Sermon – 07-28-19 – Proper 12 – Cycle C
Scripture: Genesis 18:20-32, Psalm 138, Colossians 2:6-19, Luke 11:1-13
Sermon Title: “Taking the Prayer Route”
Shall I wear the black shoes or the brown shoes today? Will it rain today? What shall my family eat today? How can I order my day so that I can get Shelby to nursery school, stop to buy coffee, get to work on time looking calm and collected and ready to start work immediately? Did I check with my mother about getting Shelby from nursery school and caring for her all afternoon? Oh, God! God is this really how days are supposed to be? Keep me calm. Keep me loving. Lead me.
I am a Dad who shares the responsibility of family life with my wife who is a teacher. Yes, and this is only the beginning of the day. I am a leader at work, not someone who can work in a cubicle without interacting with individuals of various personalities. Instead, it is not only individuals; it is a collective group personality. It is keeping motivation high, all moving in the same direction while allowing freedom for insights by individuals. Again, Oh, God! God this challenge needs your direction, your guidance. Help me, God. Take charge.
Then the end of the work day is here. How did that happen? Oh, yes, it is God’s plan for the passage of days. Okay, then. Time to relax. Relax! What is that? Yes, relaxing is good for my health. So God, help me to change my mode and mood; present a delighted face when getting Shelby from my mother; thank my mother, and now enjoy the meal wife and I and Shelby prepare together. God says simple meals! Simple but delicious. Thank goodness that my wife has this talent to make delicious but simple. We take time to thank God for the day and for the food. Shelby delights in our conversation as we re-live her day. How does this happen? Because we asked God for his help every step of the way, through every dilemma.
As I switch to my pastor voice, we are surely wondering where and when such a perfect day is in our lives. We have temptations that bring an unpleasant tone to our voices. We make rash decisions and speak hurtful words or use an unsettling tone of voice and then feel terrible. Or some of us have lives that offer no opportunity to be upset; lives that are the same, same, same. But then comes the property tax bill or a big dental bill. What do we do then? Do we fall into straight-line worry?
That is how I picture my worry, or my rational thinking, to solve a situation. It is parallel with the ground. God is not part of my thinking. Then suddenly it occurs to me that God is available at all times, in every situation, be it keys locked in the car, or a lost wallet with all of the cards that are necessary for daily functioning, or a crying baby whose problem we can’t tell, or a bill that is impossible to pay, or a car accident that happens in a second. Oh, God! God, I can’t handle this . . . whatever it is! God this is in your hands!
Guess what! Then things fall into place. The world looks light after being gloomy or even black. Don’t ask me to explain why God directed violence in the Old Testament and Jesus, who is one of the persons of God who was sent to be a model for us on earth, proposes love instead. Don’t ask me why God helped Moses to coax water from a rock and then punished Moses for it later. But ask me how God helps me everyday and I can give you example after example.
I attempt to keep visitors from entering my house because I don’t have time to deal with the mounting piles; piles of old papers from previous jobs, piles of old financial records, piles of dust, piles of reading material, piles of blankets because I have too many for our closets and chests, piles of empty containers like boxes and jars and coolers because I am sure if I give them away or throw them away, I will surely need them, piles of papers needing shredding. Oh God, when are you and I going to deal with this pile? Amazingly, soon I find my hands dealing with this pile.
I am unsettled that my son is acquiring a habit I don’t think is good or a habit that encroaches on my territory. I can feel my anxiety rising in my chest. Finally God breaks through and reminds me that prayer is the way to deal with this concern. Then I am given a new perspective, a new acceptance, an especially kind word or action from my son.
For some reason, I am drawn to politics. I look at the workings of government through the eyes of justice and serving the population with ways that work. Yelling and anything not productive is not how we unify people. Hate has no place anywhere. Government needs to be the model. Recently, I heard the person, who was assigned to pray for the federal house of representatives to open a daily session, pray that the evil spirits would leave that place. Yes! The evil spirits are running rampant in Washington. To counter this evil, multitudes of people are praying that God’s will be done. How long, Lord, how long?
Other long-term prayer is that our children will come to have a relationship with the Lord as much as we do in the way that we do. Would we consider our prayers answered if our children say that they do have a relationship with God but they are spiritual and not religious? Often our children are kinder than many “Christians”are.
But if our children are not part of the church, how will the church keep going? Who will pay for these huge buildings? Who will pay for pastors? We pray about our debt and the costs here in this church we call home. Perhaps we are not praying often enough or earnestly enough or long enough or we are not praying as a group or in small groups. Perhaps! Are we willing to increase our praying power?
But then again, maybe staying in this huge building is not what God has in mind for this congregation. I believe that our congregation pleases God but that we could be even more effective in our corner of the world if we spent more time praying together, asking to follow God’s will. Let me know if you are interested. Meanwhile, let each of us be in prayer concerning our own part in the opportunity to follow God’s will for us. This is the prayer route to a long-term problem whose time is now. May we feel the Holy Spirit inspiring us and revealing God’s will.