October 30th, 2022 - Preparing for the Lord's Day
Preparing for the Lord's Day
Rebuilding the Kingdom
What do you do when you are overwhelmed? When the day is full, and the demands are heavy? What do you do when it seems that the tasks you are called to accomplish are beyond your ability and you are out of your depth? This Sunday we remember the great reformation of the Church led by Martin Luther. As we read about the work that Luther and the other reformers accomplished, we might be tempted to celebrate their industriousness or their natural abilities of management and communication. However, their continued witness was a dependence on God through prayer. Luther would dedicate himself to two hours of prayer each morning and three hours if the day’s tasks were particularly challenging.
Concerning the importance of starting with prayer Luther wrote,
It is a good thing to let prayer be the first business in the morning and the last in the evening. Guard yourself against such false and deceitful thoughts that keep whispering, "Wait a while. In an hour or so I will pray. I must first finish this or that." Thinking such thoughts we get away from prayer into other things that will hold us and involve us till the prayer of the day comes to naught.
It is very easy to neglect prayer when we are busy. We feel that our time might be better spent working and accomplishing tasks. However, the word of God teaches us that we are to start with prayer. Before we ever put our hands to work we are to call out to God to work.
In our passage for this Reformation Sunday, we come to the first chapter of Nehemiah. Here we are introduced to Nehemiah, the cupbearer of the Persian king. When he learns of the troubles that are plaguing the returned exiles, he is struck with a great burden to do something about these hardships. He is hundreds of miles away. He is in the service of the king. He really has no way of providing immediate support. And yet he does the one thing that is necessary, he prays. The burden of bringing relief to the people of God is great and therefore the call to prayer is great. And what we will see is that if we would see a great work of God in our generation we must begin with prayer. Prayer must be first. To come prepared for the sermon, take time this week to read and to meditate upon Nehemiah 1, 2 Chronicles 7:14, Psalm 5:1-3; 50:15, Matthew 7:11, Luke 11:9-10, 1 John5:14-15, and this article on Prayer.
As we gather to bring glory to God alone on this Reformation Sunday, we will join our hearts in song, singing the Processional Hymn “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty”, the Acclamation of Praise “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less”, and the Hymn of Response “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”. Let us come to worship this Sunday prepared to hear God’s Word, to receive it in faith, to love and treasure it in our hearts, and to practice it in our lives so that we may continue to glorify and enjoy Him!
A Liturgical Note:
As you will notice this Sunday the paraments have changed from green to red, indicating our celebration of Reformation Sunday. The Reformation was sparked when Martin Luther, a German Monk, nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the church door in Wittenburg on October 31, 1517. This document outlined his objections to the Roman Catholic practice of selling indulgences. However, this one act of protest leads to a broad movement to reform the Church according to God’s Word alone. As Presbyterians we trace our theological heritage to the great themes of the Reformation: Salvation by Grace Alone; Through Faith Alone; By Christ Alone; According to the Word of God Alone; All to the Glory of God Alone.
Text: Nehemiah 1
Title: Pray First
Introduction: We Must Pray First Because We are Weak (vv. 1-4)
Point One: We Must Pray First Because God is Holy (v. 5)
Point Two: We Must Pray First Because We are Sinful (vv. 6-7)
Point Three: We Must Pray First Because God is Merciful (vv. 8-11)