Sermon – July 24, 2016 – The Rev Nancy Wittig

Proper 12, Year C
Genesis 18:20-32
Luke 11:1-13

Luke’s Gospel challenges us to think about prayer. Luke’s gospel asks us to think about our prayer life.
What has it been?
Where has it taken us?
Who put you on the path of prayer?
How has it changed?
Who taught you to pray?
How do you pray?
Do you pray?
What are the words you pray?
What is Prayer? What is the point of prayer? Do you pray?
When do you pray?

Thomas Merton a wise monk of the 20th.century is to
have said, ” prayer is the communion of our freedom with
God’s ultimate freedom.” While popular author, Anne
Lamont writes that she has two basic prayers:
“Thank You” “Thank You” “Thank You” and
“Help Me” “Help Me” “Help Me”

Jesus often goes aside to pray, to a quiet place, apart from
from everyone else. The Disciples were aware of Jesus’
pattern. They ask him, “Lord, teach us to pray”.
Jesus’ template for prayer to his disciples has been the
model for two thousand years. It should really be called
the Disciples prayer. Luke wants us to be aware
of God’s reliability.

However, it almost seems brazen and impatient.
“Give US, Forgive US, Feed US, Lead US, Deliver US”,
It is a reminder of Jesus warning in Matthew (6:5f) “to
avoid unnecessary wordiness”.

Many will say clearly that often prayer is made in the midst
of some trauma. The assumption being that prayer is
spoken out of some necessity. The assumption of the one
who prays is driven to pray out of great need.

Show us Jesus how to pray! The template begins with
praise. So also we are to begin with praise:

Our Father in heaven, hallowed/ Holy is your Name.
Your Kingdom, your Reign Come, your will be done, on
earth as in heaven…..may our God reign on earth as in
heaven. God is the One who has the power to give us
what we need to sustain us. Forgive us our sins as we
forgive those who sin against us. Deliver us from evil and do not bring us the test of persecution but the life of an on going relationship with God. Dear God take charge of our lives land bring about justice and peace in our world and quiet strength in our lives.

The object of prayer as stated in our Book of Common
Prayer: ” Prayer is responding to God, by thought and by
deeds with or without words.” Sometimes words are not
easily found or necessary. What we do…how we live out prayer can be just as profound.

Christian Prayer is the response to God our creator,
through Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit.(BCP))

“Prayer is not a meek, contrived and only a religious act. It
is the act of human beings who know how hard it is to be
human as God created us to be.”

“Real prayer cannot be faked. Rather its prerequisite is a
sufficient self knowledge to recognize the depths of our
need.”(Douglas Hall, Feasting on The Word)

We have in the Genesis story, Abraham speaking with God
in a manner that pursues the Divine meaning of the threat
that God seems to be making. God seems to change from
the judging God to the loving God who spares the
community if even only ten are found to be righteous. (It is
the issue of hospitality that is very very important in Scripture.)

The men who visit Abraham are God’s emissaries who
have promised that Sara will conceive. Their new task is to
see if Sodom and Gomorrah really lack of the hospitality
demanded by the law and tradition.

Abraham’s conversation with God is a form of prayer that
shows the power of God’s willingness to be in relationship
with us. In addition, Jesus invites us to be as persistent as
was Abraham with God.

Ask, and it will be given you; Search, and you will find;
Knock, and the door will be opened for you. Good people,
this does not mean God will give everything asked.

Sometimes the answer to prayer is No or Wait or Not now.
Even Jesus in the garden before his death asks God to
take the cup away. However, Jesus adds ‘if it is your will
but not mine’. Do not be afraid to ask. Do not be afraid to
search. Do not be afraid to knock on God’s door.

Be shameless in your prayers.(John Pilch) Keep on
asking, knocking and searching. Be shameless in your
prayers to God because God’s way of giving exceeds that
of our human friends.

Who taught you how to pray? Who have you taught to
pray? The child’s prayer… “Now lay me down to sleep” is familiar to many of us. It is short and to the point and often turns into a long list of petitions for others child knows and

loves. Many say a table blessing before sitting down to a
meal. Some begin each new day with a prayer of
thanksgiving. A real advantage of the Book of Common
Prayer, are the many prayers it offers which are also short
and to the point, and these can help us to move into more
personal forms of prayer. We can even write our own
prayers.

Finally, it is the gift of the Holy Spirit, the advocate, the
counselor who demonstrates God’s commitment to
answering our prayers, and declares God’s intention to do
so in God’s own way and in God’s time.

So do you pray? How do you pray? What are the words
you pray? Where has prayer taken you?
My prayer life has been a journey with many twists and
turns. I have prayed the Holy Scriptures in many different
forms and words. I have collected and been given many
different prayer books over the years some have helped and some not so much.

I believe prayer is a profound mystery where we touch the heart of God and God in turn touches our hearts, and often we are changed.

Michael Fick pastor of the Ebenezer Lutheran Church in
Chicago has some thoughts about this prayer business.
“Jesus’ invitation does draws me in, persistently: ‘When you pray, name God as your God. Yearn for God’s reign. Ask for that which sustains you. Ask for the hard stuff, the impossible stuff. And expect to be held, challenged, blessed and changed by God’s Holy Spirit.'”(XnCentury)

God does not always do the things we pray for or on
behalf of others. But God does answer, especially when
we find it difficult to accept the answer.

A little over two years ago I preached this Gospel passage
and shared with this congregation my belief in prayer and
my prayer for my granddaughter who two +years ago suffered from debilitating seizures. She had brain surgery which stopped the seizures. However, she is blind in the left part of both eyes. She has not yet spoken though she can hit those high notes as she squeals for our attention. Her mother has taken the full time job of helping Hazel in and out of school. This summer Hazel has been in a special camp for children with special needs and has been having intense language skill tutoring at Baldwin Wallace.

Hazel is smart as a whip. She is a work of God in progress. At present she is being weened off of her seizure meds. She loves water play so prevalent with this summer’s heat. We do not know what the future holds but you can be sure this grandmother has not stopped praying.

I am blessed, held and challenged and changed through prayer and the workings of the Holy Spirit.

Pray always and everywhere, giving thanks to God
Almighty who does more than we can ask or imagine.
Prat boldly and often and persistently. Pray with your
heart and with your whole being. Pray simply by how you
live.

Did you pray this week? I did and it made a difference. Even some of our parishioners joined many Clevelanders last Sunday by stretching hands across a bridge for thirty minutes of silence and I believe for prayer.

Pray for one another. Pray for Republicans and
pray for Democrats. Pray for those different from you and
pray for those like you. In all that you do pray and listen
for God’s love to encompass you. It will make all the
difference.

Remember: Everyone who searches finds!

Everyone who knocks,the door will be opened!

Everyone who asks receives!

SO BE IT ! Amen.

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