Please read Luke 11:1-13 for today.
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!”
I don’t know if you have caught this or not, but it is my habit when inviting us to pray the Lord’s Prayer after the prayers of the people to say, “Into your hands Gracious God we commend all for whom we pray, trusting in your mercy through Jesus Christ our Lord, who teaches us to pray….”
When I first began in parish ministry my colleague always used the present tense (teaches us to pray) rather than the typically used past tense (taught us to pray). When I asked him why he used the present tense he simply said, “Jesus is still teaching me how to pray.” Well, if that didn’t just knock me off my feet. Jesus is still teaching me how to pray. Of course! The words were memorized long ago, but the act of praying is an act of continuing education. Every time we open our lips to pray, or put pen to paper, or dare to speak to God in our minds and hearts we are opening ourselves to the wonder, mystery, and intimacy of being in relationship with God. Christ is continually inviting us to live into this relationship in prayer in ways that we can’t often explain. Isn’t that what Jesus is doing in the scripture reading for today? Right after giving them the words for prayer, he invites them to go deeper: ask, seek, knock. Keep learning to be in communication with the one who loves us like a loving parent. Trust God enough to open your heart, your mind, and your life to the one who created you. Keep learning what it means to pray, to listen, to be so connected to the divine that you actually ask, seek, and knock to know more fully. May Jesus keep teaching us to pray, and may we be students our whole lives.
In Peace, Pastor Ruth
Let us pray:
We are turning, Lord, to hear you, see you, and know you. You are merciful and kind, slow to anger, rich in blessing. With every twist and turn, lead our steps back to your grace and your mercy. Lead us in your ways of new life, forgiveness, and re-creation. We pray in the name of Christ, the one who reveals your love, Amen.