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GOD Calls Us To Pray, August 6, 2020

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, So many of us in the world are on “sensory over-load” with stuff that really doesn’t get us where GOD wants us to go!

I’ve always had trouble paying attention to one thing at a time. Before I started seminary when I was 47, I went to a psychologist to get tested to see if I had attention deficit, hyperactivity disorder-ADHD. After the tests and interviews, the doctor told me I wasn’t ADHD, I was just a little flaky. Not really. He suggested a few strategies to help me keep my focus.

Today we start a new message series, because GOD wants us to know “GOD Is Calling Us!!”

So, we can Listen Learn and Love.

Please find you half sheet insert and take a look at the side of the sheet that says: “HARMONIE CHURCH MISSION. Please, read along with me as I read aloud:

“HARMONIE CHURCH MISSION: To Make Disciples for Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World!

OUR VISION: LISTEN, LEARN, AND LOVE!!

At Harmonie Church we strive to LISTEN to GOD; and we LISTEN to each other and those we meet.

At Harmonie Church we strive to LEARN from GOD, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit; as we LEARN from each other.

At Harmonie Church we strive to LOVE GOD with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength; and we strive to LOVE our neighbor as we love our selves.”

Now flip the insert over. Let’s continue, “At Harmonie Church to accomplish our Mission of Making Disciples for Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World, we are striving to Live Into Our Vision of Listening, Learning, and Loving through our Prayers, Presence, Gifts, Service and Witness.

PRAYERS, PRESENCE, GIFTS, SERVICE, WITNESS.

Today, and over the next 4 weeks we will talk about these 5 commitments we can make to GOD and each other. These are the commitments that we make as Disciples of Jesus Christ. Please keep this sheet of who we are striving to be in your Bible and bring it each week to worship.

Every single one of us is a GOD-created individual, and we will all answer GOD’S call in a different way, as a beloved child of GOD.

On the other hand, we are all part of the church, the Body of Christ, and we need to hear Jesus’ Call to be Unified in the Holy Spirit to fulfill our Mission: To Make Disciples for Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World!

My friends, there is deep, true joy, in following Jesus as his disciple. BUT it’s not easy. It takes discipline to be a disciple.

So today, let’s talk about prayer. Prayer does not have to be difficult. One of my favorite Christian writers is Anne Lamott.

She has given us a guide to three essential prayers:

“Help! Thanks! Wow!”

Let me expand!!

#1) HELP ME! HELP ME!! HELP ME!! Or

#2) THANK YOU! THANK YOU!! THANK YOU!! Or

#3) WWWOOOOOWWWW!

That’s the basics. Be real with GOD and GOD will be real to you…

In 1 Thessalonians, Paul gives the 1st century church and now us, a bunch of exhortations, and you heard Linde read 3 challenges in the scripture today, chapter 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

Wait just a minute, Paul, really?? “give thanks in ALL circumstances?” In every circumstance? For all things? Has Paul asked his church and now us to do the impossible? Can a person face a fresh set of abuses every day and give thanks?

Sisters and Brothers, Paul is very serious about these challenges: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances.” Paul hopes we understand the Gospel’s “Already,” and the “Not Yet.”

The Already” refers to things GOD has already accomplished through Jesus’ death and resurrection; and the “Not Yet” refers to those things yet to be accomplished we Jesus returns we with the New Jerusalem.

There is an acrostic we can use to help guide us in some important elements of prayer. An acrostic is a poem or other word composition in which the first letter each new line spells out a word or message. Like S.C.U.B.A.—self, contained, underwater, breathing, apparatus. S.C.U.B.A.

Today’s acrostic is called ACTS, A.C.T.S. In this case A.C.T.S. stands for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication.

A is for Adoration – The first attitude of prayer and worship is adoration expressed in praise.

To adore GOD is to worship and praise him, to honor and exalt him in our heart, mind, soul, and with our lips. Adoration expresses our complete trust in GOD and reflects our confidence that he hears us. Adoration demonstrates our reverence, awe and love, and is the starting point for all genuine worship.

We do not praise GOD, if we do not adore him. Adoration is expressed in praise, and the true language of praise is found in the Bible in such passages as Psalm 103:1, which says,

“Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name!” So, we should begin our prayer by adoring God simply for who he is - but who he is, is not simple! Amen?

C is for Confession - Self-examination and confession expresses our humility and repentance. In the presence of our Holy God, we recognize ourselves as sinners in need of repentance. C. S. Lewis observed that repentance is not fun at all, for it is harder than just eating humble pie; it means undergoing a kind of death of the self.

Once we realize our sin, we must confess it before God.

True confession includes the “acceptance of God’s forgiveness.”

1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

It is important to accept God’s forgiveness so that we can enter further into worship of God and in prayer. If we do not confess and ask for forgiveness, then there is no point in continuing on and asking for anything else.

T is for Thanksgiving – Something else closely related to adoration is gratitude. This is another attitude of prayer and worship. When we adore God, we also think upon his goodness, kindness and mercy and we are grateful. Gratitude is expressed in thanksgiving. Nothing else pleases God more than our consistent expression of faith. What better way to do this than to tell Him, “Thank you”?

Bowing in the presence of God, we call to mind all the blessings we have received. We acknowledge God as the source of our blessings, and our hearts rise in praise and thanksgiving. Psalm 107:1-2 says, “O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever! . . . Let the redeemed of the LORD say so.”

S is for Supplication - Once we have confessed our sin we can then move further into prayer and our worship of God. Supplication involves asking. Have you heard of the acrostic from Matthew 7:7? It is ASK. What does A.S.K. stand for? Ask, Seek, and Knock. This is what Jesus tells us to do in Matthew 7:7.

In the presence of an infinite God, we realize that we are needy creatures, and we acknowledge our dependence on him. Dependence is acknowledging that we have needs. Supplication is asking the Lord in prayer to supply those needs. Supplication also includes asking for God’s blessings on others – which is called intercession. In 1 Timothy Paul urged that “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men.” Asking is an act worthy of being included in worship, for Luke 11:13 says that God delights to give good things to his children.

Back when I was working at Little Creek Wildlife Area, I was working on a Master’s in Environmental Studies at SIU-Edwardsville. I was asking GOD to help me hear GOD’S call, not Doug’s call.

I took a class called, “Clarifying Personal and Professional self. It changed my life. One of the activities was call a “Tune Up” that was a method of helping us focus and listen to our “Essential Selves.” As Christians we think about praying and listening to the Holy Spirit. In the activity we are trying to relax our breathing, our bodies, and our minds so we could listen to GOD’S Holy Spirit.

I’m going to walk us through a modified version of a Tune-Up. First, get comfortable for just about 5 or six minutes; a good, full Tune-Up takes about 15-20 minutes or longer sometimes. This is a modified version. Relax, place your hands, open and palms up on your legs. Close your eyes and begin 4 full deep breaths, in through your nose, if possible, and out through your mouth. And I will walk you through this Tune-Up.

BREATHING…Continue the deep breathing and now let’s focus on your BODY and start with your head. Relax your muscles in your head and let your awareness circle your head letting any tension travel down your arms and legs and out the door where GOD can recycle the tension or pain Now relax your Neck. Arms. Back. Internal organs. Legs. Feet. …

Now your MIND…let the thoughts come, give them attention and then give them to GOD. You can always come back to an idea later. Let the thoughts flow, and do not dwell on any one thought.

Now OPEN YOURSELF TO GOD’S HOLY SPIRIT! Listen to what GOD may be saying to you…

Please hear my voice and be open to GOD’S Holy Spirit and what the Spirit might say as I ask you a couple of questions.

GOD Is Calling Us!! Are you listening to GOD?

GOD Is Calling Us!! Are you learning from GOD?

GOD Is Calling Us!! Are you Loving GOD With All of Your Heart?

Are you Loving GOD With All of Your Soul? Are you Loving GOD With All of Your Mind? Are you Loving GOD With All of Your Strength? AND Are you Loving Your Neighbors as YOU Love yourself.”?

Now give yourself just a little bit to bring awareness you what you heard from GOD in the answers from GOD’S Holy Spirit. Give attention to your feet, legs body, mind, and spirit.

In Luke 22:42 we over hear Jesus praying a very important prayer, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done."

Let us prepare for Holy Communion.

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