A Sermon on the Lord’s Prayer
Why is Prayer Answered?
† In Jesus Name †
As you are overwhelmed by the mercy and love of Jesus Christ, in you may there develop an unquenchable desire to commune and communicate with our Father, with Jesus, and with the Holy Spirit!
We can’t understand if… if we don’t understand why…
Of all the times I have taught about prayer in sermons, in Bible Studies, in classes, on retreats and in conversations over meals, I have never taken the approach I will in this sermon.
For that, I ask your forgiveness.
For I think that the question the sermon title asks and answers is the only question that really needs to be answered. This question can confidently be answered; one, without cliché’s or well-meaning stock answers that avoid the responsibility of saying, “I do not know.” This question, why are our prayers answered…silences many of the other questions.
This question causes us to see His heart… we need to grasp how much He loves us, how much He is our Father…and how much at relationship is the reason our prayers are answered.
Or our prayers are simply rote and in vain…as empty as praying to some gold lacquered statue.
So let’s answer the question – why are our prayers answered?
The Burden of Life – Melancthon
Instead of just a prayer sheet this week – I included two short excerpts about prayer. The first is by someone that Luther was a father figure for, the deacon Phillip Melancthon. Asked why we should pray when we don’t want to… he responded with 9 reasons. Look at number II.
II. The great and manifold need by which we are burdened in this penitentiary of the world, and which we cannot sufficiently understand or comprehend by thinking, must less guard against or avert by our effort, should properly move us to pray even all by itself.
In simpler language – we need to pray because this life isn’t easy, and it can overwhelm us all to easily. Whether it is the challenge of our sin and the struggle to overcome temptation, or the effects of others sin, or the brokenness of the world and even the church, prayer is what will make the difference, what helps us get through the day.
Melancthon is right – we are burdened in this world, and there are times where prayer is barely able to be said, never mind can we grasp what we are saying. This isn’t something new, it isn’t something we are the first generations to encounter this. Remember what St Paul said to the early believers in Rome/
26 Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. 27 He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our (pregnant) condition, and keeps us present before God. 28 That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. Romans 8:26-28 (MSG)
It is often in such desperate times we remember to pray… yet would we pray sooner if we understood why prayer is answered?
The Blessing of Presence
If we pray only in such oppressive times, we do because we hope someone will hear us. Maybe we realize it can’t hurt, or we vaguely remember a promise that God has made. Melancthon mentions this as well,.
IV. Very sweet divine promises draw and incite us, namely that God the Father embraces us with such great love in Christ His Son, that He regards it as pleasing and acceptable if we approach and address Him with our prayers, and He has promised to incline His ears and hear us.
I love this point – and how clearly it is seen in the Lord’s prayer, as God promises to take care of our physical needs (like providing bread) and spiritual needs – helping us with knowing we are forgiven, helping us forgive, dealing with temptation and protecting us from evil.
I love the verses that follow the prayer – those that cause us to think of how we love our kids and our grandkids. They compare the Creator of the Universe to us – to help us realize our love for them is but a small example of His love for us. If we want the best things – imagine the “best things” that He has planned and created for us!
But if reason number IV, is true, then look at number V.
V. Likewise, that our mediator, Christ, has bound Himself with the firm promise that He would be present when we pray (Mt 18:20) and as our advocate and High Priest Himself bring our supplications to the Father, and intercede for us, and ask the Father together with us.
Remember Matthew 18:20 (TEV) 20 For where two or three come together in my name, I am there with them.”
Jesus has promised to be here – where we pray, the Father has promised to answer our prayers. Not because of some incantation or form, or because we are holier than the people praying down the street, or on the other side of the world.
He answers our prayers because He loves us, because He is here, because we are His.
So Let Prayer Arise from within
On the prayer list, along with the quote from Melancthon, is a description of a type of prayer and devotion that is indeed ancient. It is called Lectio Divina. The quote is from one of Chris’ mentors. The man who is the reason he is the Rev. Dr. Chris Gillette. It’s a great way of doing devotions – one Luther used as well. Look at the part I underlined:
Let the word touch your heart (prayer, Oratio). In Oratio, the Word of God goes deeper into the self and becomes the prayer of the heart. In this prayer, open your heart so that his light may enter. The goal is like that of St. Augustine, who cried, “O God, our hearts are made for thee, and they shall be restless until they rest in thee.” There emerges within the heart a holy desire, a longing for the text, the Word of God, to be concretized in reality.
Enter into contemplation (Contemplatio). Contemplatio shifts praying the Scripture into a new language (silence). This silence does not ask us to do anything, it is a call to being. Thomas Merton says, “The best way to pray is: Stop. Let prayer pray within you, whether you know it or not.”17
This concept is especially true, as we work through the Lord’s prayer, or even the Old Testament account where Abraham learned to pray for those who were lost. As we know these words, they well up within us, they become part of our life, because God makes them live in us, even as He quickens life in us.
The words ingrain is us these promises – they cause us to desire to pray even more. They bring the words to life in us, when nothing else brings comfort – a message from God. When thought through… they cause us to realize this important thing..
Why does God answer our prayers…
Because He is our father… because He loves us… because He is with us….
Use His name, not in vain my brothers and sisters…but as He encourages us to, to talk to Him – to know Him as our Father… to know His love and mercy…for us.
17 Thomas Merton, Seeds, ed. Robert Inchausti (Boston: Shambhala, 2002).
- Some wise words to encourage us to pray (justifiedandsinner.com)
Posted on July 28, 2013, in Devotions and tagged Answered Prayer, comfort, Concordia Lutheran Church Cerritos Ca, Dancing with God, intimacy with God, life, Life in Christ, Lord's Prayer, Phillip Melancthon, Robert Webber. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.