Prayer is our work.

 

Psalm 27        Isaiah 9:1-4    1 Corinthians 1:10-18           Matthew 4:12-23

January 26, 2014

Much of the worship service flows together.  Each part flows into the next part.  The pattern of worship that we follow has four parts: “Let us praise God”(GV)/”Entrance”(MO); “Let us Affirm our oneness in Christ” (GV)/”Praises and Prayer” (MO); “Let Us Hear God’s Word” (GV)/”Proclamation and Response” (MO); and “Let Us Give Ourselves to God Anew” (GV)/”Sending Forth” (MO). 

We have been looking at these parts of worship, what they mean and ways in which we live these weekly.  We have learned that praise is a good way for us to gather together.  That is we place God higher than our own desires and spend time with others in speaking/singing God’s worth.  We have also learned that the Scriptures bring us a message from God.  So, we listen to the sermon to know how to live as God desires for us to live.

A part of worship that helps get us ready for the message from God is prayer.  We bring our concerns to God in prayer and we hope to hear from God in our praying. Over the life of the church, prayer has been a vital part of worship.  Beginning with the pattern of worship that the Jewish Christians gathered from the synagogues, going through the time of Christians being kicked out of the synagogues, to the Protestant Reformation of having the worship pattern changed by various denominations, through today, prayer has been a key ingredient in worship.  Whether the clergy or the laity led the prayer, it is difficult to worship without prayer. 

 

  1. Prayer is saying that we trust God (27:1-6)
    1. My light, my salvation (v. 1)
    2. Remain confident in God, despite & in spite of our enemies (v. 2-3)
    3. Prayer is a means of grace by which we can be in God’s presence (v. 4-5)
    4. We can praise God with singing – “Singing is praying twice”
    5. As we prepare for worship, we pray.  Tilden Edwards reminds us: “It is our own prayer, reading, silence, rest, and appreciative presence to this giftedness of life in Christ that we feed into our corporate worship.”[1]  When we are in worship, we pray together.  It is an understanding that each individual wants to be together with God.  This is important, because “The Lord’s Day is not private time.”[2]  It is when we hear others praise God that we find more faith to praise him ourselves. It is when we hear others are struggling and are willing to bring their struggles to God that become willing to bring our own struggles to God.  Isn’t that a good way for us to be?

 

  1. Prayer is being able to be truthful with God (27:7-12)
    1. We cry to God (v. 7)
    2. We seek God’s face (v. 8) – the face that cannot be seen – we want to be in God’s presence; we need to be in God’s presence
    3. Prayer is our expression of wanting to know how to understand the way of the Lord (v. 9-12)
    4. We confess our sins to God in prayer.  We can have litanies that involve us responding together to God in prayer.  Since God has been working in our lives, even before we knew it, we can seek to understand what he has for us.  It is when we are gathered together in prayer during worship that we discover much of what God has for us, regardless of what other people are doing to us.  Yet, sometimes what our enemies are doing to us distracts us from worshipping God.  Prayer is the time to refocus on worshipping God.  Andrew Murray, a19th century missionary, tells us: “Dear Christian, it is in tarrying in the secret of God’s presence that you receive grace to abide in Christ and to be led by His Spirit.   What food for thought – and worship!”[3]  So, we pray in corporate worship, seeking God.  Then we wait.

 

  1. Prayer is about looking to the future (27:13-14)
    1. Belief is important – Jesus said that we ask, seek, & knock
    2. Because we know God, we can wait
    3. We can expect God to work.  Why can we expect God to work?  We have seen His work in the past.  We have heard God answer us before.  And he will do so again.  Andrew Murray has more wisdom for us (p. 273).  As we trust the one who has gone before us, we know we can wait for God to act.  As the youth learned at Resurrection, this last verse of Psalm 27 is about hope. We learn about God’s ways and we wait for him, for he surely is working in our lives.

 

Yes, we can trust God.  He is our light and our salvation.  It is to him that we turn as we prepare for worship.   It is to God that we turn in worship, wanting to be in His presence. 

We know our ways.  God knows our ways.  So, in prayer we admit who we are.  And we also admit who God is, the one who can and does forgive us.  God is the one who can take us through the trouble we see in this life. God is the one who does help us, even when no one else does.

As we pray together in corporate worship, we are seeking the way of the Lord.  This seeking the way of the Lord is for now and for the future.  It is through prayer, and singing, that we are all involved in the worship service.  As we all seek to be in God’s presence, we find that God is indeed with us.


[1] Tilden Edwards, Sabbath Time, (Upper Room Books, Nashville; 1992), p. 127

[2] Ibid., p. 128

[3] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster & Emilie Griffin, (HarperSanFranscisco; 2000), p. 272

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