Summary: Uses a cell phone to illustrate the basics of effective prayer. Addresses the tendency of people to rely on repetition and ritual to get God’s attention.
OPEN: (a deep voiced man was positioned in a side room with microphone and monitor. This opening illustration goes on for a couple of pages but worked well to set up the rest of the sermon)
"Our Father who art in heaven..."
(look up and around suspiciously then bow and say) "Our Father who art in heaven..."
“Who is that!?”
"God???? (pause) Oh… sorry. You startled me!"
"BUT YOU CALLED ME."
"Called you? I was just praying."
"WELL, HERE I AM, WHY DID YOU CALL?"
"I didn’t mean anything by it. I was, you know, just saying my prayer for the day."
"GOOD, GO RIGHT ON."
"Hallowed be thy name..."
"WHAT DID YOU MEAN BY THAT?"
"BY ’HALLOWED BE THY NAME.’"
"It means... it means... I don’t know what it means. It’s just part of the prayer. What does it mean?"
"IT MEANS ’HONORED, HOLY, WONDERFUL.’"
"Ok. Thank you Lord. "thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.’"
"DO YOU REALLY MEAN THAT?
"Sure, why not?"
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING ABOUT IT?"
"Doing? Not much, I guess. I just think it would be great if you got control of everything down here, like you have up there."
"HAVE I GOT CONTROL OF YOU?"
"¬Well, I go to church 2 to 3 times a week."
"THAT’S NOT WHAT I ASKED YOU. WHAT ABOUT THOSE BAD HABITS OF YOURS THAT YOU KNOW ARE IN DIRECT CONFLICT WITH MY WILL IN YOUR LIFE?"
"But Lord, I’m just as good as most of the people in the church!"
"EXCUSE ME. I THOUGHT YOU WERE PRAYING FOR MY WILL TO BE DONE. IF THAT IS TO HAPPEN, IT WILL HAVE TO START WITH THE ONES WHO ARE PRAYING FOR IT. LIKE YOU, FOR EXAMPLE."
"Oh, all right... I guess I do have some hang-ups... now that you mention it.
"GOOD. NOW WE’RE GETTING SOMEWHERE. WE’LL WORK TOGETHER, YOU AND I. SOME TREMENDOUS VICTORIES CAN BE WON. I’M PROUD OF YOU."
"Look Lord, I need to finish up here. This is taking a lot longer than it usually does. ’Give us this day our daily bread...’"
"YOU NEED TO CUT OUT THE BREAD. YOU’RE OVERWEIGHT AS IT IS."
"Hey, what is this, pick-on-me day?"
"PRAYING IS A DANGEROUS THING. YOU COULD WIND UP CHANGED YOU KNOW. THAT’S WHAT I’M TRYING TO GET ACROSS TO YOU. YOU CALLED ME, AND HERE I AM. IT’S TOO LATE TO STOP NOW... KEEP ON PRAYING. I’M INTERESTED IN THE NEXT PART OF YOUR PRAYER... WELL, GO ON."
(pause…) "I’m afraid."
"AFRAID? OF WHAT?"
"I know what you’ll say."
"TRY ME AND SEE."
"And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors..."
"See, I knew it! I knew you would bring them up! Why, Lord, you know the lies that have been told about me, and they continue until this very day. I have lost friends" because of them not to mention what has been done to my reputation. I know it was wrong to swear to get even with them, but ..."
"FORGIVE THEM. THEN I WILL FORGIVE YOU. THEN THE HATE AND SIN WILL BE ----’S PROBLEM AND NOT YOURS. YOU WILL HAVE SETTLED THE MATTER IN YOUR HEART AND BEFORE MY THRONE."
"But Lord, I can’t forgive ----."
"THEN, I CAN’T FORGIVE YOU."
"Oh, you’re right. You always are. And more than I want revenge on ----, I want to be right with you. Alright, alright, I forgive ----. I want to walk the right road in life. I’m tired of always feeling miserable. Now that I think about it, no one can cause me to feel miserable without my permission. But, please help me Lord, to let my actions do the talking in showing forgiveness. I’m REALLY going to need your help, your grace and you Spirit."
"THERE NOW! WONDERFUL! HOW DO YOU FEEL?"
"Hmmm. Well, not bad. Not bad at all. In fact, I feel pretty good! You know, I don’t think I’ll have to go to bed uptight tonight for the first time in a long time. Maybe I won’t be so tired from now on because I’m not getting enough rest."
"YOU’RE NOT THROUGH WITH YOUR PRAYER. GO ON."
"Oh! Alright. ’And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil"
"GOOD! GOOD! I’LL DO THAT. JUST DON’T PUT YOURSELF IN A PLACE WHERE YOU CAN BE TEMPTED."
"I don’t understand."
"SURE YOU DO. YOU HAVE DONE IT A LOT OF TIMES. YOU GET CAUGHT IN A BAD SITUATION. YOU GET INTO TROUBLE AND THEN YOU COME RUNNING TO ME, ’LORD, HELP ME OUT OF THIS MESS, AND I PROMISE YOU I’LL NEVER DO IT AGAIN.’ YOU REMEMBER SOME OF THOSE BARGAINS YOU TRIED TO MAKE WITH ME, DON’T YOU?"