Teach US to Pray
Second Week of Lent – Bishop Deb Kiesey
“Pray then in this way:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name.
Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
There’s a great ad on television I saw several years ago that I really liked. It first shows a mother pushing a child in a stroller. The child drops a toy and man walking by picks it up and hands it back to the child, and the mother looks grateful. In the next scene the same mother is walking out of a coffee shop and when she sees a coffee cup perched precariously on the edge of a table, she quietly pushes the cup away from the edge. Someone oversees that act and offers a hand to a man who has fallen. And on and on it goes. As someone sees an act of kindness, they are inspired to act kindly to another.
At the end of the ad we hear these words:
“When a person does the right thing, we call it responsible. When an insurance company does it, we call it ———-.”
Now I know it’s an ad for an insurance company, but I still like the thought. And what I like about it is that it reminds us to do the right thing – to walk the talk – to live out what we claim to believe in our everyday life and actions.
Perhaps we could put it this way:
When a Christian does the right thing, they are living out the kingdom of God.
“Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
When I pray the Lord’s Prayer, this tends to be the line I skip over rather quickly, and move on to “daily bread”, and “forgiveness”, and “temptations”. But I shouldn’t. For just as the first line of this prayer is a declaration of our faith, this second sentence reminds me to look toward the bigger picture – the coming of God’s kingdom here on earth.
For prayer has the capacity to shape us in the ways of God.
As Christians, we are called to do everything we can to bring in the Kingdom of God. We are called to be Christ’s hands and feet to the world and to embody God’s love – God’s grace – God’s justice – God’s compassion – in everything we say and do. We ought to be doing “the right thing” simply because it IS the right thing – it is what God would have us do.
In Richard Foster’s book, Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, we read this:
The true prophetic message always calls us to a spiritual defiance of the world as it now is. Our prayer, to the extent that it is fully authentic, undermines the status quo. It is a spiritual underground resistance movement. We are subversive in a world of injustice, oppression, and violence. Like Amos of old, we demand that “justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an everflowing stream” (Amos 5:24). We plead the case of the orphan and the widow, or whoever the helpless ones are in our context. In our prayers and in our actions we stand firm against racism, sexism, nationalism, ageism, and every other ‘ism” that separates and splits and divides. (p. 247)
Friends, can you imagine what this world would be like if we all lived as though God’s kingdom were already here?
As you pray this Disciple’s Prayer this week, listen for ways God may be nudging you. In fact, try offering a prayer as you read your morning newspaper, or as you watch the evening news. Make prayer a way of life.
When you are frightened – pray.
When you are grateful – pray.
When you are touched by the beauty of God’s creation – pray.
When you pound your fists in anger or frustration – pray.
When your heart is filled with joy – pray.
Make prayer a way of life.
Make listening to God a way of being.
And make living out the kingdom of God your goal.
Prayer Is the Soul’s Sincere Desire (UMH #492)
(to the tune of Amazing Grace)
Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire, unuttered or expressed,
The motion of a hidden fire that trembles in the breast.
Prayer is the burden of a sigh, the falling of a tear,
The upward glancing of an eye, when none but God is near.
Prayer is the simplest form of speech that infant lips can try;
Prayer the sublimest strains that reach the Majesty on high.
Prayer is the contrite sinners’ voice, returning from their way,
While angels in their songs rejoice and cry, “Behold, they pray!”
Prayer is the Christians’ vital breath, the Christians’ native air;
Their watchword at the gates of death; they enter heaven with prayer.
O Thou, by whom we come to God, the Life, the Truth, the Way:
The path of prayer thyself hast trod; Lord, teach us how to pray!
Amen and amen.