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Relationships for Growth – Eric Geiger

 

I want to welcome you to Mariners Church. Can we thank Trilogy one more time for being with us? So good. Great. If you are a guest with us this weekend at Mariners, so glad you chose to worship with us. My name is Eric if we haven’t met yet. I’m the senior pastor. I’m really glad you’re with us today.

We are finishing today a series on relationships. It was a quick three week series, so I want to give you a heads up on what is coming today and also in the next couple of weeks. We are going to end this service a little differently than how we normally end our worship services. 

If you’re new here, you may want to know this. Every week, anything going on in your life, we want to pray with you, and we are available to pray with you. We always have people at the end of our services right over there by those lights. We also have an elder prayer room where our elders will pray over you for any type of healing in your life. 

This weekend, we’re not going to have the wall or the elder prayer room. We’re actually going to have our pastors and our shepherding elders and our prayer team all standing down front at the end of our service and during the music time at the end to pray with you over anything going on in your life. Here’s why we’re doing it. 

We realize we’ve raised some issues these last three weeks as we’re talking about relationships. Relationships, while they’re so important in our lives, and they bring us a lot of joy, they also have brought a lot of pain in our lives. In fact, the majority of pain we face comes from broken relationships. So we don’t want to just bring up these things and then not be available to pray with you. So at the end of our service, just a heads up, we’re going to have an extended time of prayer here at the front. 

Next week, we’re going to start a new teaching series. It’s in your bulletin. You can see information. We are joining Christians all around the world. I know this is crazy because it feels like we just celebrated Christmas, but Easter is only eight weeks away. Many Christians have called the 40 days leading up to Easter Lent. Other Christians have referred to it as a journey to Easter. Here’s what we’re going to do here at Mariners for those seven weeks. 

We’re going to be in a series called A Better Way to Live. Wait for it. I know your whole life, you’ve thought, “I want to study this.” We’re going to study the seven deadly sins. That’s what we’re going to do. Why are we doing that? Historically, in the weeks leading up to Easter, Christians have looked at the struggles that we have, but we’ve looked at them in light of the reality that Jesus is on the cross for us and that Jesus didn’t stay on the cross, but he rose again from the dead.

We’re going to look at the seven deadly sins over seven weeks. We’re not going to spend the whole time looking at the vice. We’re really going to look at the flip side of the better way to live. God has a better way for us to live. Not to live that way, but he has a better way.

You’ve probably said that before. You’ve probably said, “There has to be a better approach than this. There has to be a better way to life than this.” So we’re going to do that. We’re going to study that for seven weeks.

If you look in your bulletin, we have devotionals for you, if you want to get a daily email devotional to help you in the journey. This is an important time as we go towards Easter. You can actually sign up for a daily email that will be a devotional to help you focus your thoughts on God.

If you’re not yet in a group here at Mariners, we have Connect Groups, which means you’ll be in a group for just seven weeks with people around the same content that we’re talking about on the weekend. Which means if you don’t like those people, you can bail at the end of seven weeks, but it’s possible that group would become an ongoing group.

Today, we’re going to wrap up this series on relationships. There is a museum that is a pop-up museum. It is a traveling exhibit all around the world. It goes to cities around the world, and there were actually only two permanent locations of this museum. It started in Croatia, and the second was in Hollywood until it just shut down a couple of years ago. 

The museum is the Museum of Broken Relationships. It’s actually a museum. How is there a museum of broken relationships? What do they display? People submit artifacts or pieces of memorabilia that remind them of their broken relationships. They give them to the museum. So people walk through all of these exhibits and see pictures and memories of other people’s broken relationships. 

This museum also sells beer, just as a heads up. Their beer they sell, here’s the advertisement. “We have beer as cold as your ex’s heart.” That’s the beer that they sell at the museum of broken relationships. Right? The WIFI password to get on the network at the museum is “just friends.” When I was in high school, I hated that term. “Eric, I really like you, but we should just be friends.” Relegated to the friend’s zone. That happened to me too many times in high school. 

When you walk through the museum, there are really some painful things that people have on display. Some who have estranged relationships with their parents have submitted trinkets or little gifts that their parents had given them years ago that they held onto, and they submitted them to the museum with the description of the gift. 

Here’s another example. This is actually called “A Wedding Dress in a Jar.” It is from a woman in San Francisco whose husband left her after seven years. Terribly sad story. She didn’t have a traditional wedding. She had an island wedding, and she wanted a dress that she could wear to other occasions in their marriage. When he left after seven years, instead of just giving this to a thrift store or throwing the dress away, she stuffed it into a pickle jar and submitted to the museum of broken relationships. That’s the kind of thing you see as you walk through.

When you leave, there’s this sculpture. This is painful, the Museum of Broken Relationships. You walk away, and this sculpture is depicting how painful this can be in your life to have a relationship that goes wrong. 

Journalists have asked people as they’re leaving this museum, “What happened to you as you went there? Was this a good experience? Was this a painful experience to walk through this museum?” Some have said, “It was actually a very cathartic, therapeutic experience for me to see other people processing their pain and their grief from their relationships. It was actually helpful for me.” Others said, “This was so sad.” They walked out of the museum, and they said, “Is this all there is to relationships? Is this what happens for relationships? Is there any hope at all?”

Maybe you felt that way even if you haven’t gone to the museum. Maybe you had a coworker who you enjoyed working with, and you found out the person was backstabbing you, and now you have a hard time trusting coworkers at work. Maybe there was a dating relationship that ended very painfully and very suddenly, and you’ve asked, “Is this even worth it?” Maybe your marriage is struggling, or you’ve gone through the pain of divorce, and you wonder, “Is this what all relationships do? Do they all end up this way? Is this the way it was supposed to be?

The Christian story, whether you are a Christian or not a Christian, actually gives us answers to that question. There are about 1200 chapters in the Bible. Only two chapters in the beginning and three in the end (so only five chapters out of 1200-ish chapters) are relationships perfect. The other times they are filled with pain and brokenness. It was only two chapters in the Bible, which is what we’re going to look at today, where we’re going to see relationships really flourishing.

We live now in the middle where there’s pain, and there’s brokenness. Here’s the good news. We live in the middle of the Bible. But also in the middle of the Bible is where Jesus comes to fix our broken relationship with God, which is broken with God because of our rebellion against God because we wanted to go our own way.

Jesus, the Christian story tells us, came here to fix our broken relationship with God. When he fixes our broken relationship with God, we can now have healthier relationships. They’re not going to be perfect. They’re not going to be perfect in this world. For us to do so, we want to see why did God create relationships with the first place. Why do they exist? 

I want us to go back to the very beginning of the Christian story. You’re going to see that when God created humanity, when he created us, he then real quickly created community. He created relationships. I want us to see why he did it. If we understand why he created relationships, it will help us in our approach to our relationships. 

This is not going to solve all of your relationship pain and all of the struggles that you have. Some of you are in deep pain, not because of anything you’ve done. Relationships take multiple people. This won’t change what the other person has done, but it will help you see relationships how God intended them to be. Genesis 1:26, the first chapter in the Bible, the Scripture says this. This is when he makes us. 

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, the whole earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.'”

God creates humanity, and they, man and woman, will rule over all of the rest of his creation. Drop down to verse 31. “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good indeed.” If you have a pen and your Bible open, underline that phrase, “…very good indeed.” This is when everything is perfect. God creates humanity, and everything is right, everything is flourishing, everything is as it should be. God says this is very good, indeed.

Evening came and then morning on the sixth day. We’re now in chapter 2. The Scripture says, 

“So the heavens and the earth and everything in them were completed. On the seventh day God had completed his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.” 

God creates everything. It’s very good. He steps back, and he rests. Not because he’s tired, not because he’s expended too much energy, not because he’s out of creativity, but because the work is done and it’s very good. He steps back, and he sees it, and he marvels at his own creation. So everything is very good.

Look at verse 18 in chapter 2. This is a bit of a quandary for scholars who study the Bible. God has said everything is very good, but then God says this in verse 18. “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper corresponding to him.'” 

This is why it is a bit of a quandary. This in paradise, everything is perfect, Adam is in a perfect body, a sinless body which means it’s not decaying, it’s not corrupted. He’s enjoying this perfect relationship with God. Yet, God says it’s not good. God has just declared everything to be very good, but then he looks at Adam being alone, and he says it’s not good. 

To some of us on the introverted, extroverted scale, those of us who lean a bit introvert, this actually sounds like a really great day. You’re in paradise, the garden of Eden. You have books or Netflix or whatever. You are just alone. But God says it’s not good. It’s not good to be alone long term. It’s not good to be alone. 

God’s not the only one who’s declared it’s not good to be alone. Vivek Murthy was the previous surgeon general for the United States. He’s a doctor, and he’s studied health problems that plague Americans. People are shocked by what he declares, but he is on a crusade against loneliness. He believes loneliness is the biggest predictor of declining health in your life. Here’s what he wrote.

“I came to a deeper appreciation for the science behind loneliness which tells us that loneliness and weak social connections are associated with a reduction in lifespan similar to that caused by smoking 15 cigarettes a day and even greater than that associated with obesity.” He says, “Vivek Murthy, it’s not good for man to be alone.” 

It’s not only here in the states, in the United Kingdom, they were studying loneliness as it was impacting the mental health and the physical health of people in the United Kingdom. Just last year, they appointed this brand new position, the minister of loneliness, in the United Kingdom. Tracey Crouch is in this newly appointed position because they found out in their research that there were 6 million people in the United Kingdom who were suffering with the effects and the implications of loneliness.

So it’s not only the United Kingdom, it’s not only the United States, in the garden of Eden God says it’s not good for you to be alone. In perfection, God says it’s not good for you to be alone. In paradise, God says it’s not good for you to be alone. Some of you may be wondering, “What you’re saying doesn’t sit right because this is a perfect paradise. It wasn’t America where we have social problems and struggles. It wasn’t the United Kingdom. This was the garden of Eden. Why is it not good for man to be alone? I get that God is saying it, but why?”

You’re not the only one who’s asked that. Scholars have debated that for centuries. They’ve concluded that the answer is in Genesis 1:26. In Genesis 1, we see that God creates us in his image. I want you to notice the language in a moment. God creates us in his image, which means this is why we believe, as a church, that every single person should be treated with dignity, care, and respect. Every single person is created in the image of God. Every single person. 

This means that God, because he’s creative, he created us, and we can be creative. God is kind and compassionate, he created us, and we can be kind and compassionate. But as God looked at Adam in the garden alone, there was a characteristic of God that Adam could not display to the world around him because something was missing. Here’s the clue in verse 26. 

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness.'” Does anything strike you as interesting about this verse? We tried to make it super easy for you by highlighting it. It’s plural. Right? Do you see it’s plural? God is saying, “Let us…” This is the Christian doctrine of the Trinity in the very first chapter in the Bible. 

If you’re new to the Christian faith, let me try to explain the Trinity. It’s a mystery. It’s a paradox. Every illustration falls short. Here’s what we believe. God is one. We worship one God. Yet he’s three persons. God, the Father, God, the Son, and God, the Holy Spirit. 

Every single week at Mariners Church, we close our service in a prayer of blessing over you. We pray in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Some of you have never stayed for that special moment. Sorry. Sorry. At the end of the service, you experience that every single week here. 

Here’s what we believe when we say that. We’re saying that our God is one, but he exists in community. God didn’t become loving when he created you, but God was always loving because the Father was always loving the Son, the Spirit was always loving the Father… That God exists in relationship with him. Does that make sense?

This means when Adam is alone, that because God exists in this everlasting life group, and Adam is alone, that Adam can’t display that character of God. So God who exists in community looks at Adam alone and says, “It’s not good that he’s alone.” 

This is the start of relationships. This was God’s idea. This was God’s initiative. There are two things I want you to see that God wanted you to accomplish in relationships. It’s two things that I want you to understand that this would be God’s hope for the relationships that you have. 

  1. Healthy relationships display his character. 

Not all relationships display his character, but healthy relationships display his character. I’m not speaking about perfect relationships. We don’t have perfect relationships. But healthy relationships display the character of God. This is why God wanted relationships for Adam because Adam couldn’t fully display the character of God because he was alone. In our relationships, we can display attributes of God. 

I hear stories every week about how amazing you (Mariners) are at being friends to people. I love the stories that I hear. “Oh, Eric. Let me tell you about so-and-so. She was there for me in a crisis. She ran to me in my pain.” Or, “Eric, let me tell you about this guy who stepped into this situation and cared for my family.” I hear stories every week of the amazing friends you are here. 

You may think that’s not a big deal.

It’s a huge deal because when you have a healthy friendship, here’s the picture you paint to the world. You give them a picture of our faithful God, who’s a faithful friend to us. When you are a good friend, a trustworthy friend, a faithful friend, that healthy relationship depicts God’s faithfulness to his people. You are depicting that to the world.

Some of you are parents, and we have lots of single moms and single dads. It is so hard what you do. We honor you, and we think so highly of you as a church. You perhaps have wondered if you were making that big of a difference in life. Some of you may have written goals down when you were 25. Now you’re 40, or now you’re 45, and you look back, and you’re like, “I haven’t accomplished half of what I wanted to accomplish.”

But you are this loving parent who cares for your son. You’re a loving parent who cares of your teenager, who pursues your teenager, who provides for your teenager. You think it’s not that big of a deal. The Scripture gives the reality that you being a faithful parent is a massive deal because you give the world a picture that we have a faithful parent, that we have a faithful God who provides of us and cares for us. Well done, mom. Well done, dad. By your healthy relationship, you’re displaying the character of God. 

Husbands, when you pursue your wife, when you go after her like you did when you first pursued her, and you first started dating her, you give the picture to the world that God is the one who pursues us and loves us unconditionally and woos us to himself. You being a faithful husband and a loving husband and a pursuing husband isn’t a small minor detail in your life. It’s enormous because you paint a glorious picture of the kind of God we have. Relationships when they’re healthy put on display the very character of God.

This also means that so many times I’ve fallen short. This also means the times that I haven’t been the dad I should be, the times I come home from work, and I’m still consumed with stuff at the office (this has happened too many times), when I have a hard time putting the phone down, and when I’m not being the present dad, when I’m being more of the apathetic dad, when I’m not being the dad I should be, I send the wrong picture of who God is to a world that’s watching.

When I’m not being the husband I should be, when I’m being cold, or I’m not pursing Kaye, I’m not going after her with passion like I did when I first went after her, I send an inaccurate picture of how God treats us. He never stops going after us. Our relationships here matter so much. They matter even more than maybe you’ve realized. Yes, they matter for the relationship, but as Christians, their this beautiful opportunity to paint a picture that displays the very character of God to the world that is watching. That’s the first point.

  1. Healthy relationships (not all relationships) develop his people.

Here’s what relationships do. Here’s why they’re important. The relationships you have are going to impact who you become. The people you are closest to are going to have a massive impact on the kind of person you are going to be a couple of years down the road. 

Two researchers from Harvard found this out in this massive research study they did. Todd Heatherton and Patricia Nichols did this fascinating project where they looked at people who make trajectory changes in their life (major changes). They went into the research saying very few people do that. Very few people make radical changes in their attitudes, their beliefs, their behaviors. Very few people make such stark, complete changes into the direction of who they’re becoming.

They found out in their research, one of two things happens to those who make big changes. Firstly, tragedy. Tragedy can shake you from your numbness and cause you to evaluate your priorities. Sometimes it’s tragedy. But then they found a second reason. Sometimes it’s not tragedy. This is what they concluded after researching hundreds of people who made significant changes in their life. Sometimes it comes down to your relationships, the people you’re closest with. 

They concluded that you become like the people who you spend the most time with. Those people, those relationships actually provoke you to become the person you’re going to be. You’re going to be nudged and provoked and prodded in a direction by the relationships that you have, which is why healthy relationships are so important. They develop you into who God wants you to be.

Hebrews 10:24. “And let us watch out for one another to provoke love and good works…” Your relationships are going to provoke you one way or another. They’re going to provoke you to anger, or they’re going to provoke you to peace. They’re going to provoke you to growth, or they’re going to provoke you to stagnation. Your relationships are going to provoke you. God’s vision for your relationships is that they’re going to provoke you in the right direction. They’re going to help you grow. They’re going to develop you towards love and good deeds.

As we wrap up this series, let me mention three things that this changes about how you view relationships. Three relationships that if you really approach relationships thinking…this relationship with him, this relationship with my boss, this relationship with the people who work for me, this relationship does two things. Firstly, this relationship going to display the character of God to the world that’s watching us. Secondly, this relationship is going to develop me and develop the person. If you approach relationships that way, it changes how you view a couple of things.

It changes your view of marriage

Firstly, it changes how you view marriage. If you’re married or one day want to be married, it changes how you view marriage. It changes how you place being attracted to the person on the list of priorities. I’m not the preacher, by the way, who thinks, “It doesn’t matter if you’re attracted.” I still am very much attracted to my wife, Kaye. She’s stunningly beautiful. When I first saw her, I was deeply attracted to her. I still am deeply attracted to her. 

Listen, it’s not her attractiveness and her beauty that have changed me. I am attracted to her, but it’s not her beauty that has developed me. Her compassion has made me more compassionate. Her mercy has made me more merciful. Her creativity has made me more creative. Being in marriage with Kaye has developed me. Her being married to me has made her more… I was hoping you’d call something out. No, just joking. I don’t know what it’s done for her. But it’s done a lot for me. When you realize the goal of marriage is to develop you, it changes your view of it. 

It changes how you view tough times in marriage

It also changes your view of tough times in a marriage. See, if you view marriage as it’s just going to be comfortable and happy, you will hate tough times. I’ve been through tough times in my marriage. But when you understand what God’s going to do in your marriage is on the other side, you’re both going to be more formed into the image of Christ, then you actually view tough times through the lens that God is doing something in us. He’s using marriage as a tool to develop us and form us more into his image.

As a pastor, I’ve had a lot of guys in their 20s who get married in their 20s come to me. The conversation, many times, has gone like this. “Hey, Pastor. Can I talk to you for a little bit.”

“Yeah, man. What’s up?”

“I got married six months ago. Before I got married, everything was going great in my life. I feel like I was doing everything right. I felt confident. I was good at everything. Now, I’ve been married for the last six months, and I feel like I’m not doing as much stuff right.”

Here’s what I’ve said as kindly as I can say it. “Bro, listen. You were always doing that stuff. You just were living by yourself, and your mom was telling you how awesome you were all the time. Now, you finally have someone calling you out on your crap. That’s the real deal. Sorry. That’s the real deal.”

God desires relationships to make us uncomfortable at times. You’re like, “Dude, I don’t want to sign up for marriage if it makes me uncomfortable.” Everything that grows you first makes you uncomfortable. If you want to develop muscle, you have to put more weight on the bar. If you want to run a marathon, you have to make yourself uncomfortable and run the marathon. 

If you want to progress in your field, if you want to progress at work, you have to raise your hand and sign up for the project and take on more responsibility and have a late night. You ask yourself, “Why did I say yes?” But then you learn the skills, and you develop, and you become better. That’s how you grow. Discomfort always produces growth. You cannot grow without discomfort. Marriage often, by God’s design, will have elements of discomfort so you will grow.

This also changes how you view friendship. It changes who you want to be friends with. It changes who you think will be the best friends in your life if you view relationships as “This is supposed to make me better. This is supposed to develop me. This is supposed to grow me.” Proverbs 13:20, the Scripture says, “The one who walks with the wise will become wise, but a companion of fools will suffer harm.” 

If you want to be wise, you have to walk with the wise. The verse doesn’t say, “If you want to be wise, walk with the person who throws the best party, or walk with the person who is the most flattering, or walk with the person who makes you look better in selfies, or walk with the person with the most social medial followers or walk with the person who has the best car.” That’s not what the Scripture says. It says, “If you want to be wise, you walk with somebody who is wise.” That is how you are developed.

Very similar is Proverbs 27:6. “The wounds of a friend are trustworthy, but the kisses of an enemy are excessive,” which means if you just want people who are around you who are always going to flatter you and tell you how amazing you are, the Scripture doesn’t say they’re really your friends. They’re actually your enemies. 

A real friend will, in a loving and redemptive way, tell you the truth. A real friend will wound you. Not to hurt you but to help you. A real friend, like a skilled surgeon, will cut you heal you. The friends who are real friends are willing to wound. “The wounds of a friend are faithful,” the Scripture says. 

This changes how you view friendship. You don’t view friendship as a way where there’s no conflict. You don’t view friendship as a way that is always flattering. You view friendship as a way that, on the other side of the friendship, I am more developed into the image of Christ. 

Lastly, this changes your view of difficult people. If you view the whole point of relationships to display his character and then develop you, this even changes how you view the difficult person at work, the person who you hope you don’t get assigned to work on a project with. This changes how you view difficult people.

I want to be really careful here and really precise, so please listen to this. I am not speaking about abuse when I’m speaking about difficult people. If you are in an abusive relationship where you’re being sexually abused, physically abused, verbally abused, or emotionally abused, remove yourself from the situation. That is not what I’m speaking about when I’m speaking about difficult people.

When I’m speaking about difficult people, I’m talking about people in your life who just rub you the wrong way, who get on your nerves, who just agitates you, who at times you’re like, “I don’t want to be with him. He just brings out the worst in me.” Different from abuse. Right? Got it?

Conventional wisdom in our culture says, “If someone makes you feel that way, cut them out of your life.” Again, not abuse, but just difficult people. If somebody rubs you the wrong way, if somebody brings out the worst in you, cut those people out of your life. You’ll find plenty of advice columnists who say, “Cut those people out of your life.”

The struggle is God often uses those people in your life to bring things to the surface in your life so you can cut those things out of your life and not the people out of your life that bring those things to the surface. Sometimes God puts people in your life who do rub you the wrong way, who do grit you and frustrated you to bring things to the surface. You will say, “They just bring out the worst in me.” Maybe God puts that person in your life to bring out the worst in you, so you can leave the worst behind you. That’s what he sometimes does.

About this conventional wisdom, “Just cut those people out of your life,” I am so grateful that Jesus doesn’t cut me out of his life for all the times I’ve been unfaithful to him, for all the times I’ve failed the son I should be to him and the friend I should be to him. Yes, walk away from abuse. Run away from abuse, but difficult situations in your life are often God’s tool to form you more into the image of his son. 

Here we are. We’re wrapping up this series on relationships. It’s hard to do justice in three weeks, to all of the different situations in this room. I know some of the situations in this room. My prayer as I’m going into today is, “How am I going to say this that hits this?” I can’t. Here’s what we’re going to do. We’re just going to pray. What I can’t do, the Holy Spirit of God can do. He can meet you right where you are.

Some of you may want to come for prayer with your spouse. Everything may be great in your marriage, and you want to come and ask one of our pastors or shepherding elders to pray a prayer of blessing over your marriage. Maybe you are filled with bitterness for pain of a past relationship, and you want healing so bad. We’re going to pray over you that God would bring healing to you. Maybe you have a wayward son, wayward daughter. We have pastors and elders who would love to stand with you in prayer and ask God to move. 

I’m going to ask our shepherding elders and our pastors and our prayer team to come forward. They’re going to be standing down front. This is what we’re going to do over the next couple of moments. We’re going to sing like we always do. I’m going to come back and pray a prayer of blessing over you. At that point, you’ll be free to leave, but they’ll still stay down front even after the service is over. 

In a moment, right when we start singing, if you want prayer for any relationship in your life, maybe a prayer of commitment, maybe a prayer of healing. I’m going to invite you to come and walk forward to one of these people as we sing. They’re going to just put their hand on your shoulder and pray for you. We’re going to ask God to do what I can’t do. I want to so bad. I want to fix things for you. I can’t. I want to be able to speak to every situation. I can’t. 

But the Holy Spirit of God can meet you right now right where you are. God sees you. He cares for you. He wants to meet the needs in your life. We believe that as we see God in prayer that he does miracles here every single week as we pray and as we seek him. 

Jesus, as we prepare now to worship you and sing to you, I pray that as you hear the prayers that are offered here in the next couple of moments that you would move on behalf of your people. That you would hear the prayers of your sons and daughters. That you would move God. Not because of our goodness but because of your goodness. Not because we deserve for you to move but because you’re such a loving and gracious Father and a perfect friend. 

Would you please move and respond to the prayers that your people are going to offer you in these next couple of moments. It’s in your name, I pray. Amen. 

Let’s stand and worship together. If you’d like prayer for healing, in a relationship, or prayer of a commitment as a relationship, you come forward and pray with somebody on our team. Let’s sing together.

[Music]

I’m going to pray a prayer of blessing over you. Every now and then, we do this at Mariners. We call this a soft close. Meaning, after the prayer, you’re free to go, but we’ll sing a little bit longer. Some of you, I know, need to get your kids. We’ll have our prayer team here. We’re still ready to pray with you and receive you. We don’t have an elder prayer room today, so if you need prayer for healing, you can come forward here, and we’ll pray for you for that too. Will you extend your hands? Let me pray a prayer of blessing over you. 

Father, I pray for your sons and daughters. I pray for their relationships. I pray this week in their life that your grace would be evident in the relationships that matter the most to them. I pray that you would bless them this week. I pray that they would be reminded that you are a faithful friend, a good and gracious father, and the God who always pursues us. Remind them this week, your children, that your love for them never ends. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen.

Go in peace.

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