Sunday, July 24, 2022

How We Pray - Luke 11

How do we pray?

Tony E Dillon Hansen

Reflection for Luke 11:1-13, Psalm 138, Colossians 2: 6-7

Opening prayer

The lesson this week is one of the readings where we get the Lord’s Prayer, A little different than Matthew. That version is a little bigger and address a different audience than Luke. Luke is teaching not just Jewish communities how to pray but also those who are not Jewish.

These familiar verses than we say on Sunday are bracketed by the submission and the discussion.  Teach us to pray the way John taught his followers.

Jesus teaches to pray with whole heart and mind asking for the gifts that we need and God will respond.  

In verse 13, “how much more will the heavenly God give the Holy Spirit to those who ask?” This prayer asks us to understand who God is because the prayer is about relationship with God. 

To whom do we pray is important because we can have trust in God - trust in that relationship.

Beloved children, this God is our parent. In days of Luke, a parent would decide whether one lives as part of the family, sold or even killed. That is pretty ominous until we look at the character of God. Luke is pointing out to us the nature of God as good and generous. 

That is why we can trust in the relationship with God because the relationship is based upon love not fear. This relationship is based upon generosity of God and persistence of us as believers to ask and have confidence in who we ask.

God is holy and good, trustworthy and dependable - will do more than any human can because God is good - all the time. That is what God does. This gives us context to persist. You can ask God for what you want with persistence because of the deep and abiding relationship with God.  

Then the next question seems, What is going to make the relationship better? You can almost feel a bit of vulnerability on our part.  Like we talked about in our recent lessons, to make our relationship better is to remember that to be human is to bear the image of God in our world - To practice that goodness in our lives. We know that can be difficult.

The prayer commits us to actions - keeping God holy and sacred name. Because we keep God holy, we can ask for daily bread; we can persist in our daily prayers. 

The prayer then commits us even more, forgive us as we forgive others around us. Yes forgiveness is a gift from God but also how we can better our relationship with God and with those around us.  

What exactly are forgiving and asking to be forgiven? Lying, cheating, stealing are sins. Mishandling someone’s property are trespasses. And loan debts? When someone wrongs us, what is our reaction but to make people accountable? Are debts really just borrowed property but the virtual and spiritual banks that we use to measure what has been done well and what has not? What is it that we hold in those debts? 

This comes from Leviticus and Numbers and the Year of Jubilee. For those that would like a literal reading of the Bible, this passage gets overlooked quite often - has never been actioned.

Luke then reminds us that God promises to listen; why would one ask for fish and get a snake?

It is funny in our lives, when we do pray for an egg and then get an egg - somehow we are amazed. Think about that. That gives us more of that image of God - how are we so amazed with the gifts we get?

If you were to write a version of the Lord’s prayer, what would you say? 

Better question, how do you pray? Is it with these words, with song, with quiet heart?  Why do you pray? Are you trying to right your relationships - to recognize the holy - to be the image of God to people around us?

Psalm 138 gives us another way to pray with poetic words, but challenges us to follow up our words with actions. Let our prayer be holy, let our prayers be from our hearts and let our prayers be great because God is great!

Thanks be to God

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