Closing the Gap

Sermon Notes
March 29, 2015
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Luke 19:35-41
The Prayer Project

Closing the Gap

Imagine if you were Jesus. People are proclaiming you as King. People are dancing, singing, and claiming you as the Messiah. But you knew that you were not the honored guest of the feast but you were the Paschal Lamb. Jesus was the sacrificial lamb that would free all of us from bondage. But the crowd and even His disciples did not get it and I believe this disconnect hurt Jesus’ heart.

Jesus knew that there was a gap between His followers’ perceived need and their true need. Jesus wanted to give them so much more.

Theme: Prayer is the way we close the gap between what we think we need and what we really need, which is Jesus’ presence.

 Prayer allows for a precious space in time for a meeting between God the Lover, and we, the beloved. Prayer is simply being with Christ.

 Prayer is bringing ourselves before God, just as we are, warts and all.

 Prayer is the spontaneous yearning of the heart to worship, honor, magnify, and bless God.

 Prayer is continued conversation with God throughout your daily routine.

 Prayer is a picture of our falling into the arms of Jesus.

 As we end this sermon series on prayer and as we enter into Holy Week, be intentional about making time to sit in the presence of your Savior. Run into the arms of Jesus and bring yourself before God just as you are.

Reflection Question for Holy Week

What does Jesus want to say to you this Easter season?

 

Intercessory Prayer

Sermon Notes
March 15, 2015
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Exodus 17:8-13
The Prayer Project

Intercessory Prayer

The definition of interceding is to act or interpose on behalf of someone in difficulty or trouble, as by pleading or petition. Quite simply, intercessory prayer is the act of praying on behalf of others.

This sermon is going to have two parts. First we are going to look at the individual significance of interceding, praying for each other. Then in the middle of the sermon I am going to give you a minute or so to practice it. Then we are going to look at the significance of Corporate Intercessory Prayer. This is where we look at and practice praying together for the world, city, or even our own church community.

Individual Intercession –
Practice: Take two minutes and visualize bringing someone to God in prayer (or a couple of people).

Corporate Intercession –
Practice: Let us lift up together a one sentence prayer for a school, a church, a missionary, a circumstance in our world, etc.

I believe there is a spiritual battle for our world. Wherever we turn we can see the ramifications of humanity’s own greed. There is a spiritual battle for our cities, churches, and families. We, as the community of believers, can be like Moses on the hill lifting hands as an intercessor. As Jesus intercedes for us we need to see ourselves as intercessors through prayer for individuals, missionaries, schools, and neighborhoods.

Practice:

1. Make a list of folks and three times this week pray for them.

2. Take five minutes and visualize bringing someone to God in prayer.

 

Praying the Ordinary/Prayers of Action

Sermon Notes
March 8, 2015
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Acts 9:10-19
The Prayer Project

Prayer of Action

As we have been learning about prayer, we are going to start looking at prayers that move us a bit outward. Foster claims that transformation and intimacy with God cry out for ministry. We are not called to intimacy in prayer merely to experience acceptance but also to give His love to others. Today we are looking at the Prayer for the Ordinary, or another name for it is: The Prayer of Action. Each activity in our ordinary lives in which we stretch ourselves on behalf of others is a prayer of action.

Theme: If we listen, God’s voice interrupts the ordinary and calls us to action.

But the million dollar question during this whole series on prayer is, how do we really know what we are hearing is from God? Here are four filters.

First question: “God, is this prompting truly from You?”
Second question: “Is it scriptural?”
Third question: “Is it in tune with my own character?”

Fourth question: “What do the people I most trust think about it?”

The theological term for discovering if something is from God or not is discernment. The filters above help us determine, discern, and wrestle with what we are hearing from God.

Practice:
Pray every morning: “God, give me eyes to look for Your interruptions today as You call me to action.” After you pray go out in your life and start looking.

 

Meditation Prayer

Sermon Notes
March 1, 2015
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
John 10:1-4
The Prayer Project

Meditation

Generally speaking, Eastern forms of meditation are about detaching from the world by being free from stresses, burdens, and pains of this life in order to strengthen our self-identity. Christian meditation starts with detaching from the confusion around us in order to have a richer attachment to and dependence on Christ, developing a Christ identity.

Theme: Christian meditation allows for a precious space in time for a meeting between God the Lover, and we, the beloved.

How do we prepare for meditation?

What are some forms of meditation?

  1. Scripture Meditation
  2. Releasing
  3. Reflection

Practice Challenge: Meditation

Select an idea from the following list (or create your own) and implement it at least three times this week.

Select a Scripture passage to meditate on in the coming week. Write it out on a card you can carry with you, and refer to it often, using spare moments throughout your day to reflect on it.

Consecrate one day to seeking opportunities to practice “holy leisure” as a counterpoint to frantic or fragmented activity.

Identify a particular place that provides a setting of beauty, and spend 30 minutes to simply be silent and listen for what God may have to communicate to you. If you desire, take along a notebook and write down your thoughts.

 

Unceasing Prayer

Sermon Notes
February 22, 2015
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
1 Thessalonians 5:17
The Prayer Project

Unceasing Prayer 

Unceasing Prayer is defined as recurring prayer; it is living in continual God-consciousness, where everything you see and experience becomes a kind of prayer. It is continued conversation with God throughout your daily routine.

Philip Yancey gives three answers to why we should pray without ceasing.

  • Prayer is friendship.
  • Prayer is a running dialogue.
  • Prayer also fosters a passionate alliance with God.

Unceasing Prayer is keeping company with God. It is at times raw, messy, and honest. At other times it is allowing God’s presence in the mundane so the continued conversations help us find our true identity.

Prayer Exercise

  1. Prayerfully consider signing up for a prayer triad.
  2. Daily try to be conscious of God’s being with you throughout the day.
  3. Daily try to have a running dialogue with God.

 

Resting Prayer

Sermon Notes
February 15, 2015
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Psalm 46
The Prayer Project

Prayer of Rest

Theme: The Prayer of Rest is defined as in the midst of the busyness of life we pause and rest in the promises of God.

Psalm 46 NRSV

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved; God will help it when the morning dawns. The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Come, behold the works of the Lord; see what desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire. 
“Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.” The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.

So the question I ask is this: How do we foster a Prayer of Rest in the midst of the noise of our lives?

Prayer Exercise

Three times this week read Psalm 46 and rest in God.

 

Looking Upward

Sermon Notes
February 8, 2015
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Psalm 57
The Prayer Project

Looking Upward

Our sermon series is looking at many different forms of praying that have been established throughout church history. The first three weeks we looked at forms of prayers that caused us to do inward reflection. Today we will shift and look at two prayers that cause us to more upward reflection, Covenant Prayer and Prayer of Adoration.

Foster defines Covenant Prayer as a vow, a covenant to an unswerving allegiance, a promise to holy obedience. He calls it a call to an intoxicated life.

The Prayer of Adoration is defined by Foster as the spontaneous yearning of the heart to worship, honor, magnify, and bless God.

The Prayer of Adoration is often described with two sides, thanksgiving and praise.

  • In thanksgiving we give glory for what God has done.
  • But in praise we give glory for Who God is.

Covenant Prayer and Adoration really is the air which prayer breathes. But it is amazing how often we do not take time on a regular basis outside of church to praise and be intoxicated with God.

Prayer Exercise

Go somewhere outside this week three times and read a Psalm and just spend some time praising and thanking God. After this experience, pray a prayer with a sense of renewed commitment to God and your faith.

 

Prayer of Letting Go

Sermon Notes
February 1, 2015
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
John 21:3-7
The Prayer Project 

The Prayer of Letting Go/The Prayer of Relinquishment 

The Webster definition of the word relinquishment is: to give up (something) such as power, control, or possession to another person.
Foster best defines the Prayer of Relinquishment with a picture. It is a picture of a person falling into the arms of Jesus.

Theme: The Prayer of Relinquishment is about letting go and trusting God. It is about surrender.

This morning we are going to have a kinesthetic sermon. When you came in this morning you were given a glass stone. I want you put the stone in your hand and close it on your lap in front of you for the rest of the sermon. Reflect during the sermon what the stone symbolizes in your life; what are you holding on too tightly?

If we are going to truly let go of the things that we hold on too tightly, we must face the truth about ourselves and face the power of Jesus, and that combination will melt our grip.

First, facing the truth about ourselves is acknowledging that we need help.

Second, as we face the truth about the power of Jesus it allows us to trust.

Only God can open hearts and empty hands. So let me ask you, what’s in your hand? What do you need to let go of? What do you need to surrender or relinquish?

Practice: Pray this Simple Prayer throughout the week.

Lord, I let go and surrender this……You fill in the blanks with whatever God puts on your heart.

 

The Attentive Life

Sermon Notes
January 25, 2015
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Joshua 4:1-9
The Prayer Project

Theme: Prayer of Examen is merely reflecting and looking at how God is at work in your life. I like to call it the Attentive Life.

Ignatius uses the fancy words of reflecting on your “consolations” and your “desolations.” That is a fancy way to say your “good” moments and your “crummy” moments. Here are the historical questions used to guide you in this prayer.

“Consolation”

  • For what am I MOST grateful today?
  • Where did I give and receive love today?
  • Where was I most energized to be the person God called me to be?
  • When did I act most faithfully to the Word of God?

“Desolation”

  • For what am I LEAST grateful today?
  • Where did I withhold and refuse love today?
  • Where was I least energized to be the person God called me to be?
  • When did I act unfaithfully to the Word of God?

(Practice this three times this week) Having spent time remembering, it seems natural to want to respond in some way. Take time to journal or pray, expressing your thoughts on the actions, attitudes, feelings, and interactions you’ve remembered as a part of this exercise.

Qualities of Attentiveness: Attentive Life by Leighton Ford

  • Being present in the moment
  • Looking freshly at what is familiar
  • Being available to see and hear God – being wakeful
  • Waiting with expectancy – attentiveness as waiting

 

Simple Prayer

Sermon Notes
January 18, 2015
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Matthew 11:28-30
The Prayer Project

So why do a 12-week Sermon Series on Prayer? 

I believe as we become people who pray, God will continue to speak to us and lead us to exactly where He wants us to be. A big part of 2015 will be to start the year off focusing on prayer. This is why we are calling it the Prayer Project. There is an assumption that as we go through this experience of prayer that God will be up to something.

What is the Prayer Project?

  • Sermon on ten different forms of prayer.
  • Invitation to read the book Prayer by Richard Foster.
  • Invitation to discuss in triads or small groups.
  • Invitation each week to practice the art of praying.

Simple Prayer

In Simple Prayer we bring ourselves before God, just as we are, warts and all. We tell God about our joys, frustration, needs, and desires.

So how do we practice Simple Prayer?

We simply begin right where we are: in our families, on our jobs, with our neighbors and friends. In the most simple way start this week praying through your experiences. Start taking up the ordinary experiences, events, and concerns and bring them before God.

Prayer Exercise

So here is your assignment: I recommend you practice this five times this week for ten minutes at each time and see what happens. Simple Prayer is intentionally bringing your needs and experiences before God. Start taking up the ordinary experiences, events, and concerns and bring them before God.