Prayer is another great mystery.
Logic has a hard time justifying the need. God already knows what we need…
But clearly Jesus understood that prayer is necessary sometimes to bring about God’s will.
Let’s look again at the passage we read last week:
[Mark 9: 14-29] Although the disciples healed many others, they could not cure this boy –
The disciples are puzzled and ask Jesus why could they not cure him. Jesus answers that it requires prayer.
It seems as if Jesus is chastising them for not praying.
Q: But notice Jesus did not stop and pray in the story. He wasn’t mumbling a prayer when he healed the boy. So what does he mean by, “This kind can come out only through prayer?”
A: Jesus’ answer suggests that God could work through him, because Jesus had an active, open, prayer life with God. It wasn’t about a magical incantation-like prayer to be said at the time of healing. It was about God having open access through Jesus because of Jesus’ nurturing of that communion and pathway.
[Luke 5: 12-17] Jesus withdrew to deserted places to pray.
Q: Why did Jesus do this? Why not just stay and heal those who came to him?
What was his purpose in going off to pray by himself?
A: His ability to heal apparently relied on it.
Jesus wasn’t imbued with special powers like a Greek god walking the earth, where he could just snap his fingers and whatever he wanted happened.
Jesus was not the source of the healings. God was. Jesus tells us this over and over.
Jesus’ power was from God working through him.
[Mark 5: 24-34] A hemorrhaging woman is healed when she reaches out to touch Jesus in a crowd.
Q: What strikes you about this story? Anything seem strange?
A: Jesus was “aware that power had gone forth from him”… –i.e., he felt something tangible, as “power” was drained from him.
And he was surprised when it happened.
God was working through Jesus, even without Jesus’ fore-knowledge.
God could work through Jesus, because Jesus invited God in and kept the connection strong and open. He did this through prayer, communion with God.
[Exercise: I am going to play you a song recorded live by David Wilcox (a singer song-writer from Canada). In an interview he said]:
“I grew up with absolutely no tradition whatsoever. Yet, I felt a strong presence of guidance that showed up in timing and coincidence. I’ve come to understand that I can also describe that with other language. Like, prayers are answered. As in, if you pray for something, you better duck, because it is coming in low and fast behind you. The amazing thing for me was that I was very aware – as hard as I was searching, I was [being] searched for.”
[Play, “Hold It Up To The Light” by David Wilcox; see words at end of lesson]
Q: What is he advising us to hold up to the light?
A: Any decision we have to make
We can allow God to help us, to guide us, to heal us – hold our decisions, our hurts, our happiness, our fears, our hopes up to the light…
This is prayer. Just holding ourselves up to God like a trusting child who comes before a loving parent…
Q: What does this require from us?
A: Faith that God will guide us.
Faith that God wants to guide us.
Faith that God knows and wants the best for us.
Faith that we will recognize God’s voice.
God’s very voice is all around us. God’s signs are all around us.
All we need are eyes to see, and ears to hear.
Q: Do you believe this?
Where do you see God? Where do you hear God?
Trust that you’ll know God’s voice when you hear it – and listen for it. You will know it.
Trust God’s voice. Trust that the timing is right…
[Read interview passage and pass out exercise from David Wilcox on prayer.]:
‘It is not natural for the church to try to force people with [a] governmental model of spiritual leadership. The people who are really wanting spiritual connection are trying their best to find a way to reconcile heart and mind. Because they are so careful about what they believe (which is a spiritual quality) they are very cautious that humans can be duped into belonging to some group. They see these various cults that make people feel welcome. Their sense of truth is more important than their own pleasure. That is a sacred thing. Their doubt is a sacred thing. Now, what they are wanting is to feel led by a truth that grows out of their own experience. Not from authority from some governing body, but showing them that their whole being – man, I’m not sure how to say it… The truth will shine clear in their own hearts. It will be obvious to them out of their own empirical experimentation. Just playfully, try believing this for awhile. See how you feel. See what happens. Even if you can’t use the word “believe,” you can say, “Imagine”. “Imagine that there is guidance. What would happen, no harm done, act as if there is guidance in a simple thing?” That is a prayer. That is saying, “God, will you meet me here?” And God will say, “Watch out, here I come!” Closer than the air you breathe, suddenly you are enveloped in this feeling of Presence. Empirical evidence works on Timing with a capital T – the choreography of the coinci-dance. It works on the profound surge of this certainty in your heart. Your mind can come to your heart demanding, “How do you know? How do you know?” Your heart can say, “It is not in your language, but follow me. I have a story to tell.” ‘
Hold It Up To The Light
from the album, Live Songs And Stories (2002)
‘This is a song about lifetime decisions, and it shows absolutely no trust, whatsoever. In this song I’m just scared. This is back a ways, and I’m thinking to myself, “Well, it’s a big decision. What if I do my best, but I just make some – some slip? What if I set my life off in the wrong direction, and I just – it’s never the same afterwards. You know, I was thinking that instead of the wonderful guidance, you know, that I had come to trust – what if it was just some sort of tricky thing, like a game-show host sort of a god. You know and, “Well let’s see which one you’ve chosen. OH NO!” “Wait! What did I say, door number 2? I meant 1! What did I say?!”
I was scared. Cause I was thinking about that Robert Frost poem, where the two roads diverge in the yellow wood, and sorry I couldn’t travel both and be one traveler, long I stood and stood I long, and standing still for longer still, still standing still. Looking down one as far I could, but then the other just as fair, and back the way I came over there looks pretty good too. I could have all three – if I stayed right here I could have all three, potentially. I don’t have to move at all, do I? I don’t have to really choose…”
Ah, but then I realized that all the paths are getting shorter at the far end, cause we only have so many steps to take. We only have so much time. So I have to choose. So I have to trust. So all I can do is hold it up to the light…’
It’s the choice of a lifetime, I’m almost sure.
I will not live my life in between anymore.
If I can’t be certain of all that’s in store,
This far it feels so right.
So I will hold it up – hold it up to the light,
Hold it up to the light, hold it up to the light
See the search for my future has brought me here.
This is more than I’d hoped for, but sometimes I fear
That the choice I was made for will someday appear,
But then I’d be too late for that flight.
So I’ll just hold it up – hold it up to the light,
Hold it up to the light, hold it up to the light
Cause it’s too late to be stopped at this crossroads,
Where each life here is a separate way.
And if I wait, then they all will be lost roads,
As each road’s getting shorter the longer I stay.
But now as soon as I’m moving, this choice feels good,
As this way comes through right where I prayed that it would.
If I keep my eyes open and look where I should,
Somehow all of the signs are in sight
If I just hold it up to the light
I said, God will you bless this decision?
Cause I’m so scared here with my life at stake.
But now I see if you gave me a vision,
Then I would never have reason to use my faith
‘So now I see. I was looking at that ol’ Robert Frost poem in a pessimistic way. Like there’s one chance, one choice – one trip, one slip and you’re lost. But what about all the guidance that has brought me here so far? If I look at that Robert Frost poem a different way, he’s saying it’s just a trick of retrospect. Whichever path you choose, years from now you’ll look back and be so grateful for the life it led you to, and say, “It was a brilliant decision on my part to choose the road less travelled by.” And yet, what about the guidance, that led you all through those other thousands of other decisions?
Whichever path you take, it’s gonna be you, it’s gonna be a wonderful life. And you won’t be alone…’
Cause I was dead with deciding – I was afraid to choose,
Cause I was mourning the loss of those choices I’d lose.
But there’s no choice at all if I don’t make my move
And just trust that the timing is right.
Yes and hold it up hold it up – hold it up to the light,
Hold it up to the light, hold it up to the light…