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Sep 4 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

September 4, 2022



Welcome and Prayer: Nancy Lopez

Welcome Friends!              May the Lord be with you.

I gave blood at the Red Cross this past week, and I was reminded that I was born optimistic, because my blood type is…..B Positive+ 😊

It’s not really funny, because truly my work is to have the capacity for sadness. I want to move on, not to feel Sadness, but I’m learning that Joy needs Sadness.  Did you see the Pixar animated movie “Inside Out” where the emotions of Anger, Disgust, Fear, Sadness, and Joy were personified?  We saw into the mind of a young girl whose family has moved across country, and the stress of the move brings Sadness to the forefront.  Another emotion (Joy) always strives to be the lead emotion and tries to limit Sadness’ influence, but by the end of the movie Joy realizes that Sadness has just as much value to the internal system as any other emotion.  And me?  I don’t have to BE Sadness, but I want to welcome Sadness along with Joy.

You might be one who leans toward Sadness and might have to be intentional about allowing Joy.  Perhaps you say, “Well, how can I BE in Joy when everything is so sad?” or “Well, I tried being happy once, and I was greatly disappointed.”    And you might practice welcoming moments of Joy along with your Sadness.

When we grieve, we often have to carry both Joy and Sadness, don’t we?  Our hearts have the capacity for all of this. It’s interesting that both Joy and Sadness bring tears.  Our emotions are embodied, which can be seen in tears. So, I think that this is a part of my growth in wholeness: to be able to be aware of and to hold deep emotions with reverence and not to be overwhelmed with only one way of feeling, to let every emotion have its rightful place, and to invite a full response, this is mindfulness, whole-heartedness, and an embodied soul response.  Here are some verses along these lines:

Ps. 94:19 “In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul.”

Prov. 14:13 Even in laughter the heart may ache, and the end of joy may be grief.”

Hebrews 12:2 “Jesus, for the Joy set before Him, endured the Shame.” Let’s pray:
We’re thanking you, God, from full hearts; we’re letting our soul record our full responses.  We’re whistling, laughing, jumping for joy, and we’re crying our eyes out.  We’re singing your song, Jesus.  Teach us every word.  Let the notes come to us this morning as we turn our attention to you.  Amen

Morning Talk: chuck smith, jr.

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” Luke 11:1

Intro: We have come to an important waypoint in our journey

A message that has been forming the behind curtain is brought onto the stage
– alongside the story, Jesus has taken time apart to pray
• the difference here, is that Luke uses the disciples to make this point explicit
Lord, teach us to pray

William Barclay, “It was a regular custom for a Rabbi to teach his disciples a simple prayer which they might habitually use.”
– some of us learned childhood prayers for bed-time and meals
• Roman Catholics memorize the rosary, and some AA fellowships recite the Lord’s Prayer
• perhaps that’s what the disciples wanted from Jesus–a formalized prayer
– I think something else is going on here
• we’re told that it was after he finished praying that they made the request
◦ they had observed Jesus in prayer at critical moments
◦ they witnessed the connection between his prayer and his power
• they wanted what he had – and so they asked

What’s the difference between teaching someone “to pray” and “how to pray”?

What we’ll see is that Jesus does both
– he tells them “how to” when he gives them the Lord’s Prayer (the “Our Father”)
• he encourages them to pray, by way of:
◦ a parable, a command, and an example of the Father’s love
• teaching a person “to” pray is instructing them to do it
◦ we could learn from a book how people ride bikes,
◦ or we could learn to ride a bike, by climbing on and doing it
– that Jesus prayed is enough for most of us to see our need for it
• he’s our model for all things spiritual and true – “Follow Me,” he said
• if he needed to pray, if he saw value in praying,
◦ how much more do I need to pray?

There are two subtle “word pictures” in this verse

The first you wouldn’t know unless you studied the verse closely
– in fact, the translation I quoted above doesn’t make it clear
• Luke uses a figure of speech that is common in the New Testament
◦ the very same Greek words appear in Luke 9:18, and are translated:
Now it happened that as he was praying . . . (or while he was praying)
• Jesus’ prayer was an event that “happened”
◦ and while it happened the disciples were present
– this may not seem like a big deal, but it has meaning for to me

Our lives are a spiritual journey – we are traveling with Jesus
– as we go, things happen – some planned, others are random
• we don’t have to make things happen
◦ we don’t have to create our own learning experiences or trials
• God arranges those things without our help
– when things happen, especially unexpected or exceptional things
• it’s a good idea to pay attention — to be curious and ask questions
• I am not a deep thinker by nature (I tend to daydream rather than contemplate)
◦ but some experiences I mull over
◦ and frequently, that reflection a valuable insight or uplifting thought

Something divine is always happening, we just don’t see it
By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible (Heb. 11:3)
• the universe hides mysteries
Fr. Romuald, “One way of looking at the genius of Christianity is to take everything with reverence. God is mystery. But so are you, and so am I, and so is the flower, so are the foxes, and everything else. It would be rather foolish to think that we comprehend the world we live in, because we don’t; we’re guests here.”
◦ to become aware of the mystery that surrounds us,
◦ we have to bring our attention what is here and what is now
• our circumstances are not random — a larger reality is hidden within them
◦ so we pause, we breathe, and
◦ open our hearts to what is beyond our sense experience

Let’s read it again: It happened while Jesus was praying
– things happen when Jesus prays – and Jesus is always praying
Christ Jesus . . . is at the right hand of God . . . interceding for us (Ro. 8:34-35)
• we do not know what Jesus prayed that day
◦ or if he even prayed a “what” –
◦ did he listen or did he speak? Commune or complain? Surrender or struggle?
– we pray through Jesus to the Father,
• but we can also pray with Jesus
• we can pray the Our Father with him, and say “Amen” to his prayer

The second subtle word picture is created by what is not said

The first thing that is not said is the name “Jesus” – the Greek reads simply, “he”
– his name is implied from the previous stories
• so it wasn’t necessary to make the specific identification

The second thing that is not said, is where they were
– a “certain place” is certainly somewhere, but the location is undefined
• so it could be anywhere

The third thing that is not said, is when this took place
– if we turn back to beginning of chapter 2 and chapter 3,
• Luke is deliberate and detailed in regard to the who, when, and where
◦ he names the people, time, and the places
• but Luke says only “while he prayed” and does not indicate specifics
◦ like the season of the year, a day of week, a time of day, or for how long he prayed
◦ it could have been any time during last trip to Jerusalem

The fourth thing not said, is who made the request
– it was “one of his disciples,” but we’re not told which one
• in fact, the Greek word for a “certain” place, is here translated “one” (of the disciples)
• Luke wants us to know that the one who asked the question was definitely a disciple
◦ but he conceals that person’s identity
◦ it could have been any one of the disciples

Now maybe I’m making too big a deal of the missing pieces
– after all, don’t we talk in this same way, with vague generalizations?
• that’s why we have “indefinite pronouns”
• we can make our point without using specific references
– so can we just leave it at that? – or should we look for a deeper meaning?
• a deeper meaning could be that Luke intentionally left the door open
◦ the prayer Jesus teaches us to pray can be made anywhere, any time, by anyone
◦ it could also be made everywhere, all the time, by everyone
• this particular moment, the then and there of prayer with Jesus, is universal

If we read the verse this way, then we make an important discovery
– prayer creates its own environment, it redefines time and space
• it is not bound by calendars and clocks, addresses and maps
• prayer takes over, making the here and the now of it sacred
◦ prayer can happen anywhere, any time,
◦ because God is everywhere and eternal
– any disciple and every disciple can ask Jesus for help in prayer
• if disciples know anything, they know to pray
◦ we cannot meet world need, end wars, change human hearts
◦ but we can approach God, breathe his Spirit, and move his hand
• I am the disciple who asks Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray”
◦ and you are the disciple who asks Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray”

When you began any conversation with Jesus, with “Lord” you’re already praying
– it’s okay for us to admit we don’t know to pray
• it’s okay to begin with baby-talk
• our first awkward steps will lead to bigger steps and eventually to running
◦ and our prayers will become increasingly effective

Conclusion: Awhile back, I read a story about a young philosopher

He visited Mt. Athos, which is inhabited by Orthodox Monks, because he wanted to learn pure prayer
– he met Fr. Seraphim and asked to be taught “the prayer of the heart”
• here’s what Fr. Seraphim told him:
Jean-Yves Leloup, “‘Before I talk about prayer of the heart, first learn how to meditate like a mountain.’ And he showed him an enormous rock. ‘Ask it how it goes about praying. Then come back to me.’”
• at first, all the young philosopher experienced was discomfort
◦ but after awhile he began learning the wisdom of the mountain
◦ those insights changed him, and he became more settled and serene

Here is where I’m going with this:
You are the disciple who asks Jesus, “Teach me to pray”
and I want to give you a similar exercise the old Monk gave the young philosopher
If you are patient, listen carefully, and reflect on what you see and hear,
I promise, Jesus will have something to teach you

A Spiritual Exercise (in contemplative prayer)

Luke 11:1-13, Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say:
“Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread,
and forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.”
And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.
What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

In a quiet place, read this passage two or three times, slowly.
Imagine Jesus with you.
Ask him, “Lord, teach me to pray.”
Then, observing Jesus, write out whatever comes to you.
Give yourself time enough to listen.
Try to use short sentences.
Every day for one month, keep these notes where you will see them each morning.

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