July 24, 2022 Not delivered at a liturgy – recovering from Covid
Genesis 18, 20-32 + Psalm 138 + Colossians 2, 12-14 + Luke 11, 1-13
It is important to notice that an instruction on prayer is followed by examples of action. The two cannot be separated. First, we get the words. Then we get the action. The words begin by establishing our relationship with God when we say the word, “Father.” The very next part of the prayer commits us to do all in our power to bring God’s Kingdom into our time and place. Those words: “Thy Kingdom Come. Thy will be done” are not telling God to do something. They express our readiness to do whatever it takes to bring the Kingdom. That is accomplished, says the prayer, by doing God’s will. The words of the prayer then go on to ask God to provide all that we need to accomplish God’s will in a world where forgiveness overcomes selfishness and revenge with a plea that we will resist all temptation.
The words of this prayer establish the unequal relationship that exists between a child and a parent. In doing so, the words acknowledge a dependency. They invite us to trust that a loving parent always provides what is needed for their children.
With that, Luke takes us right into what these words mean in action. For without action, there is nothing but words. To illustrate how the prayer turns into action, a parable comes with the hungry, the seeker, and the sleeper by way of illustration. This is not an instruction on how to ask or beg cleverly enough to get what you want. The instruction tells us to ask for the Holy Spirit, and that’s all we need. So, asking for the right thing does matter, but a further look at the parable invites us to consider the neighbor. There is action here too. It is an action that relieves hunger.
We ought not miss the fact that part of this prayer gets repeated, and Luke will allow us to hear Jesus at prayer in the Garden: “Thy will be done.” When we pray like this, with openness to God’s will and ready willingness to bring the Kingdom, we become true disciples of Jesus making it possible for God to work through us, since prayer is a union of our will with God’s. God may not keep us from harm, but because of God’ love, we will never face harm alone. As we allow Christ to teach us to pray, we might stop asking God to do what we want and join Christ in doing everything we can for the coming of God’s kingdom.