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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Sunday, July 28, 2019           

Today’s Scripture Reading | Luke 11:1–13

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!” (NRSV)

Reflection
As I looked at my assignment for this month, I chuckled, for I had drawn the Lord’s Prayer once again. However, upon reading these verses from Luke’s Gospel, I realized how different they sounded from the words that Matthew recorded. Not only does Luke give us a shorter version than Matthew, but the surrounding lines in Luke have a distinct tone as well.

In these verses, it is one of the disciples who asks Jesus directly, “Lord, teach us to pray . . .” Of course we can recite these words individually, but most of us do so in a communal setting, whether in Sunday worship, in a memorial service, or other special worship.

Luke goes on to record Jesus’ teachings about perseverance in our prayer life. Not only do we join the earliest disciples in asking how to pray. We are also urged by our Teacher to press on in prayer, despite obstacles and impediments, trusting that God will hear and will respond.

When we reach the end of the prayers of the people in Sunday worship, the pastor who is praying invites all of us to join in the words Jesus taught his followers (which have evolved over the ensuing centuries). I value my Sundays in the pews as I hear these familiar words pour forth from all the worshipers surrounding me. Together as a congregation, joining in the Lord’s Prayer, we make the preceding words truly the prayers of the people.

How might I, how might we, seek God’s help in framing the words of our prayerful conversations? Where do we need to renew our perseverance in lifting up our prayers to the Holy One?

Prayer
Thank you, God, for Jesus’ teachings on prayer. Help us pay attention and persevere in our efforts to stay in conversation with you, however halting. May we ask, seek, and trust you to respond. Amen.

Written by Jeffrey Doane, Parish Associate for Older Adults

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