We pray persistently. . . not to open God's heart, for it is always opened to us, but to build up a relationship with God. . . . Prayer gives us not only a way for dialogue, but a reason to have it, for in and through prayer we come to know God as our friend, our protector, our provider.– Judy Buck-Glenn
In The Hidden Gospel: Decoding the Spiritual Message of the Aramaic Jesus (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1999) Douglas-Klotz briefly considers portions of this Lukan lesson, writing: “All three words that ask us to exert ourselves—‘ask,’ ‘seek,’ and ‘knock’—in Aramaic reflect the sense of creating space with sincere intensity” (63). We cannot overemphasize the importance of naming aloud what we seek, need, fear, cannot accept, long for, and so on, which serves to remind us of what is most important to us, and what we are willing to work for. The quote above, coupled with. . . “The inner shrine by which God's name is hallowed can be developed only through letting go, releasing some of the clutter inside” – both calls us to listen to ourselves as we pray in order to fully comprehend, and make room for what we are seeking. – Carol J. Noren
“Lord, teach us how to pray.” Preachers preach extended series on the Lord's Prayer. Teachers teach semesters on the elements of prayer. Books are written on just this prayer. We spend a lifetime trying to understand the power of prayer. This is an impossible passage to preach, especially on a Sunday in late July when many are gone on vacation, often including the preacher, and those who remain stick to the warm pews and dream about the lake or an air-conditioned restaurant. . . .
If this is a Sunday to delve into the depths of prayer, a more academic approach could be taken. Expound on the different kinds of prayer found in a worship service, and in the Lord's Prayer (adoration, petition, confession, intercession, etc.). Or pick one petition with which your people struggle; forgiveness perhaps, or our worry about daily bread.
Whatever you preach, pray this prayer together, reminding the congregation of the millions of other believers who join with you this day. – Hilda A. Parks
The story of Abraham and YAHWEH discussing the fate of Sodom. . . explores the complicated and often confusing relationship between God's justice and mercy. At first it seems like Abraham is bargaining with YAHWEH over the fate of the city. But if bargaining it is, YAHWEH does not seem to be very good at it, since he easily concedes to Abraham. Abraham is not so good at it either since he gives up after reaching ten innocents. Rather, as has been pointed out by Walter Brueggemann, this dialogue is an exploration of “God's righteousness and its power and authority in the face of wickedness” (Genesis [Atlanta: John Knox, 1982] 170). . . . “Does God's justice leave room for mercy?” The answer in this dialogue: “Yes.” – Jeffrey Galbraith
Colossians 2:6-15 [16-19]
In Colossians, Paul reminds his readers that Christ lives within us. . . . which grows as we spend time in prayer and meditation. – Carol J. Noren
Judith M. M. Buck-Glenn is associate rector at Christ Church Episcopal, in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania.
Jeffrey Galbraith is pastor of St. Paul's Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Greenfield, MA, and a professor of business administration at Greenfield Community College.
Carol J. Noren, a United Methodist pastor, is the Wesley W. Nelson professor of homiletics at North Park Theological Seminary. She served churches as pastor in Minnesota for twenty years.
Hilda A. Parks, ordained in the United Methodist Church, also holds a PhD in Liturgical Studies from Drew University, Madison, New Jersey.
Homily Service 40, no. 8 (2007): 39-47.