Dear Centenary Family,
The Gospel reading for this coming Sunday is Luke 11:1-13. The sermon I'm working on is entitled "Praying Your Way Home." This text contains Luke's version of what we call the Lord's Prayer. If you attend worship regularly, you know the prayer. We may know the words so well that we wonder what new insight, if any, we might gain from hearing yet another sermon on these familiar words.
But there's the distinct possibility that in today's world, there are many people who have not yet heard this prayer or considered the kind of instruction it contains. Put yourself in the shoes of one of those folks. How would the words sound if you were hearing them for the first time?
For one thing, Jesus' words about the kinds of things we should talk to God about might put many of us at ease. Frankly, many of us, even long-time Christians, often feel that our prayer life is inadequate.
But Jesus' prayer, though it begins by addressing the mysterious, transcendent, and holy God, turns immediately to very human concerns.
"Bring in your kingdom..." (Things aren't going so well down here, make them better now!)
"Give us bread..." (That's pretty straightforward, especially if you are among the millions on our planet wondering how they will feed their hungry families.)
"Forgive us our sins..." (We constantly do and say things that cause problems for us and other people. And when we're not doing that, we often fail to do the right thing when we see it right in front of us.)
"Don't lead us into temptation..." (Don't take us through trouble that threatens to destroy us!)
So, Jesus' model prayer is an invitation to talk directly and honestly to God about our lives as we find them. It is an invitation to drop the façade of self-reliance and acknowledge our dependence on God for everything!
Yes, there are deeper levels of prayer worth learning about - prayer as deep meditation on Scripture, prayer as contemplation, prayer that strains toward union of our spirits with God's Spirit.
But don't worry if you're not there. Just start talking to God. For in Jesus, we have learned that God is a friend who is always listening.
I look forward to worshiping - and praying with you this Sunday!