The Scripture Readings this week are:
- Philippians 4:4-7
- Luke 11:1-13
- Romans 8:26-27
The Sermon title is Lord, Teach Us to Pray...
Early Thoughts: In his letter to the Thessalonians St. Paul exhorts us to pray without ceasing. In his letter to the Romans Paul suggests that we do not know how to pray as we ought. Many of us were taught as children that prayer is a major part of a life in faith, but why? What are we doing in prayer?
Scripture makes it very clear that Jesus prayed. Periodically he goes off to be by himself and pray. Observing this leads his friends to ask him to teach them to pray. Out of that question comes the prayer most of us know as the Lord's Prayer (AKA the Our Father, the Jesus Prayer).
But WHY do we pray? John Dominic Crossan suggests that we pray to recharge our batteries. Others have insisted that Faith is a relationship with God and so prayer is a way of being in conversation and relationship. I would say both are true (and also that they are not exclusive as the only reasons we pray). But knowing why we do something is only a first step.
Years ago I remember meeting with someone who shared that she had trouble praying. Her prayers felt "dead". So she asked for advice on how to pray. Many people, when asked to join a prayer team/prayer circle, say they can't because they don't pray well. In part we get better (or maybe just more comfortable) at prayer simply by practicing it, by stubbornly praying through the dead times, by opening ourselves to the possibility that the Spirit will move in us. In fact, Paul suggests to the Romans taht we can only pray when we let the Spirit move within and through us.
In the end, prayer is a ministry in which we can all participate. Prayer is something we can all do. And also, despite the wording of so many prayers, it is my belief that we do not pray to change God/change God's mind. We pray so that we, and the world, will be changed. And I believe that somehow, even if it can't really be measured, prayer makes a difference.