A sermon preached at New Hope Lutheran Church, West Melbourne, FL on August 14, 2011 by Pastor Dale Raether The Christian Faith One Word at a Time – PrayingRomans 8:26-27Children, how many of you know this prayer? Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest and let these gifts to us be blessed? Lots of people pray this before they eat, but do all of you know what the words mean. Come, Lord Jesus – Lord, be here with us at our table; be a part of our family. Let these gifts to us be blessed – Lord, thank you for this food you have given us. Use it to make us strong and healthy. It’s good to know prayers like this, because then we can all pray together. However, sometimes we might pray the words without the words without thinking them. Instead we’re thinking about the food on our plate, or we’re thinking about what we want to say about as soon as we’re done praying. Another prayer a lot of people know is the Lord’s Prayer. Here too, even as adults, we might speak the words, but we’re not sure what we’re really praying for or even what we need. This morning we’re continuing our sermon series: The Christian Faith One Word at a Time. Today’s word is PRAYING. For each petition or part of the Lord’s Prayer, I will point out how our praying might be weak, and then how the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. We begin: Our Father who art in heaven. God is our Father because He made us, He sent His Son to be our Savior, and through our Baptism, he has adopted us into His family. So, how do we convince God to give us the things for which ask? How ‘bout this? A person in trouble prays, “Lord, if you help me this one more time, I promise to really straighten up my life!” Or, a person needs money and so he prays, “Lord, if you let me win the lottery, I’ll help lots of people and give a big gift to the church!” This is wrong thinking. God listens to our prayers because He is our Father. So, whenever we pray, Our Father who art in heaven, let’s trust that for the sake of His love, for the sake of the merits of Christ, for sake of His promises, He will answer our prayers and it will always be in a way that’s for our best. However, what if we’re so scared or discouraged that we’re having trouble trusting that our prayers are heard? Here’s where the Holy Spirit helps us. We read in our text: The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. When our prayers aren’t perfect (which they never are), the Holy Spirit prays with us in our behalf and makes our prayers perfect. May this give you confidence to keep praying! We continue with the First Petition, Hallowed be Thy name. God’s name isn’t just His titles like Lord, God, Christ, and so on. His name is also everything He’s revealed about Himself in the Bible. God’s name, then, is hallowed or set apart from evil, when the Bible is taught clearly and exactly, and Christians live it in their daily life. Unfortunately that’s not always the case. The devil is working hard, so that little, of what’s going on in Christian congregations and homes, is Christian. Whenever we see this, what should we do? Pray hallowed be thy name. We especially want to pray this as we start a new school year. Pray that our Academy staff, our Sunday School teachers, and our parents at home will teach God’s word right on the mark and in a way that children can understand. Let’s also pray that all of us may be good examples to them, because this is how they learn God’s love and are strengthened to live in love. The Second Petition is Thy kingdom come. God’s kingdom is his ruling over the nations. It’s also His ruling in our hearts through His Word. How we all need this more and more! Last week’s Gospel reading was the Parable of the Sower. In that parable Jesus warned that some people hear the word, but they won’t believe at least parts of it, because for them everything has to make sense on their terms, instead of on God’s terms. Then gradually they stop hearing God’s Word altogether, because no one in their life is sharing it with them, or maybe something happens so they can’t hear it anymore. How sad!Others hear the Word, believe it, and are excited by it. But they don’t keep growing in it. They’ll say things like, “I heard that all before.” Faith that is not fed, fades. As a result, when times get rough instead of turning to God, they may turn against Him. Again, how sad! And then there are those who hear the Word, believe it, and are even growing in it, but they get side-tracked. Pursuing money or letting some sin have its way gets in the way, and so gradually their faith too dies. How can these things be prevented in the hearts of our children and in the hearts of others we know and love? Keep praying for them, Thy Kingdom Come! And now here’s how the Holy Spirit help us to we pray that. Through the Word! As we continue in the Word for ourselves, the Spirit renews our joy and confidence in God. Then we will want this for others also, and so we pray for them, and the Holy Spirit will answer our prayers by giving us the right words at the right time, or if not to us, then to someone else for us. The Third Petition is Thy will be done. Many of us need the most help with this one. The devil, the world, and our sinful nature are doing everything they can to keep God’s name from being hallowed or His kingdom from coming. So, we pray, “Lord, stop their evil wills! Your will be done!” However, what does it take for this to happen? For example materialism is a huge problem in our country, but how is that every going to change if people aren’t listening to the word? Well, maybe this is why God is allowing such turmoil in our economy. Unfortunately everyone suffers together. So, do we pray that God heal our economy so that no one suffers? Or, do we pray that God take care of us in our suffering? We don’t know what’s going on in anybody’s heart. We don’t know what mix of pain and blessings is going to be best for each person’s soul. And so, here’s how the Holy Spirit helps us. Pray for whatever you think is best. The Spirit will fine tune our prayers according to God’s will, so that through our prayers much is accomplished. So, keep up your prayers for others and for our nation! The Fourth Petition is Give us this day our daily bread. This petition is perhaps the most complicated, because we’re not always sure what’s included in daily bread. For example in New Jersey there’s a huge tent city of people who lost their homes and can’t find a decent paying job. Is God giving them their daily bread? Yes, but sometimes it’s not very much or what they have to eat is not their first choice. Similarly, is God giving us our daily bread? Absolutely! However, when we compare ourselves to the tent people, how do we separate needs from wants? Also, when do our wants turn into greed? Here’s how the Holy Spirit helps us. Whenever we pray, Give us this day our daily bread, let’s pray for contentment, because God is our Father. Next let’s pray that God help us be wise managers of all he’s given us, because He wants us to support the Gospel; he wants us to pay our taxes; He want us to help those who can’t help themselves; and He wants us to take care of our family, which includes recreation, because we need that too. Through the Word the Holy Spirit will help us to keep all our priorities, and He will give us wisdom, so that when we pray for specific things we need or want, we will know that God’s answer and timing is always just right. The Fifth Petition is Forgive us our trespasses as we for those who trespass against us. We don’t earn our forgiveness by forgiving others. We forgive BECAUSE we are forgiven. However, sometimes we don’t cherish our forgiveness. For example, perhaps we’re not listening to the Law, as a result we might think we’re more deserving than others. The Holy Spirit helps us by waking us up and leading us to examine our heart and life, such as when we prepare for the Lord’s Supper. Next the Spirit reassures us through Word that Sacrament that God remembers our sins no more, and so we may pray that we experience the peace of forgiveness. And finally when we the peace of forgiveness, we’re ready to pray for forgiveness in behalf of those who have sinned against us. The Sixth Petition is Lead us not into temptation. God doesn’t tempt anyone, nor does He allow us to be tempted more than his strength enables us to endure, so that by experience we will grow in faith and in living our faith. We may not always agree with God on how much struggling is good for us. But when we’re struggling, let’s continually pray to God that He increase our love and trust in Him, so that we neither give up on God and give into the sin, nor that we become proud in ourselves and in our own strength, because that wars against our faith too. And this brings us to the last petition of the Lord’s Prayer is Deliver us from evil. The greatest evil is that we fall from faith. Other evils, such as cancers and accidents and so forth, can either harm us or help us in our faith, depending on whether we’re continuing in the Word. That said, for all of us there comes a point where we’ve had and enough and we start thinking, “Lord, take me home.” However, at the same time we think about the people who need us, and that makes us pray, “Lord, let me serve you here longer, and so deliver me from this evil or give me strength.” Whichever way we pray, again, be confident that the Holy Spirit will make our prayers just right, and then present them to our Father in heaven. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. This part of the Lord’s Prayer isn’t in the Bible, but in Jesus’ day believing Jews always ended all their prayers with those words. And so, when they started praying the prayer Jesus taught them, this is how they ended that prayer too. The thoughts here are certainly Scriptural. They remind us that we are His Kingdom, that He is all powerful, and that He must answer our prayers in a way that best for His glory, which is also always the best for us. And now, because the Holy Spirit is helping us, after we have prayed the Lord’s Prayer, what more is left for us to say, but “Amen.” Amen!

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