Hello my friends, and welcome to this week’s Prayers for the Week post. Today, I was drawn towards the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth; out of this book so much incredible Scripture has been revealed to us all.
In particular, I am drawn to 1 Corinthians 15:9-10, in which Paul relays God’s message to us:
9For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:9-10 (ESV)
As I read these verses, I was reminded not of Paul, for all Christians know his story. Rather, I was reminded of the story of Michael Wayne Ellis, and how I turned my back on Church when I was a kid, and how I thought, in my mind at least, how the kids that went to youth groups on the Church bus on Sunday’s were strange. Now, I never would have ever said any of that out loud to anyone, because I was raised in a family where you kept your mouth shut if you didn’t have something nice to say, but in saying it in my mind, I now know that I was speaking the words out loud — I was saying them to God, and I pray for His forgiveness for that. Now, I know that I am forgiven, I don’t have doubts of that, but I actually think that I don’t think I ever realized that sin, and hence, never asked forgiveness for it, until just right now.
I think, when it comes to the Apostle Paul, that each of us has our own Damascus story, such as he had. Do you remember the story? Here it is again:
1But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. 4And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” 5And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 6But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” 7The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. 8Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
10Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” 11And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, 12and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” 13But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. 14And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” 15But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. 16For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” 17So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; 19and taking food, he was strengthened. ~ Acts 9:1-19 (ESV)
For me, my Damascus story isn’t anything nearly as dramatic as it was for Paul. In my case, I really didn’t start going to church until after my sister got married. Then, when she joined little Round Hill Baptist Church, I decided to go there as well. One Easter Sunday, my Mom and I went to the Easter Sunrise Service, and afterwards, I brought Mom back home. I decided that I wanted to go to the regular service, even though we had been to the other service, and when the Alter Call came, I knew that I was going to go forward and profess my faith. That was one of my Damascus Stories. Another was when I was baptized; as I was walking down the hallway to change clothes, soaking wet, and I slipped and fell, breaking my arm in the process. Despite that, I was at church the next week.
I think what astounds me in today’s world isn’t the evil and heartache that is experienced daily. What I’m noticing more and more each day is how much I see people each day telling someone in distress that they’ll pray for them, and how much I see people putting their faith out there. As evil as the world is, and it is evil, despite that, or perhaps because of that, more people than ever are standing on their Faith, and telling the world that they stand with God.
Perhaps my most recent Damascus story is when I decided to start writing these posts back on March 3, 2013. As you know, I stopped back in October, and just picked back up writing them last month. But the need is still there, and is still great, so with that in mind, please pray with us over our prayer requests and praises.
Prayer Requests and Praises
- My friend and fellow Pixie Debbie has a prayer request. Here is what she wrote: Mike – we are switching OB practices at 30+ weeks pregnant in search of a comfortable and trusting relationship with a doctor and practice. Been praying for peace and guidance during this stressful time and would so appreciate your prayers as well.
- My friend Stephanie has a prayer request and a praise all wrapped together in a nice, neat bow. Here’s what she writes: Hi Mike! I wanted to give you an update on my brother. His cardiologist says his heart is weakened by about 40%. They’re just keeping a close watch on it for now and giving him medication to hopefully help. Prayers for my great uncle would also be appreciated! He’s been hospitalized for almost a week with heart problems. The doctors can’t seem to find an answer. And, lastly, please pray for rain! We were without water for a couple of days because our well was completely dry! After putting in more pipe and a new motor, we’re ok for now. We’ve been advised to use it very sparingly because our area has been without rain for quite some time. Five other families in our area ran out of water as well. We are in desperate need of rain! Thank you and God bless!!
- For my sister Robin, please pray for God’s help in her cutting out the caffeine. She’s a teacher as well, so pray for her students and her as they start up school soon.
- As always, prayers please for those that are fearful, afraid of asking for help, for prayer.
Now, please pray with us the prayer that Jesus taught us to pray:
Our Father, who art in Heaven,
Hallowed be Thy Name.
Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will be done
On Earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those that trespass against us.
Lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the Kingdom, and Power, and Glory
Forever and ever. Amen.