Saturday, November 13, 2010

Pain – The Unwelcome, Uninvited, but Indispensable Guest of Prayer

“Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters….” [Isaiah 55:1-2]

A “stereotype” is often an image label given by someone who is often prejudiced and bigoted. To “stereotype” is to err against sound logic. Stereotyping borders upon generalizing – pigeonholing various ideas and / or actions of people.

An example of stereotyping, is what homosexual activists do to committed Christians who disagree with their lifestyle and their push to over-turn history’s definition of marriage. These homosexual activists are quick and ready to “label” certain Christians as being “homophobes.” However, we must remember that this word, in itself, is wrongly utilized, as it actually means from its etymology: “fear of man,” -- not “fear of homosexuals.” But I think you gather the idea here. Stereotyping can be a maniacal and malevolent political tool, used by activists of any cause, to hijack the English language and turn it into propaganda fodder.

A Stereotype of “Prayer:”

Prayer is often represented as a spiritual means of acquiring something often asked for, of God Almighty. And, when a prayer is often answered, the action and repetition of “prayer” is often, in, and of itself, given the credit for the [humanly perceived] “successful” answer. Hence, “prayer,” becomes the primary focus, rather than the One who hears and / or answers prayer – that being the Triune God.

Prayer is often stereotyped in glowing terms. Often prayer is highlighted as the vehicle with which someone is finally rewarded and / or delivered from extenuating circumstances – ranging from ill health to financial straits.

“Pain” to the skeptic and unbeliever:

Having lived 6 decades, I have come to increasingly realize that human suffering – especially physical bodily pain, plays a crucial role in not only the praying process – but also, the outcome of prayer (petitions) to the Good Lord. Pain, in a Christian believer can precipitate a longing for God. Conversely, pain for a non Christian believer can precipitate more unbelief and revulsion, as it did in the case with Job’s wife who urged him to “curse God and die.” [Job 2:9]

“Pain” to the Christian believer helps precipitate earnest and, continued prayer:

I cherish the very brief time I was privileged to spend with a very pleasant, sick and dying middle aged man. His body was riddled with terminal disease and his physical pain became increasingly [almost, humanly] unbearable. Within the first few minutes of meeting this dear soul, he began to pray – and, I joined in. Usually, as pastor, I am the one expected to initiate the request for prayer. But this dear soul instinctively understood his imminent, precarious, and worsening situation and he was not about to be denied any priceless time he had left to seek the Lord’s help.

In addition to the Lord’s Prayer, my dear friend [as he quickly came to be] began praying the very simple prayer: “Lord, have mercy.” Each time I visited him – and it was rather frequent, he would always and consistently pray: “Lord, have mercy!” I assured him that, that one prayer was the best prayer and thanked him for reminding me of that very reality. [Luke 18:9-14] And, with escalating physical pain, he would often pray aloud in my presence: “Lord, have mercy.”

A few hours before he died, unable to “vocally” pray himself, I prayed with him the Lord’s prayer, reminded him of the Lord’s promises that we had talked about – and then I prayed with him his favorite and superb, prayer, “Lord have mercy; Christ, have mercy; Lord, have mercy.”

When I finally breathe my last, and come, by God’s grace (as my friend) into heaven’s glories, I want to seek out my faithful departed friend and listen to him relate to me all of the Lord’s mercies. 

Amen.

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Prayer offered by "believers"

This Week’s Related Scriptures -- Intended to be utilized in a simple worship format:

Old Testament:

Psalm 136:1f -- The mercies of the Lord, recounted

New Testament Gospel:

Luke 18:9-14 – Christ’s Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector

Revelation 21:3-7 – The Believer’s glimpse of heaven to come

Of Whom Does the Prophet Speak" -- by Victor Buksbazen -- Isaiah 53:1-12 -- an in-depth view of and the prophecy of Christ, hundred of years before his birth. Isaiah 53:1-12 underscores the truthfulness of Divine Revelation as exemplified in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures.

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The "Words in Season" topical messages and related worship format are not intended to discourage or replace the Christian worship and assembly of Christians at their particular places of church worship. As this website's author, it is my prayer and hope, that many souls will find the topical messages, related worship format and other material, a useful and valuable Christian resource.

The Christian Faith:  Parts 1-3

Note:  The above sermon message (with minor editing) was previously posted online by Nathan Bickel 

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