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Four Letter Word

Lord, teach us to pray
Luke 11:1-13

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Sermon Week Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle C

Scripture Summary Luke 11:1


Do you know how the pretzel came into being? Many years ago, there was a pious monk who was pastor of a Church in Italy. At one point in his ministry, the parish children seemed rather slow at learning their prayers. Consequently, he rewarded those who showed improvement by giving them a "pretiola," which means "little gift." The little gift was a biscuit shaped like a pair of hands clasped in prayer. Travelers would often take the pretiola over the Alps into Germany. The Germans glazed and salted them and they became a popular German snack. Eventually, pretzels were introduced and remain popular in many other parts of the world.

Now, the next time you see or eat a pretzel, it might well be a timely, welcome reminder to pray to God.

We talk a lot about prayer -- about the importance of prayer, the efficacy of prayer, the necessity of prayer, the different kinds of prayer. And many of us do a lot of praying -- morning and evening, and sometimes in between. Once a week, we come to Church to pray some more, together. Our trust and hope in prayer as the ultimate problem-solver is deep-rooted and profound. Yet, it is true, that for many of us, prayer itself is one of our problems. Sometimes we become perplexed about prayer, and we find ourselves praying for guidance on how to pray.

One reason we become confused about prayer is that we have been taught to expect so much from our prayers. Jesus himself says in the Eleventh Chapter of Luke, Verse Nine, "Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you." And when we ask and God doesn't seem to be answering, we begin to wonder and to doubt. Today's Gospel Lesson tells us where to begin our approach to this problem.

In today's Lesson, Luke tells us that Jesus "was in a certain place praying, and when He had finished, one of the disciples said, "Lord, teach us to pray" (Lk. 11:1). Jesus answered, "Say this when you [...]

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