Sunday at St Andrew's

26 July 2020, 10am

Trinity 7

 

Series: Romans ‘Good News for All’

8. Romans 8.26-39: 'Good News about Prayer' 

Speaker: Keith James

 

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Welcome to this ‘virtual service’ from St Andrew’s Eaton. 

Today we reach the glorious climax of Romans chapter 8, with Paul’s declaration

that nothing can stand between us and God’s love.

And because of God’s great love, there is great good news about prayer. 

However much a beginner in prayer we might feel,

however much we might not know what to say,

we’ll see this morning that God promises his Spirit

to be always praying for us and with us.

As we begin, let’s pray that God will still our hearts and minds 

and speak to us in this time today.

 

INTRODUCTION

Leader: Grace, mercy and peace

             from God our Father

             and the Lord Jesus Christ

             be with you

All:        and also with you.

 

All:        Lord, direct our thoughts, 

             and teach us to pray. 

             Lift up our hearts to worship you 

             in spirit and in truth, 

             through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

             Amen.

 

HYMN: Loved with everlasting love 
 

CONFESSION

Leader:  God shows his love for us in that, 

             while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

             Let us then show our love for him

             by confessing our sins in penitence and faith.

         cf Romans 5.8

All:        Most merciful God,

             Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

             we confess that we have sinned

             in thought, word and deed.

             We have not loved you with our whole heart.

             We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.

             In your mercy

             forgive what we have been,

             help us to amend what we are,

             and direct what we shall be;

             that we may do justly,

             love mercy,

             and walk humbly with you, our God.

             Amen.

Leader:    May the God of love and power

              forgive us and free us from our sins,

              heal and strengthen us by his Spirit,

              and raise us to new life in Christ our Lord.

All:          Amen.

 

PSALM 105:1-10

 

Glory to the Father and to the Son

and to the Holy Spirit;

as it was in the beginning is now

and shall be for ever. Amen.

 

FIRST READING 

Romans 8.26-39 or listen here.

God’s Love in Christ Jesus

 

This is the word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

 

HYMN: Oh to see the dawn or listen here.

 

SECOND READING

Matthew 13.31-33,44-52 or listen here.

Jesus tells parables of the kingdom of heaven

 

This is the word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

 

SERMON (Keith James)

Romans 8.26-39: ‘Good News about Prayer’

Two pieces of Good News for us this morning 

Two pieces of Good News about praying: 

1. Praying is for beginners  

So, if you are an expert in praying, if it’s a breeze and all plain sailing then perhaps you can skip this bit of the Bible

– and skip this bit of the service and make yourself a coffee. 

Or maybe not. 

St Paul begins 

The Spirit help us in our weakness 

We don’t know how to pray as we ought –  

In other words … Praying can leave us stumped.

And by us - that means you and me and the folks in Rome.

And that means Paul as well. 

So if praying leaves us feeling lost – or doesn’t seem to work, or it’s a struggle, then we are in good company… 

That was Paul’s experience too – and that of the earliest Christians.

And actually being a beginner is a good place to be in the Christian life. 

It’s why Jesus thought children had so much to teach adults.

They know they have so much to learn and they are not bothered about it. 

It's why they keep saying ‘Why ?’ 

The great Christian writer, Gregory of Nyssa said that no matter how far a saint has matured in the spiritual life 

– they always feel that they are just at the beginning. 

So the first bit of good news about praying – is that it is for beginners - always.

 2. The second bit of good news about prayer  

is that when we haven’t a prayer, prayer still happens because the Spirit is praying for us and with us.

 St Paul tells us that  

The Spirit helps us in our weakness 

And on our behalf prays for us – 

with sighs too deep for words  

– to the God who knows our hearts –  

So, when we haven’t got a prayer, when prayer has gone flat, when we don’t know how to start 

or whether we want to start, 

Paul says – the Good News is the Spirit is praying for us and with us. 

So, what might happen if… 

● we stopped trying to be in control of praying –  

● and if it isn’t all up to us to make praying work ? 

What if we trusted that God is at work and noticed when prayer happens 

– where & when the Spirit is praying for us & with us ? 

I am reminded of the story Anthony Bloom told –he was a bishop in the Russian Orthodox church …. 

A woman came to see him – wanting his advice about prayer.  

For many years she had been praying but had no feeling or experience that anything was happening at all. 

Anthony advised her to go into her living room after breakfast, and sit down,

light a candle because this is her prayer time and then have a look around the room.  

He said… 

Just sit, look around, and notice what’s around you.  

Look at your ornaments, pictures and cards 

See the weather through the window.  

Take out your knitting and knit for about 15 minutes,  

but I forbid you to say one word of prayer.  

You just knit, or sit, and enjoy your room.” 

Well of course she didn’t think this was very spiritual advice at the time, but some weeks later the woman returned.  

She was a different person. “It’s amazing!”, she told him. “I got up, had breakfast, then sat in my living room, lit a candle 

and then I thought,  ‘Oh, how nice, I have 15 minutes in which I can do nothing without feeling guilty’. 

And I looked around, and I thought ‘Goodness! What a lovely room’.  

Then, she said, “I felt quiet because the room was so peaceful. 

There was a clock ticking, but it didn’t bother me.  

Its ticking just underlined the fact that everything was so still, 

and after a while I remembered that I must knit before God.  

I began to knit and became more and more aware of the quiet. 

Then I realised that this wasn’t the absence of something. 

The quiet had a richness and a peace.   

All of a sudden, I perceived that in this quiet was a presence.  

And it was God – who is all peace, all love and all kindness.’  

Woody Allen once said that 80% of life is turning up … and so it is. 

And praying is very similar … but it is showing up – trusting that God is at work  

and the Spirit is praying with us and for us … and that we are part of something  

altogether larger and more compelling. 

So perhaps we can sense the Spirit at work and at prayer when we feel the blessing of the ticket collector’s smile

Or the joy of the smell of fresh baked bread 

Or the colour of our garden 

Or the pain of passing yet another beggar in the city 

Or the consolation of family photos on the fridge door 

The good news about prayer  

● is that it really for beginners  

● – and if that is you – then welcome! 

● And prayer isn’t about us taking control and driving it on 

● In fact it is more like unclenching a fist  

● and handing something over 

● It is trusting that the Spirit is praying with us and for us  

● all the time  

– we are invited to see and rejoice  

in how and where that is happening… 

in our lives, in our church and our world today. 

 

 

A version of this sermon in video format will be available 
on the St Andrew’s channel on YouTube, from later on Sunday 26 July.  

 

PRAYERS 

The Lord answer you in the day of trouble!
The name of the God of Jacob protect you!
Some boast of chariots, and some of horses
but we boast of the name of the Lord our God.

Ps 20:1 & 7

 

We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Rom 8:28


With that promise let us pray to our Father.
 

Gracious and loving God, thank you for all your blessings.

We praise you for your promises and for your steadfast love which is ever new yet unchanging through all ages.

You are mighty and faithful.

Faithful God we pray for the church worldwide and give thanks for the Christian churches working alongside other faiths helping those in need and bringing good news to the people.

Help us to be true disciples of Jesus, living the gospel and bringing social change in an unjust world.


Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer.

 

We pray for peace in the areas of the world caught up in war, conflict and disease.

We especially think of Syria and Hong Kong.

Dear God, as we are slowly easing the lockdown help us to behave wisely for our own safety and for others’ safety as we come back to normality.

 

Living God, we pray for those in authority and power to make wise decisions that give hope and help to the people in those places in our world which in this pandemic seem lifeless and hopeless.


Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer.


We pray for our two parishes, our clergy Phil, Sheila, James, Patrick and Shawn.

Lord we bring before you all who have died in this world due to the coronavirus, those who are still in hospital, and those who mourn. We pray that you would give your comfort to their families. 

Look in mercy on all who help those who are sick in body, mind and spirit.
 

Locally we pray for all who have asked for our prayers. In the silence of our hearts let us pray for our own families and friends.
 

Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer.

Lord we pray for the charity of the month, the Leprosy Mission. Bless the dedicated life-changing work they do to eradicate this disease and to bring dignity to the affected individuals.

Gracious God, as we go out into the world, help us to live in the warmth of your love, to listen and speak your compassion, and to know that we are surrounded by an eternal God.


Help us to live in truth, justice, peace, compassion and joy to the glory of your name, Amen

 

A prayer to collect together all our intercessions today

Lord of all power and might,

the author and giver of all good things;

graft in our hearts the love of your name,

increase in us true religion,

nourish us with all goodness,

and of your great mercy keep us in the same;

through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.

Amen.

 

As our Saviour taught us, so we pray:

Our Father in heaven, 

hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come, 

your will be done, 

on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins 

as we forgive those who sin against us.

Lead us not into temptation 

but deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power, 

and the glory are yours 

now and for ever. 

Amen.

 

HYMN: God is love

 

THE BLESSING

 

Leader:     May the God of hope fill us

with all joy and peace in believing,

through the power of the Holy Spirit;

        and the blessing of God almighty,

the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,

be among us and remain with us always.

All:          Amen.

 

Leader:     The peace of the Lord be always with you.

All:           and also with you.

 

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION AND REFLECTION

  1. What struck you about the sermon?
  2. What would you add?  
  3. What questions do you have?
  4. Looking back over the last week – when did you sense the Spirit praying with you and for you?

 

 

 

 

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