Sermon – Trinity 8

I remember, not too long ago, visiting the shop in Maryhill Road where we still have a Pisckie presence. It’s called Heart for the City, and Fr Lucas Njenga runs quite an incredible ministry. Lucas is a Kenyan Anglican, as are most of the staff there. They reach out to asylum seekers, and Scots folk alike, usually people on the margins of our society who just need someone to love them.

On this particular visit, I became quite embarrassed. While I was in the office talking to Lucas, there was obviously an incredible rammy going on next door between several African women.

They were shouting and screaming, and stamping their feet, banging on tables for effect. I asked what the argument was about, eventually, because I thought somebody should intervene and bring about a little bit of reconciliation!

I was more embarrassed to be told that they were only praying. One of their relatives had “disappeared” in Kenya, and they wanted him home again! God was getting a hard time! It seems that they had been praying like that for almost 4 hours. They were going to beat down the doors of heaven until they got their way.

They certainly expected to get what they prayed for, but there was something in all of this that I found a bit uncomfortable with!

Have you received everything you’ve ever prayed for? The Kenyan’s obviously took today’s gospel very literally! It sounds so simple. “Ask and it will be given to you.”

But! That is not my experience! There are many things I have asked God for that I haven’t received. Some of them I’m glad I didn’t. Sometimes I want to sing with Garth Brooks, “Thank God for unanswered prayers”

Yes, the Kenyans got what they asked for later in the day, but it’s not an approach I would recommend to you if you live four in a block in Silverton.

Prayer is an enigma, especially when we get down to asking for things. On the one hand we are told we don’t need to ask because our Father knows our needs before we ask, and on the other hand, we are encouraged to ask and ask until we get what we want!

It’s maybe a tension we need to live with!

However, there are three lessons I take away from these teachings of our Lord about prayer.  

First of all, prayer is essential to the life of a Christian. I don’t see how anyone can make it as a Christian without a deep and rich prayer life. Sometimes we will pray out of a sense of deep need. Other times we will be so filled with joy we will be driven to our knees in thanksgiving. And then there will be times when we will be ashamed of some action or some thought, and we will pray, “God have mercy on me.” But to be a Christian is to pray.

If we follow Jesus, then we are bound to pray, simply because Our Lord’s life was full of prayer. How are we going to get the strength to cope with the day, if we are not prepared to spend a significant time in praying?

I’ll tell you something. Whenever I’ve asked for strength to cope with an unbearable situation, strength has always been given to me!

You are a follower of Jesus. Jesus prayed. There are all kinds of reasons why he could have skipped prayer. But he never did. To be a Christian is to pray. So do it, and do it often!

The second thing we need to see is that prayer works. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Jesus is not saying that everything we ask for will be given to us. He’s saying to us, however, that every prayer is heard. Every prayer is answered in some unseen way.

Sometimes you ask and you DO receive exactly what you asked for. And most of us can think of times God answered our prayers in a wonderful way. Sometimes, however, things do not work out quite that neatly. Every prayer is heard. Every prayer is answered, but sometimes not in the way we might have wanted it.

The third, and most important thin though, is that we learn to trust God.
Jesus is saying to us, trust God. God loves you. God is only interested in your best good, and even though we may not always see God’s hand at work answering our prayers, some day we will see that God was with us all the time.

Life can be very cruel, but we have an ally, a Friend, who never forgets us nor forsakes us. Do not hesitate to pound on heaven’s door, although I’m sure you don’t need to shout or bang on the table! But do not lose hope! Even if things don’t turn out as you wanted, God has not forgotten you.

Some day, I believe, we will see God’s plan in all it fullness and we will understand that God’s plan was for the best. If you know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more does God know how to give gifts to God’s children? That’s the promise, and God always keeps God’s promises.

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Kyiv Accordion Duo Concert

Easy listening music, by Kyiv Duo, playing button accordions. Free entry!

Retiring collection in aid of the children and young people still affected by the nuclear fallout from Chenobyl.

All Welcome. Bring your friends to what is a smashing evening of brilliant music and entertainment.