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God's Spam Folder

Lord, teach us to pray
Genesis 18:20-32; Psalm 138:1-3,6-8; Colossians 2:12-14; Luke 11:1-13

Sermon Week Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle C

Scripture Summary Luke 11:1

How can we learn how to pray? In today’s technological age, if you grow up in a world where every form of communication takes place on a screen – computer screens and tablet screens and smartphone screens, to name a few – then it may be natural to think about praying to God in the same way.

In a recent magazine cartoon, God is seated, looking intently at a laptop with a worried look on His face. The caption reads: “God finds all the prayers of mankind in his spam folder.”

In today's Lesson from Luke's Gospel, Jesus is praying and one of the disciples says to Him, "Lord, teach us to pray." Jesus answers, "When you pray say, 'Father, hallowed be Your Name'" (Lk. 11:1-2).

Everyone knows the Lord's Prayer. Without a doubt, it is the best-known passage in the Bible. One problem we have with the Lord's Prayer is that it is so familiar we often repeat it mechanically. We say the prayer, but it has no real meaning for us. It’s like sending our prayer to God’s “Spam folder.” We don't tie it into the level of our hoping and dreaming and laughing and crying and living and dying. It's like an ancient "prayer wheel" where you write out your prayers, put them inside the wheel and then start the wheel turning. And every time the wheel goes around you have said all those prayers -- even if you have given your attention to other things. Perhaps that is not all bad, because it has been discovered that the repetition of a certain affirmative thing, over-and-over-again, can have a positive influence on us. But I am convinced that the Lord's Prayer would mean so much more to us if, instead of turning on the prayer wheel when we recite the words, we turn on our hearts. When we pray the Lord's Prayer from our hearts something real happens to us.

There’s a story about a small Kentucky town that had two Churches and one whiskey distillery. Members of both Churches complained that the distillery gave the community a bad [...]

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