Prayer

Prayer

Summary

Electric cars are wonderful! Really pretty! Comfortable! Quiet! Lower emissions…Lower fuel costs…But with challenges: Expensive… (Better, but still expensive…) Batteries’ manufacture footprint, disposal challenge, lifespan… And limited range: …one of the greatest drawbacks! Because of the very limited range of the more affordable cars, they need to have many accessible charging stations! They need to have adequate exposure to charging facilities in order to operate at all! WITHOUT that ability to be regularly recharged they are USELESS! Like us!

Unless we are being regularly re-charged we run down – and when we run down we are useless! Regardless of how pretty or comfortable quiet we are, how low our emissions…

USELESS! And that means we need constant recharging: physically, emotionally, spiritually! …the first two are pretty obvious: to be recharged physically we need rest! Times when we are able to let things go… And not completely without stress, but without so much stress that we are being hurt…    To be recharged emotionally we need the ability to express ourselves, space to process our emotions… Times to be able to vent, release. To be recharged spiritually – aha – that’s what we are talking about today!

Each of these are desperately important – to neglect any one is to risk grinding down to nothing! Which brings us to today’s reading, which focuses us on PRAYER! The gift of prayer is essential to our ability to stay powered-up spiritually – that’s PRAYER as God’s plan for us to remain connected to our most essential source of all spiritual power! I think that could be my best definition of what PRAYER actually is! For now, anyway…

I’ve been warned NEVER to preach lightly on prayer! We’ve all been in situations when we’ve prayed ardently for something and it hasn’t happened! Perhaps it was for someone’s health…and we’ve been left feeling as if our prayers went unanswered! Well, for today, we’re looking at what we understand by prayer, why we need it, and how best to do it!

Prayer – especially in Jesus’ Name – does not come naturally to us! We need to be taught! The disciples realized that, and so that’s what they asked for from Jesus in our text today: ‘Please, teach us to pray!’

We need to be taught WHAT to pray for, and so also WHAT NOT to pray for… if we are to be praying ‘In Jesus’ Name!’ as opposed to just projecting our most positive thoughts. Prayer is – and is meant to be – our most intense, most honest connection with God! It is the intentional plugging in of ourselves into the ultimate charging station!

Jesus begins his teaching by referring to God as our ‘Father’, implying that God is the One who provides for us as children: protecting/ caring/ bringing life. This invites us to approach with familial intimacy, before going on to praise and petition and praise some more…

And then Jesus tells a parable about it needing to be persistent! ‘Persistent’ not so much as nagging, as with regular familiarity, that we get to know God’s presence, God’s voice…

Also, I understand that the Greek word Luke uses (ANAIDEIA) may better be translated as ‘shameless’. That’s what Will Willemon suggests. ‘We are to come to God in prayer with REGULAR & SHAMELESS BOLDNESS’ …unrestricted beseeching! …and always confident in our expectation that God is eager to respond! …as opposed to the friend who will eventually respond simply because he is being worn down…

The essential image is relational & conversational as opposed to superstitious. Praying is not likened to Aladdin with his magic genie… Christ’s teaching on prayer is much more about the sustaining relationship we are called to have with God than some magic formula for manipulating what we want from some golden lamp!

The goal of our asking in Christ’s Name is spiritual empowerment as opposed to the satisfaction of our demands! We are recharged by connection, and not necessarily by wishes granted! God is being presented to us as the force of love/life we need to be able to live our lives and not simply the magic genie we try to make God to be!

I’d like to say that there are at least 3 signs that suggest we ARE remaining connected! 

  1. We find we are increasingly drawn to what DOES charge us and AWAY from what drains us! ‘Prayer’ takes all sorts of different forms for different people – but we know when we are being charged… 
  1. We find that we are coming increasingly to be aligned with what and how God sees and less by what is being thrust at us by the worst of ourselves! (Remember last week: …aligned to see ourselves, others, creation, even God?) 
  1. We find that we are becoming less condemnatory and more compassionate about people who are clearly ‘out of touch’ with what could be charging them! …people who are different from us perhaps! In fact, we find that we are beginning to feel an increasing responsible for them, to help them in their growth: physically, emotionally, and spiritually! (…as, yes, I am my brother/sisters’ keeper!)

Perhaps that’s especially what’s meant by the prayer-song we sing:
Sister/Brother, let me be your servant…


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