Aloha Friday Message – October 7, 2016 – Let’s Pray That Way!

1641AFC100716 – Let’s Pray That Way!

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Luke 17:11-14 11 On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, 13 they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14 When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean.

Me ke aloha pumehana, ʻŌmea. Have you ever heard a prayer like the one in this passage from Sunday’s Gospel? I mean, it looks pretty simple. “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” It’s not like the complicated, convoluted prayers we often hear in public where every fifth phrase is “we just ….” Jesus doesn’t really do anything to them – he often went and touched people, even lepers (see Matthew 8:3 and Luke 5:13). He saw them and spoke a command to them: “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” Why did this simple prayer bring healing and all the endless pleadings we sometimes catapult to heaven fall back to the ground nearly at our feet? If God wants more from us, why doesn’t he tell us what he wants so we can pray better when we tell him what we want?

Do you recall what the Apostle James said about that? Look at this from James 4:3-4 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures. Adulterers! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Why are we praying for Worldly things? “Well, because I need this or that, and Jesus said to ask God in Jesus’ name and we’d get what we want.” Hm. I’m not so sure that’s the way it works. Neither is the Apostle James – in fact, he clearly says that not how it works. We’re asking for our own pleasures. And, if we’re honest about it, that’s usually the first thing on our minds when we speak to God (instead of speaking with God). “God, fix this for me please. Oh, and thanks for that. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.” Bye God.

child-praying-child-praying-8x10-carded-NUcCYe-clipartAs you may know, Crucita and I are catechists for the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA). This year, we have the privilege of working with 6 (yeah, SIX) boys and their families as we prepare them for the Sacraments of Initiation which they will receive next year at the Easter Vigil. Those sacraments are Baptism, Confirmation, and First Communion of Holy Eucharist. We start the classes in mid-August and finish up on Pentecost Sunday.  It’s a pretty big deal, and by the time we close it out with a Pentecost Retreat, many lives have been changed – ours, theirs, and their families. Parents get catechized along with their kids, and that really unites the family in a way that leads to a Christ-Centered Home. Part of the catechesis is learning to pray. We teach them a five-step process: [1] Greeting (who ya gonna call?). [2] Praise (Acknowledging the Power). [3] Thanks. (Humbly recognizing previous gifts). Petition. (Whatever you are asking). [5] Closing. (Expressing confidence in and acceptance of God’s Sovereignty and Grace). We help them learn phrases for each of those steps so they can string together a prayer on their own extemporaneously by the time we get to Pentecost. Talk about goose-bumps! But how does that 5-Step Prayer Pattern compare to the prayer of the Ten Lepers. Let’s dissect it and see.

[1] Greeting – Yep, they greeted Jesus. They called his name. [2] Praise – Yep, they praised him. They called him Master. [3] Thanks. Hmmm, not initially, but later one guy did come back and worshipped Jesus. [4] Petition – Yep, they asked for healing. [5] Closing – Well, sort of. They went and did what he told them to do; they went to show themselves to the Priests. That was an Act of Faith, and as such, it was their way of “Expressing confidence in and acceptance of God’s Sovereignty and Grace.” It was their version of “In Jesus’ Name. AMEN.” So, looking at even that short prayer, we can see that it is pretty similar to what Jesus had to say about prayer earlier in Matthew 6:9-13

“Pray then in this way:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10     Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11     Give us this day our daily bread.
12     And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13     And do not bring us to the time of trial,
but rescue us from the evil one.

We often hear, and most people include, “for The Kingdom, and the Glory, and the Power are Yours, Now and Forever. AMEN.” That’s how he taught us to pray. Ideally, all our prayers ought to follow that example. But thinking about God, praising God … that usually isn’t the first thing on our minds. More often than not, the first thing on my mind is … ME! Really, folks, how often do we take time to praise God in our prayers? Some of us do that daily whether we are using formal prayers or extemporaneous prayers; we always start by acknowledging, praising, and glorifying God. That’s a good thing, so if you do that all the time, keep at it. If you do it sometimes, get better at doing it. If it’s missing more often than not, work on putting it there. It helps to be able to remember all the “parts,” so acronyms are often used. Our 5-step plan would be GPTPC – not very catchy. But here’s another one that a lot of people like: ACTS – Adoration. Contrition. Thanksgiving. Supplication. Nice, huh? Here’s another one. Just give God the FACTS: Faith. Adoration. Confession. Thanksgiving. Supplication. Speaking of FAITH, how about Forwarding All Issues To Heaven? If you want to be a FIGHTER just remember Faith In God Has Tremendously Exciting Results! Do you remember WWJD – What Would Jesus Do? If you do that backwards it’s DJWW – Devil Just Won’t Win. Let go and let God? That’s Leave Everything To God OK?

You can find a bunch of these with your search engine by using the terms CHRISTIAN ACRONYMS. I’ve got a post at The Moon Bean Network with a few as well.  USE THIS LINK

Back to prayer then. The prayer of the Ten Lepers was pretty simple, and very effective. The woman with the hemorrhage just reached out and touched the Lord as he passed by; she didn’t say a word, but her faith said all that was needed. In fact Jesus told the Disciples that it’s didn’t take a lot of fancy words. Think of the parable or the Pharisee and the Publican. The Publican’s prayer was “God be merciful to me, a sinner.” This prayer acknowledges God as Superior. It recognizes and praises God’s mercy. The petition is for mercy and the confession is one of a sinner who is thankful God is merciful. So let’s look at what Jesus said about our prayers in Matthew 6:7-8 “When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” You may ask, “So if he knows, why do I have to ask him?” The answer is, “So you will know who is asking and who is answering thereby acknowledging and praising God for his mercy and grace.” It’s good for the soul. “Well,” you say, “that’s great and all that, but I don’t know how to do that kind of stuff. I mean, really, how are you supposed to talk to God after all?” Let’s turn to Paul’s letter to the Romans for that one.

Romans 8:26-27 26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. 27 And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. We have an Advocate, a Helper, a Paraclete who makes our prayers meaningful, useful, and right. You can get that kind of help by simply saying, “Holy Spirit, help me pray.” Use one of the acronyms, or a traditional, formal prayer, or just talk to God like you’d talk to your friend – after all, he is a Friend. (↔ Music Link) 😀

Here’s another thing to think about: Many times we start and end our conversations with God using the “GIMME” prayer. Just for your own delight, PICK ONE of the five steps we teach our RCIA/C catechumens and pray that and only that for one full minute. Won’t God be surprised at that? Remember, I love you bunches and bunches, but Jesus loves you more. God is crazy in love with you, Belovéd. Take to the Lord in prayer to say THANKS for 60 seconds.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Belovéd! Prayer is AMAZING!! (↔ Another Music Link!!!)

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

 

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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