Sunday, October 14, 2018

Effectual, Fervent Prayers Availeth Much!

Pentecost XXI
October 14, 2018
Fr. Phil Eberhart

God, our refuge and strength, true source of all godliness: Graciously hear the devout prayers of your Church, and grant that those things which we ask faithfully we may obtain effectually; through Jesus Christ our Lord; who sits at your right hand to intercede for us, and who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns in everlasting glory. Amen.

Well, it's good to be back in the fold here at REZ.  I've been traveling for the past two Sunday's, one on Kingdom business and one on personal, as our family gathered last weekend over Columbus Day weekend with my 88 year old mom in Burlington.

I've been on an interesting journey across America the last couple weeks - to a place in Indiana called Heartland Church - a former Vineyard become Anglican church that has a growing influence in Anglican worship music - to a songwriter's retreat!  First time for me and I'll be previewing a new song for you at the offertory this morning.  I told someone yesterday it was the first time I've ever been in quite such a community of "creatives."  It was good for me and I feel that there may be another song or two brewing!  

From Indiana I went to Washington DC last week - yes, last week!

The National Prayer Assembly happens each year and is scheduled about a year in advance - this year meeting at the Ronald Reagan Center, just about 3 blocks from the White House on Pennsylvania Ave.  We had opportunity to prayer walk the Supreme Court building and the Senate office buildings (all three) on Tuesday, stopping to pray at specific, important races for the coming election.  

Then on Wed and Thurs we gathered at the Reagan Center to pray in concert and unity over the themes and issues in our nation.  Needless to say, when the dates were picked, the organizers had no idea the strategic nature of the times we would be in DC for.  Just a couple of highlights...

I got to go personally and pray with Senator Gardner and his chief of staff on Wednesday morning.  I discovered that his mother-in-law is my mom's pastor in Burlington!  Small world!  
Our prayer time on Wed and Thurs at the National Prayer Assembly was electric.  Because of all that was going on in the media with the Kavanaugh hearings and the weight of the upcoming elections, we knew that we were there "for such a time as this."

One fun fact -  How many of you received the "Presidential Alert" on your phone last week?  First time that that alert system has ever been used, tested or otherwise!  The alert came at 2:18 p.m. and we had just moments before began praying for the President and his cabinet at the Assembly!  It was like a God-wink and affirmed the crucial timing and nature of our work of intercession!

Several of the intercessors who could go were invited to the Senate gallery for the debate on Friday last week before the Senate took their vote on Saturday morning.

Friends, we were the invited guests of several of the Senators, to provide intercessory prayer cover over these important debates, in person!  I just want you to know that these things are happening.  They're certainly not going to be covered by our media!

But I want to turn for a few minutes to our scriptures this morning, in light of all this!  How incredible that these scriptures were chosen for today - 400 years ago!

"The Word of God is living, and active - sharper than a two-edged sword - It divides between soul and spirit,  down to joints and marrow, between the thoughts and intentions in our hearts."

I came away from this week with a sense of awe.  Awe at the immensity of our God.  And the nearness of His Spirit and His direct concern for us and our lives and affairs!

Malcolm Muggeridge was quoted in the Alpha Course by Nicky Gumbel, as saying, "The primary difficulty in our grappling with prayer is grasping and comprehending Who it is that we are praying to!"  Nicky goes on to articulate the bigness of God by reminding us of the Voyager I satellite - interstellar probe and its journey to the stars. It will take hundreds of years for the satellite to reach anything like a neighboring star, and Genesis 1:16 adds all the stars as almost a tag line... "and He also made the stars." Almost an afterthought!

Who is it that we pray to?  God

How do you comprehend ... God?  What or whom do you see when you close your eyes?

Big grey-bearded Gandolf in the sky?  

Our scriptures this morning are just a few of many, many passages that "set us straight."  We confuse God with some mortal figure in heaven, a kind of judge that watches us when we slip up, or on the other end, a kind of sugar-daddy who hands out gifts and presents on demand!  Almost a kind of celestial vending machine.

This past week I had a sense of the awesomeness of our God and of the incredible privilege that we have of coming to Him through Jesus in prayer.

Today we are in the midst of our 24 hour prayer day for the 1 Church Initiative - a group of churches that each take a 24 hour "watch" to pray over our churches, our communities, our state and our nation.

We take for granted the access we have to God and are ignorant of the power that our prayers have, when we pray in accord and in alignment with Jesus' own intercessions!  We heard that in our opening prayer this morning...

Graciously hear the devout prayers of your Church, and grant that those things which we ask faithfully we may obtain effectually; through Jesus Christ our Lord; who sits at your right hand to intercede for us,

I want to urge you to do your duty - fulfill what we have been called to - to partner with the God of the universe, the most powerful force in the universe, to interceed with him!  To enter into the intercessions of Jesus at the right hand of the Father.

That is the picture I want to plant in your mind when you close your eyes to pray.  You are entering into an ongoing conversation between Jesus and His Father in the throne room of Heaven.  This is the privilege we have of ACCESS to God and to His presence.  Because of Jesus we can just "walk right in."

But never forget where you are and what you are engaged in!  Probably the most important work of your life!  

So I want to encourage you this morning to stand fast in prayer, especially in these days that are just ahead of us.  These are not going to be easy or comfortable days.  We already feel the pressure and weight of the times that we live in, but you need to know that, as James has said, "The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous person... of righteous people...  availeth much!"

And so we introduce the most pressing needs in our lives to the most powerful force in our lives... with three little words!

Let Us Pray!

Lord God Almighty, who has made all the peoples of the earth 
for your glory, to serve you in freedom and in peace: Give to 
the people of our country a zeal for justice and the strength 
of forbearance, that we may use our liberty in accordance 
with your gracious will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who 
lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, 
for ever and ever. Amen. 

Almighty God our heavenly Father, you declare your glory
and show forth your handiwork in the heavens and in the
earth: Deliver us in our various occupations from the service
of self alone, that we may do the work you give us to do in
truth and beauty and for the common good; for the sake of
him who came among us as one who serves, your Son Jesus
Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy

Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. 

Glory To You

Glory to you, Lord God of our Fathers;
     You are worthy of praise; glory to you.
Glory to you for the radiance of your holy Name;
    we will praise you and highly exalt you forever.
Glory to you in the splendor of your temple;
    on the throne of your majesty, glory to you.
Glory to you, seated between the Cherubim;
    we will praise you and highly exalt you forever.

Glory to you, beholding the depths;
    In the high vault of heaven, glory to you.
Glory to you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit;
    we will praise you and highly exalt you forever.

Let us confess our faith!

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