Where There Is Life, There is Hope:
God Has Something Good in Store for You
September 27, 2009
The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor
Montgomery United Methodist Church
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, good morning! Our topic today is “Where There is Life, There is Hope: God Has Something Good in Store for You. My dear friends, today’s message is one that God has laid on my heart, in the thought that there might be someone here who is a little bit despairing, who is a little bit discouraged, or perhaps more than a little bit. The thought in my mind is that there may be someone here who is generally a positive person but for whom the pressures and the difficulties of life have led them to be a little bit less than hopeful. Perhaps you’ve been a bit discouraged. Perhaps you’ve been a bit down on yourself. Perhaps you’ve felt doubtful and anxious about the opportunities before you. If this is so, this message is certainly for you. Where there is life, there is hope; God has something good in store for you.
Friends, I’d like to turn your attention this morning to a remarkable passage of scripture. It’s from the epistle according to James. James is the brother of our Lord Jesus, and he was a great leader in the early church. He gave us this epistle, this letter, for our uplift. James is talking to people who are suffering. James is talking to people who are dealing with a physical challenge. James is talking to people who do not feel forgiven. And he’s giving encouragement to us all.
Now, I believe that there is in this passage a golden key, a word, a thought that James reiterates over and again to help people who have these problems and these situations. And I would suggest that it is available to you. What is this golden key? What is this golden opportunity that we have to be hopeful? What do we need to do? It’s summarized in one word: Pray. Over and again, in this scripture reading, James talks about the power of prayer.
So, as you read this scripture, make a note of each time you see the word pray or prayer or praise, which is an exuberant prayer, and say the word out loud and proud.
among you suffering? They should pray. Are any
cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. Are
any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them
pray over them, anointing them with oil in the
name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save
the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins
will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and
pray for one another, so that you may be healed.
The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.
Elijah was a human being like us, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain and the earth yielded its harvest.
So there we have it – a brilliant statement of faith. If you’ve been feeling less than hopeful; if you’ve been feeling less than powerful, remember that you have a remarkable opportunity at your fingertips, and it is prayer.
I invite you this week to think in a new way about the power of prayer in your life. I want to look at it in three ways with you this morning – if you’ve been feeling kind of hopeless, or if you’ve encountered a physical challenge or someone you know has a health challenge, and one more word about the meaning of prayer.
First of all, if you’ve been feeling less than hopeful, remember that you always have the power of prayer. Dr. Dossey is a medical doctor who has been doing research into the power of distant prayer, and he’s written books about how people do better when others pray for them and when they pray. There are forces and energies in this world that we know not of. But we can, in faith, reach out to those other dimensions and appeal to the energies of God for healing and sustenance and courage and insight, and that is called prayer. Take advantage of it!
I heard a wonderful series of lectures by Dr. Kalas. He’s the president of the Asbury Theological Seminary, and a great Christian elder statesman. He talked about his days in the pastorate, and how he would visit people who were confined to bed or to hospitals. They would say to him, “Dr. Kalas, I feel so powerless. I just don’t feel like there’s anything I can do anymore.”
And he would say to them, “Oh, yes, there is. Yes, there is. You can pray for people!” That is a powerful and a good thing, and we all can do it. We are not hopeless; we have the power of prayer. I invite you to use it.
Second, if you’re in need of a healing, never forget the power of prayer. I attribute a number of healings personally, in my own life, to the power of prayer, which has led me to seek the appropriate medical treatment sometimes and has led me to seek the appropriate alternative treatment sometimes and at other times has simply healed me and blessed me physically by the very power of prayer itself. I can witness to this myself. Never forget the power of prayer in your healing and the healing of other people.
I’m wondering if we could do a show of hands this morning. I stand before you today as someone who would not be alive at this glorious moment if it were not for the healing power of God through the intervention of medical science. There have been two times in my life, once when I was a teenager and more recently, four years ago, when I had a cardiac event, that if it had not been for the healing power of God, working in my body through the blessed intervention of medical science, I wouldn’t be here. I wonder if there are others in the room who wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for a medical intervention or a prayer intervention or a surgical intervention. [Many hands go up.] That’s a lot of people. God bless you! Isn’t it great to be alive? I’m sure God has wondrous things for us on the other side, but I’m grateful that we can be together today.
The power of prayer is mighty and blessed, and we’re grateful for it. The scripture says, “Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord.” Let me say a word about that. Who are the elders of the church? An elder of the church is anybody with a mature Christian faith. And that also translates to anyone who has the faith to pray with you.
There was a political figure in the news not long ago who felt anguish in her heart because at a crucial moment in her life no one would pray with her. Let’s never let that happen among us! We won’t. If somebody says, “Will you pray with me sometime?” my favorite response is “How about right now?” Listen to what they need, and lift them up in prayer. If you need a prayer on a Sunday morning—that’s one of the reasons I stand in the back of the church after the service. People come through and ask for prayer. If you ask, I will be happy to pray with you. I’m sure that anybody in church with whom you have a relationship or that you know is a person of prayer will pray with you. Don’t be afraid to ask. Ask for prayer! There is energy and power in it. Go forward in faith and have a prayer, and amazing things can happen.
Last, I’d like you to think about this. You know how, on a computer screen, sometimes you see “Read me first”? I’d like you to think about this first when you go to prayer – P-R-A-Y. A Positive Relationship is Always Yours with God. Say it out loud. When you think about praying, remember that it’s about a positive relationship. You’re going before the most benevolent being in all the universe, who is just on the other side of invisibility, waiting to help you. So, when you think about prayer, always think about yourself being connected to God in that positive way. And when you pray for someone, think of that person connected with God in a positive way, and think about letting that energy flow between God and that person. A positive relationship is always yours with the Lord.
I could stop there, but I want to tell you one more quick story that just happened. It was 9:30 last night. My cell phone rings. I thought, “Oh, I hope everything is okay.” I didn’t recognize the number. I answered, and the voice on the other side said, “Hello, Tony, this is Bishop Devadhar.” The bishop is calling me at 9:30 on Saturday night! That’s pretty nice. And then I thought, the bishop is calling me on a Saturday night at 9:30. I must be in big trouble. I listened – he called because he was just being extremely gracious, saying thank you for the Songfest last week. I was relieved, I tell you. But he asked me also to please bring greetings to you and blessings from him personally.
Sometimes we can think that something isn’t going to turn out so good, and yet it does. And that’s certainly the way it is with God. God’s relationship with you is a positive relationship. It’s always a positive relationship. His will is ever directed to His children’s good. So, when you think about prayer, let that be your first thought, that ‘something good is going to come from God as I open my heart to Him.’
And so, my dear friends, where there is life, there is hope. There is life in this world, and there is life in the world to come. Goodness and mercy will chase us down, will surely follow us, all the days of our lives, here and hereafter. So keep hope alive in your heart and know that the blessing of prayer is always open to you, because God loves you. I do, too. Have a blessed week. Amen.
© 2009 Anthony J. Godlefski