A Need for Prayer

by: Larry Davies | May 6, 2012

This week I rediscovered a prayer by Dag Hammarskjold:

 

Give us pure hearts that we may see you:

Humble hearts that we may hear you.

Hearts of love that we may serve you.

Hearts of faith that we may abide in you.

 

I was praying this prayer a lot this week. Why?

 

United Methodist leaders from all over the world met in Tampa, Florida. For nearly two weeks some of the most important issues of our denomination were debated and voted on.

 

What have I learned from watching and listening?

 

  • We are a culturally diverse and at times a deeply divided church. Critical issues were debated and argued but when the conference ended, few of them were resolved.
  • We are at our best when we worship together. Even in the midst of our division, our leaders found ways to offer God’s grace in the midst of worship.
  • Real change and vitality was never meant to come from denominational agencies. Local churches, pastors and laity with a passionate heart for God represent our best hope.
  • Two relatively new communication tools dramatically increased participation. Live streaming allowed anyone to watch. Twitter allowed everyone to provide feedback.

 

One tweet said it all: “You can’t legislate some of the change we need. It needs to come from the hearts of the people in our pews and pulpits.”

 

Everything comes back to our belief in the power of prayer.

 

Give us pure hearts that we may see you:

Humble hearts that we may hear you.

Hearts of love that we may serve you.

Hearts of faith that we may abide in you.

 

In the midst of praying and watching what was happening in Tampa, I met a new pastor who is moving to our area. Rev. Sung Woon Yoo introduced himself and his family and then he presented his plan for ministry to leaders of a church he will soon serve. He called his plan: “Worship Centered S.E.A.D. Ministry.”

 

S: serving, sampling, saving, sharing, singing.

E: exampling, empowering, encouraging, enhancing.

A: adorning, adjusting, applying, applauding, active.

D: discipling, discussing, directing, discerning.

 

What a wonderful way to be the church, guided by the principles behind, “S.E.A.D.”  This would be difficult, maybe impossible unless we humble ourselves and follow Jesus. The best way to start being a “S.E.A.D.” church is through worship and prayer.

 

Give us pure hearts that we may see you:

Humble hearts that we may hear you.

Hearts of love that we may serve you.

Hearts of faith that we may abide in you.

 

Jesus said to Peter in the last chapter of John, “Feed My sheep.”

 

Then Jesus told him, “Follow Me.” (Parts of John 21:17-19)

 

“Feed my sheep.”

 

“Follow Me.”

 

Strong words. Impossible words.

 

We are too deeply divided. We can be arrogant and loud. We can be cruel at times.

 

Yet, through the power and grace of Jesus Christ, we can also be compassionate, loving, giving, forgiving, kind, encouraging, sharing, discerning and empowering.

 

“You can’t legislate some of the change we need. It needs to come from the hearts of the people in our pews and pulpits.”

 

Just as Jesus called Peter, we too are called to be the church in the midst of the division, the arrogance and the cruelty. Jesus says, “Feed my sheep. Follow me.”

 

Maybe the lesson comes from a new pastor who reignites our faith with a simple formula for ministry and worship.

 

S: serving, sampling, saving, sharing, singing.

E: exampling, empowering, encouraging, enhancing.

A: adorning, adjusting, applying, applauding, active.

D: discipling, discussing, directing, discerning.

 

Maybe the lesson comes from a forgotten prayer that reappears to enable us to reexamine our motives and reset our priorities.

 

Give us pure hearts that we may see you:

Humble hearts that we may hear you.

Hearts of love that we may serve you.

Hearts of faith that we may abide in you.

 

Jesus,

Help my heart be pure so that I may see you.

Humble my heart so I may be more ready to hear you.

Give me a heart of love so that I may better serve you.

Give me a heart of faith so that I may continually abide in you.

 

Amen.


3 Responses to “A Need for Prayer”

  1. Mary Liz says:

    Thanks!

  2. Brian Masinick says:

    Dear Larry,

    Thank you for sharing this message with us. A friend of mine, who now lives in Arizona, but grew up down the street from me, wrote to me on Facebook after reading your message. He was dismayed by the lack of unity in the recent conference that you attended in Tampa, but he may have overlooked the hope and the remedy for division and lack of unity.

    I think that you captured it well, and expressed it in the prayers you have personally expressed. We cannot possibly have any kind of meaningful unity in either the global church community or even our local church communities until we first humble ourselves before the living God and realize that every one of us is needy. We must first earnestly seek God before we can respond to one another in love and service to one another, our churches, our communities, and the world around us.

    How can we possibly have any unified vision of hope unless it is completely grounded in the ways of God?

    In the Bible study on Romans that I am currently participating in at my local church, we were looking at some translations of Romans 2 and 3, and in particular, we looked at the way one particular passage has commonly been translated. In most translations, we read about “faith IN Jesus Christ”, but this particular study questioned that word in CAPS. Is it really JUST the faith IN Jesus Christ that should concern us, or is it just as relevant to consider the faith OF Jesus Christ?

    I would suggest that omitting either one of them would be erroneous on our part. Clearly, salvation, at least to me, involves having a deep faith IN Jesus Christ, but if it doesn’t also involve the faith OF Jesus Christ, what good is it?

    Jesus Christ is and was always about pointing to His Father and telling us of the nature and characteristics of His Father. Without fail, Jesus was completely obedient to His Father, above all else! That meant giving up His own agenda in everything. It meant having a love for Him so complete that even departing from His Presence to reach out to a lost and dying world (yes, that’s us), and showing us the way to the Father, without ever sacrificing, even for a moment, His complete and undivided devotion to His Father, was absolutely key.

    I suggest that if we exhibited that same kind of devotion, obedience, and love to God the Father, and read both Old and New Testament scripture about such things, for example, Micah 6:8, Deuteronomy 6:5, Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 22:37-40, Matthew 19:19, and Luke 10:27, to name a few passages that really give us a clear picture of God, who He is, and what He expects from us.

    If we spent a lot more time reading, thinking, praying, and acting upon these few simple words of guidance, I wonder if we’d have much conflict at all, or a lot of unity in our church and in the lives of those around us?

    I think in our hearts we know the answer to that one. My prayers are with you; pray for me, too. I need prayer just as much as anyone else!

    Yours in Christ,
    Brian

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