Posts Tagged ‘Lord’s Prayer’

Learning more about the prayer Jesus taught us

February 16, 2010

Here are two good books that I read in preparation for our Lord’s Prayer sermon series: The Lord & His Prayer by N.T. Wright and Lord, Teach Us: The Lord’s Prayer and the Christian Life by Willimon and Hauerwas. They’re short and relatively easy to read (i.e., written for a non-academic audience). If you’re interested in learning more about the prayer Jesus taught us, you might like them, too.

Sermon for 02-07-10: “The Prayer Jesus Taught Us, Part 5: Deliver Us From Evil”

February 9, 2010

Sermon Text: Matthew 6:13

[Please note: Due to operator error (i.e., I forgot the recorder), there is no audio of the sermon this week. Sorry!]

A time of testing is in the air. Last week, one of you told me that your daughter is taking the Kaplan course for SAT preparation. I know the SAT has changed over the years, but the propaganda used to be that it’s not a test that you can study for. But of course you can study for it, and you ought to. How many of you are taking the SAT this spring? God bless you. Testing doesn’t end when you’re out of school, unfortunately. I might have mentioned this recently, but I would appreciate your prayers as I prepare to be “tested” by the Board of Ordained Ministry. I turn in all of my paperwork tomorrow for full ordination, and then I have to go defend myself before the Board in the spring.

I’ve mentioned this before, but my apprehension over the Board has manifested itself by these recurring nightmares I have about academic failure. I had two dreams last week about it. In one, I was back at Georgia Tech, taking a calculus exam. The test was being proctored by ministers on the Board of Ordained Ministry! In the other dream that I can remember, I was in a cooking competition, and the meal I was frantically preparing was being judged by these same ministers! Testing! Read the rest of this entry »

Sermon 01-31-10: “The Prayer Jesus Taught Us, Part 4: Forgive Us Our Trespasses”

February 4, 2010

Sermon Text: Matthew 6:12

Click this link to download an .mp3 or press the play button below.

The following is my original manuscript of the sermon.

Ship-of-fools.com, a British Christian humor magazine, sponsored a contest asking its readers to compress the Lord’s Prayer into the size of a single text message. The regular Lord’s Prayer is 372 characters long; a text message is 160, so this takes some creativity. The winning entry was the following: [display on screen] “dad@hvn,ur spshl.we want wot u want&urth2b like hvn.giv us food&4giv r sins lyk we 4giv uvaz.don’t test us!save us!bcos we kno ur boss,ur tuf&ur cool 4 eva!ok?” [Read it aloud.] I like that. I also like the third place entry: God@heaven.org, You rule, up and down. We need grub and a break. Will pass it on. Keep us focused. You totally rule, long term. Amen. Read the rest of this entry »

14,479 Answered Prayers

October 10, 2009

In tomorrow’s sermon, I’m going to preach on Jesus’ seemingly difficult words in Matthew 7:7-11, in which Jesus speaks confidently about the efficacy of prayer. We’re going to explore the tension that exists between Jesus’ words and our own experience of prayer. But here’s an additional thought on the subject of prayer, specifically intercessory prayer, which I won’t be covering tomorrow.

In my line of work, I am inundated with prayer lists. Do you know what I’m talking about? Every staff meeting, every district clergy meeting, and every meeting with my fellow “provisional elders” begins with a time of sharing prayer requests. Moreover, I get a half-dozen emails every week from the North Georgia Conference asking me to pray for people, most of whom I do not know, who are sick or dying or whose loved ones are sick or dying. I’m often not sure what to do with these prayer lists. Of course intercessory prayer—literally interceding with God on someone else’s behalf—is good, important, and biblical. I do believe that God can love and bless others through our prayers. And yet

The way we often do intercessory prayer in church raises questions in my mind: Is God more likely to  intervene if more people are praying for that person? If God won’t intervene when only five people are praying, will God intervene when 50 or 500 people are praying? Is there any accountability here? Who’s keeping track of whether or not the people for whom we pray are getting the help we’re praying for? Are we afraid to keep track because—deep down—we don’t think this prayer makes much difference?

As you can tell, I struggle with this issue. And most of us have struggled with the challenge of unanswered prayer at some time in our lives. But consider this: for every unanswered prayer, there are thousands of prayers that God answers—or at least God would, if we bothered to pray them at all. In the Lord’s Prayer, the prayer that Jesus gave us as a model to follow, there is this petition: “Give us this day our daily bread.” I am 39 years old. In the 14,479 days I have lived, I have never failed to receive my daily bread. I mostly don’t even think about where my bread will come from. Yet Jesus tells us that this bread, as humble and modest a gift as it may be, is a gift from a faithful and loving Father. This challenges me to consider all the other good gifts that God gives me every day, every hour, and every moment, which I also take for granted.

We may question why God doesn’t intervene for us in a particular case (the Psalms are filled with faithful people who question God in this way). As we do, however, let’s also appreciate that God is constantly intervening to meet our deepest needs at every moment.