Try praying

Manchester City stadium

“It was a miracle,” said Roberto Mancini, Manchester City’s manager. “God looked at our game and gave us a helping hand.” Manchester United fans probably wouldn’t agree, but for all who followed the afternoon’s football, it certainly was a nail biting two hours with plenty of twists and turns. The Premier League title was at stake, as was possible relegation for Bolton Wanderers or Queens Park Rangers. At the end of ninety minutes Manchester City were losing to Queens Park Rangers; the title almost belonged to Manchester United, who had just won their match. Manchester City needed two goals in five minutes of injury time to win their match and claim the title, a task that would be in anyone’s eyes a “miracle”. Yet Dzeko and Aguero did “the impossible”, scoring two goals before the whistle went.

According to David Clayton on Manchester City’s website, “Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero were the men who scored the winning goals and turned despair into delirium.” Even so it’s just possible that Gary Owen – a veteran City midfielder, sold to West Brom in 1979 – gave them a helping hand. Gary was interviewed on the BBC News Channel during City’s victory parade on Monday. Gary described how he left his seat in the Etihad Stadium during injury time to pray for victory in one of the executive suites. “I’m not a religious man,” he said, but he knew where to get help, and had faith to believe for the impossible. He went on to say that when Dzeko scored he didn’t let go of God, saying “I haven’t finished yet; we need another goal.” Anyone who knows the Bible, knows that God responds to that sort of faith. Powerful men from ancient times, such as Jacob and Daniel clung to God in desperate times, and found that God is indeed the God who answers prayer. As the author of the book of Hebrews writes:

“I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.” (Hebrews 11:32-34)

How about you? Do you pray, really pray … and believe? Why don’t you Try Praying?

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Working for what?

coal miner
working man

In his recent Channel 4 documentary on UK television, Niall Ferguson suggested that the “killer app”, the main contributor to the economic and material success of certain Western nations, particularly Germany, the UK and USA, has been the Protestant work ethic. Today however, we see the UK losing its place as a major player in the world at the same time as its population has become increasingly secular.

This success has not been shared to the same extent by predominantly Roman Catholic countries; take for instance the way the USA has outshone the South American nations. You may argue that Asian nations like China are now coming to the fore, but did you know that the Chinese church is growing rapidly? There are estimated to be 50 – 100 million Christians in China today. So why have the Protestant nations been prone to hard work? What has made the difference? I suggest that there is a direct correlation between hard work and a personal knowledge of the Bible. So what is the Bible’s attitude to work?

“Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.” (1 Thess. 4:11-12)

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” (Colossians 3:23)

It may be called the “Protestant” work ethic, but the Jewish scriptures have the same emphasis:

“You people who don’t want to work, think about the ant! Consider its ways and be wise!” (Proverbs 6:6)

Given the Bible’s emphasis on hard work, it is strange to note that its main message, i.e. how we find peace with our Creator, is not based on work at all, but simply on faith. Paul writes to the believers in Ephesus:

“You have been saved by faith in God, who treats us much better than we deserve. You did not save yourselves; it was a gift from God. It was not the result of your own efforts, so you cannot boast about it.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

How many of us make the mistake of trying to impress God with our own efforts, rather than choosing God’s way, that of receiving His gift of love and forgiveness simply by trust?