13th January 2017

Last weekend 6-7 January, Stanborough Park church played host to General Conference evangelist Pastor Mark Finley who preached at services on Friday evening and during Divine Service on Sabbath morning. The Sabbath morning sermon entitled 'Prayer Makes a Difference' was recorded and is available for viewing via the church's website. (Worship Services menu ‒ Traditional Service Live submenu.)

The church was packed to capacity on Sabbath morning with many more 7thJan2017SPC-38watching via TV link in the church hall. Those present were not disappointed and were presented with an inspiring sermon intended as part of the preparation for evangelism planned later in the year.

Pastor Finley started by reminding the congregation of the dire situation leading up to the Dunkirk evacuation during World War ll when King George Vl declared a National Day of Prayer and the consequences which exceeded all expectations. Also, the accepted part that the Prayer Movement across Europe between 1982 and 1989 played in the downfall of the Berlin Wall.

He compared modern Europe and Britain in particular to the Roman Empire just after Christ's death and resurrection with their materialistic, Godless, secular societies ‒ a situation which did not hinder the spread of Christianity across the Roman Empire. Emphasising the role that prayer by the early Christians played in this, as recorded in Acts, he echoed the sentiment expressed in Lord Tennyson's 'Mort d'Arthur', stating that "More is accomplished through prayer than we can ever recognise." He demonstrated that as a result the Spirit of God was working behind the scenes linking those seeking God with those able to help fulfil that need, quoting the stories of Peter and Cornelius and Philip and the Eunuch.

He dealt with issues 7thJan2017SPC-42surrounding prayer such as does prayer make a difference other than as a psychological crutch to make the person praying feel good? But he insisted that through prayer God reveals the roadblocks in our lives and can change. He is hindered by our choices but l John 5:14 describes what happens when we pray acknowledging what we cannot achieve but God can. That God is working in ways we don't even realise.

He also dealt with the subject of unanswered prayer reminding his listeners of how Daniel prayed for three weeks, receiving no answer but God was working behind the scenes. God is working in ways we never know and faith is an important part of prayer.

The service finished with the hymn 'What a Friend We Have in Jesus' written by a man whose fiancée drowned just two weeks before their wedding. He subsequently emigrated to Canada and after ten years was due to marry another woman who died of pneumonia just before their wedding. He then received a telegram that his mother had died in England and he was unable to return for her funeral. It was then that he sat down and wrote the hymn in faith ‒ something that never wavered despite such awful setbacks in his life.

[June Coombs]

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