24th July – Andrea’s Letter: 6th Sunday after Trinity – Prayer

24th July 2022

Sixth Sunday after Trinity     St Andrew’s Milngavie 2022

Dear All
Today we gathered to celebrate the sixth Sunday after Trinity.
We were all in full voice as there was a good number of us and we were accompanied by Penny’s marvellous playing on the piano.
Gordon remains very much in our prayers, he is still in hospital but Pamela tells me he is a bit better which is good news.

Notices for this week:
Tuesday 10am Prayer Group in the Garden Room.
Wednesday 7.30pm   Book Group – Jan’s
Thursday 10am Said Eucharist followed by coffee in Friendship House

Readings for next Sunday – Seventh Sunday after Trinity:   Ecclesiastes 1:2,12-14,2:18-23   Colossians 3:1-11    Luke 12:13-21

Today’s readings – Luke 11:1-13  Genesis 18:20-32. Colossians 2:6-15

One of the great joys of ministry I’ve found over the years is being part of a praying group. Here at St Andrew’s, we have the Tuesday prayer group, essentially, it’s a group of about six to eight of us who meet here on a Tuesday morning. I have found the routine of this exercise and the faithfulness of its members very sustaining and affirming.  This was particularly so during the lockdowns when we met outside.

Of course, there is never any shortage of material for prayer. Each week there is fresh news from home and abroad but also within our own families, friends and communities. All the prayers are all informal and delivered off the cuff, and as a result probably are a bit wordy, a bit of a gabble but they are offered sincerely and passionately.

However, I don’t think we are naive – we know deep in our hearts that God will not necessarily answer our prayers immediately, if at all. But we keep going none the less, in the same way the psalmists of the OT did as they cried to God with words of petition sorrow anguish and hope.  Perhaps like them we just need to get things off our chests too. So, we persevere because that is what God calls us to do as illustrated in the gospel this morning with the story of the friend asking for three loaves at midnight.

“I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him whatever he needs” Luke 11:8

Jesus then says “I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you, search, and you will find, knock, and the door will be opened for you” Luke 11:9

And indeed, the door is opened to us. Praying is not just about the words and what we pray for but about relationship with God and each other. I have always felt close to people I have prayed with routinely.

Jesus says in Mathew 6:8 “Do not be like the gentiles, for your father knows what you need before you ask him” God may know what we need but we still need to pray because it’s essential to sustain the relationship – to keep the door open.  Through conversation and dialogue, we form our human relationships and so it is with God – it is conversation through prayer.

But we are all different and we all express ourselves differently, often according to how we feel and the circumstances we are in.  Sometimes we are lost for words when we pray, we are depressed, not sure of ourselves, anxious, fearful and we know we need to pray but find we can’t.  sometimes we have given up.

It is then that Paul’s promise given in his letter to the Romans comes to our rescue: Paul says in chapter 8:26 “Likewise the spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart knows what is the mind of the spirit…..”

In other words, the Holy Spirit dwells in us so we can let the Holy Spirit pray in us.

Throughout the gospels there are many examples of Jesus himself praying. Perhaps the most moving is in the Garden of Gethsemane, particularly in Luke’s version “Father if you are willing remove this cup from me …..In his anguish he prayed more earnestly and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground” Luke 22:42-44

The disciples too wanted to pray fervently so they asked Jesus what to say, he then teaches them how to pray in the words of the Lord’s Prayer which is a model for all our praying, the most familiar prayer, often it’s the only prayer that people know.

First it acknowledges that God is the loving father of us all.  Then we pray for the kingdom to come on earth, that we may be a place of justice and compassion just like heaven. Then comes the request for daily food, next follows our request for unconditional forgiveness with the promise that we too may offer forgiveness to others. Finally, we ask for God’s guidance away from situations of temptations and harm. The Lord’s Prayer says everything we need to say in words. It brings us into God’s presence, in the same way as it did with the disciples.

So, with this special and sacred prayer, the prayer that Jesus himself taught us we can pray with confidence, trusting that our prayer is heard.