Title: Taught by our Lord … we pray!
Text: Luke 11:1-13
11 Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”
Our Gospel lesson today begins with our Lord in prayer … a practice that we know from the scriptures, that He did very often. Most of us know that prayer is – conversation with God – we talk to God about our needs and wants but find it hard at times to know how or for what to pray. This leads to the disciples in our lesson asking Jesus to teach them to pray and His giving of the Lord’s Prayer.
Martin Luther the great reformer was also asked by his barber, Master Peter Beskensdorf, how he prays? Luther, not one for quick or short answers in spite of all that consumed his time gave his barber a reply … a letter of 40 printed pages! Titled “A Simple Way to Pray”, Luther delved into his deep understanding of prayer and all that the world, the flesh and the devil work at to keep you away from prayer and your conversation with God.
Jesus teaches his disciples:
“Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
3 Give us each day our daily bread,
4 and forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.”
Martin Luther begins his letter to Master Peter by focusing on what he needs to do to be skilled at his vocation as a barber.
“A good clever barber must have his thoughts, mind and eyes concentrated upon the razor and the beard and not forget where he is in his stroke and shave.
If he keeps talking or looking around or thinking of something else, he is likely to cut a man’s mouth or nose – or even his throat.
So anything that is to be done well … ought to occupy the whole man with all his faculties and members. As the saying goes, He who thinks of many things thinks of nothing and accomplishes no good; How much more must prayer possess the heart exclusively and completely if it is to be a good prayer!”
9 And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
Prayer is a beautiful thing but one that has many obstacles.
The moment you wake up each morning, all your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists in shoving it all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other, larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in.
You know you miss the mark when you pray.
So do I … and so did our Synod President Matt Harrison. In one of his talks at a convention he told a story of when he first was elected president and of a visit with an old pastor, a bishop, of a partner church in Germany.
He said, “In his room was a kneeler that the old man obviously used very often. There were knee marks in the worn pad where he had spent many hours and the arm rest was indented as well. Also the pages of the Bible were thin with the oil of the hands making them almost transparent.” President Harrison said, “Seeing that I thought to myself – I need to learn how to pray!”
It is one of the things that I resolved to do and to be better at as well. Prayer is something that must be done by you and by me as Jesus tells us to:
… ask … than to seek … and finally to knock.
Luther continues his letter to his barber with this:
It is a good thing to let prayer be the first business in the morning and the last in the evening.
Guard yourself against such false and deceitful thoughts that keep whispering: Wait a while. In an hour or so I will pray. I must first finish this or that. Thinking such thoughts we get away from prayer into other things that will hold us and involve us till the prayer of the day comes to naught. (Or becomes nothing)
You can’t know your heavenly father without communing with Him.
This is done by prayer as you ask, seek and knock and by hearing his word of reply as you partake of weekly worship, hearing the Lord’s word of Law and Gospel but truly being comforted by his holy absolution given by God through his means of word and sacrament.
I have been involved in ordinations and installations services over the years and many new pastors called from the seminary have been ordained into the office of the Holy Ministry with a beautiful service, wonderful music, the laying on of hand from the local pastor’s in attendance, and with much singing and prayer.
When God calls a pastor to His church He is calling a pastor to be His representative, called through the congregation to bring Christ and His gifts to His people. It was joyful to be involved and to celebrate what God has done and continues to do for his people.
As we think about our Lord’s words again in the Gospel for today regarding prayer:
11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 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!”
The Holy Spirit is given in abundance at these ordinations and installations because God wishes to richly bless His people with His gifts and the most blessed gift you can have is the gift of the Holy Spirit given to you … who works in you, faith in Christ’s finished work and keeps you pointed to Him so that on the last day you may stand firm in that faith unto life everlasting.
And by the Holy Spirit’s work in you from our epistle reading today bring the joyful gift of prayer to the Lord’s logical conclusion when it says:
10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. 11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.
When you were born in sin the devil would have placed a sign upon your forehead that read "Dead to God," which means that you are dead in sin and dead you will stay. But, God in Christ has ripped that sign from your forehead and replaced it with a new sign that reads “Alive in Christ!”
Your sin has been paid through the cross that Christ endured for you, so that in Him you might have an eternity 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. Eph. 1:21
In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.