Preaching: Diana Ziegler
Date Presented: Monday, August 8, 2016
Scripture Reference: Philippians 4:4-9, Luke 11:1-13
Sermon: All My Days: Jesus the Risen Christ
Did you hear what was said in that first reading? Listen, it says:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God.”
Are you kidding me? Have you seen my calendar? Do not be anxious? Give thanks? It says “with thanksgiving”. Thanks for what? The 3-4 hours of sleep I got last night? And WHY did I only get 3-4 hours of sleep? Well, I’m a little anxious!!!
We all have our own stories, but I can only share my own; so, here it is:
There are currently six adults living at our house – well, Ryan will officially be an adult next week Thursday and he would be upset with me if I didn’t officially invite you all to our house on the 20th to share each other’s company, have a swim, and eat a lot of barbequed food… I’m serious, but I digress… Back to my story…
The six of us are ALL working very hard at figuring out how to independently live together; to coordinate calendars for those who aren’t driving with those who are driving; to figure out meals – or just what food products to have handy; to get the bathroom schedule to coordinate with who has to be where and when; the details for Devin’s venture into higher education – classes start in two weeks!!! School starts for Ryan right after Devin starts; I have a new job this year that requires a lot of travel; Grandma volunteers; Michelle is searching for both employment and education opportunities; Dave works 60ish hours a week; the car needs an oil change; Michael & Melissa’s baby is due in a month and oh yeah, I’ve got to finish preparations for the shower I’m hosting this coming Saturday but I will be at a conference tomorrow through Thursday; and my sister’s coming; and, and, and…
And I’m not supposed to be anxious? And I’m supposed to present these things to God with Thanksgiving? Oh yeah, hey, thanks God for yet ANOTHER headache! Right?
No… That’s not right. I’m not thanking him for my headaches and my anxieties – I’m presenting my headaches and anxieties to him with thanksgiving for the opportunities presented to me that give me anxiety. Seriously! Where would I be without my family who continually shows me love and support? Without my colleagues who acknowledge and encourage and challenge my passions for education and family welfare? Without all of these “things” that make me anxious in the moment, but bring so much value and richness and meaning to my life? With thanksgiving, I present the things that make me anxious. Yes! And then, as Paul says, “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” He says, “If anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” There is a LOT in my life – in what seems chaotic and sometimes unmanageable – there is a LOT that is excellent and praiseworthy. THIS is what I need to think about. THIS is what God wants for us. He wants us to see the good, the excellent, the praiseworthy. THIS is why we present our anxieties to Him, so that we don’t lose sight of all the greatness He has laid before us.
The actual quote from scripture has Paul telling us we should PRESENT our requests to God. So is that what prayer is? A time when we make requests of God? Well sure. But listen closely… Prayer is a TIME when we make requests. Prayer is NOT a request. We may request IN prayer, but a request is not itself a prayer.
Yes, it is a little confusing… we request IN prayer – request is not A prayer. What does that mean? How are we supposed to do that? What if we do it wrong? Can we do it wrong?
Let’s explore two ways to answer those questions. First, we’ve been making a journey in this series called “All My Days” (that’s the title on your bulletin) and we’ve been doing so with prayer beads. In the nine weeks these beads have covered, not ONCE was our prayer simply a request. We’ve offered thanksgiving and praise; shared our worries; listened in silence; took time for reflection; offered our struggles… Did we make requests IN those payers? Sure we did! We asked him to take our worries from us; to help us be open to the empty space within; guide us on our spiritual journey; lead us in the right direction as we go through difficult situations and troubled times… We made all of these requests IN our prayers of praise and thanksgiving, not AS our prayers.
And now we reach the final bead on our chain. The empty cross – representative of the Risen Christ. And with this bead we reach the second way to answer our questions about how we are supposed to pray and can we do it wrong…
The Risen Christ – the Christ we often refer to right before we say the Lord’s prayer. We say things like “and now, in the words that Jesus taught us, let us pray” Why do we have to pray the words that Jesus taught us? Can’t we say our own prayers? Sure we can, but when we say His words, we are reminding ourselves how Jesus taught us to pray. Remember, prayer is not simply a request of God – In Luke, we are told that upon hearing Jesus pray, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray…” And so He did. He proceeded to teach them HOW to pray. “He said to them ‘When you pray, say’…”
“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name”
Jesus taught us to address God by acknowledging that He is OUR father and that His name is holy.
Then Jesus taught us to continue praising God with:
“Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.”
Not a single request to God himself but acknowledgement of the greatness he brings – Praise to Him who is good, and just, and righteous. We sure hope to see that here on earth!
“Give us this day our daily bread”
Request? Yes, it is – but it is not a selfish request. We are asking Him to nourish us both physically and spiritually so that we can indeed do His will here on earth as his will is done in Heaven.
Then Jesus taught us to ask for something else. He taught us to ask God to “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us”
I messed up God and I’m sorry, please forgive me. Oh yeah, and Lucy messed up too – really messed up where I’m concerned – and I will forgive her. Our request here is simply for Him to help us be more like Him. For God to help us bring Heaven to earth.
And then we ask: “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”
Please God, share your strength with me and guide me on the right path – I don’t really want to mess up anymore (But if I do, and I ask in all sincerity for you to forgive me sins… ) And don’t let the evil of the past color my present or my future….
“For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the Glory Forever”
Again, we are very clearly praising God by acknowledging his glorious, powerful, majesty.
Prayer can be many things but no matter what, in ALL prayer, we praise God for all He has done, for all that He is. Jesus taught us how to pray by showing us we must, above all, acknowledge our Lord God and praise His presence in our lives – in what we conceive of as both good and bad.
The words He gave us, are always there to help ground us and center us. To remind us of the importance of the CONtent of our prayers. That our prayers are offers of praise and thanksgiving. Our own words, the words we ourselves choose to use in prayer, whether spoken or thought properly or in a jumbled mess, will always be heard – and we can be conTENT in that knowledge. And we can be conTENT in the knowledge that we cannot pray wrong if we truly know that the CONtent of prayer, that prayer itself offers thanks to God for His generosity, His grace, His patience and that within this prayer we make our requests for forgiveness, strength, and guidance.
And now, in reflection God, “We thank you for the journey you’ve guided us through these past several weeks. We thank you for the opportunity to learn about the many different types of prayer and for these Prayer Beads as a reminder.”
Let us pray:
Father God, we thank you for the beauty of each and every day that you have given us. We thank you for the people in our lives and the opportunities we have to share your graciousness to those we encounter. In all of this, we often find ourselves lost and overwhelmed by the events and activities of the day. In humble gratitude, we ask for your guidance in this world that can be filled with hatred, prejudice, and fighting; we ask for your strength in each situation that brings us fear; we ask for your comfort as we struggle with social difficulties, health scares, personal struggles, and loss. We ask, dear Lord, for your continued presence in our lives as we continue to strive to live as you have commanded.
We pray together now in the words that your son Jesus used to teach us how to pray…
“Our father, who art in heaven…”