Posts Tagged ‘National Day of Prayer 2018’

National Day of Prayer Homily 2018: “Prayer Is Supposed to Be Easy”

May 5, 2018

I know I’m way behind on my blog! Forgive me! As an itinerant United Methodist pastor, I’m preparing for a transition this June to a new appointment in our North Georgia Conference. So while I still have important work to do at my current appointment, I’m also busy getting ready for a big move. I’ll catch up on the blog, I promise!

In the meantime, here is the homily I shared at this week’s National Day of Prayer service at my church, which was attended by Hampton Mayor Steve Hutchison and his wife, Linda, many city officials, and local pastors in the area—among others. Enjoy! 

Homily Text: Luke 11:5-13

Until about a year ago, I thought of myself as a pretty tough guy. What changed? I started taking Tae Kwon Do with one of my sons. I thought it would be good exercise… As it turns out, it was a good exercise in humility. Not only did learn that I was terrible at Tae Kwon Do, I also realized that I did not like getting hit, especially in the face, which often happened to me when I sparred.

After a couple of minutes of sparring, I would be like… [imitate breathing very heavily]. What was wrong with me? Why am I so bad at this? The Tae Kwon Do instructor, Master Joaquin, told me: “You’re not breathing… You’re holding your breath. You must breathe.” “But I’m holding my breath because I’m about to get punched in the face!” So that was my problem…

Tae Kwon Do is hard. Breathing ought to be easy. And prayer, according to today’s scripture, ought to be more like breathing than Tae Kwon Do—if you know what I mean. Prayer ought to be easy!

But we often make it hard. We worry, for instance, that we’re doing it wrong. So I want to set your mind at ease: If you don’t pray as often as you should because you’re worried that you’re doing it wrong, I want to set your mind at ease: You are doing it wrong! We all do prayer wrong! Listen: If no less a saint than the apostle Paul was “doing it wrong” then we all are. Listen to what Paul said in Romans 8:26-27:

We don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.[1]

But this is good news, because the Bible tells us that our prayers are effective, not because of who we are or what we do, but because of who God is and what he does. In other words, our prayers are effective—even when we do it wrong—because of God’s grace!

This is the main point of this parable that Jesus tells in today’s scripture: a man who has company goes to a friend’s house—at midnight—and asks him for bread. Because he has nothing to feed his company. According to the rules of first-century near Eastern hospitality, this is deeply shameful; this is a crisis! Read the rest of this entry »