Summary: A sermon on the Lord's Prayer
July 28, 2016
I can remember like it was yesterday when I first considered going into seminary. I would get these cold sweats when I would think about praying in front of all you people. Why in the world God would you ever want the likes of me as a pastor? I can’t pray!
Sure I can pray on Sundays with a script laid out in front of me, or give me a little time to prepare, so I can write something down, OK. But up until very recently if you threw me in front of a hospital bed with someone sick, scared, or dying, or ask me spontaneously to say grace, I would still get these cold sweats.
So you see, I can also relate to the disciple’s request of our Savior when they asked him, “Lord, teach us to pray.”
What I found fascinating about the text is that the disciples ask Jesus to teach them to pray, but Jesus does not give them “magical words” to say. Instead, Jesus tries to teach them/ teach us about the nature of the one to whom they/to whom we pray.
This short gospel reading begins and ends emphasizing that we can pray to God, the Almighty One who causes the waves to pound the shore lines of beaches. We can pray to this God as a heavenly Father.
Jesus’ teaching assure us that prayer is effective, not because of the way we kneel or fold our hands, or because we have found the right words, but because of God’s nature as a Father who loves us as children and wants to give us what we need.
Speaking of Daddies and children. Do you realize that I have the best behaved children in the world? That is, as long as nobody else is around them.
Well, one day years ago when somebody was around, our oldest Lindsey was misbehaving. Sandy and I, I feel are strict disciplinarians, so we sent little Lindsey off to her room to think about what she had done.
When supper time came Lindsey had this sad pitiful look on her face. In our house we have this ritual of everybody saying prayers before we eat, and I tell you these children of mine were hilarious when it came to supper time prayers. Sometimes they even fight over who’s going to pray first.
I think God may love that kind of enthusiasm, maybe without the fighting. Anyway, Lindsey our oldest usually had a new prayer she had learned from girl scouts, camp or whatever. These prayers carry all the hand motions and gyrations of a normal 9 year old. Noah 7 year old at the time said his prays so fast if you blink you’ll miss it, and little Kaylee felt she had to sing every prayer.
Well on this particular evening, Lindsey, the one who has been punished doesn’t do one of her normal up beat fancy motion prayer, she simply bows her little head and say, “Dear Father, I thank you for preparing a table before me in the presence of mine enemies, Amen!”
Out of the mouth of children. Bold and from the heart!
Because of my study and reading about this biblical model of prayer in Luke, I am going to take a slightly different approach from some of the traditional understandings, of down on our knees, hat in hand, begging for mercy approach to prayer. All of our readings point us in a different direction. Out of the mouth of children. Bold and from the heart!
Let’s first take a glance at the Old Testament lesson. Can you believe the nerve of that man Abraham? Abraham actually has the gall to haggle with God the Almighty. No shyness here on Abraham’s part.
Let’s read part of that text again, “God, will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are 50 righteous within the city; will you then sweep away the place and not forgive it for the 50 righteous who are in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing. Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” And the Lord said, “If I find at Sodom 50 righteous in the city, I will forgive the whole place for their sake.”
Hey, but Abraham’s not done. He continues this bold negotiation with the Almighty. How about 40, 30, 20, 10. And each time the Lord God responds to Abraham’s bold request.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying for a minute that prayer is some sure fire way of getting what you desire. And I tend to get very angry with those who claim that one needs to pray harder, more frequently, or my favorite—simply have more faith in order to get God to answer those prayers.