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Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Union Mill Acres on Elizabethtown Road here in Lancaster County is a quaint, family run farm selling pumpkins, mums, asters, jams and other autumn items. Each year we visit there's a new baby, the latest is 5 months old. Theirs is a large homeschooling family in which the children are learning responsibility on the farm.
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"An Unspoken Request"
"Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working" (James 5:16).
A caring church will be praying for one another, bearing each other's burdens. Often, especially in smaller churches, people are given the opportunity to express their need in a time during the service known as "sharing prayer requests".
Sometimes funny things can happen when taking prayer requests. One of my favorite memories in this regard took place in the little country church in southern Missouri I pastored my senior year of college right after we got married. During prayer request time Fred asked prayer for a friend who had a medical procedure and stated, “Pray for my friend, Jim. He had a hysterectomy and is in a whole lot of pain.” Thinking he'd realize he had the wrong term I paused but he repeated it yet again. His wife, Wanda, went right along with him, nodding in agreement and weeping as she did so. (Of course he meant another kind of ectomy. I will confess that this was a hard request to follow-up with a serious prayer.)
It's not uncommon for a congregational member to raise his or her hand and say, "I have an unspoken request." This occurs when someone doesn't care to divulge the nature of their need but still indicates they are in need of prayer. Recently a friend shared an unspoken request in church and days later it was revealed, the serious nature of what was on her heart.
Often it seems a pastor or prayer leader will conclude a time of sharing prayer requests by asking, "Are there any unspoken requests?" Most places we have been this always gets quite a few up raised hands. Actually we all probably have unspoken requests truth be fully told!
There are numerous reasons for unspoken requests. Sometimes this may be due to an uncertain medical report when we just don't have all the details to share with others. Other times we prefer not to share the details but still want people to pray. And at times the request may be a desire to overcome a sin in our life that we don't care to disclose to the entire congregation.
Recently we read the true following account concerning an unspoken prayer request that Robert J. Morgan wrote about:
Pastor Dave, who pastors in Vermont, had an awkward experience in church when a woman in prayer meeting raised her hand and said with a characteristically southern drawl, "I have an unspoken request." She was a heavy smoker and Pastor Dave thought she said, "I have a smokin' request."
He exclaimed in front of everyone, "You're brave to confess it. We all have vices we struggle with, God can deliver you." All the while Dave's wife was frantically waving trying to get his attention (BTW: That happened numerous times during my years of pastoral service with Brooksyne trying to help me out!) With a stage whisper she informed him, "She didn't say a smokin' request. She said an unspoken request."
The Pastor was horrified at his gaffe and began to apologize to the woman. Yet the southerner graciously smoothed things out, "Well, I do have that problem, too, and I guess you can pray for me about that."
While seeking to be virtuous we are always tempted by the devil's vices so we should be open and enlist other believer's prayers in our struggle against sin. Although our main focus on confession of sin should be to God there is also a place for confessing to one another as we candidly acknowledge our struggles and our need for God's help.
"Come People Of The Risen King" is a song we often sing at church. The second verse is a composite of fellow believers who are doing battle with the enemy; those celebrating victory and those seeking victory:
"Come, those whose joy is morning sun,
And those weeping through the night;
Come, those who tell of battles won,
And those struggling in the fight.
Some have won a battle, others are still engaged, and all will do battle with the enemy until we cross over Jordan. When a brother or sister openly confesses a need or weakness in their life it isn't a time for shaking our finger or casting aspersions. Instead it is a time for us to do battle with the enemy by praying for and encouraging the one who's struggling. Sending them an encouraging card, sharing a pertinent Scripture verse, loving them through the struggle and following up (while many others will have forgotten the need expressed).
"The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" benefits those for whom we are praying and the one who is praying. Adam Clarke's Commentary puts it this way: "When God designs to do some particular work in his Church he pours out on his followers the spirit of grace and supplication; and this He does sometimes when He is about to do some special work for an individual. When such a power of prayer is granted, faith should be immediately called into exercise, that the blessing may be given: the spirit of prayer is the proof that the power of God is present to heal."
What do you need prayer for today? Who can you confess that need to who will pray for you that you may be healed (made whole)?
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we take to heart the inspired words of James that direct us to confess our sins to one another and to pray one for another. You bring us together in this journey of faith, those who are weak and those who are strong, that we might encourage our brother or sister and stand with them in prayer. You invite us all to Come, those whose joy is morning sun and those weeping through the night. Come, those who tell of battles won, and those struggling in the fight. For Your perfect love will never change, and Your mercies never cease, but follow us through all our days with Your certain hope of peace. We unite in faith through Christ Jesus our Lord in whose name we pray. Amen.
Included in prayer - second stanza of "Come People of the Risen King"
Today we told a story about Fred and Wanda and found this photo. Fred had lost his right arm in an oil well accident many years earlier and his thumb on his left hand in a different accident, but he had learned to compensate and was a real blessing in helping us to renovate the little parsonage we lived in the first year of our marriage. In fact he did construction for a living. It was an inspiration to watch him use a hammer and drive a nail with speed and strength with only four fingers and the stump of a severed arm. He was an overcomer with a positive, faith-filled disposition. God used him to bless many people through his gift of music. Fred and Wanda, were older at the time we served that church in 1976 and we assume they are now with the Lord.
Yesterday I attended a Whole & Healthy Pastors Workshop in Mechanicsburg, PA and met up with John Palmer whom I knew back in Bible College in the seventies. John was several years ahead of me, graduating at the end of my Freshman year. We had a school tennis tournament and we ended up being the finalists and could only get the match in the afternoon before he was the commencement speaker at graduation. To this day I feel I would have had my clock cleaned but due to his busy schedule and understandable lack of focus on a tennis match, I won! John is now the president of Emerge Counseling Services based in Akron Ohio.
Brooksyne's Note: I was not with Stephen to visit with John yesterday. My remembrance of John was cutting his hair in the basement of Bowie Hall. When Stephen posted their picture today I immediately noticed, if I was still cutting John's hair, it would take a lot less time since there's a lot less hair. (All my spending money during my years of Bible College was from the haircuts I did for guys and gals. I went to Vo-Tech in high school and earned my Oklahoma operator's license which has been a great blessing over the years and saved lots of money for our family.)
Today we would like to share some more photos of the pumpkins and gourds at Union Mill Acres on Elizabethtown Road.
Buy enough pumpkins and you can make a colorful pumpkin tree.
They grow an amazing variety of pumpkins all on the farm.
A nice pasture scene in the background.
A neat use for wooden boxes!
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Unspoken Request" Video The McKameys This song may take many of our readers back a few years although our church still has a prayer request time and our pastor may very well ask if there are any unspoken requests.
"Come People Of The Risen King" Video Kristyn Getty
Union Mill Acres is here (Google map)
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