Thank you Choir.
Grateful for the invitation to be among us today. Thankful for Simon who decided this was a good idea, so if things go wrong, please find him and do something to him.
When we were children, we were encouraged to say our prayers at meals and especially at night before we went to bed. Sometimes if we had good enough parents, no parent is perfect, just good enough or who are religious or in our case Christians, they might even pray with us. They may again, if we are lucky, know some prayers that they pass onto us and each night we may kneel and pray and ask for blessings on our kin and sometimes even on our pets and dolls or trucks if you’re a guy. All in good order, we eat our food and go to sleep. Believing all is well with the world and that is perfect, but only if perhaps we are three or five or even seven years old saying our prayers is a good thing after all. That is until Jesus. I called him to our passage we read today. He must have been doing something strange to have his disciples take a second look and ask for prayer air. So before we explore what he was doing and why the disciples asked and what he taught them about prayer, shall we turn to God for elimination? Will you pray with me?
God of all grace and love. We your children gather this morning in praise and worship and in prayer that you will shed light on your words to us and quicken our minds and our hearts to hear you and to obey for your glory sake. Amen.
The average you knew how to pray. Meditation was part of the tradition. It was woven into our everyday life. They paused to pray from time to time, and the righteous pharisee would even let God know, he was not a like a pagan sinner. He prayed three times a day and fast. Remember that guy who went to church and told God, look at me. He does what fulfills the requirements of Jewish law. The sinners would cry out evening, morning, and noon in distress to God. When we follow the story of Daniel, we find that he makes prayers at the same times of the day. Morning, afternoon, evening, fixed prayers, wrote prayers, saying prayers but the Jews were not alone in praying that way, the religious people in the Mediterranean cultures prayed similarly. The Muslims do the same. You hear the calls to prayer,
there was more the pagans who worshiped many gods would not only say their prayers, but offer the same words over and over again. Almost like incantations. They would add various gyrations with your incantations. I said there were coaxing the gods to act on their behalf, and many of you may remember the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. Thing’s got so bad that they were cutting themselves in a frenzy as the uttered the incantations. Elijah had to suggest that they get louder because they are God, Baal, may perhaps be in the washroom, is not called private for nothing. No disturbing, and moms with many children know that sometimes it is the best spot in the house to have some quiet and some peace. That was how the Jew and the surrounding pagans prayed in the day. Perhaps that is how we pray too. Oh God, Oh God, Omg, Omg. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Three times. No prayers for the many snacks in between. They have nothing to do with God and fasting. What kind of creature is that? So with this kind of visual for prayer, Jesus is attitude and form of prayer may have been different enough to attract the attention of the disciples.
In the other version of this story, also in the gospels, they wanted to learn to pray the way John’s disciples prayed. Apparently friendly John the Baptist had taught his followers how to pray and so Jesus’s disciples wanted in on the action so Jesus gives them steps to prayer in bite size portions. It was one of those, eat this, not to that moment. First, acknowledge God’s fatherhood. Oh, I know a few feminists have had a field day with this concept of the fatherhood of God, but did you hear about the Southern Baptist old nan who said, if the KJV was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me. You missed that. It is almost like that with me. Jesus called God father because of what is signified in that day. One was nothing without father, father was everything. Sons are next because they become fathers. You and I, because of our cultures, understand that right to say father meant you have security with a capital “S”.
You had someone who didn’t just have your back, but your front and your sides and what is not to hollow. When you get to that and then you can ask for more of who he is to be spread all over the world because you’ve experienced what it means to have security with a capital “S”, front, back, sides, and even overhead covered and capsulated. In this one you called father. All because he his father. Our father, who art in heaven, hallowed be your name. Let your kingdom explode, and from that analogy, oh father, you can come in, ask for daily sustenance. Give us each day our daily bread. If you can’t ask, then you don’t have a father or you are not a son, and if you don’t get that, you’re in deep trouble. Everybody should get that. It is as easy to get it as the nonsensical examples Jesus offers for those who still doubt. You have doubt you just go and ask. You rush in minus your shirt and say, Dad, Dad, dad, you don’t get that. So Jesus gives them examples. Example one, the illustration of the visitor at night. To get the real point Jesus is making here, you have to transport yourself from Etobicoke to a village in Galilee and remove the image of some rooms with a hole in a basement in a man cave and replace it with a one room with a dirt floor where everyone, including sheep, live, eat, sleep.
If you think even your studio apartment, you missed the point. Hospitality is key here. In a culture where inhospitality is the worst form of Sim, of inhumanity, the message would be clear to the hearings. The greatest Antisocial Act is not road rage on the 401, I don’t know where the 401 is, but I’ve heard it before.
It is not road rage on the 401, but not seeing and meeting the need of a neighbour and no, you may not offer to pay for their food in the next restaurant, however, push, in that culture, you have to step over a wife and children and a few sheet and off our bread and see, this request was not even for the sake of the troublesome neighbour in need, but someone removed from them that you don’t even know from Adam’s cat. If you met Adam in the day and you were expected implored to answer that request at midnight, just when you were hitting the sweet spot of your sleep and there is more if this illustration wouldn’t work for you. How about you fathers? If your son were to ask you for the flesh of an animal from the sea, would you give him the meat of a snake?
I hear there is a lunch after. If they asked you for an egg, would you offer a scorpion? Or if they asked you for bread, would you offer stone? You see this as the point you made? Trick them with the flesh of a snake for fish as copy on for egg and stone for bread. These are staples everywhere you go to the grocery store, at least you may buy an egg and some fish and some bread. In the Mediterranean, it is so easy to mistake one of the staples of life for the other.
The eel and the snake would look the same and the egg and the scorpion will look the same because in that day they had white scorpions, not the black ones and there were so big and if they’re folded their tails in, they look like eggs. They were in abundance. And if you get past the sliced bread in your grocery store, Loblaws/Metro and thought of the hand formed gluten free bread. In an old fashioned switch oven. You can see how a stone kind of imitate bread. So you might coming from the field after a hard day’s work is sit down to dinner and it’s only after your two front teeth are out and you come to even fathom that because you’ve been bitten by a snake and stung by a scorpion. That you realize you have been tricked and you wonder, dad did that? No Way. Jesus is saying even evil father’s, sinners, like all of us know not to mess with food in a desert where land is passed in, a good meal is hard to come by. When hunger strikes and you see a meal spread, you want to sit down and eat quickly. Plus it was dad who set the table. Jesus is saying, if human beings don’t do that one to do that, then you should not think that God the father from whom all of us get to the concept of parenthood would do that. We just happened to have come through our parents. There’s a bumper sticker I’ve seen somewhere and it says this very well. Please drive carefully. Many people are cost by accidents,
but God knew you and loved you before he made you known and loved before he made you. If your earthly father is dreaming good things for you, what school you go to, what job you have in the future, what house you live in, what your children and your grandchildren will become, and dreaming and plotting and saving and doing all of that, then you’ll heavenly father is dreaming bigger, sweeter things for you and he saying to you today, child, I’m not a trickster, even evil fathers, I’m not, so come and ask, come and seek, come and knock. You asked for the taking, anything. Please don’t tell me about how many unanswered prayers you have stored away. Wishing is not praying. Hoping is not praying. Slapping “thy will be done” at the end of the wishy washy prayer. Just in case God doesn’t answer it, you may say it’s his will. That is not praying, either is just a cop out. Do you remember the story Jesus told again about the man who came to bother his friend at midnight when he came to his friend? He did not have a backup plan. It was that this friend of provided the bread he wanted or nothing. What does nothing in Korea?
What is the word you use? Okay. You’re on your own for that. I was going to put that in, nothing. If his friend and didn’t give it to him. There was nothing. There was no way out. This was it, or nothing. When a child looks to the father for food, bread, daily sustenance, he’s not asking why he’s also expecting to go out and fend for himself. But friends, so often when we ask for anything of God, including daily bread, we have a backup plan, don’t we? And the least. We have a few loonies and toonies and we can go to McDonald’s or Tim Horton’s and get something off the dollar menu. Yes?
So when we come and ask out of politeness, we say our prayers, we don’t really pray. To pray is to beg, to beg in earnest to ask because this is it. If you don’t give me, there’s nowhere else to go. You have to hold onto God’s skirts and tear is bra off and say it’s you or nothing. It is either given or we don’t have any where to go. Have you ever prayed or have you said praise and is it because you don’t trust God to come through because you think he’s more wicked than earthly fathers and would trick you and give you what will snuff life out of you rather than give you life abundant. For that is why Jesus came. Your parents may give you biological life, but so he, life abundant, win some, that which makes the world wonder what’s up with you that Jesus gives? When was the last time you prayed and prayed, boldly? Brothers and sisters, when you come to pray, to ask you are home, you are not a second class citizen or an immigrant or what they call alien, who has to tippy toe around the corridors of heaven. Jesus has given you your birth certificate and a key to come and go. His very name a person was nothing but their name. If I say Simon, we know, you can take that to the bank and cash it. You can count on Jesus.
When you know all you hear is, “Enter and come and ask. Come and seek. Come get your pleasure.” And I’m not talking about the brazen sense of entitlement that we find in so much prosperity, Gospel teaching and charismatic prayer these days, claiming, aiming. No. The kind of prayer that asks for large worldly goods as a means to score points on being blessed by God.
No, as if God have was some braggadocious potentate who needs to prove his metal, and that is what is so blasphemous about prosperity Gospel. So now I’m looking like I’m overdressed for this church, looking at all of us. Any attention seeking rich fool can of give you a Bentley or buy you a jet and they get points for every time you would tell someone who bought you that jet and who gave you that Bentley,
That’s not our God, and don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying God can’t or won’t do such things if God wanted, but the how and the why, he would do such things. They matter too. God doesn’t need to prove himself to anyone and he wouldn’t do things on command or demand. At his lowest, he has a simple dandelion which you probably walked over before you walked into this sanctuary today, besting Solomon in all his finery, so does Georgio Armani, Louis Vuitton and all those other people. Have you seen a blade of grass and looked closely at it. All those fashion designers are “blah” in comparison to just what God has done with a blade of grass so God can do infinitely more and than we can see or understand so please don’t insult him by getting impressed with so called big things that he’s done. No, he’s in his nature.
Who gets impressed when you sneeze, to be involved in the daily grind of your life like daily bread, moment by moment. Changing diaper, cutting your hair, carrying you when you are tired, and if you think only moms and dads do that, you haven’t read your Bible very well. Hey, I’m the Lord your God. I saw you naked and filthy, screaming, wallowing in the blood of your mother, and I picked you up and cleaned you up and called you my own. And I am your God. O Jacob. I will carry you even into your gray hairs. Oh, please Google later and proved me right. Go one. Google it after church. I’m asking at least one of those is an easy kill. In my language we call God the “philvy nursing mother.”
Have you seen a nursing mother lately? All that gooey stuff on their shoulders. Now they put a diaper thing on there to prevent it from you know when the always smelling of things. That is our name for God. If this is God, and if this is your father, why do you say your prayers? Instead of praying, this is the God who is not too big to answer little prayers nor too low to answer big praise. The God who knows and has anticipated your need before you know it and even start to clear your throat to ask for it, but you have to know you’re coming to a father and to come with a beloved child’s attitude? There’s nothing you cannot ask for, the choice as seen in heaven has already been given for you. In a few moments, we will gather to eat the bread of heaven. So what’s on your heart as individuals and what is on your collective heart as a church. Don’t say your prayers. Pray. We are all lamenting the decline of the church. Don’t say your prayers. Pray that the Lord of the church will send his Holy Spirit upon his church and bring the revival.
That he will start the work in you and I, any all of us. Don’t say your prayers church. Use your legacy. Jesus could have left you lots of things, but this is what he left you. A key that can get you anything. Use your legacy. Pray.