In the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
An interesting thing I’ve noticed in the conversations I’ve had with all kinds of people about their spiritual life is that hardly anybody thinks they’re really good at prayer. A lot of people will tell me they struggle with prayer, they don’t know what to say, they don’t know what to do, they don’t know how often to do it, or just that they really intend to pray and they find that they don’t.
I don’t know that I’ve ever met anyone who said to me, “If there’s one thing I’m really, really good at, it’s prayer.” And that’s kind of bad news, because the Scriptures make it really clear that prayer is an essential part of discipleship. We see this especially in the gospel of Luke, which we’ve been reading this year.
We see Jesus himself at prayer multiple times. (Actually, since I wrote a paper about this in seminary, I can tell you that it’s eight times.) Always at times when something momentous is about to happen. The gospel tells us that he goes away by himself and prays in silence. We don’t know the words. We can imagine that some of it was just listening. We can imagine that some of it was active dialogue with his father, and one of those times when he comes back from prayer, his disciples say, “Lord, teach us to pray,” which should be our constant prayer, and he teaches them the Lord’s Prayer. We heard that gospel back in July.
Last week,, we heard the story of the persistent woman and the bad judge. The persistent woman cried out for justice so persistently that the judge finally said, “Oh heck, I’m going to give her what she wants just so she’ll go away.” I don’t know, I hope that’s not God’s attitude towards us, but the message is that persistence and that crying out for justice.
So today’s lesson is about humility in prayer. We have the famous story of the Pharisee and the tax collector. It’s a parable that was told, according to the gospel, “to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and treated others with contempt.”Continue reading