Sunday 13th. September 2020

"Praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD, you His servants; praise the name of the LORD.
Let the name of the LORD be praised, both now and for evermore.
From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,
the name of the LORD is to be praised."
Psalm 113: 1-3

STF 99 All creatures of our God and King
All creatures of our God and King
Lift up your voice and with us sing,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thou burning sun with golden beam,
Thou silver moon with softer gleam!

O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thou rushing wind that art so strong
Ye clouds that sail in Heaven along,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou rising morning, praise rejoice,
Ye lights of evening, find a voice!

O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Let all things their Creator bless,
And worship Him in humbleness,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son,
And praise the Spirit, Three in One!

O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!...


Prayer - Make your own prayers of Praise, adoration, confessionand thanksgiving, to the LORD our God, for who He is and what He's done for you.

The Lord's Prayer (Trad.)
Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name;
Thy kingdom come;
Thy will be done
on earth, as it is in heaven:
Give us this day our daily bread;
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive them that trespass against us;
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil:
For thine is the kingdom,
the power, and the glory,
For ever and ever.

STF24 Come, now is the time to worship
Come, now is the time to worship
Come, now is the time to give your heart
Come, just as you are to worship
Come, just as you are before your God

One day every
Tongue will confessYou are God
One day every knee will bow
Still the greatest treasure remains for those
Who gladly choose You now

Come, now is the time to worship…

Reading: Matthew 6: 5-15
Concerning Prayer
5"And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 6 But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
7 "When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
9 "Pray then in this way:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And do not bring us to the time of trial,
but rescue us from the evil one.
14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; 15 but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:5-15 NRSV

ACTS - Yes, I know you're thinking "What on earth is John on about now?!". "This reading is from Matthew's Gospel"

I know, but when I was in my youth (a rather worryingly long time ago now), an old Local Preacher friend of mine taught me this as a way to remember how to form a structure of prayers and, as a basis for ordering a service of worship.

I find it very sad that the modern Methodist Church seems to have dismissed it, in a bid to introduce "new" ways of worship, which I find disjointed, distracting and lacking in any real sense of worship to a most wonderful and truly amazing God. And I'm sure that this comment will be contentious.

It's taken to mean Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication.

It's meant to be a framework for the words of a prayer or an order of service. That doesn't mean a strict rule that must be obeyed, but "more your actual guideline".

You're still probably thinking "What on Earth is John on about?"

Well, in our reading today, Jesus gives us an idea of HOW we should pray when we come before our God. This is not WHAT we should pray. We regularly say The Lord's Prayer by rote in our services, but when you look at how and when Jesus prayed, that doesn't seem to be what he is talking about. He gives us a structure to work on, not a 'babbling like pagans' as some translations put verse 7. They used written liturgy and plenty of words. But repeating words over and over like a magic incantation is no way to ensure that God will hear you.

Jesus starts with Adoration: 'Our Father in heaven'-Praising our creator, preserver, Lord and ruler of all. Not my father alone, but the father of us all. High and lifted up, almighty, Holy. Worthy of praise for Who He is and What He is. "Beholding all things, both in heaven and on earth", as John Wesley puts it. A Holy God with a Holy name.

'Your Kingdom come, Your will be done…' - 'May thy Kingdom of Grace come quickly and swallow up the kingdoms of the earth!' (JW)

Then Jesus moves on to ask the LORD to supply our needs before going into the Confession part of prayer.

We're all sinners and after praise, which should rightly always come first when we approach the LORD,we should recognise our own faults, failings and sins before we go on to ask for anything else. Putting ourselves right with God is always our second priority, so that we can repent and be forgiven, before moving on

Repentance, forgiveness and cleansing is not a once and for ever thing. The LORD forgives and fills us with the Spirit by His grace, but we need to continue all our lives. We are not made perfect overnight. Believe me, I know!

Thanksgiving should be a natural reaction for what the LORD has done in saving us, through Jesus' death on the cross in our place. If you're not thankful for what he has done for you, it isn't real faith.

Then we move on to Supplication. Literally, the action of asking for something, earnestly and with humility. We can pray for ourselves, but especially for others.

Jesus leads us pray for ourselves and others in need, with the promise Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive." Matthew 21:22

There are many ways to pray and many times and places. I have always found it very difficult to set aside a time to pray regularly and felt guilty because of it. Then I found something out. Prayer is simply 'talking with God'.

When we have a relationship with someone, do we not talk? Do we remain silent? How can we build a relationship and get to know one another if we don't talk or listen? It's just the same with the LORD. We need to talk and to listen. And shock, horror, we don't have to do it at any particular time or in any particular place. And we don't need to read out a prayer from a book that someone else has written. A London Rabbi said on the radio, that "using someone else's prayers is like wearing someone else's underwear."

I'm a great believer in Extemporary prayer. That's prayer that we make up on the spot, rather than something written down (and this is where many preachers and worship leaders will be tutting). But It's prayer that comes from the heart, about current concerns and life. Prayers of the moment. This is why I haven't included any in this order of service, so that you can put it into practice. DON'T GET A BOOK OUT. Pray from your heart. Cry if you want to. Rend your clothes if you want, or be quiet and listen to God's voice. And it doesn't need to be perfect, just honest.

During the Middle ages, Books of hours became very popular. Using the turn of the hour or other point of the day to read a prayer from a book. A truly great discipline that can be used to help one get into the practise of speaking to God, even in the busyness of the day. But it can be done anytime, anywhere, quietly and without anyone knowing. But let it be from the heart, not someone else's.

I used to pray whilst driving around the countryside! I pray when I need to talk to the LORD. Whenever that may be. And it's not in 'spiritual' language, it's with a Yorkshire accent and according to what is happening around me.

Knowing God and growing in grace and faith, begins (as with all relationships), with talking and listening.

PRAYERS - This is your chance to try it. If you're out of practice praying without a book, the LORD won't mind, He'll just be glad to hear YOUR voice.

HYMN: Hear our prayer, God above
1: Hear our prayer, God above
As we come to you and seek your patient love
Hear our hearts, hear our minds
Hear the echoes of the words we cannot find

2: Be our hope, be our guide
In our wanderings of weakness break our pride
Not for ease shall we pray
But for strength that we may walk with you this day

So we pray in faith, your will be done
As we long to see your kingdom come
We ask with one voice
Through Jesus Christ our Lord

3: Hear our prayer, faithful one
Shape our yearnings to the gospel of your Son
Free our hearts, free our minds
From the war that sin will wage till you arrive

4: Be our joy, be our stay
Give us eyes to see you answer prayer this day
Hear us praise all you've done
We rejoice as we receive the victory won


So we pray…

May the power of the Father be about you,
The love of Christ enfold you,
The joy of the Spirit be within you
And the blessing of all three, go before you. Amen