Sermons 2007

"Lord, teach us to pray" Proper 12C, 29 July 2007, Luke 11:1-13

Home | In the Beginning was the Word, Christmas Day, 25 December 2007, John 1:1-14 | What's Missing? Christmas Eve, 24 December 2007, Luke 2:1-20 | Joseph, the Forgotten One, Advent 4A, 23 December 2007, Matthew 1:18-25 | Come with Joy, Advent 3A, 16 December 2007, Matthew 11:2-11 | Darkness or Light? Advent 1A, 2 December 2007, Matthew 24:37-44 | What Kind of King is He? Proper 29C, 25 November 2007, Luke 23:35-43 | Predictions and the Horseman of the Apocalypse, Proper 28C, 18 Nov 2007, Luke 31:5-19 | Just passing through? Proper 27C , 11 November 2007, Luke 20:20-38 | Not like others? Proper 25C, 28 October 2007, Luke 18:9-14 | "We are bold to say", Proper 24C, 21 October 2007, Luke 18:1-8a | "The ten lepers", Proper 23C, 14 October 2007, Luke 17:11-19 | Proper 22C and Holy Baptism, 7 October 2007 | A taste of cool water, Proper 21C, 30 September 2007, Luke 16:19-31 | We hear what we want to hear, Proper 20C, 23 September 2007, Luke 16:1-13 | "Lost -- but found!" Proper 19C, 16 September 2007, Luke 15:1-10 | "Who is coming to dinner?" Proper 17C, 2 September 2007, Luke 14:1, 7-14 | Doors and narrow gates, Proper 16C, 26 August 2007, Luke 13:22-30 | "Fire to the earth", Proper 15C, 19 August 2007, Luke 12:49-56 | "Do not be afraid, little flock', Proper 14C, 12 August 2007, Luke 12:32-40 | "How much is enough?" Proper 13C , 5 August 2007, Luke 12:13-21 | "Lord, teach us to pray" Proper 12C, 29 July 2007, Luke 11:1-13 | "The Better Part?" Proper 11C, 22 July 2007, Luke 10:38-42 | The Good Samaritan -- the Summary of the Law" Proper 10C, 15 July 2007, Luke 10:25-37 | "Travel Light!" Proper 9C, 8 July 2007, Luke 10:1-12, 16-20 | "Independence Day" Proper 8C, 1 July 2007, Luke 9:51-62 | "Three Questions", Proper 7C, 24 Jun 2007, Luke 9:18-24 | "In or Out?" Proper 6C, 17 June 2007, Luke 7:36-50 | "On Grace", Proper 5C, 10 June 2007, Luke 7:11-17 | Trinity C, 3 June 2007 | Pentecost C, 27 May 2007 | "Unity and Diversity" Easter 7C, 20 May 2007, John 17:20-26 | "Come, Holy Spirit, Come" Easter 6C, 13 May 2007, John 14:23-29 | "What is this thing called love?" Easter 5C, 6 May 2007, John 13:31-35 | "Numbers and Sheep", Easter 4C, 29 April 2007, John 10:22-30 | Virginia Tech, Easter 3C, 22 April 2007 Revelation 6:8-10 | Thomas Doubter and Believer, Easter 2C, 15 April 2007. John 20: 19-31 | ""Why do you look for the living among the dead?" Easter Sunday, 8 April 2007, Luke 24:1-10 | Good Friday 6 April 2007 | Maundy Thursday 5 April 2007 | Why are we not surprised? Palm/Passion Sunday C, 1 April 2007, Luke 22:39-23:50 | Party or Pout? Lent 4C, 18 March 2007, Luke 15:11-32 | To Stand on the Mountaintop, Lent 3C, 11 March 2007, Exodus 3:1-15 | "Ways Not Taken", Lent 2C, 4 March 2007. Luke 13:22-35 | "Liminal Thresholds and Lintels", Lent 1C, 25 February 2007, Luke 4:1-13 | Ash Wednesday Meditation 2007 | "Transfiguration and Transformation, Epiphany Last C, 18 February 2007, Luke 9:28-36 | "Weal and Woe", Epiphany 6C, 11 February 2007, Luke 6:17-26 | "Who, me?" Epiphany 5C, 4 February 2007, Luke 5:1-11 | "Filled with rage!" Epiphany 4C, 28 January 2007, Luke 4:21-32 | "The Spirit of the Lord is upon us," Epiphany 3C, 21 January 2007, Luke 4:14-21 | "Weddings and Miracles," Epiphany 2C, 14 January 2007, John 2:1-11 | Schism and Epiphany, Epiphany 1C, 7 Dec 2007, Luke 3:15-16, 21-22

Proper 12C 2007 ed 1998 Luke 11:1-13

"Lord, teach us to pray...."

Pauli and I spend a good bit of our free time, such as it is, on the road to Atlanta to visit grtandchildren and their parents and to western Kentucky to visit an elderly parent in a nursing home. We, of course, have prayed for our safe journey and return for the many family related trips we make each year. All these prayers have been answered.

We have fallen into the habit on these travels of stopping for lunch at Cracker Barrel Restaurants. What is interesting about Cracker Barrel stores is the display of plaques and slogans on the walls. One wall plaque said this: "Be good to your children; they're the ones who will pick your nursing home!"

But there were two other plaques that struck me as particularly relevant to our life of Christian practice and prayer. These two were really very short prayers: The first one said: "Lord, please make me to be the person my dog thinks I am." The second one said this: "Lord, put your arm around my shoulders -- and your hand over my mouth!"

Lord, teach us to pray. That's the theme of the Gospel lesson for today. Saint Paul reminded the young churches to pray without ceasing.

Some of you may have heard of Richmond Hill, the ecumenical retreat center. Shortly after the Civil War the Roman Catholic Bishop of Richmond asked an order of cloistered nuns to send some of the good sisters there to pray for the war torn and burned out city. They came and in the 100 years that they remained, they prayed without ceasing for the City of Richmond and all who lived there.

Lord, teach us to pray. The thing to remember about prayer is that it is primarily the way we communicate with God. Prayer is our response to the utter goodness of God, to the complete holiness of God, to the very Being of God. Prayer is our daily, even hourly and unceasingly way of remaining in conversation with God, whatever the hour of day or night, whatever situation we may be in, whatever the precipitating cause of our prayer, whatever opportunity we seize to enter into communion and conversation with God.

There’s an old story about the Episcopal priest who was at a prayer breakfast with his Baptist and Methodist brethren who were praying mightily and extemporaneously at great length. When it came the priest' s turn to pray, the master of ceremonies said, "And now the Reverend Smith will read one of his printed prayers." The priest smiled and nodded and began: "Our Father, who art in heaven...."

I sometimes find myself trapped in similar groups whose prayer style is known in ecclesiastical circles as "the prayer of the just". It sounds something like this: Father, I just want ....; Father, I just know you will....; Father, I just feel that....; Father, I just ask you to bless....; Father I just need .... Father, I just think that.... And just so on, and on.

The first person pronoun seems to have the same frequency, prominence, and precedence as God in this litany of the Prayer of the Just. It seems presumptuous toward, and overly familiar with, the Holy God whom we worship. We are reminded of this holiness in the Lord's Prayer: Our Father who art in heaven: HOLY is your Name.

Lord, teach us to pray. Jesus told his disciples to be active in their lives and their prayer lives so that the two were inseparable. Our prayer lives and our Christian lives are one and the same. And the principle is to pray as if everything depends on God, and work as if everything depends on us. That's what Jesus meant when he talked about "Ask, and it will be given you: search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you."

There was once a little girl who told her father that some of the boys in their neighborhood were setting traps to catch birds. He asked her if she had done anything about it.
"I prayed that the traps wouldn't catch the birds," she said.
"Did you do anything else?" asked her father. "I prayed that God would keep the birds away from any of the traps," said she.
"Anything else?" "When the boys weren't looking, I went and kicked all the traps to pieces."

Lord, teach us to pay. Pray as though everything depends on God -- but work as if everything depends on us.