Prayer

This Sunday’s Gospel lectionary text is Luke 11:1-13.  It begins with the disciples asking Jesus to teach them how to pray and Jesus teaching them Lord’s prayer followed by him talking about seeking and finding and words that I say in just about every other sermon or talk with students at one time or another.  Very familiar words… “Ask, and it will be given you; search and you fill find; knock, and hte 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.”  Then it goes on talking about eggs and scorpions.  It’s a rich text.  And when I picked it at the beginning of the week when I working on the bulletin, I really wanted to work on it and see where the Spirit led because while saying the Lord’s prayer in the midst of The Journey service last week, I actually stumbled over some of the words – can’t even remember which ones now – because I was thinking about what they actually meant and what we’re actually saying when we say that familiar and yet powerful prayer.

I admit that as often is the case when I pick a text as time gets closer to Sunday I start to second guess and think that I might should have gone with one of the others.  It is always awe-inspiring for me to think about all of the little and amazing things that God brings to us when we’re wrestling with something.  This week it has been prayer for me.  Part of me does regret picking that text because there’s a part of me that’s not ready to think seriously and openly about this text after the events of the past couple months.  It’s still a little too personal to put into a sermon or to reflect on.

Mike brought in the poster board card that the folks at SC’s Annual Conference made me while I was having surgery.  Who knows how it ended up in my trunk and I have no clue who brought it from Florence but it ended up in Wesley on Thursday morning as Mike was cleaning out my trunk.  I can’t say how much those prayers meant to me and continue to mean to me.  I can’t begin to express how much I want to keep asking and knocking on that door in prayer in hope.

I’ve been reading various women’s books over all this time out of sheer boredom from doctor’s office visits and when the kids are watching that episode of Caillou or Dora or Phinneas and Ferb for the millionth time.  (Sidenote:  most women’s books are so depressing and sad – does no one believe in happy endings anymore besides the Christian fiction authors???)  One of my dear students here let me borrow The Time Traveler’s Wife before she left for the summer.   Beautiful story.  Deep love.  I will never watch the movie because it’s more sad than I want, but beautiful.  Yet again I do think God brings random things into our lives that wake us up to a truth we need to see or things we need to realize or just that guidance that we can’t always even understand.  In reading the ending of that book – I found myself realizing that even though I have prayed and felt uplifted throughout this journey and I have appreciated the prayers of so many, I’ve never actually cried out specifically for God to heal me. 

It kind of freaks me out even to type it.  I know that’s weird.  Especially for a pastor that does believe that prayer can do miraculous things.  And someone that does believe in the “Heal me and I will be healed.  Save me and I will be saved.  For you alone are God.”  So in thinking about the sermon that I have no idea what I’m going to really say tomorrow – what makes us afraid to ask or knock or seek?  What holds us back?  What stands in our way?

Crying out to God that night, trying to figure it out – I don’t know.  It’s a lot of things.  Fear that it won’t happen.  Fear of what healing really means and for how long.  Fear that even if everything is healed, I won’t know how to go back to life as usual.  Is it pride?  Do I pray for others but not want to pray for myself?  Why is that?  I’m no more resilient or together and certainly not any more godly.  Is it that I see people all around every day and I hear stories of people that need healing so much more and I wonder and rail that I’m sure some of them ask, seek, and knock and where are their good gifts and not scorpions?  I just saw a blip of Ann Curry’s special on the Today Show with the family of 10 living on $500 a month and I’m like why am I even taking the time to write a blog or eating lifesaver gummies when there are people out there that are struggling and hurting needing “good gifts” as much as the rest of us.

Do we think we’re not good enough to ask?  Or not deserving enough?  Or needy enough?  Or nice enough?  What is it that holds us back from prayer?  What makes it hard to ask and give these things over?  Control?  Pride?  Fear?  Anger at what we’ve seen as unanswered prayer?

In watching Anne of Green Gables on PBS for a couple weekends I noticed how Marilla first taught Anne how to pray and she explained to her in a very simple manner – that she should thank God for God’s blessings and then ask God if there’s something she’d like.  Hilarious scene.  Sadly youtube does not have it.  I think about the whole ACTS – Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication.  I think of all the prayer circles and prayer ministries and prayer shawls (and Windsor UMC I love the one y’all made me!  it is in my office and i’ve already had a couple students wrap in it and i hope feel your prayers!).  I read this passage and think very layered/complicated back and forth theology blah, blah, blah statements but you know it’s really pretty simple.  Ask – it will be given, search – find, knock – door open.  It’s not complicated.  And yet somehow we make it so in our minds.  Or maybe that’s just mine.

I don’t have all the answers and I feel sure that I won’t have come up with them by tomorrow morning at 11 am, but I do know that God is a God of love and that God does love us as God’s very own.  So those scorpions or the AIDS or the heart attacks or the car accidents or the cancers or the abuse or the hurricanes are not from God.  They can be used by God for our good but our God knows us, loves us and seeks the best for us.

Maybe that’s what it boils down to…the trust and the faith to believe not only that God answers prayer and that God hears us, but that God is love and is good and is not going to bait and switch us and give us a mouse trap to stick our fingers in instead of an awesome gigantic lollipop.  It is with confidence and boldness that we pray knowing that we are heard and held by the great God of the universe.  We can cry out when we’re starting a new job, or a new school, or a new adventure and we will be answered.  We can continue to ask the hard questions and wrestle and just not understand and as we seek, surely we will find…Can’t wait for each of us to knock on that door and to see the warm light and smile when the door is opened.

Found this from Celine Dion and Josh Groban on youtube.  I know a little cheesey but I do think there’s a love and emotion in there that is present in these passages about prayer…that love of parent and child – that guidance and leading.

I pray you’ll be our eyes, and watch us where we go.
And help us to be wise in times when we don’t know
Let this be our prayer, when we lose our way
Lead us to the place, guide us with your grace
To a place where we’ll be safe

The light you have
I pray we’ll find your light
will be in the heart
and hold it in our hearts.
to remember us that
When stars go out each night,
you are eternal star
Nella mia preghiera
Let this be our prayer
quanta fede c’è
when shadows fill our day

How much faith there’s
Let this be our prayer
in my prayer
when shadows fill our day
Lead us to a place, guide us with your grace
Give us faith so we’ll be safe

We dream a world without violence
a world of justice and faith.
Everyone gives the hand to his neighbours
Symbol of peace, of fraternity
We ask that life be kind
and watch us from above
We hope each soul will find
another soul to love

The force his gives us
We ask that life be kind
is wish that
and watch us from above
everyone finds love
We hope each soul will find
around and inside
another soul to love
Let this be our prayer
Let this be our prayer, just like every child

Need to find a place, guide us with your grace
Give us faith so we’ll be safe
Need to find a place, guide us with your grace
Give us faith so we’ll be safe

It’s the faith
you light in us
I feel it will save us

3 thoughts on “Prayer

  1. wow.. what a powerful message. took my psycho yesterday and was told that I pray for others more than myself. sound a little familar. giving the children’s moment in the morning on this scripture!! lots to think about

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