Der Vasken’s Sermon on March 10, 2024

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Today is the Fifth Sunday of Lent and the focus of today’s Bible reading is on prayer. We know that Jesus valued prayer. That’s no surprise to any of us. We know that He Himself prayed. He prayed in the morning and throughout the day. He prayed before meals by giving thanks to His Father. He prayed in times of joy and in times of trouble. He prayed alone and He prayed with others. He prayed before making important decisions. He prayed at a wedding and at a funeral. He prayed for His Mother and His Disciples, for those in need. He prayed at His Baptism and while hanging on the Cross.

So it is only natural that some of the parables He told would be about prayer. Robert read one of those for us a few moments ago. In that Bible reading, we heard Him ask His disciples a question that He ties directly into the value of prayer. It’s a question that catches them off guard. “On the day when He returns to this earth,” He asks, “will He find any faith on earth?”

In other words, on the Day of Judgement, will He find people of faith? Will their faith be firm and persistent? Will they have strong and unwavering faith—a faith that is constant like He described in today’s story?

So, we have to wonder why does He put such importance on prayer? Why does He want us to do the same? I think the answer is clear because prayer changes everything. Prayer lets God’s Voice enter our lives and shapes how we deal with the world around us. Our lives are an important part of His creation and He has a purpose for our lives that is greater than we imagine.

Think about the Internet for a moment. The Internet changed the world forever. Every day, all over the world, billions of messages are exchanged and answers found at any given moment because of the Internet. Just the other day, I sent a message to someone in Armenia and received back an answer within seconds.

Prayer is like that. Prayers float up to Heaven from the four corners of the world at every moment, in every hour of every day. If only we could see the conversations between God and His people—conversations from earth to Heaven and Heaven back to earth at every moment, in every hour of every day.

We would be amazed at people’s passion for prayer, but prayer is invisible. Even though we want answers to our prayers right now, we know that those answers don’t always come to us when we want them or how we want them. They come to us on God’s timetable because He sees far above and far beyond what we can see. I’ll even say that often God answers our prayers in ways we would never expect.
I shared a poem once that describes this very point. I want to share it again today. It reads like this:
“I prayed that God would grant me patience and God told me “No!” He said patience comes from trials. It is not granted. It is earned.
I prayed that God would give me happiness and God told me “No!” He said that He gives us His blessings but whether we will be happy or not is up to us.
I prayed for strength and God sent me trials to test me.
I prayed for wisdom and God sent me problems to solve.
I prayed for love and God sent me people who needed my love.
I prayed for favors and God gave me opportunities.
I received nothing I prayed for but received everything I needed because God heard my prayers.”

How many of us can relate to this? How many of us can say we prayed for something and God answered that prayer but in a way you didn’t expect? It may not have been what we wanted but what resulted made all the difference.

So on this Fifth Sunday of Lent, think about the question Jesus asked His disciples. “Will He find any faith when He returns to earth?” The answer to that question is this. “The Lord will find faith wherever there is prayer.

Something for all of us to think about.

Amen.

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