Prayer: Being in a Relationship

Sunday July 28th 2019 17th Sunday Ordinary Time (Cycle C)

The tie in between today’s readings: prayer principles

Psalm 138, Genesis 18:20-32, Colossians 2:12-14, Luke 11:1-13

Everybody prays, or more exactly, recites the Our Father. While there is surely nothing wrong with that, there is a greater value for us. Today, I want to take it apart and use it as a framework on which we can build our prayer life. We find the Lord’s Prayer today in Luke 11:2-4.

The Anatomy of the Our Father

OUR FATHER: This shows a special relationship. Contrary to popular thinking and consistent with Biblical teachings, God is NOT everybody’s father. You must be born again into God’s family to call Him Father. Our reading in Colossians gives a good illustration of how this occurs:having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.  When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ (Col 2:12-13a).Notice the ideas of buried vs. raised and dead vs. alive. Baptism is the key. It’s the willful spiritual submersion by faith of your life into Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and rising to a new life with Him at the resurrection. This is crucial, because if God is not your Father then He will be your judge and baptism was just the sacrament that got you wet when you were a baby.

HALLOWED BE YOUR NAME: God is holy, totally separate, and not like anything else. He is to be revered. He is awesome and anything done in His name better match His character.

YOUR KINGDOM COME: We look forward to the day when God enforces His absolute rule over the earth as it is in heaven. Your goal now is, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to become more like Jesus in order to take your place as a heavenly citizen here on the earth.

GIVE US EACH DAY OUR DAILY BREAD: Bagels, baguettes, brioche…God provides differently for each person according to His purposes and grace. Be satisfied and thankful for YOUR daily bread. Godliness with contentment is great gain (1Timothy 6:6).

FORGIVE US OUR SINS: Back to Colossians: He forgave us all our sins,having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross (Col 2:13b-14). Enough said.

FOR WE OURSELVES ALSO FORGIVE EVERYONE WHO IS INDEBTED TO US: This is so important! If you have unresolved issues with someone DON’T EVEN COME to church before you deal with it! He forgave us everything and we must forgive everyone also. God will give you the grace to do this. It’s tough. It’s necessary. Its kingdom living!

LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION: Trials are the tests that God uses to mature you in your Christian life. Sometimes you win and you grow. Sometimes you fail. When you fail, the trial can be an avenue for you to fall into temptation, sin, and big trouble. We are praying for God’s hand to keep us out of temptation’s devastation. Rejoice in the trials, though (James 1:2-4).

The Our Father in Action

In our reading in Genesis 18, Abraham’s intercession for Sodom and Gomorrah shows the Our Father in action.

Verses 16-19 establish God as Abraham’s Father.

“I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.” verse 21...Thy will be done.

Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Verse 23…Hallowed be thy name.

From verse 24 to 32 Abraham bargains for the lives of the people, interceding to save the cities…Forgive us our trespasses.

Not finding ten righteous people, God provided His angels…Our daily bread.

And rescued Lot and his daughters from the destruction….Deliver us from evil.  Mom stayed behind and became a pillar of the community (Gen 19:26).

Now, what about the answer?

Now that we’ve seen an example of how to pray: what about the answer? Prayers are answered in three different ways: yes, no, and wait. Luke 11:9-13 by a comparison and contrast the Lord demonstrates his love, wisdom, and eagerness to give a yes answer to prayer. A key is the last verse where the Father gives His Holy Spirit to those who ask. The Holy Ghost guides us in our requests because sometimes instead of asking for an egg as it says in verse 12 we ask for the scorpion! So of course that’s a NO. What about the wait?

The wait answer leads us into persistence in prayer, as we read in Luke 11:5-8. There are any number of reasons why God delays an answer. It makes us reevaluate the request; it could be a no answer after all. From His vantage point, the circumstances may not be right at the moment or He has something better in mind. It could be that you’re not really serious; what you want may be more like a wish than a prayer. If you are serious, then the Lord may want you to become active in answering your own prayer. Waiting builds faith, shows dependence, gives God the glory, and makes the answer that much sweeter. No matter what, keep knocking, don’t give up, God is trustworthy and you will be rewarded. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous person is powerful (James 5:16).

Lastly, when you talk about a person whose life has been a rollercoaster from gutter to glory, King David, our psalmist, is your man and, because of that, nobody prays better than he does. Psalm 138 is his testimony of praise and thanksgiving of prayer’s power and God’s faithfulness. So get on your knees. Those that go to the Lord will never be cast out. Pray like you’ve got nowhere else to go, because you don’t. Expect an answer. Don’t worry. You’re in good hands.

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