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Sep 03, 2017

Lord, Teach us to Pray Introduction

Lord, Teach us to Pray Introduction

Passage: Luke 11:1-4

Speaker: Pastor Chris Riedel

Series: Lord, Teach us to Pray Sermon Series

Category: Faith, Prayer

Keywords: prayer

Prayer is talking with, listening to and being with.....and in that process a relationship is nutured and nourished.

Devotional

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD   forever.— Psalm 23 (ESV)

In As Kingfishers Catch Fire, a collection of sermons by Eugene Peterson, he says that Psalm 23 is the best known Psalm, but notes the danger in familiarity, in a prayer or reading of scripture becoming rote. Aunt Kate could say our traditional grace (“Bless us, O Lord, and these, Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty, through Christ our Lord. Amen.”) in less than three seconds. It was impressive, in its way, but not the asking of blessing or acknowledgement of gifts. It was formality, offered without reverence. 

To jar us from that familiarity, Peterson reminds his congregation of the ancient mideastern punishment of criminals being banished to the desert, where revenge would often be exacted, either by the elements or human pursuers. In contrast to that punishment is the shepherd’s code of hospitality for those in the desert, providing shelter and food. That, Peterson says, is the context for preparing a table in the presence of enemies. 

In that light, the Psalm is not just about the scary paths I walk, but also a reflection of Christ’s love for me … His provision and sacrifice protects me even in the face of my deserved punishment. 

Secured by Christ’s love, we are called beyond a rote approach to prayers. Our prayers – those we recall from the Bible and those we offer on our own – are a conversation with God about how much we love Him, about our sin and repentance, about our desperate needs and pain, about our thanksgiving for His blessings. We are called not to recite, but to talk; we are called to know and be known. Let us pray.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, thank you for loving us to the point of being the Good Shepherd, laying down Your life for Your sheep. We don’t know the way to go, but can come to you in both joy and pain, to be in community with you. Guide us in Your paths, for Your name’s sake and strengthen us by Your Holy Spirit to make the journey.  Amen

Written by Jon McHenry. Jon leads our devotional team, is a council member, worship speaker and part of the men’s ministry at Arcola Church. He is a devoted husband and father.