Propers 11 through 17 Even on a sultry summer day, the wind of the Spirit hovers — almost imperceptibly. Our lives rarely accommodate a slower pace for the summer. Yet, we are invited to notice, again, the priorities that drive us. We are invited to stop, however briefly, the manic activity and consider options Jesus offers us.
Luke: 11: 1-13 A Notation for This Week’s Gospel The Lord's Prayer. We have said it so many times the words may have lost some of their power. What if we chose to really search and knock, expecting the door to open? What is the Holy Spirit longing for us to request?
Lesson Plans for Adults Theme: Rediscovering the prayer Jesus taught his disciples. Before Class: You will need Bibles and copies of The Book of Common Prayer. You will probably have to make some choices as this is an exceptionally full passage. If you do not have time to do all three sections, choose which one, or ones, to do. If these lesson plans are also being used with children in your church, and you have parents of these children in your group, you may want to be sure to cover the first section, as that is the focus of the children's lessons.
Beginning: You may choose to invite the group to help decide which sections to discuss today:
Section One digs into the meaning of The Lord's Prayer.
Section Two deals with persistence in prayer.
Section Three conveys God's desire to give us what is good.
Opening Prayer:Invite the group to open Prayer Books to page 364 and say together the version of The Lord's Prayer you hear the least frequently when you worship at your church.
The Scripture: Section One: Luke 11: 1-4.
Ask volunteers to read: Verse 1a and 2a are the narrator, 1b is a disciple, and verses 2b-4 are Jesus.
With Bibles open to this passage, and The Book of Common Prayer open to page 364, take the Lord's Prayer, verse by verse and paraphrase what each communicates.
"(Our) Father." Decide what you think about calling God "Father." Clearly, Jesus regularly referred to God as his Father. Could this be reinforcing the male imagery of God, or communicating the image of a deeply loving God? Honor your responses to the use of the word, Father.
"Hallowed be your name." How would we define "hallowed?" (Holy? Awesome? What else?)
"Your kingdom come." (In what ways would our world be radically different, if we did things in God's kingdom fashion? What might be much better? What might we have to give up?)
"Give us each day . . ." (In our consumer-products bloated culture, what could this mean to us? At the same time, do we think we are being called to live only for the day, saving nothing for the future? How do we manage this paradox?)
"Forgive . . ." (Notice the trade-off: Forgive us — "for" we forgive everyone . . . To amplify the meaning of this passage, see Luke 6:37b-38. Could it be that we have the capacity to receive forgiveness only to the extent we have already forgiven others, emptied ourselves of rage?
"The time of trial." (We pray to be spared the time of trial. Is it our experience that anyone gets through life with no trials? Perhaps this is where the rubber of faith meets the road of life. Could this part mean: we trust that you, God, will go through trials with us?)
Option: For a startlingly different rendition of The Lord's Prayer, you might want to make copies of the following: The Lord's Prayer from A New Zealand Prayer Book, page 181:
From the grip of all that is evil, free us.
For you reign in the glory of the power that is love,
now and forever. Amen.
Section Two: Luke 11: 5-8.One voice will be needed to read this portion.
Why does Jesus suggest the person at home would not get up to open the door for a friend? (Remind the group that people tended to live in one-room homes, all the family in one bed, animals asleep beside the sleeping family. Imagine the commotion if someone got up and opened the door: dogs barking, cocks crowing, and babies starting to cry.)
Discuss the "persistence" this passage addresses. (Whose attention is it difficult to get? Is it God's — or could it be our ability to stay focused?)
Why do you think Jesus told this story — right after giving the disciples a format for prayer? (A useful format is only as useful as it is employed.)
Section Three: Luke 11: 9-13.A different voice could be invited to read this portion.
Notice the sequence in verse 9. Can you share times this has been your experience? And what about the times it has not?
Consider this possibility: The order is backwards! If so, what happens when we "knock on the door?" (Could that be our opening ourselves — through prayer — to come into God's presence? What changes occur in us when we notice ourselves in God's presence?)
What happens when we search? (What other options come into view when we are open to searching?)
What, then, might change about what we ask? (What different focus might become available?)
Perhaps it has been our experience to have an earthly father who was inept or even evil in what he provided (or did not provide) for his children. (Jesus is addressing his disciples, whom he knew well, so he must have noticed good fathering in them and knew they would get the concept. As we think of really "good" fathers we know, can we explore the concept of a God who loves us so much more than even these good fathers do?)
Getting Closure.Ask the group to sit, with eyes closed, while you read, slowly, phrase by phrase, The Lord's Prayer.
Closing Prayer. Amen. Let it be. Amen.