Talking with God

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. AmenWhen you have a conversation with someone, who is involved?That may seem overly simplistic. The conversation involves you and the person or people you are talking with, right?

Ash Wednesday

Matthew 6:1-15

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen

When you have a conversation with someone, who is involved?

That may seem overly simplistic. The conversation involves you and the person or people you are talking with, right?

Sometimes we find other motives in conversation. For instance, one parent saying to the other at the dinner table in front of the young kids, “Wow, these vegetables are so delicious I’m going to eat them all!” This conversation wasn’t for their benefit. They had aim at the well-intentioned outcome of kids eating up their veggies.

Or there is the adorable example of a friend’s nephew who was not receiving attention. One adult was paying attention to the older sibling, one adult with the younger, and there he was alone: a spunky little five-year-old who had already mastered passive aggressive behavior. “I guess no one is going to talk to me,” he said quietly. “I said ‘I guess no one is going to talk to me,’” he said again more loudly. “I said ‘I guess no one…,’” “We hear you!,” said his aunt. “I’ll give you lots of attention in one second.”

These, we know, are not the best forms of communication. We can go much further to see other poor examples of communication in our lives. We all know these gaps in communication occur for each of us.

Communication is best when direct, without any hidden motives, and when all is stated.

This links directly to how Jesus teaches us to pray.

Jesus says not to pray so that others will hear you out on the street.

There is a wonderful practice of daily prayers in the Jewish faith: one in the morning, one in the afternoon, and one in the evening. Certainly, at least the morning and evening prayers were common practice in Jesus’ time for the faith community. Some of those individuals may have been making sure they were out and about in town when prayer time occurred so that others might see.

Prayer is not a spectator sport. Your prayer is not to the people around you. Your prayer is not built to get God’s attention in a passive-aggressive way. Your prayer is not meant to persuade the people overhearing it. Your prayer is not to show how faithful you are to others. Your prayer is communication with God.

So we are directed to pray in secret, not so others won’t hear us pray, but so the focus is on communicating with God; really bringing ourselves in conversation.

That is a vulnerable moment: Communicating alone with the Creator of the universe.

What words do we have that are worthy of that conversation?

Jesus shares that the God of all creation is much closer to us than we might think. “For your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

It is like that loved one who looks at you and feels the words you aren’t saying, but even before they can ask what is bothering you, they know.

Yet, even though our God knows what we need, our God calls us into conversation in the prayer Jesus taught us.

This prayer Jesus teaches is wonderful and I would invite you to use this as a model of prayer this season of Lent, having conversation with God.

As Jesus taught this prayer, he did not say to pray these words. He said to pray like this or pray in this way.

So, I invite you to do something a bit different with me today. Hear where God speaks to you in a different version of the Lord’s Prayer. Feel free to look at the more familiar prayer in your bulletin as well. Pastor Torgerson and I will read aloud a different version of the Lord’s Prayer from Dominican Sisters of Great Bend, Kansas.

Our Father                                                                          Our Mother

Who art in heaven                                                           Who are in all the earth

Hallowed be thy name                                                  Holy is your truth

Thy kingdom come                                                          May your wisdom come

Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven         Your circle be one uniting heaven and earth.

Give us this day our daily bread                                 Give us today a nurturing spirit.

And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us

Heal through us as we ourselves are healed.

Lead us not into temptation.                                      Lead us into Fullness of life.

But deliver us from evil.                                                                And liberate all that is good.

For thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory.

For the Wisdom, the Presence, and Goodness are yours.

Now and forever. Amen.

There are some beautiful versions of the Lord’s Prayer, never to say Jesus’ prayer wasn’t enough, but it is a model for our conversation in prayer. Jesus taught us to pray through these important pieces of conversation concerning God, ourselves, and our neighbors.

In this model of prayer…

We name God as Holy and as close to us as a loving parent. We put God’s will and way above our own; for heaven, for here and now, and forever. We look to our creator to meet our daily needs. We pray for forgiveness for ourselves and the capacity to forgive others. We pray that we would not be led into times of temptation and that we would be rescued from evil.

As we pray in this way, there are many other things we can say in conversation with our God as we walk through each day.

I invite you to check out some of the other faithful interpretations of the Lord’s Prayer as you continue conversation with God.  When we have conversation and prayer, we bring forward our whole selves and what we truly need to say as well as what we need to hear from God. How can we faithfully have this prayer conversation in a new way?

When you have deep conversation, it doesn’t stick to a script. We use this prayer as a start for conversation with our God who is right here with us, moving through us as Spirit, walking with us as Christ, and protecting us as a loving parent.

In these conversations, we not only find what is weighing on our heart to be brought before God, but we listen to what God says in return. God speaks through scripture, through the Lord’s Prayer, through a loved one, a stranger, and through experience each day showing who God is and where God shows up around us.

We remember our sinfulness and mortality tonight and this season. We acknowledge truths about human life that we choose not to recognize in much of our daily happenings. We are invited to bring all of this forward in conversation with our God. How will the Lord continue to speak to you in prayer and experience this season?

We are invited to bring ourselves into full conversation with God, acknowledging who we are as beloved and broken and seeing our God who is so close to us. We are invited to listen to God in prayer to hear and feel what God speaks to in our lives, in the good and the bad.

We remove outside motives and expectations of others in order to speak to God alone.

Where is God speaking to you today? What part of your life is God bringing forward in conversation? What is God saying about God’s relationship with you? What is God saying about your relationships with others? What might God be saying that we haven’t stood still enough to hear yet? There is a lot to talk about.

As you walk with God in prayer, bring your whole self to the conversation in this season of Lent.

I invite you to use the Lord’s Prayer this season to deepen the conversation as we walk with Christ in conversation each day to know ourselves and know our God.

In closing, I invite you to silently join in the Lord’s Prayer as written in the New Zealand Prayer Book from the Anglican Church.

Eternal Spirit

Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver, source of all that is and that shall be, Father and Mother of us all.

Loving God, in whom is heaven.

The hallowing of your name echoes through the universe!

The way of your justice be followed by the peoples of the earth!

Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!

Your commonwealth of peace and freedom sustain our hope and come on earth.

With the bread we need for today, feed us.

In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.

In times of temptation and test, spare us.

From the grip of all that is evil, free us.

For you reign in the glory of the power that is love, now and forever. Amen

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