Monday, April 27, 2009

A bit of humor and a lot of truth. Sam Walter Foss

"The proper way for a man to pray,"
Said Deacon Lemuel Keyes,
"And the only proper attitude
Is down upon his knees."
"No, I should say the way to pray,"
Said the Reverend Doctor Wise,
"Is standing straight with outstretched arms,
And rapt and upturned eyes."

"Oh, no, no, no," said Elder Snow,
"Such posture is too proud;
A man should pray with eyes fast closed,
And head contritely bowed."
"It seems to me his hand should be
Austerely clasped in front,
With both thumbs pointed toward the ground,"
Said Reverend Doctor Blunt.

"Last year I fell in Hidgin's well
Head first," said Cyrus Brown.
"With both my heels a stickin' up,
My head a-pointin' down;
An' I made a prayer right then an' there--
Best prayer I ever said,
The prayingest prayer I ever prayed,
Was a-standing on my head!"

I just got done reading a book I picked up at the thrift store last week, called "The Exciting Church: Where People Really Pray" by Charlie W. Shedd. The title intrigued me, and it was a quick, but powerful read. The author was the pastor of a small church on Jekyll Island, Georgia, limited in size by the very fact that it was on a small island in a touristy kind of town

Pastor Shedd and the elders on the board of this small church asked themselves, "What do you all think Christ wants this church to be?" Week after week, as they studied and sought the Lord for His direction, they asked more questions like, "Is this the most specific thing Jesus said about his church, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer'? I really wonder what would happen if everyone in our congregation was prayed for every day by someone."

Then, as they considered 1 Timothy 2 (Instructions on Worship), especially verse 1, "First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be made for all men," they came to the conclusion that prayer is the first business of the church. The elders & their pastor started on a 30-day journey, creating prayer partners in their small group. They committed to pray for each other daily for 30 days & then evaluate.

Things went well that first month. They decided to switch partners & pray for a different person the next month, and the next month after that. At the end of 3 months of praying, one of the elders (who was originally skeptical of the prayer partner idea) said, "You all know what happened in our family this month. When my wife went to the hospital for her operation, I can't tell you what it meant to know that 'K' and his wife would be praying for her every day. You know what I think? I think we should have everybody in the congregation praying. Why don't we ask them to pray for each other?"

So, they experimented with their congregation, creating prayer partner trios out of families. The pastor & author goes on in the book to explain how the passion and excitement in their church exploded over the next few years. The only contributing factor: the increase in the pray-ing of their church members.

This was such a great reminder to me of what God does when we open our hearts to Him in prayer. Pastor Shedd shows us in this book that "prayer is not first man's trying to get through to God. It is first an opening up on God who is trying to get through to us.....Of course, one kind of prayer is reaching. But the first concept for great prayer is to know that God is already reaching for us."

He continues, "With this insight I saw my ministry in new light. My first job was not to storm heaven's gates for my people. Nor plead for them. Nor beg a reluctant God to bless us with his favors. It was to teach the opening of inner doors with the simple prayer, 'Come in.'"

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