August 18, 2019

Teach Us to Pray, Part 3

I’m continuing my series on prayer today. A couple of weeks ago in the park, I talked about how the Book of Psalms can help teach us to pray. Other than that, I’ve been talking about the Lord’s Prayer in this series:

For example, last week I talked about the nature of God’s Kingdom, the fact that Jesus brought heaven and earth together, and how important it was to pray first, foremost, and always, not that our own will be done, but God’s.

And then the first week, of course, I talked about how the way we begin the prayer is important, because saying “Father” tells us

August 11, 2019

Teach Us to Pray, Part 2


Last week in the park, I talked about how praying the Psalms of David can help us understand prayer and become more fluent in the language of prayer. I even talked about how praying prayers that we don’t necessarily want to pray might be good for us, because they remind us that it’s not always about us.

Two weeks ago, I opened this series on prayer with a sermon on the Lord’s Prayer. Specifically, I talked about the opening words: Our Father. It’s rare for me to preach a sermon on two words, but these words are important for three

August 4, 2019

Teach Us to Pray: Interlude

A few minutes ago, the presiding elder read to you
a piece by a poet I quoted in my sermon last Sunday.
So, since Wendell Berry
seems to be a theme as we talk about what prayer is,
let me begin my sermon with another one of his poems:
What stood will stand, though all be fallen,
the good return that time has stolen.
Though creatures groan in misery,
their flesh prefigures liberty
to end travail and bring to birth
their new perfection in new earth.
At word of that enlivening

Enough with Our Thoughts and Prayers!

This is a re-publication of a prayer I prayed in October 2017, following the Las Vegas massacre in which 59 people were killed and over 800 injured.

Enough with our thoughts and prayers, O God.
Our thoughts are clouded by arrogance
and our prayers are tainted by hypocrisy.

We’re lost, Lord. We are a violent people.
We have chosen to be led by violent leaders.
And we live in a land that is wracked by violence.
We profess love for all.
But grandparents are shot dead in the grocery store

July 28, 2019

Teach Us to Pray, Part 1

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.” —Luke 11:1-4

Jesus taught his disciples to pray in two different places in the gospels. We find this lesson in the 6th chapter of Matthew— right in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount. But in Luke (the gospel I just read from), we find it later, in the 11th chapter. In Matthew, the lesson comes unbidden. In Luke, it comes at the request of the disciples.

To understand this request, we need to realize the difference between Jesus and his cousin and precursor, John the Baptizer. John was into self-denial and strict forms of prayer. Jesus was accused of being his opposite, and it seemed that he gave his disciples a great