused for communion with God the Father. Pausing for prayer was his practice even as the crowds pressed in on him.
   Luke 5:15-16 But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.
   Jesus didn’t allow the pace of others to dictate his pace.  Jesus made space for prayer.
   This raises an important question, why did Jesus need to pray? As the Son of God, Jesus was divine.  He is of one substance and equal to the Father and He also possessed a human nature. Jesus possessed two distinct natures that retain their own properties yet remain in one person. Jesus is all-powerful and all-knowing just like the Father however he exercised those attributes in connection with his humanity.  
   Jesus showed us that even in sinless humanity, it is necessary to have a vibrant prayer life to do the Father’s will, including the selection of those men who would carry on His mission.  So, here is Jesus seeking to identify the people    he would invest his life in. There were quite a few candidates around who could become his apprentices.
•I am sure that in the pool of candidates there were some that had recognizable potential.
•I am sure that there were some that seem to have leadership skills.
•I am sure that there were some whose personalities made them seem like obvious choices.
   However, because Jesus knew that the stakes were high, that through these guys he would be able to BLESS even more people, he spent the night in prayer. A whole night praying to the Father!
   Now, Luke does not tell us what Jesus prayed. He does not tell us how the Father confirmed the right people for Jesus to invite. But what he does tell us is that in the morning, when it was time to choose, Jesus had clear direction. And the choices he made were not the obvious choices. For some reason, he chooses fishermen, tax collectors, a religious zealot, and even the man who would later betray him. Why is this important? Because when we begin with prayer, asking God to lead us to those he is calling us to BLESS, the choices may not be as obvious as we first expect.  Also, it’s important because Jesus used ordinary people to carry on the extraordinary work of blessing others who are far from God.
Maybe you are thinking that about yourself this morning.  Me?  Jesus, you want me to carry on your mission.  I’m just an ordinary person.  Exactly.
    “If you feel quite weak and ordinary—if you feel like a mess but have the Spirit—
     you have the right credentials. You are one of the ordinary people God uses to help others.”                                                                                                                                 - Edward T. Welch
   Jesus delights to use ordinary people in his mission.  And it starts by looking to God in prayer.    If Jesus prayed, then we certainly need to pray. Jesus looked to God in prayer.  I don’t recommend that you start by praying all night.  Just that you start.

No Comments