Monday, July 23, 2007

Prayer and a relationship with God Luke 11:1-12

Jesus prayed, it happened over and over in the Gospels, most especially in the Gospel of Luke. We can read in Luke of his prayer from the 40 days in the wilderness at the beginning of his ministry all the way up to his death. It was obvious that communication with the Father mattered for Jesus and that his friends saw how much prayer mattered and wanted to learn how to pray like Jesus.
Luke wrote that Jesus taught them simple words. The Lords' prayer isn't a magic formula for a perfect life; but model of key used to open the door between heaven and earth. Prayer doesn't bring us out of the earth rather it helps us reach to God from this earth so that we can not only hear God but be known by God.
At the heart of the Christian faith is a wonderful relationship between God and each Christian that depends not on our choice of words, as wonderful and beautiful as they might be, but on the simple faith that they are heard.
As a pastor one of my great joys is teaching prayer; but this past few years it has also become a great struggle. The congregation I serve has many young people who come to confirmation not knowing the Lord's Prayer or ever having heard about the love of God for them; their parents and often times Grandparents, believe that a church telling them about God will make them better people; but in truth we only add to the confusion if we don't teach the relationship that lies behind the words of a prayer.

Martin Luther wrote in his small catechism,

“Our Father who art in heaven.” What does this mean?
Answer: Here God would encourage us to believe that he is truly our Father and we are truly his children in order that we may approach him boldly and confidently in prayer, even as beloved children approach their dear father.
Tappert, Theodore G. The Book of Concord : The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 2000, c1959.
The challenge is not to have a 7th grader memorize this prayer enough to parrot it back and spit it out; but to help them glimpse the audacious love of a creator God who wants each of us to return love to him as children return love to their own earthly father.

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