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We began our Sunday morning service at Mill Creek Baptist Church Sunday by singing happy birthday to Jerry Abercrombie. Sunflowers and the colors of fall adorned our sanctuary as summer winds down and fall approaches. Doug Cory greeted the congregation and opened our service with prayer. Special prayers were requested for Dot Harner, Jimmy Easter, Skip, Alesia, Barbara, David Anthony, Bently, McKayla, the Jim Boston family, Tony Herrin family, Barbara, Joe and travel prayers. Linda shared a couple of praises and announced the Memorial Poker Run in memory of Jeremy Abercrombie this weekend.

"God Confronts" was the title of the adult Sunday school lesson taught by Terry Lett. It was a study of Isaiah and God confronting His people about the consequences of their actions. Three points were made in the lesson: "Relying on religious rituals alone falls short when approaching the holy God, God expects His followers to demonstrate righteousness and justice and God offers forgiveness to those who repent."

Janet Chaney reminded the congregation of the Reuben L. South offering and the week of prayer for missionaries the week of Sept. 13-20. She also shared a humorous devotional.

Linda Abercrombie read Psalm 56:3 and shared a devotional, "What Good Is Worry?" "Worry is problematic and trying to eliminate it is advisable and possible. Worry gets you into a future that may never happen, therefore it becomes a waste of time. Worry happens when we subtract God's presence from our life. Use worry for good purposes as a call to pray, not as a way of life."

Congregational hymns included "He Keeps Me Singing" led by Karen Gardner with Susan Cory at the piano. We were blessed with special praise music from Susan's daughter and children.

"Praying for Healing" was the title of God's message for us. Brother Mark Hall began by reading James 5:13-18 and talked about a better understanding of how we can pray. He told us that "nothing lies beyond the reach of prayer except that which lies outside of the will of God. There is nothing about my prayers that make them any more productive than yours or anyone else's. It is the pastor's job to be much in prayer and to study and present the word diligently. It is not the man, the woman or the title of a person, but it is the condition of the heart when one prays." James 5:16 says, "The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much."

Brother Mark referred to James 5:16 again, "Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed," and told us that prayer is not only about illness but also about others' suffering. He talked about a serious illness with no hope and said, "We all cling to life, but anyone saved has heaven waiting for them. When God raises a Christian, he also does it for their family. There are so many things in our life we depend on. But the most important and what we really need is prayer because we get what God can do for us. That's all we need. We all love it when things in life click. That's what happens when we get God involved. Sometimes we forget what all He can do, so it's like praying for rain before we need rain."

Brother Mark talked about three things involved in effective prayer: the confession that precedes it, the intercession that provides it and the illustration that proves it. He referred back to James 5:16 as he talked about the confession that precedes effective prayer and said, "We are better at concealing our sins than confessing them. Feelings of resentment are sin. Sometimes, we just won't let go of our sins for our prayer to be effective. We want healing but need restoration and then we need reconciliation. Then we have a spiritual revival. That's when the healing happens." Brother Mark told us that anytime we are trying to save face is probably the one thing we need to lose.

Second, Brother Mark told us that intercessory prayer provides effective prayer. "Other than salvation, intercessory prayer is the greatest thing in a church. That is prayer for one another and asking for prayer for ourselves. Sin is a bigger problem than we think our problem is." Psalm 66:18 says, "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear."

Brother Mark told us that the third thing about effective prayer is the illustration that proves it. James 5:17-18 tells of Elijah praying for rain. The land needed healing from drought but also from a spiritual drought, healing the spirits of the people in the land.

As he closed the message, Brother Mark told us, "No one's prayers are worth more than yours if you follow those three things for effective prayer." Next week's message will be a continuation and with text from 2 Kings 18.

Our hymn of invitation was "Wherever He Leads, I'll Go," and Wayne Emanuel gave the benediction.

Mill Creek Baptist Church will sponsor the Triumphant Quartet in concert on Sunday, Sept. 20, at Southwest City, Mo., in Blankenship Park. It is a free concert, but you will need to bring a chair. Music starts at 6 p.m. and everyone is welcome.

We also invite you to worship with us on Sunday mornings at 11 a.m. Sunday school begins at 10 a.m. Mill Creek Baptist Church is located 3 1/2 miles east of Noel just off Highway 90.

Opinions expressed are those of the author.

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