The Rev’d Roger Elks
Click here to read the Reflection
READING LUKE 11.1-4 (NIV)
One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.’ He said to them, ‘When you pray, say:
‘“Father, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation.”’
So it’s not very complicated, is it, this lesson about prayer, you just say these things and there are. Of course there are books and many sermons about the Lord’s Prayer, and I’m not going to preach one of them to you today. I want to look at this whole idea of Jesus being the ‘example’, being the person that inspires his disciples to want to be like him. Here is the example of a relationship with our Heavenly Father, what he says to God in prayer.
And of course, Jesus has waited to be asked. I suppose he could have had a syllabus of things that he wanted to teach his disciples. But I guess prayer was something he ‘did’, and his disciples saw him doing it. And of course, when they asked him, he seems ready to teach and he’s got this wonderful structure of prayer that we pray now as the Lord’s Prayer.
You and I want to make the world a better place, don’t we? We want it to change. We want it to be as God created. How do we go about this, how do we change it? And, of course, is a role of the church and Christians within the church to preach and to challenge, “This is what God wants!. This is how it should be”. But there is also this powerful role of every Christian to be a witness, to be an attractive example, so that others may see us and say, not necessarily, “I’d like to be like him”, but, “I would like to have what he has”, “I would like to play the piano like my daughter”. “I would like to juggle like my friend”. And I want people to look at me and say not, “I want to be like Roger”, but “I want to be able to pray. I want to have a relationship with God following Jesus like Roger has. How do I do that?”
That’s the question I want people to ask. And when they ask us, you, and me, I guess, like Jesus, we need to have something to say. Not to be embarrassed by it and say, “oh, it’s nothing”. Our relationship with God is something amazing as we follow Jesus, and we need words to express this. Not that we’re going to impose it upon them. We don’t have to push at all. We just have to be Christians filled with the fruit of the spirit. And people will say, “Well, what is it that you’ve got?” And when they ask, we need to have an answer. We need to be able to help them, to teach them, as Jesus taught his disciples, encouraging them.
The best verse in the Bible about evangelism is 1 Peter, 3v15. ” “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord”. (And that said, revere Christ, show Christ in your life). And then it says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”
Be prepared to give an answer. What would you say to someone who today said, “I wish I could have your faith. I wish I could pray like that. I wish I could have what you have.” Do you an answer ready? Because there is an answer. “Yes, you can”. And why not say, as someone says to you, “I wish I could pray. I don’t know how to pray,” say, “well, I’ll help you. I’ll tell you what, I’ll say a few words of prayer and then you say a few words of prayer, just a few sentences, and then we’ll say amen”. And that’s the beginning. And it might be a bit messy and it certainly won’t look like the Lord’s Prayer, either your prayer or this. But it will be genuine. And God will love it. Amen.
Almighty God, you have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you. Pour your love into our hearts and draw us to yourself, and so bring us at last to your heavenly city where we shall see you face to face through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever on it. Amen