Sunday, October 4, 2015

Reaching deep into the heart of prayer

A praying church is a growing church … and a growing church is a praying church!

At the heart of the life of our church is prayer. And it goes on in all sorts of different settings.  If something in our worship touches you today and you feel you want to share in prayer then have a word with one of our Ministry leaders or simply make use of our prayer space after the service  If you have a prayer concern to share with the church family have a word with Lorraine Gasside on 239838 or email and we shall pass it round our prayer chain. To join that prayer chain see Lorraine.  Each Sunday morning we have a short time of prayer from 10-00 to 10-15 in our Prayer Space, each Wednesday morning there’s a prayer meeting and on the second Thursday evening of each month we meet in the Prayer Space from 7-30 to 8-30.  Do join us: it’s good to pray with others!  If you would like to lead prayers during our services please add your name to the list that Shirley Fiddimore is going to be keeping or have a word with me!  Most important of all, wherever you are, take time to pray!

Welcome and Call to Worship
311      Sing aloud, loud, loud
Prayer and the Lord’s Prayer
Launching Operation Christmas Child
One thing to pack shoe boxes … but another is to pray
How important prayer is …
I want us each to think of a prayer we want to pray at the moment – and write down that prayer – it may be for us, it may be for someone we know – it may be for the people who will be receiving these shoe boxes.

This is just our prayer with God … in a moment

First, we are going to read a wonderful passage from Paul’s letter to the Philippians … and then we are going to listen to a track and as we do that – an opportunity to write down a prayer.

Then we are going to make those prayers our offering to God – and offer them to God

Reading: Philippians 4:4-9

A track to play while people write their prayers

… and then make an offering of the prayers.

Hy-Spirit Song

Activities for all over 3

Prayer is more than words.  It’s something that touches us deep down.  It brings us into that close relationship we have with the God who hears our prayers and touches us as we pray.

Prayer is in someway an expression of our love, the love we have for people around us, the love we have for God’s world … it is an expression of love because we share our prayers with the God who is love.

Sometimes it’s good for us to reach down into the heart of prayer … and sense the presence of God with us and know this God to be the God who is love.

Let’s remain seated and sing together …

MTS 2 Be still

The way we pray is shaped by the prayers we have heard people pray, the prayers that have been shared with us, for me that goes back to the prayers my parents shared with me from the very earliest moments in my memory.

In some ways prayer is an instinctive thing that comes naturally … but in other ways the way we pray is shaped by the Jesus who is at the heart of our faith.

There’s something intensely personal that goes to the heart of prayer.  But in the way Jesus wants us to pray it’s intensely important that our prayer be shot through with that sense of love, the love we have for others, the love we have for God’s world, the love that is the very nature of the God who is love.

Let’s hear the teaching Jesus shared with his closest friends about prayer … just notice something very special that is at the heart of the Jewus prayer and at the heart of the way we pray who look to Jesus as our Lord and our Saviour.

Reading:  Matthew 6:5-15

And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
 ‘When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words.Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
 ‘Pray then in this way:
Our Father in heaven,
   hallowed be your name.
   Your kingdom come.
   Your will be done,
     on earth as it is in heaven.
   Give us this day our daily bread.
   And forgive us our debts,
     as we also have forgiven our debtors.
   And do not bring us to the time of trial,
     but rescue us from the evil one.

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

The way we have prayed today is something close.  After the service I will dispose of the prayers.  Let’s suppose I decide to put them in a polythene bag and I then seal that bag.

I put them into the bin.

The rubbish is taken to the landfill site in Stoke Orchard.

Let’s suppose in 2000 years time some future archaeologist is excavating the landfill site and comes across a polythene bag sealed that has not deteriorated – she opens the bag and then has to decipher the language.  She calls in an expert on the English that was such a common language the world over at that long distant time.

They would touch us, ordinary everyday people and sense something of the way we pray and something of the God we believe in.  My guess is our prayers would be an expression of our concern for others and our conviction that the God we believe in will offer help in a loving way.

In 1978 archaeologists did just that!

A young girl who belonged to Karen Haden’s mother’s Guide company went swimming in the baths in Bath … contracted an illness and died.   All of Bath’s baths were closed to investigate the source of the contamination.  It was tracked to the spring that bubbles up from the depths of the earth and provides the water for the baths of Bath.

The spring was under the concrete floor of one of the city centre hotels that had been built one hundred years before.  The concrete had to be taken up, the reservoir that had been built by the Romans to catch the water from the spring was drained, the spring water syphoned off and drained away.  The archaeologists were brought in.  What they discovered was remarkable.  17,500 coins people had thrown in the spring.  And 130 pieces of lead the size of a postcard with writing on.  Not posh, formal Latin like you find on inscriptions, but ordinary everyday rough and ready writing.

That very same year working were laying a water main across the field next to Peggy Heckler’s Tump in Uley on the Cotswold Escarpment – they began digging up fragments of pottery and so called in the archaeologists.  What should they find but another 130 or so lead tablets with the same kind of writing on.

It took some time to decipher them, one expert called Roger Tomlin was brought in.  He worked away with others.

Something remarkable was going on.

These were, you could argue, prayers.  The prayers written by ordinary everyday people as they visited the Roman tample to Sulis Minerva in Bath and the Roman Temple to Mercury on the Costwold escarpment in Uley.

And the similarities of the prayers tell you a lot about what these people, many of them local Celtic people thought they were doing as they were praying.

Someone had stolen something and they were praying to get it back – but the prayers have a vengeful streak in them – May the divine genius of the god Mercury, or the goddess Sulis Minerva get my stolen plough or my stolen cloak back – I will give you the blood of the one who stole it and you can take their life, whether they be slave or free, man or woman.

So the ordinary every day way of saying your prayers to your god was vengeful … what would it be like for someone steeped in that way of praying if they came across Jesus, started to follow Jesus and began to read what he had to say about praying.

At the heart of his praying is the God of love who forgives and who redeems us through the shedding of Jesus’ blood, such as we have no need to seek the blood of someone else.

And at the heart of his way of praying is a wonderful love that mirrors the forgiveness that is of the nature of the God who is love.

Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

As if to press the point home, as if recognising that for some people this was a very different approach to prayer and to praying.

Jesus added this.

For if you forgive others their trespasses, yhour heavenly Father will also forgive you … but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

It’s powerful stuff.

So, if we are to go to reach deep into the heart of prayer we need to speak as Jesus spoke in accents of love.

Hymn: 510   Lord, speak to me that I may speak

Prayers of Concern

38        Praise my soul, the king of heaven

Words of Blessing

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