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Luke 11:1-10

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples." And he said to them, "When you pray, say: "Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation." And he said to them, "Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him'; and he will answer from within, 'Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything'? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. (ESV)
Prepare to Pray
Friday of Easter 6
6 May 2016
As a pastor and a parent of grown children I am often appalled by the number of parents who allow their children to do everything in church but pray. They can eat Cheerios, scribble on the bulletin, tear pages out of hymn books, go to the bathroom three times during the service, gawk around, and so on. However, they don't seem to be able to bow their heads, fold their hands, close their eyes, and pray, "Our Father..." I am not talking about toddlers who are a challenge to train in the discipline of prayer, but grade schoolers and teenaged children.
The problem is definitely not the children's, but the parents'. Many parents today are of the baby boom generation or think like it. They are convinced that if they require their children to learn the discipline of prayer, they will despise the church and its gospel. This is the dogma of spontaneity that despoils the need for the hard work of preparation. Things properly prepared for are not "spontaneous;" and according to this dogma, what is not spontaneous is hypocritical, not truly heart felt, and not fully religious. The dogma of spontaneity can have hilarious results. 
A friend with a military background told me a story of a dress dinner for both American and British military officers in England. Both contingents would have color guards at the event. The British color guard went to the banquet hall the day before the event to rehearse the presentation of the colors. The American color guard disdained to rehearse, after all, "what could go wrong?" On the day of the banquet, entering the hall first, the British contingent presented the colors with all the snap and polish that could be desired. The British officers beamed with pride. The American color guard stepped into the hall and raised the flag standards with a flourish, only to drive them through the ceiling of the banquet hall. And with not little effort they had to extract them from the ceiling tile. This resulted in good-natured ribbing for some time and the American officers were mighty red-faced. Proper preparation and rehearsal makes a difference.
This dogma of spontaneity is not Scripture's but Satan's. The disciples specifically ask Jesus to teach them a discipline of prayer, "Lord, teach us to pray" (Lk 11:1). If our children are to pray, we need to give them the language and discipline of prayer. A child who does not learn the discipline of prayer is like a child who is expected to communicate clearly without being taught how to speak.
Our heavenly Father speaks to us in His resurrected Son, who opens the Scripture to us and sends us the Holy Spirit. Those who are sons of God through Christ will eagerly learn the Son's way of prayer to our Father. Let's teach our children so to pray.


Martin Luther

"Outward prayer must also go on, both individual prayer and corporate prayer. In the morning and in the evening, at table and whenever he has time, every individual should speak a benediction or the Our Father or the Creed or a psalm. And in assemblies the Word of God should be employed and thanks and petitions voiced to God for our general needs. This must necessarily be done in public, with a special time and place set aside for such assemblies. Such prayer is a precious thing and a powerful defense against the devil and his assaults. For in it, all Christendom combines its forces with one accord; and the harder it prays, the more effective it is and the sooner it is heard. At the present time, for example, it is of real benefit as a defense and a barrier against the many tricks which the devil might otherwise commit through the members of his body. Thus it is certain that whatever still stands and endures, whether it is in the spiritual or in the secular realm, is being preserved through prayer.

"But elsewhere I have often taken up and discussed the component parts and the characteristics which every real prayer has to possess, and therefore I shall only summarize them briefly here. They are as follows: first, the urging of God's commandment, who has strictly required us to pray; second, His promise, in which He declares that He will hear us; third, an examination of our own need and misery, which burden lies so heavily on our shoulders that we have to carry it to God immediately and pour it out before Him, in accordance with His order and commandment; fourth, true faith, based on this word and promise of God, praying with the certainty and confidence that He will hear and help us-and all these things in the name of Christ, through whom our prayer is acceptable to the Father and for whose sake He gives us every grace and every good." 

Martin Luther, Sermon on the Sermon on the Mount, 6.6
Dear Father, hear my fervent petitions as You have promised in Your dear Son, Christ. Let me set an example in prayer to my children, who will imitate my faith. Keep me from hard-heartedness and unbelief, so that I might continue to pray to You as a dear child calls on a dear father. Amen.
For safe travel for those who are traveling to graduations and confirmations over the next few weeks
For the students who will be gathering at Trinity Lutheran Church, Palo Alto to discuss the Lutheran doctrine of the two kingdoms, that they would grow in knowledge and confidence in the truth
For the family of Graciella Vidal, whom the Lord took to His nearer presence, that they would mourn with confidence in the resurrection and hope of the life to come
Art: RUBENS, Peter Paul  The Resurrection of Christ (1611-12)

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