Luke 11: 1-4 – The World in Front of the Text

rootedchristThis week we are going deeper into a passage that you most likely know pretty well. The Lord’s Prayer. We are going to be looking at the version fo the prayer that is found in Luke, specifically Luke 11: 1-4. We’ll follow the same pattern that we’ve been going by this year, one day of the world behind the text, at least one day of the world of the text, at least one day of the world in front of the text

In the next two days, I want to talk about some helpful tools for praying.  In our world in front of the text (i.e. what does this mean to us?), I think one of the best things that we can do is what the disciples did in this text, go to Jesus with this request – teach us to pray.  While I am in way, shape, or form anywhere near a master of prayer, here are a few suggestions from my life that may be helpful to you.

First, pray simply.  This may be the key to all prayer.  Prayer is not about the words we pray.  Now, there are some very helpful tools that we can use, guides like the Book of Common Prayer, or methods like the ACTS model that we’ll talk about tomorrow. But in truth, these are only tools that help us, to better communicate and be aware of God’s presence.  That’s what prayer is, at its core, an awareness of God’s presence, an awareness of who God is and His grace towards us.  When you pray, don’t worry about what you have to say.  Don’t worry about the words.  I know that can be a challenge, but instead just focus on God’s presence, God’s love and make yourself aware of His spirit within you.

Second, pray regularly.  This is something that is important to my faith. I try to wake up close to the same time each day and pray.  Pray for my wife and kids, pray for my church, pray for those on our prayer list, pray for friends in ministry, and pray for the grace to do God’s will within my life.  For me, if I have dedicated times of prayer, that truly helps center me and keep my prayer life on track.  I don’t know what time works for you, morning, noon, or night.  Maybe lunch?  You know your schedule better than I. But find dedicated times to pray.

Next, pray constantly.  Wait, didn’t I just say pray at certain times?  Now you are telling me to pray all the time?  Which is it?  Yes.  It is both.  We need to have dedicated times to pray, each day. But we need to, throughout our day, pray.  Pray has things occur.  Pray as we see people or see needs.  Pray as things happen.  Pray.  It is important to have our life of prayer bound to patterns and practices, but we need to also be attentive to God throughout our day and offer Him our concerns throughout the day. As St. Paul writes – pray without ceasing.

Next, we should pray biblically.  Now, what does this mean?  To mean, this means that our reading of scripture should lead us to pray and our prayers should lead us to read scripture.  When I read the Bible in the morning, I want to be listening for God’s voice in that, and I want to let the words that I have read on the page lead me into communication with God.   My scripture reading should cause me to desire a relationship with God.  So, we pray biblically.  Reading scripture is not just for the head, it is for the heart.

And finally, we pray creatively.  What does this mean?  Well, this is something I am not good at.  Rev. Erin Hicks, one of our associate pastors here St. Matthew’s has a real gift of praying in color.  As she rights out her prayers, she uses different colors to creatively express these prayers.  It is a beautiful thing to see, but also a creative outlet for the soul.  Maybe you are an active person.  Go walk and pray.  When I was younger and had better access to a gym, I’d go shoot basketball and pray.  Some of you have to drive a lot for work.  Listen to prayer guides on audiobooks or podcasts.  There are many creative ways that you can pray. Don’t be afraid to try something new and a little different if you are feeling dry in your prayer life.

Tomorrow we’ll look at a specific method of pray that may be a helpful tool.

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