Going Deeper 7-26-2019

The Gospel reading for Pentecost 7...
Luke 11:1-13   He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples."  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 indebted to us.  And do not bring us to the time of trial."  And he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, "Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.'  And he answers from within, 'Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.'  I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.  So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.  For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.  Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish?  Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion?  If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"

What makes someone an effective pray-er?  Yes, I suppose there is something to be said about our attitude, posture, persistence, faith, etc..  There are plenty of scriptures which would indicate that how we pray makes a difference.  But is how we pray-- and even what we pray-- what matters most in helping us to be effective pray-ers?

I mean, how important is the wording of our prayers?  I smile when I read Luke's version of what we have labeled "The Lord's Prayer."  It is not the same wording we find in Matthew, which is closer to the traditional version we are used to.  I smile because of how often Christians have reacted to changes in the wording they grew up with by saying something like: "Hey, I think we should stick with the original words!"  Well, the original words are very different than our English words, and even Matthew and Luke didn't agree on the wording.

Here's my point in all of this: the most important element in prayer is simple trust in the one to Whom we are praying... our Abba/Father.  If a potentially unhappy neighbor is willing to get up in the middle of the night to help us out in the midst of a hospitality crisis, how much more willing is our loving Father to respond to our prayers?!  If our imperfect earthly father is more than happy to give good gifts to his children when they ask, how much more willing is our heavenly Father to grant us what we need the most?!

Yes, there are disciplines that may help us in our prayer life, and there are truly beautiful ways of expressing our praises and petitions.  But what matters most is simple trust.   Although it can sometimes be good to spend significant time in prayer, we do not need to offer long prayers.  Jesus said that God does not hear us for our many words.  And I do not believe our Father hears us because of the eloquence of our prayers.  Our Father loves us unconditionally, and when we come to Him in simple trust and love, He will hear us.

In His Love,

Mark Gabbert, Pastor
Zion Lutheran Church
Wellington, Colorado

"No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care."