Summary: Using the prayer that the Lord gave his disciples, we will seek God’s glory and our good.
Learning How to Pray
Rev. Brian Bill
Drama: “The Right Way to Pray”
Is there just one way to pray? What kind of prayer are you most comfortable with? During hard times, people are hurting in many ways. In the midst of the mess our country is in, more and more people are turning to prayer. According to a November poll by Faithbook, more than a quarter of respondents said they have prayed more and 42% said that they have experienced a positive effect from praying.
Our focus this morning is on learning how to pray, using the prayer that Jesus taught His disciples as a guideline. People have had all sorts of experiences with the Lord’s Prayer. Here are some that I came across.
* When my twin daughters were young, I taught them to say this prayer before going to bed. As I listened outside their door, I could hear them say, “Give us this steak and daily bread, and forgive us our mattresses.”
* When I was a child, I learned this prayer as “Our Father, who are in Heaven, Howard be thy name.” I always thought that was God’s real name.
* When I was younger, I believed the line was “Lead a snot into temptation.” I thought I was praying for my little sister to get into trouble.
* My son, who is in nursery school, said, “Our Father, who art in Heaven, how didja know my name?”
* I remember thinking this prayer was “Give us this day our jelly bread.”
* One mother was teaching her three-year-old this prayer at bedtime and after several nights her daughter was ready to go solo. She was doing a great job, getting every word right until she got to the end: “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us some email.”
I had the privilege of speaking to the Junior High group on Wednesday night and at the end I asked them how many knew the Lord’s Prayer. Almost every hand went up. Then I asked them what they knew about it. One teen quickly said, “It’s the only prayer that the Lord gave us.” Another mentioned how important it is to forgive others if we’re serious about praying this prayer. I then led them in praying the prayer and was very moved by how they participated. When I was getting ready to leave, a student came up to me and told me how many words the prayer had because she had counted them. Friends, let’s make sure we never look down on these young disciples!
Suzanne Faust, a new attendee at PBC, told me this week that she prays the Lord’s Prayer twice each day. The first time she uses the original words and then she puts it into her own words. Shawna Gilliam sent me this note on Facebook: “When I was a small child, I would visit with my Great Grandmother. Every night before we went to sleep she would say this prayer with me. It stuck with me for life. She passed away when I was 8 years old. I loved her very much and looked up to her. When I found out I was having Myles, it was a bitter sweet feeling. I missed her very much and wished she would have been around to meet my son. I found a little bear before I had Myles that when you pushed its paw it would say the prayer. I bought this bear to help tell Myles the story of my Great Grandmother and who she was as a person to me. This bear sits on Myles’ dresser as a reminder to us everyday.”
Bethany Worby sent me a note in which she wrote: “My mom, Lisa Watson, followed her parent’s tradition by saying the Lord’s Prayer after all family dinners.”
Most of us are familiar with the Lord’s Prayer, and some of us have attended churches where it was recited every Sunday. I grew up saying this prayer so much that it just became rote for me. I was even instructed to repeat this prayer as penance way too many times to count. [Demonstrate by quickly quoting prayer]. Since I often associated this prayer with punishment when I was younger, I know I missed the mystery and magnitude of these profound words for many years.
In our passage for today, we will look at how not to pray and then at how to pray. This prayer has rightly been called a “dangerous prayer” because God just may answer it. It is poetic and beautiful and yet profound and brief. Jesus had a great deal to say about prayer, mentioning the topic 42 times in his teaching. Amazingly, the gospels show him praying 28 times!
How Not to Pray