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Couldn’t Hear Nobody Pray

Couldn’t Hear Nobody Pray

Dear Church Family,

I hope you’ve been able to find encouragement in the Lord this week.

As many of you know from sermon illustrations I’ve given in the past, I grew up listening to a lot of gospel music. While my contemporaries in the Christian community were blasting 80s icon, Sandi Patty (I guess you don’t really blast Sandi Patty, you let the smooth sounds wash over you!), I was grooving to the collections of Al Green, Aretha Franklin, and Teddy Huffam and Gems.

One song I put on “repeat” was Couldn’t Hear Nobody Pray by the Soul Stirrers. In it, the inimitable Sam Cooke laments, “I was way down a-yonder in the valley by myself and I couldn’t hear nobody pray.”  Reflecting on a burden that he was unable to carry in his own strength, Cooke concluded: if only people were praying for me, I’d be faring much better. Have you ever felt like that?

Last Sunday, as part of our study in 1 Timothy, we talked about the connection between prayer and the advancement of the gospel. I said to you then: without prayer from God’s people the gospel will not fully flourish. But one thing we didn’t discuss was the parallel to this principle: without prayer from God’s people you and I will not fully flourish. It could be said that our spiritual success, so to speak, hangs in one sense, on the prayers of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

One person who realized this powerfully was the Reformer, Martin Luther. Commissioned with the task of translating the New Testament into German, Luther languished fruitlessly in the Wartburg castle in July of 1521, and wrote:

“I sit here at ease, hardened and unfeeling-alas! praying little, grieving little for the Church of God, burning rather in the fierce fires of my untamed flesh. It comes to this: I should be afire in the spirit; in reality I am afire in the flesh, with lust, laziness, idleness, sleepiness. It is perhaps because you have all ceased praying for me that God has turned away from me. … For the last eight days I have written nothing, nor prayed nor studied, partly from self-indulgence, partly from another vexatious handicap. I really cannot stand it any longer; Pray for me, I beg you, for in my seclusion here I am submerged in sins.”

Known to be ruthlessly self-critical, Luther actually deflected some of the blame for his inactivity onto the recipients of his letters. And while it’s generally not a good idea to blame someone else for our struggles, Luther grasped this concept well: without the aid of God’s people in prayer, we will not thrive spiritually.

That said: will you pray for me this week? Will you bring the names of our pastors and elders before the Lord? Will you plead with God to give us wisdom, grace, and joy in our efforts to lead and serve you? Will you join me in Heritage Hall on September 24 at 7:00 p.m., for one hour of concentrated prayer?

I will pray for you. In fact, as soon as I wrap up this article, I am going to join another man from our church in interceding for you. God’s presence is ours when we call out to Him. It’s a privilege I don’t want to neglect.

By His Grace,

Pastor John