Prayer: Placebo or Power?

Rev. Gene Yates

Today Tom and I returned to Wesley United Methodist Church.  Rev. Patton, who is the Senior Pastor and who preached last week, was not there.  Instead, Rev. Gene Yates, the Pastor of Pastoral Care, gave the message.  His theme was “Prayer:  Placebo or Power?”  I liked the theme and the way he organized his message.  He told several personal stories and had a joke for each major point (humor – always a good thing in a sermon).

First, he suggested that we talk to God the same way we talk to people we love.  When he was teaching his daughter to pray, he suggested that she start by saying, “God, this is Beth and I got somethin’ I want to talk to you about.”  This is an excellent suggestion.  We don’t need to use special words in order to talk to God.  He is our friend and he loves us.  However we pray, he is willing to listen.

Second, Rev. Yates pointed out that prayer is the only thing the disciples ever asked Jesus to teach them.  Although the disciples knew how to pray according to Jewish tradition, they did not have the powerful prayer life they could see in Jesus.  When Jesus prayed, things happened!  Rev. Yates reminded us that miracles may not result from our prayers but we will build a relationship with the God who works miracles.

Third, prayer brings to light the resources available to us.  Does prayer change things or just change us?  Prayer helps us see what we can do and how we should act.  Prayer opens our minds to God’s possibilities and power.

Rev. Yates’ fourth point was that all prayers should end with “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”  If we are not praying this as the ending to our prayers, then we are trying to live out our will instead of God’s will.  Living out our will gets us in trouble every time.  We can be the driver of our lives or we can let God drive and we can be the passenger.  We get farther when we are the passengers.

Rev. Yates closed his sermon with a verse from an old poem that his mother would recite to him.  I tried to find the author of the poem on the internet.  I found the poem used often, and people who were claiming to be the author, but couldn’t not find the original author, so I will attribute it to Anonymous:

“The will of God will never take you,
Where the grace of God cannot keep you,
Where the arms of God cannot support you,
Where the riches of God cannot supply your needs,
Where the power of God cannot endow you.”

Prayer:  Placebo or Power?  Power, of course, awesome power!  God’s power loaned to us because of our relationship with him.