Seventh Sunday after Pentecost [Prober 12, c] July 28, 2019
1 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.” 2 And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. 3 Give us each day our daily bread, 4 and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.” 5 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, 6 for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7 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’? 8 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. 9 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. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 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!”
In the Name of Jesus.
We will know to pray as our Lord teaches us to pray. We will have the words to pray as they are a gift from him.
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.”
“Teach us to pray” makes sense only if prayer is something we don’t naturally know.
The sinner doesn’t know prayer. The words of our own lips are the words of our own desires, our own will, our own decisions.
The desires, the will, the choosings, the decisions of the sinner will be sinful. That’s the way it works when you are of sinful flesh. So the prayer to Jesus is, Lord teach us to pray.
Prayer is the voice of faith. Speaking to him with the confidence that he has given us as we are given to speak his words back to him.
Prayer is the voice of the sinner interceding to God to request his help, to give thanks for his gifts, to praise his Name.
Prayer is calling upon the Name of the Lord in every trouble.
That’s the way we learn it from the Second Commandment, You shall not misuse the Name of the Lord your God.
What does this mean, to not misuse his Name? As we are given it in the Catechism,
We should fear and love God so that we do not curse, swear, use satanic arts, lie, or deceive by his Name, but call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks.
Prayer is simply that—the confidence that by grace you belong to the Lord’s Name; by the Lord’s Name given you in Baptism, you are daily forgiven and sanctified; and that in his Name, the Lord comes to you to make you his own.
Teach us to pray, say the disciples to the Lord. We say it along with them: O Lord, teach us to pray.
The problem with not knowing how to pray is not a failure of knowing the mechanics of how to pull it off.
It’s not as if we’re going to a seminar on how to make beer so we know all the right ingredients and steps.
It’s not a problem of knowing how long to pray, how many times in the day to pray, or the right bodily position for prayer.
The problem is always a question of faith.
Anyone can teach a mechanics of prayer. The Muslims will teach you how to kneel on a mat. The Mormons teach how to pray in a circle wearing white clothes and shoes, Hindus teach yoga positions and prayer beads, and Jews in Jerusalem put pieces of paper into the cracks between rocks in a wall.
Anyone can be a prayer mechanic. You don’t have to be a Christian to teach some system of procedures for prayer.
But Jesus gives something else. He gives us words of faith. That is, words from his mouth bestowing faith upon us, so we then are given to pray those words back to him.
Words given by the Lord. Holy words. Words rescuing from sin, death, and the devil, and bestowing life from God.
Lord, teach us to pray,
the disciples say.
When you pray,
say, Father in Heaven, hollowed be Thy Name.
Father: everything flows from that.
Given the Father, you have someone to whom to pray. Not any father. But the Father of Jesus. The whole world can pray to a father. And even thinks that all these religions praying to a father are praying to the same God.
But Jesus gives us his Father. No one comes to the Father but by the Son, and Jesus, the Son, gives us his Father.
Pray to him, says Jesus. For you belong to him. He gives you his Name. His name is holy to you, and by that Name, you are holy.
Given the Father of Jesus as your Father, you are now his child.
This is Baptism. Who does our Lord want left out of this gift of Baptism? No one. No adult, no child, no infant—he makes all his children through Baptism.
You were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
One Baptism. Not repeated as if God failed the first time and the second or third. And not refashioned as if Baptism is given by anything other than Jesus instituting it. And not one Baptism for one class of sinners or one age group, and another Baptism for another. But one Baptism—the promise, said Peter, is to you and to your children, [to your infants, that is,] to all who are far off, to everyone whom the Lord God calls to himself. [Acts 4:39]
Prayer freely flows from this promise of Baptism. All whom God makes his children in Baptism, from the feeble grandpa to the squirming toddler, all whom the Lord God calls to himself, all given to pray to the Father.
In Baptism, the Name has been bestowed.
by baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
The Name has been bestowed. You belong to that Name. Even Satan and the demons are to know that by the holy Name placed upon your head, you belong not to the world, not to the demons, not even to the despair of your own sinful flesh, but you belong to the One who gave you his Name—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
So when you pray, says Jesus, say, Father, hallowed be your Name.
That is, holy is your Name. Your Name, O Father, is certainly holy in itself, but we pray in this petition that it may be kept holy among us.
Let your Name be kept holy by having your Word taught in its truth and purity.
Let your Name be kept holy as we, your children, lead holy lives according to it. So that, as we daily sin much, we are turned to your Name in the gift of repentance and we find in your Name that we are forgiven and made holy.
Let you Name be kept holy, Father, as you bring your kingdom to us here on Earth, by giving us your Holy Spirit, so that by his grace, we believe his holy Word.
For his Word is the Word given us in Baptism, the Word forgiving our sins and making us holy by the blood of your Son, our Lord Jesus.
In the Name of Jesus.