Sunday, July 28, 2013

Teach Us to Pray

Jesus was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples." He said to them, "When you pray, say:

Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.
And do not bring us to the time of trial."

And he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, `Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.' And he answers from within, `Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.' I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.

"So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" Luke 11:1-13

There is little in this world more wonderful than hearing a child pray. Something happens when, at six or seven, they have heard the Lord's prayer so often, they feel confident to say it with the adults in church. Often they will pray at the top of their voices, full of joy in participation and accomplishment. The words aren't always right but the heart is.

The disciples of Jesus come to him to learn how to pray. They are good, faithful men who have learned from their parents and teachers. But they know that life has changed for them, and that they need new words and ways to talk with God. Jesus teaches them this simple prayer and then tells them that God is always more willing to listen than we are to pray. God can be sought out for small and great things, for the deep groaning in our hearts to the simple peace to make it through the next moment. Ask, search and knock - God is open to our needs and our hearts.

Today I ask God to help me be direct and honest about my needs. May we seek after God in all our moments, whether big or small, knowing that God is more loving than any perfect parent and more generous than any human giver. May we be known as people who pray, seeking God's love and restoration in every moment.

The Collect

O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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