Pray and Grow

Rev. In Hoi Lee

Washington DC Family Church
May 7, 2000

"My way of praying is very simple: let me sacrifice myself for these people, and let these people sacrifice themselves for the rest of the world. That is the content of my prayer to God. Since my prayer is that way, and very ardent, I know that God will answer my prayer." (The Way of Tradition)

"If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you." (John 15:7)

We have discussed a healthy church, church growth, a community of faith, local development, small group ministry, all centered on True Parentsí grand vision and the providence for several months. Many good things have happened in Washington DC, such as two birthday parties for True Parents, 300 ministers went to Korea, Hyun Jin nimís inauguration ceremony, True Motherís speech tour, General Kimís 40 day fasting condition, American leadership transition ceremony and the first parents conference, etc.

Besides that, True Parents visited Washington DC 5 times this year. And Father visited DC again three days ago, just one day before going to South America, and confirmed that National headquarters will move into this building, showing us His great expectation for Washington. It gives us some hint that DC is going to be a very busy place as a center of Godís Providence. Therefore, I am excited to be here in this city, the Rome of the 21st century.

Even though many good things are happening, our movement may get in trouble without spiritual support. Furthermore, personal growth and church growth will not happen without a spiritual foundation. Therefore, I would like to talk about prayer life today because prayer is the spiritual backbone of our life of faith. Of all the spiritual disciplines, prayer is the most central because it ushers us into perpetual communion with God. In September of last year, Father allowed us to conclude prayer in our own names. This is a unique event in history. So, it is a good time to think about prayer life in the month of May.

Carl Sagan, a man of science and an author, didnít search for prayers; he searched for proof. In 1997, he died of cancer still probably waiting for evidence on prayer. One day he exclaimed to his friend, "You are so smart, why do you believe in God?" She thought this was a surprising question coming from someone who had no trouble accepting the existence of black holes, which no one has ever observed. "You are so smart, why donít you believe in God?" she answered. However, in his final book, "The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark," the late Carl Sagan included prayer along with astrology, spoon-bending, witches and spiritualism. If you believe in prayer, no proof is necessary; if you donít, no proof is sufficient.

Newsweek published in 1997 an article on "The Mystery of Prayer." Inside they reported the results of a poll on American prayer life. There were all kinds of questions regarding prayer. (in your note)

The point that impressed me the most is that 87% of the American people say God answers prayers. The poll says 29% pray to God more than once a day, and 25% pray once a day. Altogether that is 54%. This means over half of Americans pray to God at least once a day. Finally, 54% say that when God doesnít answer their prayer; it means it was not Godís will to answer. Another, 82% donít turn away from God when prayers go unanswered. We can realize through this poll, that American people are a praying people.


I. What is Prayer?

"Prayer is like the air of our spiritual life."

"Prayer is like breathing."

Prayer should be natural and unconscious. When you breathe, are you consciously aware of breathing? No, it is natural and unconscious. Prayer should be like this.

"Prayer is the concentration of our sincerest heart."

"Prayer is like a deep water urn."

When water drops in this urn, you cannot hear it hitting the bottom. Prayer is that much deep beyond meditation.

"Prayer life consists of reporting to God honestly."

"Prayer is a conversation between God, the wounded parent, and myself, the sinful child."

Prayer has been the most necessary part of bridging the gap between God and our humanity. So to pray to God should be natural and unconscious. Therefore, eventually the time may come not to pray even. But until that moment, donít be afraid to pray. Instead, be afraid not to report to God, because He cannot take care of our situation without prayer.

I think that prayer is like making a phone call. Sometimes the line is so busy, or not clear. You should find the exact time and place that works best for you to reach God. God has been looking for us to come back to Him. When we call Him, He is happy and listens to us. Donít worry about the phone bill because He will pay everything. The longer and the more often the phone call, the better for you. Let us make phone calls as often as possible.

II. The Purpose of Prayer:

The Purpose of prayer is to fight to separate from Satan and to return to God. During the prayer, we must separate from Satan, and we must continue to restore and renew the ShimJung relationship to God. This is a necessary foundation in order to accomplish Will of God. Therefore, we need prayer and practice. In other words, prayer and practice are essential components of our life of faith. And they will guide our personal spiritual growth, church growth and world transformation.

III. The External Aspects of Prayer

1. The Kinds of Prayer

"There are two kinds of prayer. One is for a particular person, and the other for the realization of a public purpose. If the person you pray for does not respond, his blessing will be transferred to you."

What particular person is Father talking about here? Praying for a particular person includes all our leadership, all tribal messiahs and all our members. Father said, "You have to pray for family members three times a day. Pray for them, especially in the morning." In addition, these particular persons also should include you and your family. They are persons too. Sometimes we just ignore our family and ourselves in our prayer.

"The other kind of prayer is for the realization of a public purpose. Your prayer for the public purpose will shorten the time of Judgment." Therefore, I hope that we can create a special prayer small group for the public purpose in Washington, because God wants us to realize His Will as soon as possible through prayer. However, this group should be guided by church leadership like in ChungPyung, avoiding the cause of spiritual confusion.

2. Content of Prayer:

a. Fatherís Prayer:

"The way to pray is to:

*Make Godís Heart of restoration of 6, 000 years your own.

*Understand Jesusí indescribable heart.

*Console Father, who fully embraced God's Will and has walked a painful course to achieve it.

*Understand the hardships of family members who are fighting for Godís Will.

*Pray as an offering, centering upon your reflection and pledge."

So, first of all, set up a goal for your prayer. Start with you and myself moving towards the world. Start with the unification of our own heart and mind, and mind and body. Then the goal of our prayer should be for the rest of the world and God. God is the final goal.

However, when you pray, the content of the prayer should be detailed and focused. And then God can grant a detailed answer. In order to save people of Washington and the world, you must pray for them in detail with a prayer list.

Let us look at Fatherí prayer as an example. Father said, "My way of praying is very simple: let me sacrifice myself for these people, and let these people sacrifice themselves for the rest of the world. That is the content of my prayer to God. Since my prayer is that way, and very ardent, I know that God will answer my prayer."

b. Prayer which God cannot grant

There are the three kinds of prayer that God cannot grant. i) Praying with sinful desire, ii) Praying for the detriment of others, iii) Praying after fighting with brothers and sisters. These kinds of prayer treat God as a kind of divine vending machine, doesnít it? The Bible says "When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures." (James 4:3) The poll reflects the figure of 85% of Americans said they accept Godís failure to grant their prayers.

"A selfish prayer is just a dirty prayer, a beggarís prayer. We ought to offer the prayers of comfort and inspiration and encouragement to God, not the prayers of beggars."

"Whether or not your prayer is realized depends on whether it is in accordance with Godís purpose."

3. Time and Place

"When you pray early in the morning, you have to be able to hear the beating of your heart." So, Father suggested we pray early in the morning. But also He said, "There are four types of men: east, west, north and south. Each person has a different time of prayer which gives blessing to him."

I like to pray at nighttime. Others like to pray at other times. Everybody is different. You must focus on the time that works best for you.

Where to pray? Even while your eating or walking, you can pray. However, the Holy Ground is much better than the church, and the church is better than a private prayer room. Please make an effort to go to the Holy Ground as often as possible.


IV. The Internal Attitude towards Prayer

1. With Seriousness and Earnestness:

"When you pray, your heart should be as earnest as a baby crying for motherís milk."

"When you pray to Heaven, it must be with the pure heart of a child asking his own Father."

I saw one picture taken during the Korean civil war. There was one small boy in the picture looking for motherís milk, but the mother was already dead. Even though the mother was dead, the baby still was looking for his mother's milk. Why? Because it is a question of life and death for the baby. That is why a baby is so serious. You must be just as serious in your prayer as this baby. How can we deny our baby to ask us for something?

2. With Humility:

"You should pray with repentance, not pride."

"You must pray before you act, but after having done something you must kneel down before God in prayer of thanks."

"Prayer should be rooted in true love and accompanied by tears."

Father said, "You can cleanse your body with water. But how can you cleanse you mind? With tears." Without tears, our prayer is not always sincere. Prayer acknowledges that God is in charge. "When we work, we work; when we pray, God works."

3. With Faith:

"Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." (Mark 11:24)

Once there was a faithful minister who lived in a town. This town had no rain for a long time. So he decided to go up a mountain to pray for rain. He wanted to take along his little daughter. As they were about to leave, he saw his daughter bringing an umbrella. So, he asked her, "Why are you bringing your umbrella?" She said, "I am preparing for the rain that will come after your prayer."

We should be like this child. When you pray, you should have faith, otherwise your prayer will not work. God is our partner, and not a silent partner, but an interested and active one! When we act on our own, we do small things. When we invite God to participate through prayer, we open ourselves up for miracles. "Grasp the victory during your prayer, cultivating determination."

4. With Consistency:

"Live a life of prayer, not only in the prayer room, but even while eating and walking. Pray 24 hours a day."

The bible says "...pray without ceasing," (1 Thessalonians 5:17) "and not give up." (Luke 18:1) Even if you donít receive the benefit of your prayers now, your descendants will benefit in the future. So, donít worry about repayment. Keep going with your prayers. My suggestion is this: Do not stop praying a) until God answers to our prayer, b) until we feel confidence that spiritual battle is over, or c) until God says ĎNo!í to our request.

5. With Action:

"A question that pops up in many peopleís mind is ĎWhen will my prayer be realized?"

"Prayers are only answered to those who try their best to fulfill that for which they prayed."

"Do not expect the answer just because you have prayed. But apply yourself physically to the fulfillment as much as possible. Then God will help you in the accomplishment."

Prayer should be accompanied by action. "It is not prayer in addition to work but prayer simultaneous with work. We precede, enfold, and follow all our work with prayer. Prayer and action become wedded."


V. The Benefits of Prayer

1. Spiritual Peace

"If you pray, you will never feel lonely, even if you are alone."

"We can be moved to repentance of sin and be consoled." King David prayed, "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." (Psalm 51:10) Moreover, "We can touch Godís ShimJung and relate to God and the spiritual world."

"A man prayed, and at first he thought that prayer was talking. But he became more and more quiet until in the end he realized that prayer is listening."

One more benefit of spiritual peace is that our physical body will feel better. Generally speaking, those who pray live longer. So, if you want to live longer, pray a lot and act a lot centered upon God and True Parents.

2. Spiritual Growth and Spiritual Help

"We can mobilize the whole spiritual world and physical world."

"We can gain the ability to discern good and evil and gain future vision."

"We can find the wisdom and the power to resolve difficult and impossible problems."

Prayer brings about change through renewal so that we can become "meek and humble, surrender obediently and serve in a sacrificial way" as Jesus taught. Prayer is the central avenue God uses to transform us. If we are unwilling to change, we will abandon prayer as a noticeable characteristic of our lives. Real prayer is life creating and life changing.

3. Church Health and Growth

Church growth facts and figures, formulas and strategies are great, but candidly they are worthless without spiritual power and the anointing of God. A leader knows that he cannot lead beyond his or her own ability. We cannot take our church farther than we have traveled with God. "When God saw it necessary, and the church prayed and fasted much, they did miraculous things." (Irenaeus)

4. World Transformation

Moses prayed boldly because he believed his prayers could change things, even Godís mind. This comes as a genuine liberation to many of us, but it also sets tremendous responsibility before us. We are working with God to determine the future! Certain things will happen in history if we pray rightly. We are to change the world through prayer.



VI. Conclusion: The Power through Prayer

Jesus urged his followers to petition God for their needs. "Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you." (Matt. 7:7) By that measure, millions of people including us are finders as well as seekers.

I want you to give one example: When I was in Korea I heard a wonderful testimony from one elder Korean sister. She had straight hair. When she went witnessing, her hair disturbed her to talk with people. So, she decided to pray to God to make her hair curly. She really prayed earnestly to God, "God, I want to work for you, so you have to make my straight hair curly." She prayed and prayed a lot. After two years, her hair totally changed and her straight hair became curly. It is a true story. Iíll never forget that wonderful testimony. It is a testimony of power through prayer.

Let me conclude this sermon "Pray and Grow" with two suggestions:

a. Let us create small group for prayer.

This group can run a round-the-clock prayer ministry, a prayer line, a prayer partner, a prayer request, Holy Ground prayer, evening healing services for the sick in body, mind and soul, and etc.

b. Let us take public action for at least 1 hour a day.

Once again, I would like to emphasize two quotes from today. "It is not prayer in addition to work but prayer simultaneous with work. We precede, enfold, and follow all our work with prayer. Prayer and action become wedded."

"Do not expect the answer just because you have prayed. But apply yourself physically to the fulfillment as much as possible. Then God will help you in the accomplishment."

God bless you and your family in the month of May! Let us pray.