ON the Sunday after the MPC on 2 September, a Holy Communion Combined Service was held and attended by some 7,000 Methodists at the Sibu Town Square. The Service started at 6:30am. Throughout the whole worship that morning, God amazingly blessed us with a pleasant soothing breeze.
Bishop Ong Hwai Teik preached a sermon on prayer, that prayer is God’s indispensable means of grace for us every day.
Bishop Ong began the sermon by quoting Matthew Henry, a minister and author on the Exposition of the Old and New Testaments. Matthew Henry wrote that “prayer is one of the great laws of natural religion”.
Why do we pray? Our Bishop explained that prayer is an inescapable law as much as gravity is subjected to the law of the universe. Jesus taught us when we pray, we address our prayers to “our Father who art in Heaven”. Prayer is talking to our Father in Heaven. We are God’s children through Jesus Christ.
The Bible also reminds us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), for we are the people of God, a royal priesthood called by God (1 Pet 2:9). Priests pray to God and priests bring people to God.
When the Apostle Paul wrote the letters in the New Testament, especially in Galatians and Titus, he reminded us that we who believe in God are people of prayers. Apostle Paul began his letters with prayers. Prayer is never out of season.
Secondly, prayer is God’s everyday channel of grace. John Wesley, who founded Methodism, believed that prayers are ordinary channels which were used by God to deliver unmerited favours to people who do not deserve it. We pray because it is God’s channel of blessings to us. When we pray with a sincere heart and with a right attitude, we know Who God is. We will know His person, His presence, His purpose and His power. Such understanding of God will not be discovered if we don’t pray. Prayer is necessary for our relationship with God. We must use it every day.
Thirdly, there is power in importunate prayers. Importunate can be translated as shameless, bold or “harassing” someone. God invites us to be importunate in our prayers. Meaning to say, we are to persevere in prayers until there are some conclusive results. For example, we are to continue to pray for the missing pastors. We pray for a redemptive conclusion to this matter. The early church has set the example for us to persevere in prayers regardless of the circumstances around them.
An example can be seen in Fiji, where currently there is a majority of Christians in the land. In 1835, the Methodists arrived in Fiji. That was the time where the king would capture the women and cook them to serve the guests. In 1867, a Methodist missionary to Fiji named Thomas Baker was hacked to death and eaten. James Calvert, another missionary to Fiji persevered for 18 years. And finally, the Fijian king accepted Jesus Christ. James saw the triumph of Christianity in Fiji. It took these missionaries 20 years of perseverance and prayers to see a breakthrough.
As his conclusion, Bishop Ong reminded us that through prayers, we experience the extraordinary in the ordinary. Spiritual giants, such as A.W. Tozer and John Wesley believed that prayer is God’s means of living revival each day. They have experienced miraculous works of God when they prayed, such as, experiencing healing and personal protections. God has given us the means of grace. And therefore, as citizens of Heaven and as citizens of Malaysia, we are to make God visible in our Nation.
The worship service ended with Holy Communion administered by pastors from the respective Methodist annual conferences. It was indeed a beautiful and blessed morning to all the Methodists in Malaysia.
Reported by Rev Candy Liong