Sunday, July 24, 2022

Luke 11:1-13; The Seventh Sunday after Pentecost; July 24, 2022;

Life in Christ Lutheran Church, Grand Marais, MN;

Taken from Concordia Pulpit resources, Vol 11, Part 3.
Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.” And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”” (Luke 11:1–13, ESV)

Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

“Gimme, gimme, gimme!” that’s the cry of children to their parents. Even when it is clearly stated before walking into the store. “We’re going shopping, but you aren’t getting anything today.” Soon the parent will hear, “Dad, can I show you something.” (I used to be a pushover and gave in). “Give me dessert, give me an allowance. I’m hungry.” Infants learn from an early age that crying is a way to get what they want. “Change my diaper… give me food… hold me…” It might be expected that when Jesus teaches his disciples to pray that he would discourage this type of behavior. But instead, he teaches that that is exactly what prayer is: God’s children asking the Father. Jesus says we are to ask God for what we need because we are in such desperate need of what he must give. We need everything. God gives everything.

We are indeed very needy. But sometimes we forget that. Whenever we pray without remembering that that we are in great need we make our prayers meaningless. Remember the Pharisee and the publican. “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”” (Luke 18:10–14, ESV)

A key to this story of Jesus is what he says about the Pharisee. He got up, Jesus says, and prayed about himself. “I’m not in need like a thief, or an adulterer, and especially that tax collector. I don’t really need your help, I do well for myself.” Notice how he doesn’t ask God for anything. He’s good enough on his own, he’s done everything. But the tax collector’s prayer is clear. “God have mercy on me! I’m a sinner.” He shows that he knows that he needs everything that God has to give. In this parable Jesus teaches us to ask for what we have need of.

We have nothing at all that we can give God. Jesus even calls us evil. Even at our best, even though we know better than to give a snake to our child (Luke 11:11-13), we are still evil at heart. We are corrupt from the inside. Out of our hearts come all sorts of evil. We have nothing that we can give to God. Just like the man in the text who has nothing to give to the traveler at midnight. We have nothing we can offer God.

But God knows exactly what we need. He knows that we don’t even know what to ask for, so in the prayer that Jesus teaches us, he tells us what to ask for. By doing this he also teaches us what we need. He begins by saying, “whenever you pray say this: Father,” By calling God, Father, he puts us in our place as his child. And what a wonderful place it is. Through Holy Baptism God is our Father and we are his dear children. He kills our own sinful nature by drowning and in the water connected to His Word in Holy Baptism. Baptism connects us to everything the Jesus Christ did for us. His death on the cross, the shedding of his blood, the punishment for our sin is all laid on Jesus on the cross. We can understand how children need things from their fathers. Just as we needed our parents to give us things and our children need us to take care of them. God is the ultimate father; he knows what is best for us and gives us only good gifts. Especially, he knows how much we need forgiveness. As Luther says in the Small Catechism:
We are not worthy of any of the things for which we pray, neither have we deserved them. But we pray that He would grant them all to us by grace. For we daily sin much and indeed deserve nothing but punishment. (Luther’s Small Catechism, The Fifth Petition; McCain, P. T., ed. (2005). Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions (p. 336). Concordia Publishing House.

Just as we would never give a snake to our children, he knows even more than we do what are the good things we need. He gives us his very own name so that we can always call on him whenever we are in need.

Through this prayer that Jesus teaches us he also teaches us to want the best gifts, “Hallowed be your name, your kingdom come.” What we usually want in life is for our name to be hallowed. We want people to recognize us. We want people to remember us and treat us with respect. We spend a great deal of time trying to make our own kingdom come. Trying to get money and power. Trying to make the organization we belong to work the way we want them to work, thinking that they should cater to our needs and wants over the needs and wants of everyone else. And trying to gather all the good things in life for ourselves. But God redirects our prayer to ask for what is best for us.

He directs us to ask that God’s name be kept holy. Of course, God’s name is holy of itself. What we are asking in this prayer is that people would know who God is and what God has done for us. That the world would know that Jesus Christ came and gave his life for us. And that he suffered and was buried for us, and that he rose again. That in Jesus Christ we have the most important gift that God gives the forgiveness of sins. And to know that without him we have no life at all and no one to call upon for help and no way of knowing the truth about our salvation.

God’s kingdom comes to us especially when we come to hear his word. It comes to us especially in his Sacraments, Holy Baptism and The Holy Supper. When we pray for God’s kingdom to come, we are praying for God’s church here on earth. We are praying that God would give these gifts to us and use us to spread his Gospel through the whole world.

Jesus teaches us to ask God for all our needs, both spiritual and physical. “Give us each day our daily bread.” There is nothing we can do to earn them. Even our prayer for them doesn’t earn them for us. We trust in the father to give them, and he gives us daily work and through that gives what we need every day. And he wants us to give thanks to the one who gives the gifts. Again Martin Luther:
God certainly gives daily bread to everyone without our prayers, even to all evil people, but we pray in this petition that God would lead us to realize this and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving. (The Fourth Petition)

“Forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.” Here Jesus sets us in a community that needs forgiveness. Just as those around us who sometimes hurt us need forgiveness, he teaches us that we need it also. In fact, we need forgiveness more than anything else. Without it we are lost… condemned to eternal punishment in hell, without it we have no relationship with the Father, and have no right to ask for anything at all. Without the forgiveness that comes through Jesus Christ on the cross we have no hope at all.

Life is a serious struggle. “Lead us not into temptation,” is the battle cry of Christians against the weapons of Satan, the world, and our own rebellious will, and sinful flesh. In this prayer Jesus teaches us that the stakes are high, it is either life or death. And without the work of the Holy Spirit in us we would always fail. But he sends the Holy Spirit to comfort and strengthen us in our times of trouble and temptation. And the unholy Trinity, Satan, the world, and our sinful flesh are no match for God's Holy Spirit. We need the Father’s deliverance to be able to endure. We need what the Father has to give to survive.

God, Our Father didn’t get tired of Abraham’s endless pleas for Sodom. Will you destroy the city if there are only 50, 40, 20, 10. God listened to Abraham’s prayer and even honored it? God, Our Father is not wearied by our cries for help. In fact, he delights in them as he loves to help us. He wants us to pray to him and ask him for whatever we need. He sent Jesus, his only son, to death to set us free. He sent Jesus, his son, to teach us to ask him for everything we need. Amen.

The peace of God that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

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