web analytics

Tag Archive | "prayer"

Answers to prayer

cs-united-methodistPastor Steve Lindeman

Cedar Springs United Methodist Church

140 S. Main St.

Cedar Springs, MI  49319


We learn in Scripture that Christ often spent time in prayer. We don’t always know what he prayed for, but we are told that Jesus would go to quiet places—to escape the crowds that followed him and go to the Father in prayer. What would he do then? After his spirit was revived during these quiet times, he set out, once again, to minister to the people. Jesus taught, healed the sick, fed the hungry and cast out demons. And he did all of these things with the power and authority that he had as the Son of God and with the power of prayer. Today, I think that we, as Christians, can sometimes get caught in a trap. We read the Bible and find teachings on prayer, like the words found in Matthew 21:22, “You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.” When we read this verse outside of the context of rest of the Bible, we might think that prayer is a test of faith, and if we don’t receive what we pray for, our faith must be suspect. Not true. When we examine Scripture closely, we find that prayers are not always answered in the way that we might expect. Jesus didn’t always get what he prayed for. When he asked for the cup to be taken from him (Luke 22:42), we know that it was not. Paul prayed for the thorn to be removed from his side (2nd Corinthians 12:7-9), but it was not. God heard these prayers but did not answer them how we might have expected him to. He did, however, transform them into something even greater.

We can learn something from the unanswered prayers of Jesus and Paul. They didn’t pray and then just sit and wait for an answer.  They prayed–going to God in faith–and then they continued their work. Their prayer was followed up with action. And though, sometimes, their specific prayers were not answered in the way we might have expected, we know that God responded to their requests by continuing to work through them so that his plan for history might be worked out.

It is the same for us today; we might not always get specifically what we ask for in our times of prayer. We might not understand why the answers to our prayers are not what we expect. Our response needs to be to keep praying. We must also continue to do good work, and to reach out to others with the love of Christ. For when we are faithful, God will work through us as he did with Jesus and Paul, and transform our lives, into something new and into something even better than we expected.

Posted in From the PulpitComments Off on Answers to prayer

Never submit

by Ronnie McBrayer

by Ronnie McBrayer

One of my sons has a motto by which he attempts to live his life. It is: “Never submit.” I can attest that he practices this maxim rigorously, and it serves him well in many situations, giving him grit and determination. But at the point that he cannot impose his demands upon people and situations, bending these to his liking (and he reaches this point routinely), then “Never Submit” leads to a dark and dangerous place.

Nevertheless, my boy is at least speaking the truth, because this is precisely how many of us live. We refuse to submit—not to authority, the rules, or a way of life that would make our days lighter, easier, and healthier—and not even to God. This shows up, most noticeably, when we pray.

Prayer, if you haven’t detected it for yourself, can be very self-centered. We approach God, not with a view of letting go of ourselves, to receive and live the life he has for us. We approach God with the mantra, “Never Submit.” Our prayers are scripturally-laced ransom letters, demanding the Almighty to do things our way; to meet us where we are; to comply with our plans.

Such an attitude is not unlike the act of checking into a luxurious penthouse. We want something to eat, so room service is called and the kitchen goes into full operational mode to bring us whatever we want. Our favorite shirt is dirty. No problem, send for the maid. She will quickly take it to the laundry and return it before dinner.

Do you need a cab? Ring the bell; the concierge lives to serve you. Not enough clean towels? Want your bed made twice a day? Need an extra chocolate on your pillow at bedtime? It’s easy-peasy: Pick up the phone and the management will be happy to attend to your every whim and impulse.

Does prayer really work this way? I don’t think so. Prayer is not a method for getting everything we want. Rather, it is the means by which we surrender to what God wants. It is an act of acquiescence; the letting go of our resolve, exchanged for God’s. It is not pulling God to ourselves, to our will, or to our way of seeing and doing things. It is compliance to the intentions of God, as he pulls our lives in his direction. It is submission, always.

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, pastor, and author of multiple books. You can read more and receive regular e-columns in your inbox at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.


Posted in Keeping the FaithComments Off on Never submit

The Gift of Prayer

East Nelson United Methodist Church

9024 18 Mile Road, Cedar Springs

Pastor Herb Vanderbuilt

“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” Colossians 1: 9-14.
Advent is a wonderful time of year filled with excitement and anticipation. Emmy and I have spent the last couple of days in an out of gift shops with Christmas carols providing the proper spirit for this season of giving.  As I looked at all the merchandise I could not help but think of where all these precious items are going to end up. Some, of course, will be lifted high on Christmas day for all to see. Many will be eaten in the next weeks to come. And, of course, there are the ones that will soon be hanging in the closet hoping to one day see the bright lights again. Then I thought to myself, is there a gift that doesn’t end up like this, is there truly a gift that keeps on giving? The words of our text remind us that that God’s spirit is the everlasting gift. Part of the tradition of giving gifts at Christmas time is to remind us of God’s gift of his Son and so we give gifts to the people we know. This is a great tradition. This year East Nelson has decided to also give gifts to people we don’t know. Through the help of our contacts in the local schools we adopted three families within our community and each of us will have the opportunity to bring a gift for someone in these families. Besides bringing a gift however the apostle Paul is reminding us that we also need to hold this person or persons,  in prayer.  Some of us are blessed to have family and friends around us at this time but many others are separated from loved ones and friends. Paul knows about this separation but still found time not only to keep in touch but also to remember them in prayer  which is as priceless as any gift. We don’t often think of prayer as a gift but it certainly is, maybe the most important gift of all. So as we come to the sanctuary this Advent season let us come not only with the gifts we bring for others but with a prayer as well.

Posted in Church Connection, From the PulpitComments Off on The Gift of Prayer