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3-minute Sermon
 
Official Service Sermon > Official Service
Official Service
Title
   One Who Prays - Prayer Devotees'' Devotional    
Speaker
   Rev. Jaerock Lee
Bible
   Luke 2:36-38
Date
   2011-05-29



Passage

Luke 2:36-38
"And there was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers. At that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem."


[Introduction]

Let us give all thanks and glory to God the Father who has blessed us to have the 2011 Prayer Devotees' Devotional Service.
I also give thanks to all the devotees who have prepared for this service with all your hearts, minds, and souls.
Dear devotees,
When we commemorate those who have distinguished themselves in excellence in the world, we give them some honorable titles or names.
Some patriarchs of faith also had some honorable names like a nickname.
Peter is the 'Foremost of the Twelve', and John was the 'Apostle of Love'.
Abraham is the 'Father of Faith', and Joseph was the 'Man of Dreams'.
We are reminded of Solomon when we think of the 'Builder of the Temple', and the 'Apostle to the Gentiles' who performed with great power is the Apostle Paul.
We are reminded of Mary Magdalene if we think of 'the woman who first met the resurrected Lord'.
Now, what kind of nickname would you like to have?
You might want to be known as 'the praise-giver', 'the evangelist', 'a servant who loved the flock with his life', 'a powerful minister' and many others.
But those of you who are devoting yourselves today should receive the name 'the one who prays' more than any other name.
You cannot be called by such a title just because you spend a relatively large number of hours crying out, or because that's what you want to be called.
Just like Anna, who is in today's reading passage, your whole life must be prayer itself so you can be called 'the one who prays'.
You have to accumulate limitless aroma of prayer that is pure and deep and acceptable to God.
In today's reading passage, after she became a widow, Anna only looked up to God without putting anything in her mind.
She lived 84 years with fastings and prayers, so how much prayer could she have accumulated?
That is why just by seeing the baby Jesus she could recognize Him as the Savior and praise Him.
Also, what kind of glory would she enjoy in Heaven?
When God calls her 'one who prays' and gives her a splendid pattern of prayer on her robe, all citizens of heaven will commemorate her life.
They will recognize she is worthy to have that name and show their love and respect to her.
I hope you devotees will long only for this kind of glory and live a life of prayer.
Through this message, I urge you to keep in your mind once again what kind of life you have to live and what kind of aroma of prayer you have to offer up to God.
I pray in the name of the Lord that you prayer devotees will all be worthy to be recognized as 'the ones who pray'.


Main

Dear devotees,
To be recognized as the one who prays, first, you have to pray in goodness.
Your prayer must be a pleasing aroma to God, the kind of aroma that can move His heart.
God is goodness itself.
To please God who is goodness itself, our prayer has to be a profession of goodness coming out from a good heart.
But if we have evil in our hearts, we will pray with evil to that same extent.
I sometimes gave you the following allegory.
Suppose there is a person who prays like, "God, let my husband repent and receive salvation, even if it means he has to break his leg."
You are praying for the salvation of a soul. But in the light of the truth, how evil and foolish this prayer is!
How about the following kind of prayer?
"God, bless my shop, and send me all the next-door shop's customers and I will give You a lot of church construction offering and increased charitable offerings."
If you pray like this, it is very difficult for the blessing to come because it cannot be stored as a pleasant aroma before God no matter how much you fast and pray.
Also, prayers in despair, complaint, and sorrow are not prayers in goodness.
What if you pray, "Father, I pray for God's kingdom day and night. So, why don't You respond to my desires?
Other people easily receive blessings and testify, but I always live in hardships, so I feel ashamed to say that I am a prayer devotee.
Quickly bless me and let me give You glory."
Or, "That person came to the church after I did, but she changed quickly and earned recognition and became a leader. But my inner heart and heart-field are not so good. I am so sad because I am changing very slowly. I have not been elected as a leader although I pray and fast.
Let me change into spirit to be recognized by others and be faithful for the kingdom of God."
Those who are praying like this might think they have the desire to give God glory by receiving blessings and to be faithful to God's kingdom.
But the fact is they are praying impatiently. They are praying with envy and jealousy and with their selfish desire to be recognized and blessed quickly.
They are praying out of sorrow and resentment without having any faith, due to the evil in their heart.
If you do not have any evil, you will offer up profession of thanks and joy in any situation. You will never say anything that might disappoint God.
You will pray saying, "God, You saved a person like me. You let me come to church with longing and open my lips to pray. You want to bless me through this duty of praying, and I lack nothing.
I want to store up goodness upon goodness to pay back this great grace of the Father. Change me into spirit quickly and let me offer up to You perfect aroma of prayer in my duty."
You will pray like this every moment.
If you have a desire of your heart, you will offer up the petition of thanks, joy, and faith.
Of course, not just the prayer devotees but also ordinary members can receive answers when they offer up prayer of goodness.
And what is the reason that I put an emphasis on you prayer devotees that you have to offer up prayers of goodness?
It is because only by doing that you can pray for God's kingdom understanding the heart and will of God.
Only when you pray according to the good will of God and not by your evil thoughts can God accept the aroma of your prayer.
God can fulfill His providence and reveal His glory through that prayer.
For example, God said that He had already given us the great financial blessing, and it will be revealed at the time of comprehensive blessings.
Since that day until now, I never thought about why we have not received it yet.
I have been and will be assuming the great burden of church finances every day until this blessing is manifested, but I don't think about how hard it is.
I believed that God had already given it to us, and so I am just waiting for that day with thanks and joy.
But imagine if a person prays as follows:
"God, why hasn't Your promise been fulfilled yet?
We have to accomplish so many things, and because the blessing is delayed, Your works are being delayed.
Also, how much suffering is our shepherd supposed to go through?
Please answer us quickly so the kingdom of God will be accomplished greatly and the tears of our shepherd will be wiped away."
Those who pray as above might think they are diligently praying for their shepherd and the kingdom of God.
But this kind of prayer is not in accordance with the will of God, and thus the aroma of prayer is not acceptable to God.

To the extent that you lack faith, thanksgiving, and joy, namely to the extent that you have what is not goodness in you, you cannot pray with goodness when you pray for God's kingdom.
Let me give you another example. When the church is persecuted without cause, what kind of attitude of mind should you have in your prayers?
You must not pray with sorrow feeling it is hard, wanting that those who are persecuting will be punished.
You should rather be thankful that you are persecuted for the Lord, and you have to show compassion on those who are persecuting you.
Only then can God accept the prayer and reveal His glory more greatly.
Only that kind of prayer will become your rewards, too.
Here is another illustration. When you pray for the church construction, those who pray in goodness will not just keep on saying, "Please give it to us. Let us have it."
You will not pray with complaints like, "We don't have enough space to worship and for parking. So, please quickly let us accomplish this construction."
First, you will give thanks for the growth we had and for the precious duty of building the sanctuary.
Also, you will pray for the will of God to be fulfilled with a thankful heart for giving us faith and power until we fulfill our duties.
There are endless examples.
The important thing is, in order to offer up a true prayer of goodness, your heart has to be filled with goodness.
This way, you can discern the good will of God and pray in accordance with His heart and will. Only then can you really be called 'the one who prays.'
Dear devotees,
Secondly, to be recognized as the one who prays you have to rely on the Lord while praying.
Without the grace of God we cannot do anything.
Even prayer is not something we do on our own. We can pray only with the grace and strength given by the Lord.
Is there anyone among you who confidently says you can pray for a couple of hours without any blockage because you have been praying for many years?
Can you pray for five or even ten hours without any blockage?
Those who rely on the Lord in prayer can continue their prayers like that.
If you rely on your thoughts and your strength, you will run out of things to pray and you will be physically tired after a period of time.
If you have had faith for some time, when the prayer point is given to you to pray for church construction or when you pray for the shepherd you know what to pray and how to pray for it.
You might even quote from the Bible and pray with eloquence.
But if that is just habitual prayer of repetition of what you have learned, can it be a prayer with beautiful aroma?
It is just as if you play a recording of your voice and that will not become the aroma of prayer.
Prayer must be offered from an earnest heart, with the contents that God needs to hear by the works of the Holy Spirit from moment to moment.
For example, when you cook rice in an electric rice cooker, you can just put a certain amount of rice and water and press the button.
But if you are cooking rice in a pot, you have to expend more effort. You have to measure the rice and water level and then manage the fire.
Saying the same thing over and over habitually and praying in the Holy Spirit are so different.
You will be inspired by the Holy Spirit if you listen to His voice and try to seek the will of God.
God will manage the contents and flow of your prayer, so the contents of the prayer will spring up from you.
For example, when you pray for the same church construction, such as the Canaan Sanctuary, the Holy Spirit will let you know what kind of focus you should have each time you pray.
Then, you can also receive the inspiration on the details about what to pray for in that focused area.
To be recognized as 'the one who prays', you have to rely on the Lord and pray for the proper points by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Dear devotees,
In order to be recognized as the one who prays, thirdly, you have to pray with love.
You can pray with all your heart only when you have love.
What kind of heart do you think Mary Magdalene had when she was praying while Jesus was ministering on this earth?
Mary knew very well that Jesus could not eat well or sleep well as He was visiting many places to teach the people.
She knew He faced many threats and sufferings.
While Jesus was doing His ministry day by day, how earnestly must she have prayed for Jesus!
Because she prayed with love, her prayer became beautiful aroma and it must have been comfort and strength to Jesus.
You should also fulfill your duty as a prayer devotee with your love for the Father God.
You have to pray with your love for the church, your shepherd, and for the souls.
If you think about the tears of the Father God, you should also shed tears.
If you understand the heart of the shepherd, you will naturally come to pray ardently.
You should have burning fire in you if you think of the souls who are dying without knowing the gospel, and your heart should be torn apart if you think of the souls who commit sins.
Of course, you volunteered as prayer devotees because you love God, the church, and your shepherd to some extent.
And if that love is really true, you will not just love God, the Lord and the shepherd, and the church.
You will also love your family members, relatives, neighbors, and everyone around you.
I am not saying you should love your family and relatives with fleshly affection.
I am saying you should check whether you are really acting with spiritual love.
I urge you to check as to whether you are faithful in all God's house, whether you seek others' benefit first, and whether you sacrifice yourself to serve others.
Do you get uncomfortable when things do not go as you want or when you don't like something? Do you cause difficulty for others?
When others see you, they should be saying, "She is really like 'one who prays'. She has generosity and love. She is humble and meek and lovable."
Only then can you be recognized that your profession of love for God, the church, and the shepherd is true.
Only the tearful prayers and earnest crying out with love can be offered up to God as thick aroma.


Conclusion

Dear devotees and other members,
The one who prays must pray in goodness, rely on the Lord in prayer, and pray with love.
Of course, all you believers should pray like this.
But you devotees especially have to pray like this so that you can be fulfilling your duties.
The prayer devotees pray for many hours everyday.
If you store up proper prayer during those hours, you can go deep into the spiritual realm.
Also when you fulfill your duties of prayer devotees with prayer, you will one day enjoy glory that is as great as that of the pastors.
I urge you once again for you have been given such precious duties.
Prayer devotees are the one who are dedicated as offerings.
You must just concentrate on your prayers without giving any excuses, not putting anything else in your mind.
Even if somebody says, "Let's go to a nice place and get some rest," you should be able to decline that offer.
You should be able to say from the heart, "I am happier praying."
Anna stayed in the Temple day and night with fastings and prayer for 84 years.
I hope you will cultivate a heart like Anna, come to the sanctuary of the Father with a longing heart everyday and pray.
In doing so, I pray in the name of the Lord that, in heavenly kingdom in the future, all the heavenly citizens and angels will recognize you saying, "She is such a precious one. She has done a great deal for the kingdom of God by storing up limitless aroma of prayer."

 
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