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A Matter Of Life Or Death

He said to them, 'When you pray, say: Father, Hallowed be Your Name, Your Kingdom come'
Luke 11:1-13

Sermon Topic Lord's Prayer

Sermon Week Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle C

Scripture Summary Luke 11:2


There once was 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 image. "Besides," they said, "the owner is an atheist." They tried many times to close the place down, but were unsuccessful. At last, they decided to hold a joint Saturday-night-prayer-meeting. They would petition God to intervene. Saturday night came and all through the prayer-meeting a terrible electrical storm raged. To the delight of the Church members, lightning struck the distillery and it burned to the ground. Next morning, the sermons in both Churches were on "The Power of Prayer." Fire insurance adjusters promptly notified the distillery owner they would not pay for his damages. The fire was caused by an "act of God," they said, and coverage for "acts of God" was excluded in the policy. Whereupon, the distillery owner sued all the Church members, claiming they had conspired with God to destroy his building. The defendants denied absolutely that they had done anything to cause the fire. The trial judge observed: "I find one thing about this case that is very perplexing. We have a situation where the plaintiff--an atheist--is professing his belief in the power of prayer, and the defendants--all Church members--are denying the power of prayer.

Many of us can identify with that judge's feelings. 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 we 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 do become perplexed about prayer, and 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, [...]

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