A moment of contemplation for yourself or on behalf of others on everything from the life-altering to the mundane.

Prayer: A conversation with The Higher Other who lives within each of us. An invitation to vent, to re-think, to ask, and to rest.

Monday, July 18, 2022

Prayers of the People: Standing By ~ 7th Sunday after Pentecost '22 Yr C

For Sunday, July 24, 2022, Readings: Genesis 18:20-32, Psalm 138, Colossians 2:16-15, (16-19), Luke 11:1-13

    …Abraham remained standing near the Lord…and said, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?” [Genesis 18:22b, 23b]

    When I called, you answered me; you increased my strength within me. [Psalm 138:4]

      See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition...and not according to Christ. [Colossians 2:8]

    I tell you…at least because of his [friends’s] persistence, he will get up and give [his friend] whatever he needs. "So I say to you, 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 for you. [Luke 11:8-10]

      Persistence is certainly one theme for this week’s group of readings. The most astonishing example, I believe, is in Abraham’s diplomatic, if bold, questioning of God about God’s plans for the wicked in Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham knew his nephew Lot, a decent man, had settled in Sodom and with all the concern of a loving uncle, he begins asking if God’s intentions are to sweep away the righteous with the wicked? In a deliberate but respectful tone he asks first if there are fifty righteous, then 45, 30, until he gets God to agree not to destroy the city if 10 righteous are found. Makes me wonder what the rest of Abraham’s day was like.
     Paul chimes in with the reminder that we who have received Christ must continue being rooted in him and established in the faith. We are particularly instructed, in his persistent way, not to be taken captive through philosophy and empty deceit according to human tradition…not according to Christ. As Paul says, we were made alive together when God forgave us our trespasses, erasing our tarnished records. 
     Luke begins with the disciples asking Jesus to teach them how to pray and he gives them a framework to follow that we use to this day, including the reminder to ask for forgiveness as we forgive others, a point we often mumble through with our rote recitation.
     Jesus, as he often does, follows with a story. This parable of persistence may make many of us in western culture a bit squirmy and even silently (or worse) judgmental. A friend who would knock at midnight and be told to go away only to continue until the door is opened and the request fulfilled is at the very least, we might say, annoying or even rude. But the code of hospitality and community is so strong in other cultures that despite the inconvenience, one asks and the other aids. Some of our own discomfort with this story is far less about ourselves being awakened late by a friend in need but rather because asking for help for ourselves seems quite antithetical to the “pull ourselves up by our bootstraps” mindset. For some, asking for help connotes weakness and fear of being perceived as inadequate by others. Yet knowing when and how to ask for help is actually a mark of personal strength, even spiritual maturity. I like to refer to it as an act of a “ministry of receiving.”
     Jesus explains and reinforces the expectation of God that we are to continually Ask of, Search for, and Knock on God's eternal door to be given, to find, and to have opened to us all that God offers. It isn't difficult once you get started. The Psalmist knows the answer will come and our strength is increased by calling on God. Ralph Waldo Emerson tells us, "That which we persist in doing becomes easier for us to do; not that the nature of the thing itself is changed but that our power to do is increased." So, we have learned from Abraham how to ask, and from Paul that we already have the forgiveness we seek. Jesus has opened us to persistence in prayer with the faith that God is always just there, standing by and waiting to open the door.


Leader:  ~ O God, Faithful and Loving, restore our wandering hearts to the certainty of Your mercy and truth, that in the darkness and the light of this mortal life, we will persevere in faith, being filled with the substance that is Christ within us.

                                                      Most Patient Lord
          RESPONSE:                 Our strength is in You

~ O God, Faithful and Loving, infuse the rulers and authorities of this World, this Nation, and this Community, with the prudence and right judgment not to sweep away the righteous with the wicked. Release them from the captivity of a philosophy or empty deceit that is only according to human thinking, not according to Christ. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       Most Patient Lord
                                                       Our strength is in You

~ O God, Faithful and Loving, ease the pain and anguish of all who are suffering and refresh the energy of all who give care and support. We now join our hearts to pray aloud for those in need… add your own petitions

                                                       Most Patient Lord
                                                       Our strength is in You       

~ O God, Faithful and Loving, calm the sorrow and tears of those who mourn, as You grant to all of our faithful departed, the glory of everlasting life in You. We pray especially for… add your own petitions

                                                       Most Patient Lord
                                                       Our strength is in You

~ O God, Faithful and Loving, we pause in this moment to offer You our other heartfelt thanksgivings, intercessions, petitions, and memorials, aloud or silently… add your own petitions

                                                       Most Patient Lord
                                                       Our strength is in You    
~ O God, Faithful and Loving, instill further grace and tenacity in faith to all who are anointed to pastor us in wellness and in sickness, in joy and in sorrow, in preaching and in teaching, as they guide us to Your glory and the salvation of us all. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       Most Patient Lord
                                                       Our strength is in You

The Celebrant adds:  Gracious God, endow us with the persistence to ask often for the awareness of Your Presence in our lives, to seek Your help to forgive others as we are forgiven, and to knock constantly on Your door to Eternal Life. Turn us from the human pathways of trespass and trial into the fullness of Christ our Savior. We ask through Jesus, the Bread of Life; and the Holy Spirit, our Sanctifier; who together with You are One God, now and forever. Amen. 

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