10th Sunday after Pentecost—Lectionary C—July 28, 2013
Preached at the Lutheran Church of Framingham
Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight oh Lord, our strength, and our redeemer.
There are many ways to pray:
– aloud or silently
– alone or corporately
– walking a labyrinth, walking in the woods, walking down the street, or sitting
– with one word “help”, with many words, with no words—just listening
When the disciples ask Jesus to teach them to pray, he offers a simple, but quite comprehensive form: Lord’s Prayer.
That is what the Lord’s Prayer is, a form, an example, one way to do it. It is a bold prayer, as I said, simple, but comprehensive. You can use the words of the Lord’s prayer…whatever translation you want (debts, trespasses, sins, etc.), but Jesus never suggests it is the only way to pray.
It is like the “Maury Paragraph” of prayers. You see, I graduated from Maury High School. Every student who attended was supposed to learn the “Maury Paragraph” in 9th grade and continue to use it anytime they wrote. It is a simple outline of how a paragraph should flow. Topic Sentence, Major detail, followed by 3 minor details, another Major detail and its supporting 3 minor details, and then a conclusion/transition sentence. It is a simple form that we learned, but it made writing easy, clear, and helped it is be persuasive of the student’s point.
I no longer write in strict “Maury Paragraphs,” those precisely crafted 10 sentence paragraphs, but the principles that the form encompasses continue to influence my prayer and every once in a while I do revert to the “Maury Paragraph.” It is not the only way to write well, to write a persuasive, concise, easy to follow paragraph, but it is one possibility, a guide, a starting place with principles to influence all of our writing.
So I said, the Lords’ Prayer is the “Maury Paragraph” of prayer. It is not the only correct way to pray, but it is one possibility, a guide, a starting place with principles to influence how we think about prayer and how we pray. So the next logical question is, what are those principles of prayer the Lord’s Prayer encompasses?
– Words…not just listening
- But can still be done silently, with rosary/prayer beads, ringing of the bell, etc.
- Jesus is not suggesting that prayer always uses words; he is answering the question the disciples asked.
– Intimate prayer—address God as parent “daddy”—a loving parent, with whom you have relationship and trust
– Prayer speaks:
- Who God is to us:
- LP—loving parent who wants to give good things, eternal
- What we think God is about:
- LP—kingdom, will, sustenance, relationship/forgiveness, protection
- You can use the LP’s as a form to “check” your other prayers against to see if you are limiting or contradicting God’s being and will with your prayers.
– Covers all the topics: sustenance, relationship, protection
– The LP provides us with words when we don’t want or cant come up with words on our own.
- Too busy/conflicted/distracted
- In too much distress—hurting, hungry, etc
– Jesus shows us that we are to pray corporately and boldly:
- Like Abraham’s conversation with God, it is not all about ourselves. We ask for the daily bread that has been assured to us, and we ask boldly that God’s grace and mercy might cover the whole earth (no matter how many righteous exist).
- Trust that God wants to give good things
- God will provide what you need
- Ask boldly for the sake of others—Abraham
In this morning’s Gospel lesson from Luke, Jesus teaches us some fundamentals about prayer, and gives us a form with can boldly pray in addition lots of other prayers, scripted and spontaneous. The Lord’s prayer is provided as a model, encompassing principles of prayer. It is the topic sentence “Our Father” and the Major details, and at any time we can fill in the minor details of our lives. The form is meant to help, guide, support, not limit. It is Jesus’ way of leaving a part of his normally private life of prayer with his disciples, who passed it on to us, to support us in our lives of faith. It is a reminder of love and grace, not one of obligation or perfection. Amen.