Blog / Book of the Month / Contentment and Trust in Prayer / Luke 11:1–13 / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday July 24th 2022 / Season of Pentecost / Mount Olive Lutheran Church

Contentment and Trust in Prayer / Luke 11:1–13 / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday July 24th 2022 / Season of Pentecost / Mount Olive Lutheran Church

Contentment and Trust in Prayer / Luke 11:1–13 / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday July 24th 2022 / Season of Pentecost / Mount Olive Lutheran Church

Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday July 24th 2022: Season of Pentecost / Luke 11:1–13 "Contentment and Trust in Prayer"

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!”

Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in Your sight O Lord. Amen.

Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. When it comes to prayer Martin Luther once commented about it like this, “A Christian without prayer is just as impossible as a living person without a pulse. The pulse is never motionless; it moves and beats constantly, whether one is asleep or something else keeps one from being aware of it,” in fact, “wherever there is a Christian, there is none other than the Holy Spirit, who does nothing but pray without ceasing.[1] Even though one does not move one’s lips and form word’s continuously, ones heart in the body, it beats with sighs such as these: “Oh, dear Father, please let Thy name be hallowed, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done among us and everyone!” And when blows fall, when temptations thicken, and adversity presses harder, then such sighing becomes more fervent and also finds words.”[2]

In today’s Gospel reading we see the disciples seeking to find words to pray. One of them asks Jesus saying “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught His disciples.” He was of course referring to John the Baptizer who had baptised Jesus in the Jordan River and had followers and disciples of his own.[3] We are not told what fine prayers John the Baptizer taught his disciples but we do know that John the Baptizer said of Jesus and himself, “He must increase, but I must decrease,”[4] so we can be sure that the prayer Jesus teaches His disciples is the best of the best of prayers above those prayers taught by John the Baptizer and worthy of our learning and our daily use as Christians and that this prayer, which we call “The Lord’s Prayer” in honour of the one who teaches it to us, is a prayer that then beats in our heart as Christians along with the pulse of the blood in our veins all the days of our life. The more you pray this prayer, the more you study what it means the more you take it to heart, the more you will see that this prayer is a prayer about contentment, forgiveness and trust. Today we will focus on mostly on contentment and trust. 

Consider contentment. After providing them with His prayer to His heavenly Father Jesus says to His disciples, “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!” Think of this through the lens of Psalm 103 which teaches us the nature of God, the Psalmist confesses that “The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.”[5] This is the nature of Christ, who teaches you to pray to His heavenly Father, and this likewise is the nature of your heavenly Father, this is also the nature of the Holy Spirit: And He along with the Father and Son are the epitome, the essence of grace, mercy, patience and love and Christ Himself is the very embodiment of this nature lived out in this fallen world. This, dear ones, is the nature of the giver of all the good gifts that we have in our lives.

Keeping this in mind remember what the catechism says about the forth petition of the Lord’s Prayer Give us this day our daily bread. What does this mean? Luther in the catechism says that “God certainly gives daily bread to everyone without our prayers, even to all evil people, but we pray in this petition that God would lead us to realise this and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.”[6] Notice that God does not give His gifts based on our merit but upon His love, just as He loved the world in this way, “that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”[7] Our heavenly Father gave His Son Jesus to the whole world — not to some but to all — to those who struggles to do and be good, to those who are consistently wicked and evil in thought word and deed, to the those who are tossed about in life falling into sin and being dragged up out of that same sin minute by minute, day by day, week by week, year by year, decade by decade continually living their life in dire need of the Lord’s help and salvation.

This is how our heavenly Father gives us the things we have in this life and this Lord’s Prayer is one prayer in which we learn over time what it means to be grateful and not just what it means to be grateful but also what it is to be grateful: and true gratitude is contentment. If you are content with what you’ve been given you will not be seeking after what doesn’t belong to you,[8] lusting after relationships that are not yours to have,[9] plotting against your neighbour to get his food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, land, animals, money, goods, reputation, and friends.[10]

What does Saint Paul say, he says, “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.”[11] Jesus, in the Lord’s Prayer, teaches each of us who pray this prayer self-control and thankfulness. In the same way the prayer teaches us to understand that “The good and gracious will of God is done even without our prayer, but … that [we pray the Lord’s Prayer desiring that the will of God] may be done among us also,”[12] that “The kingdom of God [likewise and most] certainly comes by itself without our prayer, but [in this prayer we pray] that it may come to us also.”[13] This is contentment and happiness in what we have, contentment and happiness in our circumstances and contentment and happiness in how this world unfolds around us regardless as to whether we, in our lives, have much or little, regardless as to whether our circumstances be favourable or poor, regardless as to whether God “feels” near to us or far from us by human reckoning because in all of these things we understand the nature of the giver of the gifts that He is “is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” Yes, we pray to God the Father expecting a fish and not a serpent, an egg and not a scorpion.

Now what if the person wants a serpent or a scorpion instead of the fish or egg that God wants to give them? What then? No matter how genuinely heartfelt, no matter how much they want to reach out and touch the glowing red coil of the electric element of a stovetop burner the parent doesn’t let the child have what they want. The parent doesn’t want them to be hurt. No matter how much the child begs or cries, or makes sweet, won’t say yes to such a request. They keep them away from touching it. Now a disobedient child may find a way to touch it in defiance of their parents love and care because they believe they know best and that they should not be kept from it and when they do as sure as the sting of a scorpion they will end up with a very bad burn.

Contentment then is trusting that there is a plan for the gift that God gives you, listening to His word about those gifts and not misusing them. The red hot burner on the stove when used properly can boil an egg in a pot or can be used to pan fry some fish caught in the lake. So it is that God gives man dominion over nature[14] and out of greed it’s exploited in ways that are not healthy for everyone, God gives the gift of sexuality[15] and out of lust it’s exploited in ways that are not healthy, God gives the gift of reason[16] and out of cruelty it’s exploited in ways that harm the neighbour instead of helping and protecting. Trust on the other hand shows self control,[17] it looks at the gift for what it is and works to use it in harmony with the purpose for which it was given, trusting that there is a good and pure use of the gift.  

A hammer can be used to build a house by a builder and it can be used to smash a window by a thief and this same hammer can be owned by the same person which is why in the Lord’s Prayer we pray lead us not into temptation. We acknowledge that just because the LORD gives the gift He is not the one who tempts us to use it wrongly: temptations to misuse the gift are rooted in mistrust of the giver and the temptations into sin often come from the World and the Devil but like the small child with the glowing red burner on the stove they can come from our own hearts misguided desires.[18] In the Lord’s Prayer we pray “that God would guard and keep us so that the devil, the world, and our sinful nature may not deceive us or mislead us into false belief, despair, and other great shame and vice.” And in the prayer we trust that, “Although we are attacked by these things, we pray [in the prayer] that we may finally overcome them and win the victory.”[19]       

Later in the Gospel of Luke we hear Jesus says, “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”[20] And so it is for us in our Christian life. Dear ones in the Lord’s Prayer Jesus “tenderly invites us to believe that [God the Father] is our true Father and that we are His true children, so that with all boldness and confidence we may ask Him as dear children ask their dear father,” for all the things we ask in the prayer and in all our prayers. The Lord’s Prayer teaches us, as we daily pray it, to trust in our heavenly Father for all good things in the same way that Jesus trusted His heavenly Father and to trust our Heavenly Father in the face of all struggles, adversities and dangers in the same way that Jesus trusted His heavenly Father.

At the cross of His crucifixion Jesus prayed “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?,”[21] but this was not a prayer of utter despair, no Jesus who in His pain and suffering and trembling at the cross was perfectly working out your salvation in the shedding of His innocent blood, was remembering in prayer the words of King David’s Psalm, Psalm 22 which start with the same words “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?,” but end with words of trust, words of abundant trust in the LORD. Jesus praying this Psalm at the cross shows how Jesus was content to rest in the will of God the Father even in the pains of death[22] trusting the promise of eternal live, trusting in love, that even in the pain and suffering of the cross “all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose,”[23] that is the purpose of God the Father. To see that trust fully I recommend you take the time to read Psalm 22 carefully watching for the transition between verse 21 and 22 where the one who prays looks past the face of death to the promise of life. Read it thinking about the nature of the Lord’s Prayer and the nature of the one who invites you to pray. Crack out your catechism and read over the Lord’s Prayer portion again and contemplate what it teaches there for your own life lived out in prayer.

By this point you may be thinking, “I know Jesus is the perfect example of trust in God the Father, and I know He is the perfect example of one who prays to God, but for myself in my life I have not been so trusting of God the Father, my worship and prayers have faltered, I have lived my life by the beat of my own drum, the beat of my own hearts desires and not by the pattern provide to me as a gift from God.” Dear ones today is a new day and just like yesterday and just like tomorrow Christ Jesus stands ready with His forgiveness saying, “ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” Do not follow the ways of the World follow Jesus. Have the Lord’s Prayer as the pulse of the beat of your heart, have the Lord’s Prayer and the one who teaches it Christ Jesus as your life blood, when the fathers of this world fail you remember your heavenly Father and come to Him in prayer, and keep in mind what Saint Paul writes, “do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”[24] Glorify God also in your prayers learning to be content in life, learning to trust the will of God, learning how to forgive and how to be forgiven. Seek not the beat of the desires of your heart for yourself but rather seek after the beat of the desires God’s heart for you.

And so my prayer for you is, “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which He has called you, what are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His great might that He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.”[25] If you come with an anxious heart to your heavenly Father in prayer remember who you are, His child, and who He is, your Father, the one who is gracious and merciful slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and for the sake of His Son Jesus trust in Him. In Him you will find you’re your rest. Amen.    

Let us pray: Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.

[1] Romans 8:26-27
[2] Sermons on the Gospel of Saint John Chapters 11 to 14, Luther’s Works American Edition Volume 24, Concordia Publishing House 1961, pg 89.
[3] Luke 3:1-21; 7:18-35
[4] John 3:30
[5] Psalm 103:8
[6] Luther’s Small Catechism, Concordia Publishing House 2017, Page 21.
[7] John 3:16
[8] The Ninth and Tenth Commandments, Luther’s Small Catechism, Page 15.
[9] Ibid. The Sixth Commandment, Page 14.  
[10] Ibid. Explanation of the Forth Petition in the Lord’s Prayer, Page 21.
[11] Philippians 4:11–12
[12] Explanation of the Third Petition in the Lord’s Prayer, Luther’s Small Catechism, Page 20.
[13] Ibid. Explanation of the Second Petition in the Lord’s Prayer, Page 20.
[14] Genesis 1:26-28
[15] Genesis 1:28; Mark 10:1-9
[16] Explanation of the First Article of the Creed, Luther’s Small Catechism, Page 16.
[17] Galatians 5:22–24
[18] Matthew 15:18-20
[19] Explanation of The Sixth Petition, “And lead us not into temptation. What does this mean? God tempts no one,” Luther’s Small Catechism, Page 22.
[20] Luke 18:17
[21] Mark 15:34
[22] Luke 22:42
[23] Romans 8:28
[24] 1 Corinthians 6:19–20
[25] Ephesians 1:17–21

Photo Credits: Main Photo of fish and eggs from pexels; detail of heart monitor from pexels; detail of snake from pexels; detail of fish dinner from pexels; detail of woman with paper heart from pexels; detail of hands in prayer from pexels; detail of man holding scorpion from pexels; detail of red hot electric stove top element from; detail of soft boild eggs from pexels; hammer and nails from pexels; detail of statue of Jesus Christ on the cross pexels; detail of man in prayer from unsplash; detail of neon heart from pexels.