How to Harness the Power of Prayer
December 3, 2006
The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor
Montgomery United Methodist Church
25"There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. 26People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27Then they will see 'the Son of Man coming in a cloud' with power and great glory. 28Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."
29Then he told them a parable: "Look at the fig tree and all the trees; 30as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. 31So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. 33Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 34"Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day catch you unexpectedly, 35like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. 36Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man."
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, good morning!
Pray for people. Pray for people – that’s what I’d like to ask you to do today. Prayer is one of the most powerful, important, and loving things you can do to make a positive difference in this world. I urge you to harness the power of your prayer and let it make the world better.
Always remember, too, that the light and the power of prayer are reflective. Everytime you pray for someone, some of that prayer power is increased in you, too. Pray for people. It’s one of the best things you can do.
When people ask you to pray for them, what do you do? How do you do it? This morning I’d like to talk with you about a very special technique that you can use to pray for people that you love, people that you know, and people that you don’t know at all, but would like to help. Prayer is a good and powerful thing. Not long ago, I was feeling very, very stressed about something. And a wonderful member of this church said, “Pastor, I know you’re stressed. May I pray with you?”
I said, “Yes, thank you very much.” I don’t remember the words of that prayer, but I remember the fervent nature of it and the important healing power that it had. And that prayer has indeed blessed me, and strengthened me, and brought healing to me. Prayer is important. Pray for people. It’s a privilege and a joy and a gift.
Today I’d like to talk about three ideas when you pray for people, things to keep in mind as you do this important task. I’d like to ask you to (1) think about God; (2) pray for yourself; and (3) touch people with light.
First of all, when you begin to pray, always think about God. It’s probably the single most important part of your prayer. Think about the God who made you, who made the person you’re praying for, the all-powerful, all-mighty God. The Bible tells us this: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, and the earth was without form and void, and darkness hovered over the face of the deep. And God said, ‘Let there be light.’ And there was light. And God saw the light, and it was good.” Your God is the God of light. Please remember that, dear friends. When you are down, when you are faced with the darkness of life, when you are faced with the chaos and the darkness of the world, remember that your God is the God of light.
The Gospel that we read this morning is full of all those chaotic images. The thing to remember is that, even in the midst of life’s chaos and mix-ups, the God of light, the God of order, is still there, still behind the scenes. And a person who believes in God can always call upon Him, and light comes to darkness. Divine order comes to chaos. Your God is the God of light. When you begin to pray, invoke the power of God. Remember that God shines in the darkness. The light of God cannot be put out.
In Him there is no darkness at all.
The night and the day are both alike.
The Lamb is the light of the city of God.
Shine in my heart, Lord Jesus.
Invoke the God that made you. The God that created the stars also created you. Invoke the God of light.
Second, when you go to pray for someone, pray for yourself. Start out by rekindling that spark into a flame. If you want to light someone else’s candle, let your light shine. Let your light glow. Say, “Lord, remind me who I am. Remind me that I am a person of light. Remind me that I am good, that You are not mad at me, that You love me, that You are empowering me to be a help to others.”
You see, prayer is like helping a person whose car has a weak battery by giving him a battery jump. Let your light shine. Remember that you are special, that you are good, that you are a shining light in the world. God created you to be so. Let your light shine. Pray for yourself, and brighten your own light.
I love to direct a warmed-up choir. A warmed-up choir is a joy. A warmed-up choir sings in tune. They sing rhythmically; they sing with vitality; they sing with energy; and they sing with expression. That’s what you hear in our wonderful choir. They’re warmed up. If you were here early, before the service, you know that we’re stretching and breathing and doing all kinds of vocal exercises. We always do, because we want to be warmed up for you. We want to be warmed up when we sing the Lord’s praise. I invite you to be so, too. Let your spirit be warmed up. Invoke God’s spirit on yourself, so that you may have the power to light the lives of others.
Third, touch people with light. Think of someone you’re praying for. Maybe you have an idea of what would be a good thing for them. Touch them with light. See them surrounded with the light of Christ. When you’re riding in your car, maybe you have some fearful thoughts. Surround your car with light. Surround your car with angels. When you’re riding in a plane, before the plane takes off, surround the plane with light. Surround the plane with angels. When you’re praying for someone, surround that person with the light of God. See that person becoming stronger, healthier, more vital and vigorous.
Sometimes when we pray for people, we say, “Oh, you know Old Sam; he’s not doing well at all. No, it doesn’t look good. We should probably pray for him. I think he has anacrusis of the hemiola of the second system [the choir will explain that to you later] and it doesn’t look good.” No! Don’t pray for people that way! Say, “Sam may have a health challenge, but he’s still a person, and God still loves him. Let’s surround him with light.” Let God do God’s healing work.
Maybe you don’t know what’s good for that person. Maybe it’s very mysterious to you. That’s all right. God knows what’s good. You are lending the power of your light and the energy of your positive thought to that person. Let it be so. Touch them with light; surround them with light. And if you do, you will have prayed for them well.
My wonderful secretary Jill and I had a good laugh not too long ago. I bought a new lamp for my office down at Home Depot and I set it up on my desk. One day when I wasn’t it, Jill went into my office to put some documents on my desk, and as she put them on the desk, lo and behold! The light went on. She thought, “That’s odd.” She went to turn the light off. She was looking for the switch… and the light went off! She thought that something must be wrong with the lamp, a bad connection maybe, so she went to look for the switch again, and the light went on. She said, “Oh, this is broken. Something is definitely wrong here. I have to find the switch.” And she tried to look for it, and of course at that moment she figured it out. There’s no external switch. You turn it on and off by touching the lamp. So we had a good laugh over that.
But the thing is, that lamp reminds me to touch people with light. Think of the people you’re praying for. Surround them with light. And in your mind, touch those people and see them blessed. And if you can, let them know that you’re praying for them. The great theologian Marcus Bach once said, “Hold me in your prayers, friend. Hold me in your prayers. Half the power of praying is knowing someone cares.” Friend, isn’t it wonderful to know that you can make this world a brighter place? You can make a positive difference in the lives of your friends, in the lives of people you know, and in the lives of people you’ve never met, because of the remarkable power of your prayer.
As you go forth into the week, think about God. Pray for yourself. And touch people with light. And you will make a positive difference. God loves you. I do, too. Have a blessed week. Amen.
© 2006 Anthony J. Godlefski