How to Pray with Power - Part 2
June 4, 2006
The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor
Montgomery United Methodist Church
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, good morning! Today I’d like to talk with you about how to pray with power. This is part 2. We began last week to explore a question that was brought to me by a wonderful member of our church who said, “Pastor, won’t you preach a series of sermons on how to pray for people? Sometimes people will ask me to pray for them, or I’ll want to pray for someone, but I’m not sure how. Can you talk about it?” So that’s what we’re doing today.
Last week, to recap, we talked about prayer in general. First, prayer is a positive thing. Prayer is doing something. Prayer should not be a last resort, but a first resort. Prayer is positive.
Second, prayer is powerful. Prayer changes things. Every prayer is answered in some way, sometimes in a very modest way, sometimes in a big way, sometimes in an eventual way. But every time you go to the Lord in prayer, something happens. Prayer is positive, and prayer is powerful.
And third, prayer is personal. Prayer is a gift of love. Just think what it does when somebody asks you to pray for them, and you say yes. Think about the connection that happens there. You’re going to harness your spiritual power, the power of your intention, to that person’s need and request. It’s a gift of love. Remember that statement from Marcus Bach:
“Keep me in your prayers, friend, keep me in your prayers.
Half the power of praying is knowing someone cares.”
This week, I want to begin this part of the series with the first two practical elements of praying for people. Then next week we’re going to cover the third and final element that should be in each of our prayers for ourselves and for others.
The first thing to remember, when you decide to pray about an intention for yourself or to pray on behalf of another person, is this: practice the presence of God. What does that mean? Well, when I sit down to a meal with family and friends, we always like to have a prayer together. But sometimes we’re so anxious to get on with things that we don’t really think about it. We just dive into the Word. So I like to say, “Let’s think about God.” Let’s just be quiet for a second and think about God. When you say that, something happens. You shift gears; you shift consciousness. The mood around the table changes, because as we go to that place in our minds where we hold the idea of God, we’re reminded of His presence, and something new and different happens.
The first thing to do is to practice the presence. Think of a candle in the window. You see a candle in the window on a dark night, and it reminds you that there are people living there. There is love living there. Light a candle in your mind that is the presence of God. Remember the words of scripture, how it says in the book of Psalms, “Be still, and know that the Lord is God.” Take a moment to be still and to surround yourself with the presence of God. See yourself and the person you are praying for surrounded by light. Even that much is enough. Even that much is the most powerful thing you can do. Just put them and God together. Just put yourself and God together in the holy presence of your mind. That’s a very practical thing you can do to begin prayer. Don’t begin prayer without it. Always practice the presence of God. Light the candle of God’s presence.
In the Lord’s Prayer, when Jesus taught His disciples to pray, He began with “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” That whole preamble is a practice of the presence of God. It’s reminding us to remind ourselves that God is here. That’s the first step.
The second step, I think, is perhaps the most difficult. The second step is to picture the positive. Can you think of a camera in your mind? If the candle is your mental clue for the first point of presence, picture a camera in your mind for the second part. Picture the positive.
What do I mean? When you take it to the Lord in prayer, there is an aspect of God saying, “Well, what exactly do you want? How do you want it?” That’s a scary thought, that we have that much power to be able to voice an intention. But it’s important. I believe the universe is waiting to find out what we want. And when we are focused on a positive picture, then it can begin to take shape in reality. “Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” Let your picture be like God’s picture. God’s picture is always good. So picture the positive. That’s the second important step.
When you pray for somebody, it should be like sunshine. It should be like a sunrise coming up in your mind, because the picture that you have of yourself or that person is brightness. Let it be like that. Picture the positive.
I saw a music video once – if anybody can help me track this down, that would be great. I don’t know who the artist was. It was a black-and-white music video that I saw on an airplane trip. It was about a photographer with an enchanted camera. The picture was shot at Asbury Park’s boardwalk. Now, if you know Asbury Park’s boardwalk, you know that the grand old buildings are in ruins and falling apart. The video was shot there.
A photographer with an enchanted camera appears on the screen, and he’s looking at a man who is looking at a dilapidated building and shaking his head. The photographer with the enchanted camera takes a picture of the man and the building. He takes the picture out of the camera and hands it to the man. The man looks at the picture, and sees that it’s a picture of him, and he’s smiling and looking at the building, which is now restored and lustrous and beautiful.
The photographer sees a little boy sitting on a bench. He’s leaning on a baseball bat, and on his face is written the story of how the game went. The photographer takes a picture of the little boy, takes the photo out of the camera, and gives it to the boy. The boy looks at the picture – it’s him, and he’s seated on the shoulders of his friends who are carrying him, in victory!
The photographer sees an older woman, sitting on another bench, and takes a picture of her and gives her the picture. What was once a frown and a forlorn look as she leaned her head on her hand now is a smile. There is a gentleman seated next to her with his arm around her.
Picture the positive. Why ever not? Amazing things happen in this world. Miraculous things happen. Where there is life there is hope. Wouldn’t you be pleased if you asked somebody to pray for you, and they put you in the presence of God with them, and they prayed a picture of hope and energy and possibility? Wouldn’t you be lifted up? Of course. We all would. Do that for others. Dare to picture the positive.
Oh, I tell you this, friends. Sometimes it looks kind of hopeless. I can’t tell you the number of times, though, that I’ve been in hospital rooms and seen people who look like they’re going to the Lord any moment. But, friends, where there is life there is hope. Picture the positive. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people who for all appearances were in their last moments, heal, rise up, and come to life and vigor and vitality. And some of them are sitting in this room right now! Never lose hope! Picture the positive.
In the Gospel, we’re told that a blind man came to Jesus and said, “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me.” And you know what Jesus said? He said, “What do you want me to do?” here’s the Son of God, who knows everything, asking a blind man what he wants Him to do. Can you imagine that? Why didn’t He just go ahead and heal his blindness?
Well, the man answered Him straight. He said, “Lord, that I may see.” And Jesus said, “Then, be it done according to your faith.” And the man could see. You see, the blind man held the positive picture. That’s the lesson for you and me. Picture the positive, and hold close to the presence of God.
Before we close this section, let me just say, too, as you picture the positive, picture it courageously. Have courage. Don’t be afraid. Go ahead and pray. “Oh, Pastor, I’m afraid I might not be able to pray in the right way.” Don’t you worry about that. You just get into the presence of God and practice JAFI. What is JAFI? “Just ask for it.” Pray courageously.
“Oh, but Pastor, what if it doesn’t work out just as I prayed?” Don’t worry about it. If it doesn’t seem to go according to schedule, let it go. Pray the next prayer. It is not your job to make it happen. It’s God’s job. It’s our job just to be faithful and loving. Pray anyway, and keep on praying, and you’ll be doing the work that God has called you to do.
Now, that third point… oh, look at the time! Come back next week, won’t you? And we’ll talk about the third necessary element. Maybe you’ll guess it before then. Keep on praying, because God loves you. I do, too. Have a blessed week. Amen.
© 2006 Anthony J. Godlefski