When Words Run Out

John McKeel

By all accounts, Hannah was a good woman. She loved her husband – even though he had two wives. Hannah was long-suffering in the face of her sister-wife’s taunts and Hannah was deeply devoted to the Lord so why didn’t God do something to help her? You see, in those days, people took it as a sign of God’s blessings and approval when they had children so when Hannah couldn’t conceive; they took it as a sign of God’s disfavor.

Still Hannah tried to put on a happy face as Elkanah took his wives and children to Shiloh for a religious festival. It was clear to all that he loved Hannah best – after all he gave her a double portion of the feast. Unfortunately, that only angered her rival and led to a new round of taunts from Elkanah’s other wife.

Have you ever been so broken that you run out of words to describe your pain? While everyone else was celebrating, Hannah, totally broken, fell down in tears before the shrine of the Lord. It was an ancient tent – the original dated back to the Exodus and the days of Moses. It had entered the Promised Land carried by priests over the Jordan River but now it was nearly worn-out. While everyone else was celebrating by the fireside down in the valley, Hannah quietly climbed to the hilltop to visit the ancient shrine. She needed to talk to God. She needed to plead with him in private. She poured out her soul beside the gate of the shrine. Hannah fell to the ground and mouthed the words that would no longer sound. She was all alone in her pain save for a solitary figure watching from the shadows. It was Eli. He saw the woman writhing alone. It was such an unusual sight that the prophet jumped to the conclusion this woman was so drunk she had wandered off alone and now shamefully rolled in the dirt before the ancient tabernacle. He said:

14 “How long will you go on being drunk? Put your wine away from you.” 15 But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. 16 Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation,” 1 Samuel 1:14 – 16.

What about you? Are there times when you don’t know how to pray or what to ask for? How do you talk to God? When you think about it, carrying on a conversation with the Almighty seems absurd. Maybe you’ve spent the night in prayer. You’ve prayed so hard, you started repeating yourself. Finally, like Hannah, the words ran out. There is good news! Don’t despair. As Christians, God’s Holy Spirit lives within us and one of the Spirit’s blessings is to carry our prayers to God when words run out:

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express,” Romans 8:26.

Our formal month of prayer is about to end but it’s our prayer that you have learned the value of having a conversation with God and made prayer a daily part of your life as a Christian. God answered Hannah’s prayer and the powerful prophet Samuel was born. God’s Holy Spirit is waiting to take the prayers of your heart to our Heavenly Father. How can God help you?

Variety in Prayer

October — A Month of Prayer

Sunday Morning Sermon
October 15, 2017
John McKeel

Have you walked down the aisles of the grocery store lately? How many different kinds of cereal can you chose from? How many different types of chips are there? We love variety – and the interesting thing is, so does God. So why does our prayer life often seem so “vanilla”?

Adoration

Our relationship with God is a lifetime of discovery. Prayers of adoration celebrate our many faceted God.

  • Example: Solomon’s prayer at the Dedication of the Temple, 1 Kings 8. 

Confession

As we discover God, we naturally discover we are not God. We are sinners and no prayer is more honest than a prayer of confession.

  • Example: David’s psalm of confession, Psalm 32 

Thanksgiving

The most common Christian name for God is “Father.” The Holy Spirit within us cries “Abba, Father” (Galatians 4:6 – see Romans 8:15; Mark 14:36). Fathers excel at gift giving and our heavenly Father is no exception. Think about all that He provides and give thanks! Examples:

  • Matthew 6:25 ff.
  • 1 Chronicles 16

Supplication

Without question, this is our most common prayer and it is a proper prayer but often betrays a lack of wisdom and maturity on our part.

  1. We tend to make plans and then ask God’s blessings.
  2. We pray to change God’s will. We need to learn the lesson of Christ.
  • “Your will be done on earth,”
  • “Let this cup pass,”
  1. So how should we pray?
  • Honestly!
  • Conversationally
  • Thank God, He is in control!
  • Ask for comfort.
  • Ask for understanding, James 1; Solomon’s prayer 1 Kings 3

Some Things to Think About

Knowledge

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” (1 Timothy 2:1-3)

  1. Describe each of the varieties of prayer that Paul mentions to Timothy.
  2. What was the goal of these prayers?
  3. How many other kinds of prayers can you think of?

Attitude

  • What is the purpose of prayer?

Action

  • Begin keeping a Prayer Journal.

Learning to Listen

October — A Month of Prayer

Sunday Morning Sermon
October 15, 2017
Mark 4:35 – 41; 1 Timothy 2:1, 2
John McKeel

 “Be still, and know that I am God.” — Psalm 46:10

“The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.” — Habakkuk 2:20

All Pervasive NOISE

We might chuckle at the phrase “noise pollution,” but it is all around us. Who hasn’t been woken in the middle of the night by somebody on a motorcycle? Stop for just a moment and listen. We are surrounded by noise, but it is nothing compared to the noise that goes on inside of our heads!

Sleeping in the Back of the Boat

Jesus was exhausted. It was the end of a very long day of teaching and preaching and he just needed to get away from it all. At evening, he got in a boat and told his disciples, “Let’s go across to the other side of the lake.” Then he fell asleep so soundly that even a hurricane[1] couldn’t wake him. Have you ever wondered how that was possible? (Mark 4:30-34)

Two Kinds of Quiet

Timothy was the Apostle Paul’s protégé (Acts 16:1-5) and when young Timothy became the new evangelist for the church in Ephesus, the apostle sent a letter to him and the church there explaining how Christians should behave as a church.

Prayer is so important, Paul told them to think about it “first of all,” but what should we pray for? Paul’s answer guides us too. “… that we may live peaceful and quiet lives.”

Peaceful Life

Let’s think about “peace.” In the Bible, peace doesn’t mean the absence of conflict. It means, God is in control. Do you really believe that?

God is in control and that’s how it should be. Smile quietly to yourself because you know, behind all the noise and chaos we call “life,” God is sitting on His throne and everything is going to be okay. That’s peace!”

Quiet Life

The second word Paul uses to describe what we should pray for is “quiet.” We need “peaceful and quiet lives.” Alas, this word has been sorely abused by English translations. For example, just a few verses later many translations announce women “must be silent,” but this is the very same word translated “quiet” in verses 2 and 11!

No, Paul isn’t commanding the women to “shut up” (see Mark 1:25 for that word), but he is agreeing with Peter who teaches that true beauty is a “gentle and quiet spirit” (1 Peter 3:4) – something God highly values in all of us.

You can’t make yourself be quiet any more than a gardener can make a plant grow or a sailor can call the wind. Quiet is something you cultivate or capture. For most people, it is a blessing that is just out of reach, but only because we don’t take the time to nurture this special virtue.

Putting It All Together

Take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Focus on God and “count your many blessings.” God loves us – that never changes. Now we can pray – commune with our heavenly Father!

[1] Mark 4:37 “a furious squall” NIV, but lailaps literally refers to a hurricane or whirlwind.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Three Minutes with God

 

 

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984). (Mt 6:25–34). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Sleeping in the Back of the Boat

Jesus was exhausted. It was the end of a very long day of teaching and preaching and he just needed to get away from it all. At evening, he got in a boat and told his disciples, “Let’s go across to the other side of the lake.” Then he fell asleep so soundly that even a hurricane[1] couldn’t wake him. Have you ever wondered how that was possible? (Mark 4:30-34)

Take a minute this morning to make a list of all the things that keep you up at night, or the things that wake you up in the wee hours of the morning and prevent you from falling back to sleep. Now spend your second minute giving each of those worries to God. As you pray, draw a line through each worry knowing God will take care of it. Finally, spend your third minute thanking God for carrying those burdens for you and asking for His help to let go.

Blessings,

John McKeel

 

 

[1] Mark 4:37 “a furious squall” NIV, but lailaps literally refers to a hurricane or whirlwind.

Monday, October 2, 2017

 “Be still, and know that I am God.” — Psalm 46:10 

“The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.” –Habakkuk 2:20

All Pervasive NOISE

We might chuckle at the phrase “noise pollution,” but it is all around us. Who hasn’t been woken in the middle of the night by somebody on a motorcycle? Stop for just a moment and listen. We are surrounded by noise, but it is nothing compared to the noise that goes on inside of our heads!

How can we find that elusive peace? One way is by focusing on God and the Psalms are a wonderful aid in that quest. Try reading from the Psalms for just a minute, then meditating on God’s Word to you today for another minute, and then finish with a sixty-second conversation with the Lord.

Blessings,
John McKeel