November2015:

Why Prayer (2)?

May the grace and peace from our risen Lord be with you.

November is another beautiful month, but soon we will feel that winter is approaching. Trees will lose their colorful leaves as they prepare for the coming of a long winter season. This month, we will celebrate Thanksgiving Day. Families will gather at their dinner tables to remember and share God’s grace and blessings given to us this year. It has been another year full of many experiences and memories of God’s love and grace. Of course, not everything has gone well and smoothly, but God’s inseparable love has been with us and helped us. Let us give thanks and praise to God!

Last month, I wrote about why prayer is important in our lives. Prayer is the essence and foundation of the Christian faith. The God in whom we believe is an eternal God and is still alive. To know and to have faith in God means having a relationship with God. Prayer is our communion with this living God. This month, I will continue to write about the importance of prayer.

Today we are in desperate need of prayer thinking of our churches. As we know, we, The United Methodist Church, have been declining continuously for the past 40 years. We have tried many plans and programs to turn around our churches, but so far we have not seen any significant fruit. And we are becoming an aging church. The average age of a United Methodist Church member is now 57 years old.

Our mission field, the world, is changing rapidly. The U.S. is becoming more religiously diverse, and many people say that this land is no longer a Christian country. Another outward challenge we face is the fast pace of technological development. This development is having a huge impact on our daily lives, our values and our ways of communication. Relevance to our changing world has become a major concern in today’s church and its ministries. In addition to these outward challenges, internally The United Methodist Church is divided and struggling over the issue of homosexuality.

Now, the road before us is not clear, and we are worrying about the future. We are facing many challenges today, and we feel the need to respond to our critical situation. Is there a way to overcome the difficulties we face today? Where can we find an answer to the challenges? What does the Bible tell us about the way of overcoming crises?

I am convinced that the time has come for us to go back to the basics of our faith. This is the time to go back to our Lord. Of course, our thoughtful planning and creative programs will help the churches to move forward to some degree. But this will not provide us with a fundamental solution to our situation, because our issue today is more than a lack of planning and programs. I believe that our bottom line issue is a spiritual issue. It is a faith issue. We truly need a renewal and revival of our churches. We need to rediscover the spiritual vitality of our churches.

Here we find the need for prayer. Without prayer, there is no way to rediscover the spiritual vitality we need. Without prayer, we cannot discern the plan of our Lord who is the owner and the head of our churches. Many of us think that we can do many things apart from the Lord; that we just need to ask our Lord to bless our finalized plan, like marking it with a rubber stamp. But this approach will not work.

In the Bible when the people of God faced challenges and crises, they always returned to the Lord. They repented of their sins before God and shouted to the Lord for help. They humbled themselves and sought help from God. God always listened to their cries and helped them and led them to a new future. I know many people worry about the future of our churches, but not many people seriously pray for God’s help.

We are now facing a storm, but our Lord is in our boat. Now is the time to cry out to the Lord! Now is the time to humbly seek the wisdom and guidance of our Lord. Now is the time for us to truly honor and respect the Lordship of our risen Christ.

So, why prayer? In this time of challenges and crises, why not prayer?

In our Lord,

 

 

Young Jin Cho

 

 

The Cross and Flame is a registered trademark, and the use is supervised by the General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA) of The United Methodist Church. Permission to use the Cross and Flame must be obtained from the GCFA, Attn: Legal Department, PO Box 340029, Nashville, TN 37203-0029; phone 615-369-2334; fax 615-369-2330

Background photos courtesy of VDOT.

The Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church
10330 Staples Mill Road, Glen Allen, VA 23060
P.O. Box 5606, Glen Allen, VA 23058-5606
1-800-768-6040 or (804) 521-1100
Click here for directions to the Center