The Amazing Power of Prayer:
Seal Your Prayer with Power

November 22, 2009

 

The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor

Montgomery United Methodist Church

 

 Luke 17:11-17

 

 

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, good morning! Our title and our topic for today is “Seal Your Prayer with Power.” Today we’re looking at the concluding sermon in our series, “The Amazing Power of Prayer.”  I want to talk with you today about adding one more level to the prayer you pray for other people and for yourself. I want to talk with you today about how to seal your prayer with wonderful, spiritual power, how to surround it with the most amazing spiritual energy.

 

To illustrate that, I brought something to show you. This glass, this gold-colored glass, is a little bit reflective. You can see the sparkling lights around us reflected in it. It has a floral pattern. This tall, slender glass means a lot to me, and I’ll tell you why. My family had a set of glasses like this, which I now have. And on Thanksgiving Day, my mom would fill a large pitcher made of this beautiful golden glass with apple cider, and each of us would have a tall glass like this at our place. Mom would pour our glasses, and part of our Thanksgiving tradition when I was a little boy was that we would all toast to Thanksgiving and drink cider from these golden glasses. I remember being a little boy and looking at this glass and being so impressed with the beautiful colors in it and the iridescent quality that it has. Its beautiful golden glow seems to echo the colors of trees at harvest and Thanksgiving time.

 

I want to talk with you about surrounding your prayer with power. And the reason that I show you this glass is that I invite you to surround yourself and your prayer with the golden glow of gratitude. That’s what I’m hoping for, for you. That’s what I’m hoping for as you seal your prayers with extraordinary power.

 

Gratitude is an amazing thing. Some say it’s the most powerful form of prayer of all. And it’s something that we can all embrace. Now, Jesus told us a wonderful story about gratitude in this morning’s gospel. It seems that Jesus was going into a certain village, and on His way there, ten lepers came and prayed a very urgent and very valid prayer. “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on us.” And Jesus did. He said, “Go show yourselves to the priest. You’re going to be all right.”

 

And so they took off. They ran like a shot and went to show the priest. And on the way there, their bodies were cleansed of leprosy, and their skin was just and smooth and healthy as it could be. And while that was happening, nine of them kept on running. But one said, “This is amazing! What a difference He’s made in my life! I’m going back to say thank you.” So while nine went off in one direction, one took off back to Jesus, fell down on his face in as extreme a gesture as he could manage, and said, “Thank you! Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, God. I’m healed.” And Jesus looked, and He said, “Weren’t there another nine friends with you?”

 

You see, by the way, when Jesus wanted to correct someone, to impose discipline, He asked a question. Have you ever noticed that? He asked, “Could you not watch with me one hour?” in another part of the gospel. It’s a very gentle way of correcting, asking a question. “Were there not nine? Where are the others?” That’s all He said about the others.

 

And then He looked at the one fellow who came back, and He said, “Rise up.” Come up off the ground both in body and in spirit. “Rise up and go.” Live your life. “Your faith has made you well.” Another wonderful translation, the Wycliffe translation, which was before the King James, says, “Your faith has made you safe.” Your faith has restored you. Now go, live your life. And he went, and he was well. He was safe.

 

So, this is a good clue, my friends, as we want to make prayer effective and we want to make our lives effective. Surround yourself with the golden glow of gratitude. It’s as if there are two teams here, in this gospel. We have the RRDs and the GOICs. You have to choose which team you’re going to belong to.

 

Who are the RRDs? They are the ones who kept on running and didn’t return to give thanks. I call them the Rushing Ranks of the Distracted. They’re the ones who had this big miracle happen to them, and they said, “Oh yeah. Thanks. Gotta go.” Are we ever like that? Have we experienced miracles in our lives? I sure have. How about you? Have you had wonderful things happen in your life? I bet you have. You know, what’s key here is that we don’t become RRDs, that we don’t rush around distracted. Don’t say, “Oh, great, thanks for the miracle; I’ve got a chore to take care of.”

 

The important thing is that we stop and become a GOIC. What’s a GOIC? That’s the Grateful Ones in Christ. Take a moment. We’re not too busy, are we? We can’t be too busy to take a moment to say, “Thank you, God. My life is amazing. Thank you for this miracle. Bless you, Lord. I thank you.” Oh, believe me, it’s a lot more fun to be on that team than it is to be an RRD.

 

Let me tell you specifically why. The Grateful Ones in Christ get a double blessing. They get to really appreciate what’s happened to them. They set the background for more blessings. You see, those nine who went rushing off never really got to enjoy their blessings. They just went to work. They just got their clean certificates of health and went on with their errands. But the one, the grateful one in Christ, really had the joy of life. Let’s be like that.

 

The other thing is, the RRDs missed a conversation with Jesus Christ. Can you imagine that? They got their miracle, and they kept on running. But the one, the GOIC, the grateful one in Christ, had the opportunity to have a conversation with Jesus Christ. I wouldn’t want to miss that. Would you? I don’t ever want to hear Jesus say of me, “Where’s Anthony? Wasn’t he blessed? Where did he go?”  I don’t ever want to hear that. I want to be the one falling on my face and having a conversation with Jesus Christ and saying “Thank you, thank you! You’ve blessed me so much. You’ve blessed my loved ones so much. Thank you, God!” That’s where I want to be. How about you?

 

Well, the warning in the gospel is that nine people out of ten, nine times out of ten, go running off to the next thing they have to do. Let’s be like the grateful one, and take a moment. We can’t possibly be too busy. Take a moment to thank God from the heart, to the heart.

 

My dear friends, as you feel grateful, please remember that healing power has gratitude in itself. Remember what Jesus said to the fellow who came back? He said, “Your faith has made you well.” There is healing power in that. There is a hint that Jesus gives us that being grateful for what we have sets the stage for more blessings. So, instead of being so worried and troubled about many things, instead of being distracted by so many things, can’t we take a moment to surround ourselves with the golden glow of gratitude? It feels better. It’s good for you. And it sets the stage for more blessings to come. Surround yourself and your prayers with the golden glow of gratitude, and you will be setting the stage for more blessings yet. The golden glow of gratitude is key.

 

Can I conclude with a little story? Thirty two years ago, back in 1977, when I first started in the ministry, I was the pastor in a beautiful little country church up on a hill in Warren, New Jersey, called Springdale United Methodist Church. In attendance at that church was a marvelous woman, a retired kindergarten teacher, and she was such a bright and shining, smiling spirit. She said that I reminded her of her father, Reverend Sam Evers, who was also a pastor. She told me stories about her days teaching kindergarten and told me about a prayer of blessing, a meal grace, that she would have her students say before they had their meal. It went something like this:

 

            Thank you for the world so sweet.

            Thank you for the food we eat.

            Thank you for the birds that sing.

            Thank you, God, for everything.

 

Well, I never forgot that prayer, and I appropriated that last phrase as I go through life. I say it our meals, and I invite you to, as well. If you’re not quite sure how to do the meal blessing this Thanksgiving, why don’t you do this? Have someone say, right before the meal, “Are you ready? Are you ready?” and then have everybody say, “Thank you, God, for everything. Amen.”

 

Another variation on that, one that Dylan taught me, is to say a brief prayer, a prayer of thanksgiving for the things you want to name, and then “we all want to say to together, thank you, God, for everything.” May we make that our signature prayer this Thanksgiving, because it is the prayer of a profoundly grateful and blessed heart.

 

And so, my dear friends, I wish you a marvelous Thanksgiving. I wish you a day of blessings and feasting and dearly beloved friends. I wish you many, many blessings. And we want to say together, “Thank you, God, for everything. Amen.”

 

God loves you. I do, too. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Amen.

 

© 2009 Anthony J. Godlefski