Notes of Meeting Sunday 5 March

Worship led by Ken Cowell

Psalm 34. 1-3

1. I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.

2. My soul will boast in the Lord in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice.

3. Glorify the Lord with me: let us exalt his name together.

Why did you come to worship this morning?  Did you come because of compulsion?   Or was it because it is your normal custom for Sunday morning?  Why did David extol the Lord?  Does he say he was forced to do it?  Does he say it was just because it was a habit?  No neither of those.  He worshipped because of choice indicating by his words “I will extol the Lord”  He wasn’t in a good place running from king Saul and ended up in enemy territory.  The circumstances weren’t good but still he chose to worship the Lord.  If we only worship God when our circumstances are good, that means our worship is self-centred being dependent on our feelings and situation.  True worship isn’t centred on ourselves but the Lord.  Even if we are in a bad place we worship because he is always worthy of our praise irrespective of our condition.  David says he worships the Lord at all times, and his praise will always be on his lips.  His praise to God isn’t a one-off experience but a continual one.  To choose to worship the Lord is a good choice and to choose to worship him at all times even when we don’t feel like it is even better.  Let’s worship him this morning by choice and with passion.

859. I will worship with all my heart

282.  I worship you, Almighty God


In verse 2 David is fully focussed on the Lord.  He’s boasting, but not in himself but in the Lord.  True worship is all about God and not ourselves.  When David’s worship is heard by others even though they are experience suffering they are moved to rejoice.  Joy should be a part of our worship too.  David’s worship moves from individual worship to corporate worship as he calls on others to join with him.  Why is it valuable to gather together to worship?  Jesus himself gives us the answer.  “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18.20)  Jesus promises to there in a special way when his children gather in his name.  We also encourage each other as we worship together.

617.   Worthy O worthy are you Lord

567.   We are here to praise you

Psalm 34. 4-6

4. I sought the Lord, and he answered me, he delivered me from all my fears.

5. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.

6. This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles

After David praises the Lord he calls upon the Lord in prayer.  How does David approach the Lord in prayer?  He comes in weakness and want describing himself as a poor man.  But he also comes in faith as he looks to him.   As David called the Lord  listened,  But he not only listened but also answered.  There were two kinds answers.  One related to his situation where he was delivered from his fears and saved out of all his troubles.  Not only were his circumstances changed but he himself was changed for he became radiant and joyful.  Later we are going to have a time of prayer.  May we also see changes in the things around us and also in ourselves.

266.   I will call upon the Lord

97.     Father I place into your hands

Ken’s Talk

How to pray effectively      Luke 11.1-4

Maybe the first question we should ask is; why should we pray?  What motivated the disciples to pray?  They saw Jesus praying.  Jesus taught prayer not only by words but  by example.  Why should we pray?  The first reason would be to follow his example.  Peter in his epistle speaks “that we should follow in his steps.”  If Jesus prayed and he prayed a lot, how much more do we need to pray!   After they saw Jesus praying then they said “Lord teach us to pray.”  That was one of the best requests they made to Jesus.  It would be a good one for us too.  They realised they needed help in this matter of prayer.  We too must confess that we struggle with this important subject of prayer.  

Following their request Jesus taught them is what we know as the “Lord’s Prayer.” which really is the “Disciple’s Prayer.”  Jesus would not need to pray this prayer especially for his sins to be forgiven.  The prayer is a “model prayer.” However, it not meant just to be repeated word for word as a ritual without thinking about it as is often the case.  It is rather a pattern for prayer to guide us how and what to pray for.  What Jesus teaches here are some key elements to praying more effectively.  As we are planning to have a time of prayer later, let’s consider some  points that might help us to do that. 

Firstly, Jesus identifies the important matter of  Who we are praying to.  Who we are talking to in prayer makes a huge difference to what you say and how you say it. For example if I am talking to a policeman the conversation will be formal, very factual, having little feeling and completely absent of intimacy.  Whereas, if I am talking to my best friend who I know so well the conversation won’t be threatening, condemning and hard to express my true feelings because I know what they will say is for my best interests.   How does Jesus describe the person we are addressing in prayer?  It is just one word.  He gives the disciples the name  “Father.”  Just that word should remove the distance, formality and uneasiness that we might feel praying.  What a simple introduction to the God of the universe.  Is God everyone’s Father?  Yes, in a general sense as the Creator of every human being, but the meaning here is much more personal and intimate than that.  It is addressed to those who by faith in Jesus as their Saviour and Lord have been born again and brought into the family of God.  God has adopted them as his own children and they can call him “Father.”  The fact that we do this is evidence that we are true Christians.  Non-Christians who face a crisis can pray to God for help.  But they pray in a general way not using the word “Father”  indicating that they don’t have a personal relationship with him.

To address God as “my Father” is not just a person I request things from, but it’s a person I can get close to.  To call God “my Father” should remove some of formality, complications and distance that we sometimes encounter when we come to pray.   At the same time we can’t compare heavenly Father with our fathers in the world.                                                                                                                    Those fathers are flawed with sin, failures, limitations that render them not totally reliable because they aren’t perfect.  But our Father in heaven is all perfect, all loving, all holy, all knowledgable all merciful, all forgiving, all understanding, all wise and all powerful.  What a wonderful Father to have!  He’s awesome, yet he’s received us though sinners as his children.  He cares for us, meets our needs, watches over us and guides us.  What a privilege to call the God who made the universe and sustains it “my Father.”  As we come to our Father in prayer let’s remember that He is Great and that there is nothing too difficult for him to do.  We have a Big God so we can pray Big. May coming to him in prayer this morning not be a drudgery and dull but a delight and joy.

The next question to think about is, what should I say in prayer? We sometimes have difficulty in knowing what to say.  Jesus gives us our second sentence. Hallowed be your name.  What does “hallowed” mean?  We don’t use it in everyday language.  If a special guest comes to your house your mother would bring out the best china.  They would only be used for special occasions.  They are “set apart” from all the other dishes.  They are unique, excellent, the very best.  When we talk about God’s name we are also referring to his person. So when we hallow God’s name we are setting him apart from all others and everything else.  He is the best incomparable to others.  Sometimes we sing “Holy, Holy, Holy  Lord God Almighty”  The meaning of Holy is “wholly other.”  He is a “cut above the rest.”  He is “in a class of his own.”  There is none like him.    He is all pure, has all power and authority, he has all knowledge, he is everywhere in all places, he is all loving and has all wisdom.  He is the top of the class in everything.  He doesn’t need to do anything to earn a reward.  We worship him for who he is.  To hallow his name is to simply bow in awe, honour worship and praise at the glory of who he is.  This reverence, awe, and worship should come first in our prayer before our requests.    Sometimes in prayer we rush in with our requests and forget to praise and worship God, treating God -like a supermarket presenting our shopping list like click and collect.  As we remember he is holy, perfect, awesome and yet he is our Father we should first bow and exalt and honour him with our worship.  He is worthy to be praised. 

The next thing Jesus teaches his disciples is, what are they to pray for.   What is their priority to be in prayer?  It is not what they want but what God wants.   He knows that if we got what we wanted it would harm us not help us.  What is it that God wants?  Jesus tells the disciples to pray,  your kingdom come.  That kingdom will fully come when Jesus returns to rule over the world in righteousness and peace.  But God also wants his kingdom to come now.  He longs people to be saved and become king of their lives now.     What is it that God wants so much?    Paul tell us in 1 Timothy 2.4 “ who wants  all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.”   God desires for people to come into the kingdom now through the gospel so that they can enter his kingdom when Christ comes.  How do people get saved?  It is through hearing the gospel and trusting in Jesus for salvation.  How are they to hear the gospel?                                                                                                                                                   They hear it through our witness as we tell them the good news of Jesus. That is why we have been left in the world so we can share the gospel with them. 

Where can we start?  We can start by praying for people to be saved.  Unless God works no one can be saved.  Also unless we tell them they cannot hear and believe.  If Jesus is king of my life then like Jesus I will long for people to be saved and he will work through me so they can hear the message.  I also should be living with kingdom values as my priority seeking first the kingdom of God and not the material things of this world.  One of Paul’s earnest prayers is written in Romans 10, 1.  “Brothers my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they might  be saved.”    May we also pray for our fellow-countrymen to be saved. 

The next request is for our material needs, “Give us each day our daily bread.”  Notice these material needs come after the issues of God’s kingdom which are spiritual.   Yet God is concerned about what we eat, drink and what we wear to the extent that he promises to provide those things for us.  At the same time he commands us not to worry by seeking first the kingdom of God and he will supply what we need. The freedom from anxiety is seeking first God’s kingdom and righteousness.  In the days of Jesus this prayer was very relevant.  There was no Tesco or Waitrose to go and buy bread.  We could ask the question do we need to pray this request when there is so much food around us.  For some countries like Kenya, Ethiopia, Yemen. Malawi, Ukraine and many other countries it is a daily prayer.  It has become the same in our country for certain sections of the population who need food banks.  For those of us who have no pressing need of food we still need to be trusting God and thanking him for his provision.  The supply chain in many countries has been broken by drought, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, typhoons and sadly by wars.  So this is a very relevant prayer for our generation.  Added to our need of food for the body is also our need for health for the body.  Many of our weekly requests for people to be healed from various illnesses.  As we get older health issues become a greater issue and we need to bring them to God in prayer.  For all our advances in medical science we are still so vulnerable as we have seen with the pandemic and many illnesses which still have no known cure.  Prayer for our material and health needs are still very relevant.

The last request is very important.  “Forgive us our sins.”  This is a prayer that everyone needs to pray for salvation and eternal life.  Sin is our biggest problem.  Sin has separated us from God now and will do so forever unless it is forgiven.  We thank God that through the death and resurrection of Christ our sins can be forgiven through repentance and faith in Christ.  However, we still have a daily battle with it though our salvation is eternally secure.  We need pray for victory over sin’s temptations.  Also to remember that unconfessed sin can break our fellowship in prayer with God.                                                                                                                       

Song: Make us a house of prayer.

Closing Hymn: What a friend we have in Jesus


Our speaker next Sunday will be Rob Needham.