Sermon for the Ninth Sunday after Pentecost

In today’s gospel, Jesus tells us how to pray. He gives us a common bond, something that is personal, something that was close to Him. Christian prayer goes back to the example and precept of Jesus himself. His own prayer was the occasion for the disciples to ask Him how to pray. His disciples wished to imitate Jesus. They ask “Lord, teach us to pray.” He replied with the Lord’s Prayer. Luke’s version is briefer than that of Matthew. Matthew’s version includes the familiar words we use repeatedly. Which one is the original, no one is certain, but the church has adopted the one we use regularly found in the Book of Common Prayer.. We pray as our Lord taught us and the disciples. Jesus; prayer life greatly influenced His disciples. They noticed when He prayed that something happened. They eagerly came to Jesus and said teach us to pray. Jesus said you should pray after this manner, “Our Father, who are in heaven…” Now Jesus was not indicating that this was to be the disciples only way to pray or that those were to be the only words that they were ever to say in prayer. It was not to be a substitute for their own spontaneous prayers. Jesus meant that they were to pray after the fashion of this particular prayer. (The Lord’s Prayer).

In the phrase, Our Father, the word Father as it pertains to God was not often used in a personal way in the Old Testament. It was first used in this personal intimate way by Jesus. He and the Father “Abba” were one. This was the new dimension that Christ brought out of the Old Covenant into the New Covenant. He tells us to call God, Father which says we too can be that closely related to God.

Who art in heaven: When Jesus came to this earth, it was with out stretched hands filled with God’s blessings, and an open Heaven behind Him. He came to people’s lives at the point of their needs, responding to their faith and performing miracles and setting them free. And He does the very same today.

In the words Hallowed be thy name, Jesus had a deep feeling about the name of God. He never used it irrevently nor in vain. He knew who the source of His life was and He reverenced the name of the Father with great honor and love. Jesus says to you and me, when we pray, be sure that you have reverence for the name of God who is your Father.

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven: May God’s rule in peace and righteousness swiftly come about on earth. The will of God starts out in heaven but it must be lived out here on earth. We are to know God is good here on earth, not just good in the kingdom of heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread: We ask for daily bread, which of course we know does not literally mean bread, but all human provisions both physical and spiritual. We ask for clothes, a good car, adequate money, employment and good health. If we pray and ask, God will provide. We ask for forgiveness from the sins we have done against others. Only God can forgive. Humans may or may not forgive each other, but when we truly repent and believe in Him, God will freely and fully forgive us. We ask that we are not lead down the path of self righteousness when the going get tough. May God lead us to the path that leads to Him. Let us be planted with the seed of Faith. God plants a seed that will lead us to Him. Through faith we can speak ask our “ups and downs, our mountains, trials, tribulations” to be removed and it will obey us, for God is the kingdom, the power and the glory. This prayer has been given to us to open our hearts to talk to God. We all know it. We cherish it and we say it over and over again.

Who taught you the Lord’s Prayer! Do you remember when you first learned it? Have you known it forever? Have you made it your own, have you made it personal? The Lord’s Prayer became personal for me during my first by pass. Right after my first surgery, I developed complications and had to have my oxygen level tested hourly. To do this my bed was tipped up side down so I had my head facing the floor. When I did it felt like my whole chest was pulling apart. The pain was so great I couldn’t stand it.

So I started to pray the Lord’s Prayer. It gave me something different to concentrate on instead of the agony I was going through. As I did this I began to focus on my praying. After a few times, I would pray with more feeling and slower words. As time went by I would end the prayer the same time my bed would start turning back up. Saying the Lord’s Prayer became my salvation. It became very personal to me. I remember the first time I was on the altar after my return back to church, I started to say the Lord’s Prayer and I could feel the tears swelling up in my eyes. God had brought me home without any pain to a loving God who made his prayer my own.

In the Gospel the Lord’s Prayer is followed by parables whose purpose is to encourage men to pray. Ask, and you will receive. This apparently unconditional affirmation that a Christian’s prayer is always heard is illustrated by the analogy of an earthly father; if God is your Father so is a promise of the Lord’s Prayer and of all Christian praying that begins Abba, Father, how much more will he grant the prayers of us, his children. But we have to step back and realize what that answer is and where do we go from there. Sometimes I pray, I knock, I seek, I receive but I don’t receive what I am looking for.

Most of you know by now that the Bishop has turned down my request for the Diaconate. I do not know why and was told that the Bishop does not have to tell me why. I knocked and tried my best, but it is like playing “Let’s Make A Deal” when I opened the door, I got Zonked. I spent the last month in Florida with my family. Before I left Fr. Tom told me to write down the times that I felt God was calling me. You may know that my concentration for the Diaconate was to visit and attend those who are aged, alone or needed extra help. When I got to Florida, my 88 year old Uncle had recently had a stroke and was using a walker to get around. His wife, my 88 year old Aunt had fallen and broken a hip and was also using a walker. My uncle is completely deaf and my aunt is blind. They live alone and my cousin takes care of their needs. So being that I was there I attended to them as much as I could. A calling from God, I think so. I had no intension of going to Florida, but after I got the news from the Bishop, my brother who now lives in Florida asked if I wanted to come down and spend some time relaxing. So I went, I did more then relax, I cooked, I cleaned, I shopped, I ran errands. But during all this I forgot about the Bishop and becoming a Deacon. God’s answer to my prayer? God’s calling? Yes, I did what needed to be done. God called me without me even knowing it. I answered and extended my ministry. There might have been a Zonk behind door number one, but I accepted it. I am happy, I received God’s love. I have a path of faith. I will continue to seek out God’s will. And as always I will continue to pray “Our Father, Who art in heaven.” It is Jesus’ prayer. It is my prayer. It is your prayer say it from your heart, embrace it with love it is Jesus’ gift to you. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever and ever.

Amen