Pentecost 10, 2016
"Teach Us to Pray"
Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
For better or worse children, by their sometimes crass and blunt ways of speaking and acting, show us what they learn from adults; often their parents. What do our children teach us about prayer and our prayer lives.
The book Dear Pastor, (1980 by Bill Adler Books, Inc.) gives us a look at children's views of prayer through some of their own requests written to a Pastor. "I know God loves me but I wish He would give me an "A" on my report card so I could be sure. Love, Theresa. (Age 8, Milwaukee) Could you say a special blessing for my Aunt Beatrice? She has been looking for a husband for 12 years and still hasn't found one. Yours sincerely, Debbie. (Age 9, Duluth) Do I have to say grace before every meal? Even when I am only having a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Wesley. (Age 9, Baltimore) Please pray for all the airline pilots. I am flying to California tomorrow. Laurie. (Age 10, New York City) We say grace every night before we eat dinner even when we have leftovers from the night before. Yours truly, Jacki. (Age 9, Chicago) I say my prayer before I eat my supper but my mother still makes me finish my spinach and drink my milk. Julie. (Age 9, Buffalo) Thank you for your sermon on Sunday. I will write more when my mother explains to me what you said and why it took you so long to say it. Yours truly, Bob. (Age 45, Beecher)" That wasn't one of you was it???
Those were pretty humorous weren't they. We can be thankful that children are praying to God...for all things...for good and worthy things...and even for those things that are a bit more trivial. But children don't always know how to pray or what to pray for. The same can be said for many parents and other adults. Even worse... many children have never heard their parents pray... and many adults either don't pray or don't believe in prayer.
Do we have reason to pray? Friday there were 2 reported homicides in Chicago...2 of 43 total homicides in July. Two of 375 homicides this year in Chicago. Just Chicago. In Chicago alone a person is shot every 2 hours and 9 minutes. In Chicago a person is murdered every 13 hours and 5 minutes. "Lord, teach us to pray..." Over 58 million abortions in the United States since Roe v. Wade. Over 23 million babies have been murdered in the world this very year by abortion. That is more than 1 child per second. "Lord, teach us to pray..."
We have watched riots on t.v. We see groups forming such as Black Lives Matter and the response of Police Lives Matter and All Lives Matter. These groups have formed because of the many different issues of civil unrest plaguing our country. "Lord, teach us to pray..."
Countless people are homeless and jobless, many are underemployed. "Lord, teach us to pray..." Many have been stranded in airports due to inclement weather, others have been ravaged by that weather...hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and other disasters. "Lord, teach us to pray..." We live in a world ravaged by war and terrorism. Our cities are filled with crime: muggings, rapes, murders, burglaries, robberies and the like. "Lord, teach us to pray..."
Families suffer heartache and distress caused by sickness and disease, divorce and infighting, jealousy and rage. We struggle with the loss of loves ones from these and often death. "Lord, teach us to pray..." Teach us to pray for Your Word says of us: "For we do not know what to pray for as we ought..." (Romans 8:26)
"Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And 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 who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.” (Luke 11:1-4)
He said to them [and to us], "When you pray, say: "'Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come.” (Luke 11:2) "Father" immediately indicates that the one praying is a child of God by faith in Christ. God is our heavenly Father…and he loves us His dear children.
“Give us each day our daily bread.” God gives us all that we need in this world and the next. He gives us food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, land, animals, money, goods, a devout husband or wife, devout children, devout workers, devout and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, self-control, good reputation, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like. “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1)
“Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.” The forgiveness of our sins is God's greatest spiritual gift to us. That's why we hear the Gospel. That's why we go to the Lord's Supper. That’s why we forgive our loved ones and our enemies when they do wrong. What a blessing it is for a Christian husband and wife and those with children to come to the Lord’s Table, receive Jesus very body and blood, and go back to together a family restored, strengthened, and forgiven.
“And lead us not into temptation.” God tempts no one. We acknowledge that God is the gracious Father who governs our life and has the power to lead us safely past all the temptations to sin. There are temptations within us and all around us. They are inevitable. But we pray that none of these will trap us. Jesus was tempted but did not yield. We are tempted but pray God that with His help we will not yield.
“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" (Luke 11:11-13)
Pray. Pray for forgiveness. (Nehemiah 1:6) Pray for your enemies and those who persecute you. (Matthew 5:44) Pray the Lord sends Pastors into the world to proclaim His Word (Matthew 9:38) Pray for those who curse you or abuse you. (Luke 6:28) Pray for your government and all people in authority; pray for all people. (1 Timothy 2:1) Pray for sick (James 5:14) “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) for our Lord says "to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Luke 11:9-10) Keep Praying for God hears your prayers. Not only that...He has answered your prayers with the gift of His Son. Your sins are forgiven. Heaven is yours. And we look forward to life with all the saints free from sin and the evil it causes. In heaven; in the new creation God "will wipe away every tear from [your] eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:1-4) In Christ our prayers have all been answered. Thank you, dear Jesus. Amen.
Now may the peace of God which passes all human understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. Amen.