Sunday Sermon 4.26.20
Which ever side of the coin you find yourself on today, I have some solid advice and encouragement for you. But first, let me share a story.
Years ago, I was teaching in Pasadena, CA and at the time had to drive between 2 campuses during my day. On one particular day, while driving to the second campus, when passing through a quiet intersection, I was broadsided, driver side, driver door, by a Cadillac. I didn’t see it coming and when I did, it was pretty much at impact. All I had time to do was yell out in prayer, “JESUS!?!” – which I did. I don’t remember anything after that.
Witnessses say they saw my car flip over and fly through the air, landing on its roof. When they ran to find me, I was upside-down, in-shock, but very much alive. When I was removed from the car by first responders, witnesses told them there’s no way I should be alive because by what they observed, I should be a mangled wreck with severely damanged bones and organs.
I was not. I was taken by ambulance to hospital, treated for mild bruises, scratches and shock and released that same day.
I was definitely hurting, though. So, “Yes” would’ve been my answer to the title of this blog.
The only thing I could do and had time to do is let out that one word cry for help – “JESUS ! “.
The Bible says, in Ephesians 6:18 – ” Pray on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” NIV
In James 5:13 – ” Are you hurting? Pray. Do you feel great? Sing.” The Message Paraphrase
Whether it is a one word prayer of desperation, a 15 minute prayer time in the car for your family/job, or a passionate request for help and wisdom- we are told to pray on all occasions with all kinds of prayers. They all count! No matter the length or position, if offered in faith they are heard.
Prayer changes us and often changes things. It is true. Prayer allows us to approach God with our requests and leave them in his care. Leaving it there with Him and trusting that He will take care of us and the request is often harder than praying itself. Right?
To that point – Not too long ago our son had planned an extensive backpacking trip on the John Muir Trail. For over a year he was thorough and a bit obsessive in his preparation for this huge trip. He had done his best and the day to begin had now, finally arrived.
My husband and I had been praying for him nearly daily for that year. No kidding. This was a ginormous undertaking and we were not without our concerns. So when that day came, and we took him to Yosemite to camp for the night and set out the next morning, we were doing our best to trust the Lord and leave it in his hands. That was hard. This was to be a 2-3 week hike of 221 miles!
Talk about all kinds of prayers. Our prayers then were not not one word prayers. This was pouring out petitions on a regular basis. Asking, seeking and knocking and then repeat – keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking.
In Luke 18:1, Jesus tells the disciples “they should always pray and not give up.” NIV
Here’s a verse you can easily memorize, “Pray continually.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 NIV
Some prayers require persistence, not giving up, or loosing hope.
Prayer is simple yet hard. When you’re hurting, pray. When you’re stressed pray. When you’re alone pray. Pray in every situation, every day, with every attitude, circumstance and battle raging. Pray with one word prayers, and extended, passionate cries. Pray.
Are you hurting? Pray.
Choose to pray. It is a choice made in advance of everything else. It is a decision made before the hurt, stress, lonliness. It is an act of the will, your will. And it will change you and may even change the situation too.
Let’s increase that stat that says 55% of adults say they pray daily. Not just for numbers sake either, but because prayer changes us. Learning to pray with regularity changes us. That’s why we want to pray.
Now to the second part of this blog title – Do you feel great? (And I hope you do.)
Let’s go back to James 5:13 ” Do you feel great? SING” The Message
I love this! I love music too. That is why it is so wonderful to hear scripture encourage us to sing. Music and singing should naturally flow from a full, happy, content, joyous heart. So if you’re feeling great, PUMP IT UP. SING IT OUT. CRANK UP THE VOLUME.
Matter of fact, singing changes your brain. Seriously. According to an article in TIME’s, Life and Style section, “Singing Changes Your Brain” by Stacy Horn, 2013 –
“Researchers are beginning to discover that singing is like an infusion of the perfect tranquilizer, the kind that both soothes your nerves and elevates your spirits.”
Whether it’s from those endorphins that bring pleasure to the brain or the oxytocin that relieves anxiety and stress; singing regularly contributes to quality of life. Even if you are a bad singer!
Psalms 47:6 – ” Sing … sing… sing… sing…” NIV
Singing however, is also a choice, a decision, an act of the will, and it is not dependent on a happy heart. It is always nice when the heart is happy and a song flows naturally from it. But, a song can also be sung by decision, in spite of circumstances.
Choosing to sing in spite of surroundings still releases those hormones on the brain and the same soothing, perfect tranquilizer effects occur. So SING.
Do you feel great? Sing.
With these two simple tools, Pray and Sing, one in each hand, all day, every day, we can face and conquer whatever the day brings, for in our hands we hold two very powerful weapons.
Have a wonderful week, and I wish I could hear you singing it LOUD and proud.