O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever (1 Chr 16:34). Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, MB
Lord, teach us to pray
Lord, teach us to pray
Based Luke 11:1-13
Preached on July 28, 2013
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Fellow baptized saints, have you ever wondered, if Jesus were to appear to us right now, like this morning, and teach us about prayer, what would He say? Well, we know exactly what He would say. In fact, we confess that He is here this morning teaching us about prayer, and that the words we heard only a few moments ago in the Gospel, were Him speaking! We even stood up to acknowledge His presence. We lit a candle. We sang to Him, "Glory be to You, O Lord!" and "Praise be to You, O Christ!" Jesus is speaking today. He publicly speaks to His Church through Word and Sacrament ministry, through this ministry that He established, that He sent and through whom He promises to speak. We don't have to wonder about what Jesus would say if He were here. He is here and He does say.
But what does He say? What does Jesus say about prayer? You know, we're not the first disciples to ask this question. In fact, when our text begins, one of Jesus' disciples approaches Him and says, "Lord, teach us to pray." For we really don't know how to pray, do we? We don't know how to approach it, or what we should pray for, and we need you to teach us Lord. Teach us to pray.
His response is certainly not what we expect. He responds with words we say all the time, even every day. But He speaks them anew to you this morning, He teaches you what they really mean, that you may cherish them with all your heart, and the things which these words ask for.
I'm going to warn you right now, that these words of the Lord's prayer, which you have poured out to God your whole life, are about to take on a much fuller meaning for you. This morning Jesus is going to shock you with this prayer. For He is going to show you how deeply connected they are to the Word and Sacrament ministry He carries out here in your midst. How deeply connected they are to the beating heart of your heavenly Father, and His good and gracious will for you.
His first surprise comes before He even begins the prayer. The text says, Jesus said to them, "When you pray, say" these words! Wait! Are you sure Jesus? These very words? For there are many Christians who think and boldly tell others that saying the same prayer all the time isn't genuine or sincere, and that it should not be done. But Jesus says differently. When you pray, say these words. This does not mean He wants us to pray without faith, without our hearts and minds connected to the words we are saying, but that there are certain words spoken in faith that God wants to hear, that there are certain words the believing heart and mind ought to say to God. It means that prayer consists of meditating on these words, exploring them, learning them and rolling them over in our heads, as we speak them back to God. When you pray, say:
Father. Stop. Father. Christ teaches so much in this one simple word. You may not even like the word. You may have a terrible earthly father. One that has mistreated you and failed you. But regardless of all that, in this one word, the Almighty Creator of the universe declares that you are no longer an orphan, you are no longer anyone else's, for He has adopted you. In the water of baptism He has called you His own, overridden all other claims upon you with His powerful Word, boomed out His voice from His eternity saying, "Back off everyone! This one is my child." And then turning, softly says to you, "Little one, there is nothing to be afraid of, here come sit on my knee and tell your Father what is on your mind."
Your Father in heaven is so concerned for your needs, that He doesn't force you to bumble through this sinful life trying to figure out what they are. No, His Son teaches you the very words to say to Him. You know that God loves to hear you call Him Father. You know this is how He sees you. So, When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name.
Make your name holy Father! Set it apart, make it different and distinct. Make it the only Name that saves! For the world will not set it apart. The world wants to make Your Name the same as all the false gods. The world says that all the gods are really the same god, but you alone can save.
In His prayer, our Lord opposes the names of all other gods. He declares them worthless and calls us to do the same. He teaches us to pray that the Name of the Lord would come among us and be so different that it would actually bring about salvation for us - that it's holiness, it's utter distinctness, would be our salvation.
And then, God does this very thing, right here in our midst, in the waters of Holy Baptism. He puts His Triune Name - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - a Name like no other - upon you. A Name so holy, so different - that it actually saves you. It washes you. It covers you in the blood of Jesus. A Name so holy, and so different, that when it is spoken upon you with water it actually makes you holy. It actually sets you apart and makes you different from the multitude of unbelievers.
Father, hallowed be your name. Keep me in my baptism. Keep your Name upon me. Save me with Your Name!
In the Lord's Prayer we pray for our baptism. We pray that our heavenly Father would remind us of the promises He made to us when He first spoke His Name upon us in baptism.
Hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Your kingdom. Your power. Your reign. The kingdom of God is not a place. It is the rule Christ has over hearts and minds. It is the power by which He reigns over you His saved people. It is the Gospel, the truth of who Christ is and what He has done, that when you hear it, when you meditate on it, your conscience is set free, it is given rest and peace, it is no longer under the kingdom or power of the devil, but safely lies under the active rulership of your gracious King.
Your kingdom come. We pray, Come mighty King with the power of your Gospel.
And then, our King does come, right here in our midst, in the meal of His Holy Supper. He brings the power of His Gospel right to your very lips, places the same body and blood which hung upon the cross now risen from dead, into your mouth that He, your King, might rule over you and keep your conscience free. We even hail His coming by singing the same kingly words that His people sang to Him when He first came as their King, "Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!"
This is the Sanctus, the last thing we sing together before our King comes bodily in the Words of Institution. The only other thing between this hailing and our King's coming is a short spoken prayer, that's right, the Lord's Prayer, in which we say, Your kingdom come, to which our king says, "Take and eat, this is my body. Take and drink, this is my blood."
In the Lord's Prayer, we pray that we may have the Lord's Supper. We pray that our king would come to us with His saving power.
Did you know you were praying for the gifts of baptism and the Lord's Supper? Did you know you were praying for these things which hallow God's name and make His kingdom come? Did you know these are the ways He reigns over you, and spoiler alert, does all the rest of the things you pray for in His prayer: forgive your trespasses, keep you from temptation and deliver you from evil? The Lord's Prayer is about Word and Sacrament ministry. Jesus teaches us to pray for preaching, baptism and the Lord's Supper - for in these things He makes His Name holy, His kingdom comes, He forgives sin, He keeps from temptation and He delivers from evil. In these things He is with us here, speaking, washing, feeding, forgiving. So until that day when He does appear, hear Him speak His Word of grace: You are forgiven. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Rev. Cameron Schnarr