Will that work? Well, maybe for the Cowboys, I don’t know. I’m kidding. I love the Cowboys. Realistically speaking, it won’t work. The center has a particular role that is very important to the team. The quarterback has a role that is very important to the team. Any time you mix up the rank you have problems.
James is saying, if we are going to end the war in our lives, we need to, first of all, wave the flag of submission to God. Instead of us calling the plays, we allow God to call the plays. Instead of us running our lives, we allow God to run our lives.
Look at the second flag that we need to wave. Look at the next verse there, verse 8, “Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.”
Well, just show up and roll up your sleeves. We have mission trips all over the world. We have this camp that has thousands of opportunities available. We have our student ministry, our children’s ministry, and our preschool ministry. We have this Hand in Hand ministry where we help those who have lost loved ones. We bring food to people who are destitute and downtrodden. We have opportunities for Bible studies and opportunities for small groups.
So don’t sit there and say, “I don’t know what I’m supposed do. I don’t know where I’m supposed to serve.” You’re asleep. Wake up! There are opportunities all around. We need you to get off your rear and into the game. Get out of the stands and on to the court. It’s time to do it. The time is short. Don’t sleep. Don’t sleep. Martin Luther had a dream of hell one day. He dreamed the devil was sitting on the throne and a bunch of demons were reporting to the devil about what had happened. One demon came up to Satan and said, “Satan, let me tell you man, some Christians were going on this caravan throughout the desert and I caused these tigers to attack them and kill them.”
Satan said, “That’s stupid, because their souls are with Jesus. That doesn’t do a thing for me.” Another demon said, “Satan, there were some missionaries on their way to this trip, to this island out in the middle of nowhere. And I caused this great wind and waves to hit the ship and it killed all the Christians.” Satan said, “Man, again, you don’t get it. I’m after their souls.”
And then they told me, “Okay, we’ll all be sitting in the throne chairs and your key is when the organ begins to play softly, one of the pastors will look at you and give you a nod. When they give you that nod, that holy nod, that’s your time to pray.” And that’s what they did. The organ played softly and I was sitting on the edge of a throne chair. I looked and was waiting for the nod, and there it was.
So I gathered my thoughts and made my way up to the pulpit. It was my first public pastoral responsibility. I was a preacher’s kid, and I was thinking, “Okay, I’ve got to do well. I’ve got to do put my best ministerial foot forward. I’ve got to have my voice sounding right. The words have to be right—the ‘thees’ and the ‘thous.’ And it’s going to be a high, priestly prayer. I’m going to use all the Christianese and the language of Zion.”
And so I began to read the prayer. And man, the prayer was going great. I could tell people were into it. There were like, “Oh, he’s a chip off the old block. This is great man.” Oh yeah, I could just feel it, you know? And then I finished my prayer and I segued from my prayer into the Lord’s Prayer. And during the prayer I said, “Jesus taught his disciples to pray saying, would you repeat after me, ‘Our father…’” And thousands repeated after me, “Our father…” It felt really good. “Who art in heaven…” “Who art in heaven…”
Others here maybe are disappointed with prayer. You’re saying, “You know Ed, I wanted something a long time ago and I prayed and prayed and prayed. And God did not give me what I wanted. So I just don’t pray that much. Now and then I might throw one up to heaven, but not that much.”
Others here would say, “Ed, I am a prayer warrior. I love prayer. I have these deep connections, these times with God. I journal my prayers and I have this thriving relationship with Jesus. And it’s a privilege that I have to talk to God in prayer.” I was 21 when I became a pastor. I was ordained into the ministry. I worked at a large church in another city, and my first assignment was to give the morning prayer during the 11:00 service. That was a big thing. This church was more traditional than ours.
It had a lot of pews, the giant throne chairs, the pipe organ, and they said, “Ed, you’ve got to bring your A-Game when you give the morning prayer. You’ve got to pray for this city, you’ve got to pray for the nation, our world. You’ve got to be on!” They were telling me, “We would suggest to you, Ed, that you write out your prayer.”
So I researched prayer and read all these cool prayer books. I had this prayer written out, and it was laminated on my Bible. Because when you gave the morning prayer, again, the sentence structure, the order of the prayer had to be just perfect. And then you always lead the congregation in the Lord’s Prayer. So I had that written out too, typed out on my Bible.
Now, next time, we’re going to tackle something that is very, very tough to talk about. “What happens when I begin to see the change that God makes in my life? What happens as I defer to the Holy Spirit of God? What happens as I listen to him?” Well, I will tell you what will happen.
All hell will break lose, because the devil is going to come after you and me because whenever you change, you have conflict. Yet, as you stay through the conflict; if you stay through the change, if you stay uncovered and walking in the covering of mercy and grace, you’ll have growth. Change, conflict, growth. That’s next time.
But here’s the good news: I can’t change, you can’t change. No one can truly change. Only God can change your life and mine. Have you received that? Are you deferring to that? Are you walking in that? Because you have a choice, either living like this. Trying to walk through life covered; or like this, uncovered. I’ll choose like this any day. How about you?
Prayer is interesting isn’t it? People pray. All sorts of people talk to God. Some see prayer as kind of a rabbit’s foot type situation. Maybe you see prayer as your lucky charm; you cover all your bases then you say, “Okay, now I’ll even pray.” And you pray before the big task or the big deal or when you board an airplane. And you do the microwave prayers and you want to get everything square with God before you undertake the pressure packed decision in your life.