Pray I Do

James 5:13-20 – The 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time – for September 30, 2012

“The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective…” (James 5:16:)

Allrighty class . . . please sit down, find your pen or pencil. Remember, no talking!

1) Circle answer most closely describing your belief:

T or F – Prayer usually works for me.

T or F – Prayer rarely works for me.

T or F – God answers all prayers, but not always in ways I want.

T or F – Prayers are nice, but actions of faith matter more.

2) Please mark an “X” by the statement(s) below most similar to your understanding:

___ If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.  Meister Eckhart
___ Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays.  Soren Kierkegaard
___ In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart.  Mahatma Gandhi
___ Basically, I’m for anything that gets you through the night – be it prayer, tranquilizers or a bottle of Jack Daniels.  Frank Sinatra
___ The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.James 5:163)

3) Use one of the words below to complete each sentence. (A word can only be used once).

  • Arrogant
  • Blessed
  • Essential
  • Foolish
  • Help
  • Humble
  • Hypocritical
  • Nothing
  • Thank-you

3a) Whenever asked to pray out loud in public I feel  ______.

3b) A prayer that always matters to me is when I say ______ to God.

3c) Speaking to or with God is _____ and people that are _____ spend any time in prayer.

Double-check your answers! Make any final corrections or additions you deem necessary. When you are satisfied with your answers, please leave your test with the instructor.

Thank you for your participation.

(And oh, by the way, you’ve already received an A+. Pretty swell, huh? Almost as if getting that “A+” is an answer to your ______.)

* * *

What can I say to you about prayer? Will anything matter? Just for amusement, I searched Amazon.com to discover how many books were available on the subject of “How To Pray.” Just because I’m in a testy mood, how many title choices do you think Amazon listed (as of mid-September, 2012): Continue reading →

Pastor, could you help me with…

I wonder…what is the strangest request you’ve received for helping another?

This guy walked into my church office. He wasn’t looking for transformation. Nope. He was in search of a transmission. Could my church buy him one? Ah, those desperate, pleading looks!

I do remember him. There was also the young woman who wanted a textbook, the couples who wanted to be married, the fellow who was absolutely honest about booze (and the many who weren’t). The endless folks that wanted a motel room for the night (and a few times for a week). In over twenty-five years of parish ministry, a multitude came into my office: “Please, Pastor, could you . . .”

How many thousands of dollars did I, for Christ’s sake, give away? Which was fine. Sometimes the person pulled a scam, and sometimes the truth—even about the booze—was shared. In that quarter century of as a local church pastor maybe two or three people—total—paid the church back. But everyone said they would.

The guy who wanted the transmission said he’d give the money back as soon as he could return home. The church I served then had a generous pastor’s discretionary fund and we did indeed help him. He drove away. And no, he wasn’t one of the handful that paid his debt. But hey, every time I say the Lord’s Prayer, I remember . . . forgive us our debts. Or trespasses. Or transmissions.

How have you helped another?