Thursday, April 18, 2024

ALTAR CALL – The power of prayer for others

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MORE THINGS are wrought by prayer than this world can imagine, and the greatest contribution we can make to our dying world is to be people of prayer; people who constantly carry the needs of others before God and are willing to help others.
The 6:30 a.m. congregation at Hawthorn Memorial Methodist Church, Worthing, Christ Church, heard the urgent call to become prayer intercessors when president and general superintendent of the South Caribbean District of the Methodist Church, Reverend Cuthbert Edwards, preached a thought-provoking and timely message yesterday.
In a stirring plea, Edwards called on the congregation and Christians worldwide to pray for nations, their countries, leaders, their families, friends, neighbours and not just for themselves.
Learning to pray
In a service which was complete with the singing of many traditional hymns, such as What A Friend We Have In Jesus, Have Thine Own Way Lord, I Need Thee Every Hour and My Faith Looks Up To Thee, Edwards’ attention was turned to the Gospel of St Luke, Chapter 11:1-8, where Jesus’ disciples requested that he teach them how to pray.
Most importantly, Edwards paid close attention to Jesus’ response, where he told the parable of a man who needed bread at the midnight hour, not for himself, but for a friend who was in need. The man in turn was persistent in “interceding” or requesting bread from another friend to give to the one who was in need.
Need to intercede
Edwards stressed that the story represented man’s need to intercede for others, even when one might not have what it takes to give materially.
“Prayer is the heartbeat of every believer. It gave birth to the church on the Day of Pentecost. Pentecost was the response of 120 people gathered in the Upper Room and who constantly devoted their time to prayer. As we embark on evangelism, the church is called to renew its prayer life.”
He added: “If the church is to be renewed, it will only be as a result of the people of God returning to prayer. There is a call to intercede in prayer for our world, nation, the church and for the needs of those known to us.
“More particularly, it is a call to prayer for God’s coming Kingdom. This is what possessed the disciples.”
Edwards contended: “In this parable of a friend who has a need at midnight, God teaches that intercession is the most important of prayers. When Christ left the earth He took His place at the right hand of God to intercede for us.
“The friend in the story came at midnight. No one will turn up at midnight unless there is  something radically wrong and urgent.
“His friend was probably at the point where he could not survive the next day, and his friend, although he had nothing to give, tried to help. This suggests that we must be aware of the needs of others.”
The preacher stressed that oftimes Christians “are satisfied to give just enough to satisfy their consciousness”.
“In the society there are still many in darkness who need to know and experience the coming of the Kingdom of God.
“There are people, neighbours and friends living without hope who need to know God is there, but there are Christians all over the world who are fruitless (because they refuse to spend time in prayer).”
A way to help
He added: “So often we care for the poor, express concerns for the sick – even call and wish them well. We are saddened by the tragedy of others, but very often we do not find time to pray for people in their time of need.
“We help in practical ways and sympathise, but often we underestimate the power of prayer . . . which is the centre of life and ministry.”
He said that many times people became discouraged by their insurmountable tasks, because they failed to recognise that “their strength lies in their prayer”.
“When we realise we are powerless to lend a helping hand or to advise, then we recognise the strength of prayer. We are called to be intercessors,” Edwards  said.
“Persistence in prayer yields results, so when the friend [in the story] continued to ask and to knock [on behalf of his friend], he got the necessary response.
“It is this willingness and love for others that should drive us to pray for others,” he emphasised. “We may think we do not have anything to offer, but we always have, because we are called on to be people of prayer.
“When we come between the needs of God and others as a praying people, the needs will melt before a righteous, powerful and just God,” Edwards affirmed, as he also called on the church to take its plans and programmes before God in prayer, rather than endeavour to accomplish things in its own strength.
He completed his morning sermon by urging his listeners to devote time to prayer, before he in turn prayed for the nations, especially those at war; the country; Prime Minister David Thompson and his family; those suffering as a result of poverty and natural disasters, among other needs.
It was a precious time spent at Hawthorn, and hearing a necessary message.
 
• To have your church featured in Altar Call, please contact Cheryl Harewood at 430-5494 or email cherylharewood@nationnews.com.

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