Family Liturgies

Luke 11: Teach Us to Pray

by Jennifer DiFrancesco

Prayer
God of Awakening, stir our hearts to come alive
to all of the invitations that quietly surround us…
God of Compassion, open our eyes to the unseen suffering around us…
God of Justice, disturb us to take the side of the poor and wronged…
God of Healing, turn our wounds into sources of refreshment. Amen.
~adapted from “A Blessing of Angels” by John O’Donohue

Scripture: Luke 11:1-4
Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”

Jesus told them, “When you pray, say:
‘Father, uphold the holiness of your name.
Bring in your kingdom.
Give us the bread we need for today.
Forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive everyone who has wronged us.
And don’t lead us into temptation.’”

Memory Verse: “Lord, teach us to pray…” Luke 11:1b

Reflection
In the Gospel of Luke, we see at least 15 times/places when Jesus is praying. We often only hear about these prayer texts in reference to how prayer strengthens and sustains his relationship with God.

Jesus publicly prayed in the moment and during particular situations. His prayers ring out as a public witness, a testament of the living God, in and to the broken world. These prayers build relationships, as when he prays over the little children brought to him.

Last week, after serving breakfast to those who hunger at Manna House near my home in Baltimore City, Maryland, I led a prayer walk in the community.  Within a one block radius we saw:
boarded up homes,
corner stores,
liquor stores,
churches,
treatment clinics,
senior housing,
youth programming centers,
a light pole wrapped with balloons and stuffed animals,
and multiple bus stops.

We also met lots of people:
on their way to church,
waiting for a bus,
who just ate at Manna House,
too tired to stand,
sitting outside trying to catch a breeze,
needing to talk,
wanting silence,
looking for their next high,
and seeking prayer.

A member of the congregation I serve asked me this week, “Why do a prayer walk? Isn’t praying in the pew on Sunday good enough?” prayerwalkYes, each prayer said from the church pews on Sunday morning is powerful. I also know, however, that as a person of privilege, it is extremely easy for me push aside a prayer I hear in worship. It is much harder to ignore an image, a smell, something I personally touch. A prayer walk allows the pray-er to fully immerse, experience vulnerability, and partake in a person encounter by and through the prayer.

I have learned many things from Jesus’ ministry here on earth, one of which is that relationships should be transformational and not merely transactional. Prayer is a relational experience meant to transform, not meant to be recited dutifully as obligation or by rote.

Questions to Spark Conversation
~If someone were to ask you, “What is prayer?” what would you say?
~During prayer, do you find yourself doing most of the talking, mostly listening or a bit of both?
-What do you like about praying? What challenges you?
~How does prayer give rest to your soul? And how does it propel you into action?

Spiritual Practice: Prayer Walk
There are lots of articles out there about do’s and don’ts of prayer walks. Simply stated, prayer walking is a method of intercessory prayer that involves walking and stopping to pray at specific locations along the journey. This type of movement prayer can also be done while in a car, bus, riding a bike, running, boating, hover boarding, or any other means of transportation.

Some say you should pray aloud, while others say not to draw attention to yourself. So, yeah, there isn’t merely one way to do it. Here are a few of my suggestions:

Keep your eyes open.

There is no rush, so take your time.

Engage those you see/meet.

Give thanks when and where you see God at work.

Ask God’s presence to shine in and through the brokenness you see.

After the walk, take time to reflect about what you saw/experienced.

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