Sunday, October 11, 2015

“Any concern too small to be turned into a prayer is too small to be made into a burden.” ― Corrie ten Boom

When I was just starting out as a pastor, one of my churches was a community church in that it was Baptist on two Sundays, Presbyterian for one, and United Methodist for one, and if there was a fifth Sunday that went to the Methodists as well.  I wasn’t used to using an order of worship that was quite as different as this one was, but I figured if I could read it, I could lead it.  Wasn’t quite that easy.  We started by standing for the opening hymn and then were supposed to sit for the pastoral prayer which was next and then not stand again until the hymn after the sermon.  My problem was that I was nervous and skipped the pastoral prayer.  [Now, on a side note, I have been having to fight a really bad cold and having trouble sleeping the last few nights, and one night I remembered this Sunday in a dream—more on that later.]  The result of my skipping the prayer was that all those nice folks only some of whom were Methodist were kept standing for about forty-five minutes until the hymn after the sermon.  Some of the older ones sat anyway, but the majority kept on standing (God bless ‘em), probably thinking that Methodists had some unusual worship habits.  Then God spoke to me during church for the first time.  When we got to the hymn after the sermon, its title was “Have You Forgotten To Pray” (we sat to sing it) and then I realized what a great first impression I had made on these wonderful Christian folks who were too polite to point out my mistake.  We laughed after that, but I know every one of them has been telling that story for years because this was back in 1986.  Now to the point, I hate colds, I can’t read, I don’t want to eat, I can’t breathe, I sneeze all the time—I am just miserable.  After three days of this suffering, I had the dream where I remembered that sermon from all those years ago.  I remembered because I had relied solely on medicine to give me relief and had indeed forgotten to pray.  Karen often chides me when I complain about my suffering and asks, “Have you forgotten to pray?”  Somehow, I guess I think God has too much to do to pay attention to my little complaints.  When I woke up that morning, I got on my knees and had a chat with He whom gives all the blessings and comfort to those in need.  The symptoms got better right away, and in another day were gone together.  I know there are skeptics who will claim that the cold had simply run its course, but the last time John had the same symptoms it turned out to be typhoid.  God made you.  God loves you.  God wants to help, but you do have to ask.  Don’t just keep on standing waiting for the hymn after the sermon, pray when you need to pray.  I do believe in prayer, it’s just that sometimes I forget to pray for my own needs.  Don’t be like me, pray for what you need.  Don’t forget to pray.
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