Notices for Sunday 24th July 2016

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.’
Luk 11:1 (Message)

Sometimes Lord God we struggle to know how and what to pray. Continue to teach us day by day to be disciplined in our prayer lives so that we can know your will for us.
Amen

Welcome to our preachers this morning who are Rev Dan and Mrs Grace Parry
After service tea hosts Bob and Evelyn

Our thanks for the flowers this morning which are given by Betti Hughes in memory of her sister Phyllis
Organist: Lydia Edwards

Sunday 31st July
11.00am        Mrs Sian Williams
Vestry Steward – Ian
Door Steward – Warren
Tea Hosts – Warren and Vera

Diary Dates

July
Tue 26th      Every Day with Jesus Study Group 10.30am
Tue 26th      Coffee Morning Llangollen 10.00am – noon
Wed 27th     Midweek Communion at Regent Street 11.15am
Wed 27th     “Time Out” a monthly reflective worship at Hope Parish Church  7.30pm (4th Wed in the month)

August

Tue 9th        Ruabon Coffee Morning at Llangollen 10.00am
Fri 19th        Party in the Park at Riverside Park, Llangollen through to Sun 21st
Tue 30th      Coffee Morning at Llangollen 10.00am to noon

Please pray for the following:
Isobel Holroyd
Dorreen Holroyd
Vanessa Woolrich
Pete and Ruby Kasprowicz
Michael Shipley

All those who care for those in need.
We thank God for answered prayer and ask that he helps us to understand that all things do work together for good.

Everyone Who Asks
Luk. 11:1-13

Prayer is a puzzle to most of us, I think.  I’m not sure most of us even know why it is that we pray.  In this self-oriented culture of ours, many people pray as a form of sanctified wish-fulfilment.  They think they can put a prayer coin in the slot machine and have all their dreams come true–if they pray the right way. Then there are others who reject prayer altogether as a remnant from the days when people thought God was directly responsible for things like the weather.  They tend to think it’s just a mind game we’re playing with ourselves.  I think the solution to the problem of prayer lies somewhere in the middle between self-interest and cynicism.

Our Gospel lesson for today contains three teachings about prayer.  I think the one we hear is “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened” (Luk 11:9-10).  We hear it, and yet I’m not sure we know quite what to make of it.  Those who pray only for their own self-interest find in this statement a promise that their wishes will be granted. Those who object to that kind of thinking may simply reject it.  It’s problematic at best.  After all, who of us hasn’t had the experience of praying for something that seemed right and good, only to ask and not receive? So what do we make of this?

I think the Gospel lesson gives us some clues.  For example, I think that it’s important to note that this passage on prayer that ends with “everyone who asks receives” begins with Luke’s version of the Lord’s prayer.  In comparison with the version in Matthew’s Gospel, this one is much shorter.  And it seems to me that makes it even more clear that in this model prayer Jesus was teaching his disciples to pray for God’s Kingdom to come. So I think the first clue to understanding “everyone who asks receives” is that all of our praying must be an expression of seeking first God’s Kingdom.

The second clue comes in the story of the friend who asks to borrow bread at midnight.  He has received unexpected guests, and not to offer them food would be a serious embarrassment.  So he asks his neighbour to borrow bread.  Of course, the neighbour objects, but Jesus said, “because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs” (Luk 11:8).  There are a couple of things we have to understand about this. For one thing, Luke tends to emphasize the importance of persisting in prayer and not giving up in his version of Jesus’ teachings. That is a good thing.  But the other point here is that Jesus is not saying that God gives begrudgingly when we make a nuisance of ourselves in prayer.  Sometimes, Jesus’ sayings are intended to illustrate the opposite of what is true about God.  This is certainly an example of that. The truth is that Jesus assured us we can pray knowing that God knows our needs (Matt 6:7-8) and is already working in each of our lives for our best interest.

I think we see this confirmed in the third clue found  when Jesus compares prayer to a child asking for something from a parent. Jesus acknowledged that, for the most part, we human parents want what is best for our children. So he says, “Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion?” (Luk 11:11-12). Of course, the answer is emphatically “No.” Even we who are flawed and fallible parents “know how to give good gifts to [our] children” (Luk 11:13).  How much more can we trust that God who loves us unconditionally is constantly working in our lives with grace before we even know we have a need?  And so when we pray, we do so with assurance, not out of the fear that we somehow have to get God’s attention or twist God’s arm.

In all of this, you may be thinking that the lesson is that we shouldn’t pray for our own desires.  I don’t think that’s the point.  What is more natural than to turn to our creator and redeemer to express the deepest desires of our hearts?  But Jesus’ approach to prayer suggests that the desires of our hearts ought to be shaped not by the values of our culture, or our own selfish interests, but by the principles of the kingdom–compassion, peace, justice, freedom, and new life.  As we pray in that way, I think we can pray with the confidence that “everyone who asks receives.” And this doesn’t just relate to our spirituality–part of the “Lord’s Prayer” involves meeting our daily needs and protecting us from trials that may overwhelm us.  Jesus assured us that we can pray for all these concerns, knowing that God knows our needs and is already working in each life to bring grace and peace, and mercy and love, and new life.

Rev Dr Alan Brehm, Hickman Presbyterian Church, Nebraska, USA

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