Delivered Sunday, April 27, 2008, Gravatt Camp and Conference Center
Our Father, who are in heaven…
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…
Now I lay me down to sleep…
(singing) Oh God, you are my God, and I will ever praise you…
Oh God, oh God, oh God, oh God…
Prayer is an important part of our life and practice as individual Christians, and as Christians in community. But what is it? What is the purpose? What does it do?
Our prayer book describes prayer as “responding to God, by thought and by deeds, with or without words.”
What? I though the only way to pray was on my knees on Sunday morning hands together, eyes closed, memorized or otherwise…
Prayer makes itself present in many ways and in many places in our lives.
Some of you have memorized morning and bedtime prayers that you say each night before bed. Some of you pray on Sunday mornings with your congregation. Some of you might pray when you are doing other things like running, or knitting, singing playing an instrument, or a favorite sport, or working on a piece of art…there are many, many ways to pray.
What makes something prayerful, according to the definition that I said just a moment ago – is that it is about intentional – intended communication with God.
That can mean – starting an initial gathering with a prayer – to name to fact that God is present with us and we as a community wish to offer the joy and the learning that comes from being together to the creator who allowed us to gather.
It can mean taking time to be quiet, especially in times of high stress, or grief, or uncertainty – to be quiet and to listen for God, to give a little of yourself – your time, your attention to allow God to speak to you – your life your questions – your concerns.
It can mean flipping through the prayer book, or another resource and reading prayers in your head or aloud.
It can mean taking a pen and paper and writing a letter or journal entry in conversation with God.
Anytime that you take a moment to remember and recognize God’s presence in your world – in your life – in your gathering of friends and family – you are praying. Think about that the next time we sing the Johnny Appleseed song for a meal at grace – am I doing this for my own benefit, or am I doing this to honor God in thanksgiving for his presence at this meal and the food from creation that will nourish me today?
There specific types of prayer – and if you know the one that is most common to us, the one Jesus taught us to pray – the Lord’s Prayer – then you’ve got a great guide book to remembering the kinds of prayers that can be offered.
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name… God – you are amazing, and your name is worthy of praise – of being honored above all names – because you are the creator God – source of light and life. Way to go! Good job! - that is called praise – giving God the thumbs up. (praise)
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven… God, you created us and you want us to live in the way that is best for us – help us to let your will for our lives and our relationships be the one that we follow – and not just our own – because following our own will gets us in trouble sometimes. Help us Lord to follow your will. This is a prayer of oblation – making our purpose to be in line with God’s. (oblation)
Give us this day our daily bread… God – we have needs – we need to be nourished, we need shelter and to be cared for – we thank you for providing us with those needs and ask that you help us remember the needs of others – after all – some of us have more than we need, and others don’t have as much as we do…help us to only take and use what we need, and help us to remember to share with others when we realize that they don’t have all they need. (thanksgiving)
And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us… God, sometimes we mess up – BIG TIME – be with us in the times when we make mistakes – when we let our desires get in the way of how you would have a be in the world – how you would have us care for one another. When our actions hurt someone we love, or someone we find very difficult to love – help us to make amends – and help us to do it better next time.
And God, when someone hurts us, when someone hurts a friend, when someone hurts you, help us to find a way to forgive them too. It’s hard lord – especially – when they don’t even know how much we are hurting, or we feel powerless to stop them from hurting us and others again – give us patience, and the strength to face them and to forgive them for the mistakes they are making – because we know that we too have made mistakes, and we too will make them again. (Confession/reconciliation/forgiveness)
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
God, sometimes I have the chance to do something that I know you would not like. Sometimes my friends pressure me to do the things and sometimes I catch myself pressuring friends to do these things. Help me to make good choices, to walk a path that keeps me safe from hurting other people and from being hurt by others. (intercession/petition)
For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever and ever, Amen.
God, sometimes I am amazed at how great you are – that you aer with me in all things, in all times and in all places. Help me to always remember that you are here for me and that I can share that love with others who do not know you, or how present you are in all things. (adoration)
The Lord’s Prayer, the pray that Jesus taught us, reminds us to be thankful, to seek forgiveness, to forgive others, to praise god, to adore Gods’ greatness and to form our own lives according to God’s will.
There are many ways to pray – you may have been a person of prayer in many ways all along without even realizing it. When you think of a friend in need and then reach out to them, offer their name to god. When you are hurting or sad, ask for God’s presence – remember God is there with you, always. All you have to do to pray is remember that and respond to god’s presence in your thoughts, words or deeds.