Melissa and Brian O’Reilly, leaders of this year’s Count on Me pledge campaign, shared the following message in worship on Sunday, November 19.
Good morning, I’m Brian O’Reilly and this is my wife Melissa. We welcome you this morning to the final Sunday of our pledge campaign, “Count on Me”.
We are honored and privileged to serve as chairs this year and also hope that many of you have been able to participate in the One Faithful Promise small group studies and hear the previous four weeks’ sermons.
As a reminder, John Wesley’s covenant renewal is comprised of five steps. The first two describe the preparations for covenant renewal: Confiding in God by confessing one’s sins and Composing one’s Spirit. In step three, we are called to Claim the Covenant for ourselves, and in step four, Choose Faithfulness, we are reminded that covenant renewal isn’t a singular moment but a daily choice. Today, we’re here to share the fifth and final step: Connect to God in Prayer.
One of the questions John Wesley considered important to be asked and answered was, “Do you enjoy prayer?”
I found that to be a profound question that I had never contemplated. Do I enjoy prayer? To be honest, many times in my life the answer to that question has been “I guess so” or even “no”. How many times do we begin and end our prayer asking God for something—treating him as an on-demand delivery app?
If my marriage with Melissa was always take, take, take, neither of us would enjoy that relationship. Fortunately, we recognize marriage requires a committed effort, centered in intimate communication from both of us to continually strengthen the covenant we made. Similarly, prayer connects us to the wisdom and power of God, and is our primary means of spiritual growth.
While the Christian is supposed to be praying constantly, Wesley is clear that we should also be intentional—setting a time and place to pray. Jesus gave us this example over and over during his earthly ministry. He took time to be alone with the Father. In fact, right after Jesus chose the twelve disciples, he took them aside for a “new member orientation” of sorts. It was during this sermon on the mount that he taught them how to pray by giving them the model we now call the Lord’s Prayer.
“Prayer connects us to the wisdom and power of God, and is our primary means of spiritual growth.”
In One Faithful Promise, the author gives clear meaning to each phrase in this prayer. With each statement, we came to realize that prayer is a re-centering of who we are, and a reminder of who God is.
Much more than treating God as a cosmic vending machine, The Lord’s Prayer is more than lifting up concerns for myself and others. It’s an openness that might even allow God to shift the way I think and act and believe. Imagine this prayer, this connection to God, this openness. We can likely agree that the answer to whether we enjoy THIS prayer is a resounding yes.
Our giving story begins with prayer.
After years of visiting other churches, Tarrytown United Methodist Church was the first church we joined as adults. We didn’t pledge at first. We gave inconsistently. If we made it to a service and had our checkbook or some cash, we’d place some random amount in the collection plate. If we weren’t there, we didn’t give. Not exactly what a church needs from its members to create a budget plan. We did other charitable giving here and there too, but frankly, God expected better from us.
Brian felt confident about the decision to pledge, but to be honest, I really struggled with that choice, and it all came from a place of fear. We have a mortgage, student loans, and two little kids for whom we’re saving up for college. What if we didn’t have enough? As much as I had grown to love our church and the friends who have become our family here in Austin, this still felt like a huge leap of faith. After a lot of tears and panic on my part, we decided to try praying about it and trust that God would meet our needs. And God definitely has.
That experience taught us that prayer not only honors God, it is the way our needs are met and it gets us involved in God’s work.
Melissa is exactly right. God has always met our needs. Our needs—not our greeds. Philippians 4:19 says: “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”
Often our greatest needs are not material, and our need might not match our desire. We desire all kinds of things—getting into that school, having a relationship with that person, getting that job offer, belonging to that group. We don’t always get our desires. God knows better. As Matthew 6:8 says, “Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”
But we still need to ask. We still need to pray. And we should take comfort in knowing God is listening to our every plea and working all things together for our good (Romans 8:28).
In his letter to the Philippians, Paul was speaking to people who are partners in his ministry. Today we too are speaking to our partners in ministry here at TUMC. All of us are blessed by the ministries this church offers and can contribute our tithes and offerings to pass it on. We are truly a community of Christians sharing the Christian journey together.
What is God’s will for us?
In 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18, we read: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
These verses clearly state that this is God’s will. Rejoice. Pray. Give thanks. Today, we offer God our hands and hearts by saying he can count on us. It’s time to yield to God in one faithful promise.
Melissa and Brian O’Reilly