. . . and the Prayers

This New Year we have been looking at the early Church and what they were led to do in the days after Jesus ascended into heaven. On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came upon them in great power and in the second chapter of the Book of Acts, we read the following description of their activities. ". . . and they continued steadfast, in the Apostlesí doctrine, in fellowship, the breaking of bread and the prayers . . . and the Lord added to their number daily . . .." Acts 2:42

We began last week to look into a subject that I feel neither qualified to teach, nor worthy to approach. Nonetheless, I want for us to heed the advice of an unlikely theologian, Albert Einstein. You may remember that Einstein was on the faculty of Princeton and as a result was responsible for supervising some Doctoral candidates. One student asked, "What possible subject is there left for a significant dissertation?" Einstein reportedly replied, "Find out about prayer . . . Someone needs to find out about prayer.íí

Last time we talked about how important it is for us to know Who the Father is and what He is really like. C.S. Lewis once quipped that the essence of prayer is summed up in this first prayer: "May it be the real me, addressing the real you." (My poor paraphrase.) When Jesus taught the disciples to pray he began by saying, "Say . . . Father . . . in Heaven . . . Hallowed . . .."

Just yesterday, I attended a memorial service for a dear lady who once attended our church. Tomorrow, I will conduct another memorial service for one of our WW II Veterans in town. I have, for fairly obvious reasons, been thinking about heaven. I donít know what it will look like, but I do know this. It is a hallowed place.

Hallowed, now there is a word that we donít often use in our secular society. Politicians in Washington however use it fairly often to describe places like Arlington National Cemetery, Gettysburg Pennsylvania or the Arizona Memorial. It basically means a holy place. Our Father is in heaven and heaven is a holy place.

How would you like to have been there when Moses approached the burning bush and heard the voice of God say, "Take off your shoes, for the place where you are standing is holy ground"? Now, no offense is intended, but the place where he was standing was the rocky base of a mountain that appeared to be anything but holy and I donít believe that the Lord has anything against Birkenstocks.

The place was Holy because it was the place where a Holy God and a sinner met. The Lord was in essence saying that we need to recognize that these places where we meet the Lord are holy and we need to approach them as such. The "take off the shoes" part has to do with our not bringing our creation, our industry, into the equation. Knowing that we are not holy, how then do we dare to approach the Lord in prayer? Letís get our Bibles out, humble our hearts and ask the Lord to show us. "Lord, teach us to pray."

Pastor Jim
February 15, 2008

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