|Prayers can move mountains|
Rev. Samuel M. Boodle
Published: May 24, 2012
I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. — John 17:11-19.
New pastors coming out of seminary have great expectations. They are pumped up and highly motivated. They feel up to the challenge ahead because they believe that they can make a difference in their new ministry. Thinking only of success, they have their minds set upon advancing programs in the congregation and the community.
However, research indicates that within the first five years of their ministries, many new pastors leave because of a variety of problems. Some of the suggested reasons are burnout, stress, alienation, isolation, conflict, financial distress, frustration with the congregation and other personal matters.
Sunday past was the seventh Sunday after Easter, the last Sunday in the Easter festival. In the text above, which was a part of the appointed gospel lesson, we have the beautiful words of a prayer that Jesus prayed. What makes these words more powerful is that He is praying for you and for me.
Jesus prays for the disciples’ preservation. If the world would be a difficult place for them, the easiest way to preserve them would be to move them by death or the way God removed Elijah. Yet he does not pray for that.
He prays that they remained in the world. Christ would not ask his Father to take them out of the world because He came into this world to conquer sin and the devil. Furthermore, He had work for them to do.
While doing the work He was appointed to do, proclaiming the good news to world, they needed protection from the scorn of the world. Jesus prayed that the Father would protect them while they were in the world.
This prayer is also for the whole Christian church. This is our assurance that the Lord is with us as we live out our faith and advance the proclamation of the gospel. It is very much appropriate for us in the church today, particularly as we see the church constantly under attack.
We are to remain in the word and close to God through His spirit. That is why Jesus prayed that the Father “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” It does not matter what the world says or how the people of the world react. Mankind may talk about truth, but the only truth is God’s truth.
For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. This is so that the disciples and we who follow in their train may catch the inspiration of Christ’s spirit, which will draw us to this work and keep us focused.
It is so amazing that those 11 men, the apostles, who were so shaky and ready to abandon him, were transformed into a small army, undeterred. In spite of the apparent gloom that hovered over them after the resurrection, “Christ said with assurance, they can do it.” In the face of adversity, and persecution, they stayed the course.
Today even though we too have our gloom, our disappointments, our frustrations and discouraging moments, we too have the zeal. We have it and, as a result, we continue to proclaim this gospel. Jesus prayed that we stay in the world and do his work.
So often, many of us give up and complain that things are not going right. Let us be reminded that we are doing God’s work and He is watching over us. Our Lord prayed that we be tenacious in doing this work.
As Christ prayed for His disciples and His church, let us continue to pray for our brothers and sisters in the ministry. Let us pray constantly that this gospel be preached in our country and around the world. Pray for healing for our land.
Just recently, I was talking about the amount of prayers being sent up constantly for us, for our children, for our country, for our church and for us. Often, I receive letters from people I don’t even know. Their words of comfort are that they are praying for me and for my ministry.
The disciples had their distraction. They had their moments of discouragement, but they kept on going because they knew that God was on their side. God is on our side. He protects us and keeps us doing what is right. Let us keep praying like Jesus prayed. Prayers can move mountains. Amen
• Rev. Samuel M. Boodle, pastor at The Lutheran Church of Nassau, can be reached at P.O. Box N 4794, Nassau, Bahamas, or telephone: 323-4107; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Website: www.Nassaulutheranchurch.org.