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Weekly Bible Study Notes and Worship Resources for Ordinary 17

Year C, Colour = Green


what is prayer?Introduction

Our prayers will be answered, if they are supported by commitment on our part to action.

  • If we sit around watching telly we will have poor grades
  • If we are worried about our marriage, it is no good praying if we are unprepared to go and ask for help
  • People complain about being lonely, but do nothing to join clubs and societies to make friends
  • Some people say that they feel worthless, but they do nothing to give themselves a sense of worth by investing their time and energy in helping others.

Are you asking, seeking, knocking? If we wish to be used by God to bring about his purposes are we prepared to pay the price, in terms of our energy, chasing opportunities, bearing the disappointments ? Do we set big goals? Or are we content to always sail in sheltered waters, away from the dangerous waves?

Never allow yourself to be a victim, pray and then do what you need to take care of things. Surrendering to God does not mean abdicating your responsibilities. Somebody once said God helps those who help themselves. It sounds dreadful, yet it partly true. God does work to share in helping those who are willing to acknowledge a need and then be a part of the solution. So often our prayers are carefully worded to avoid the possibility that this might be the case. 'God bring about peace in Iraq.' Well that is a fine prayer, but it is too easy to pray for world peace and then fail to show love to a person we find difficult in church.

We have to be prepared to be a part of the answer to our prayers

  • If you have a need — seek help

  • If you recognise a need in the community — you be prepared to get stuck in

  • If you are sick - go and see the doctor

  • If you are troubled with guilt go and see a minister and ask them to pray for you

  • If your job is driving you mad — apply for a new one.

  • If you need love or human companionship - ask for it from those you care about.

  • If you feel miserable in life—go and offer help and support to others in need, for it is in giving that we receive.

Seek and you will find, Jesus promised.

 

Opening Verse of Scripture   Colossians 2:6

Continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness

Collect Prayerfor the Day — Before we read we pray

Gracious God, your Son Jesus Christ fed the hungry with the bread of life and the word of your kingdom. Renew your people with your heavenly grace, and in all our weakness sustain us by your true and living bread, even Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen   Methodist Worship

God, you have poured the Spirit of your Son into our hearts so that we call you father. Give us grace to devote our freedom to your service that we and all creation may be brought into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and for ever.  Amen.  Methodist Worship

Almighty Lord and everlasting God, we beseech you to direct, sanctify and govern both our hearts and bodies in the ways of your laws and the works of your commandments; that through your most mighty protection, both here and ever, we may be preserved in body and soul; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.   Common Worship

Lord God, your Son left the riches of heaven and became poor for our sake: when we prosper save us from pride, when we are needy save us from despair, that we may trust in you alone, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen. Common Worship

First Bible Reading Genesis 18:20-32

Then the LORD said, "The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know." The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the LORD .Then Abraham approached him and said: "Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing-to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?"
The LORD said, "If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake." Then Abraham spoke up again: "Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city because of five people?" "If I find forty-five there," he said, "I will not destroy it." Once again he spoke to him, "What if only forty are found there?" He said, "For the sake of forty, I will not do it." Then he said, "May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak. What if only thirty can be found there?" He answered, "I will not do it if I find thirty there." Abraham said, "Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?" He said, "For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it." Then he said, "May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?" He answered, "For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it."

Second Reading  Colossians Chapter 2:6-19

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.

Gospel Reading   Luke 11:1-13

The Lord's Prayer

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples." He said to them, "When you pray, say: " 'Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins,  for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.' " Then he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.' "Then the one inside answers, 'Don't bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can't get up and give you anything.' I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man's boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs. "So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
"Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"

Post Communion Prayer

Strengthen for service, Lord, the hands that have taken holy things; may the ears which have heard your word be deaf to clamour and dispute; may the tongues which have sung your praise be free from deceit; may the eyes which have seen the tokens of your love shine with the light of hope; and may the bodies which have been fed with your body be refreshed with the fullness of your life; glory to you for ever. Amen.


Commentary

Audacious Prayer
The theme of being confident before God as we pray is seen in the story of the Friend at Midnight. We read that because of the requestor’s boldness and persistence the man eventually gets up and meets the request for bread. Jesus has just told the disciples that they should ask for their daily bread. The word which is translated ‘boldness’ can have different meanings, as reflected in the various translations of the bible, many of which render it differently. One understanding of the word could be ‘shameless audacity’. This would seem to fit more closely with the understanding that Jesus has just communicated to the disciples. Just as a child can make audacious requests of their parents, seemingly without concern, perhaps Jesus is encouraging the disciples (and us) to be equally bold in our prayers and requests. In a way, all prayer is audacious. We are asking God to intervene in our world as if He might be unaware of what’s happening. The way that Jesus describes the audacious persistence of prayer is also seen in the exchange between Abraham and the Lord in our Old Testament reading. Abraham time and time again goes back to God as if testing His resolve. Would God spare the city of Sodom if fifty righteous people were found there? What about forty five, what about forty, thirty, twenty and then just ten? This bargaining posture may have seemed normal to those used to the bargaining ways between groups of wandering nomads but seems rather strange and audacious, even rude to our modern day western ways. But it does help to shake us from seeing prayer as a rather mundane and one way exchange where we lay out a constant stream of needs to God, as if reminding Him of some of the topics that require His attention. This is not the model that Jesus teaches either.

The disciples have seen Jesus pray many times before and have come to realise it is a central part of who He is and what He is doing. It’s not surprisingly then that they ask, ‘How do you do that?’, ‘Lord, teach us how to pray’. What He teaches is about bringing the mundane and the comic together as we ask for our daily bread, and for the coming of His Kingdom. He doesn’t talk about clearing our minds and having stillness of thought, or of adopting a particular posture. He talks about communicating with God from the middle of our lives, wherever we are. For the Jewish hearers Jesus’ words would have a familiar ring to them. One of the prayers used in synagogue liturgy is called the ‘Kaddish’. The Lord’s Prayer which Jesus teaches us has echoes of its words. ‘Exalted and sanctified (or Magnified and hallowed) is God’s great name in the world which He has created according to His will. And may He establish His Kingdom in your lifetime and in your days, and in the lifetime of the House of Israel, speedily and soon, and say, Amen’. As with many of the words Jesus spoke, the words of the Lord’s Prayer would have a familiar ring to it, but shaped in a way to give them an entirely new meaning. In the teaching on prayer in Luke, Jesus’ example is both broad and deep. His disciples had already noticed that prayer is a fundamental part of who Jesus is and what He does. It’s not something which has to occur at specific times and occasions but seems to be more like an on-going conversation Jesus has with His Father.

Our prayer too should be part and parcel of our everyday lives, part of who we are and what we are, not just something that happens on a Sunday in the words of the liturgy, as good as they are. As a model, Jesus sometimes took Himself off to pray, and other times prayed where He was, in and for the circumstances in which He found Himself. He didn’t use any special language. He wanted to be understood and to be able to express what He really meant and wanted. God does not look for special language or special posture from us. He wants us to be intimate with Him as our Father, whilst understanding that He is an awesome and creator God who is all powerful, all knowing and present in all things, which is why we pray to Him in the first place!

He expects the mundane, the audacious and the cosmic to be mixed together in our prayer. At one and the same time asking for the things that seem trivial and also the things which seem so huge we almost dare not to ask. Our Father in Heaven, Holy be your name, give us our bread, your Kingdom come… It’s a prayer of Holy acknowledgement of who God is and what He has done. It’s a prayer which asks for forgiveness for the times we have fallen short, together with a commitment to forgive those who may have done us wrong. It’s a prayer where we ask for God to protect us from getting into situation where we may be tempted, and to keep us safe when we do. In so doing it expresses our deep hope and confidence in God who cares for us and His world. God wants us to be faithful and audacious in our prayers to Him. We have a God who yearns to be in communication with His people. All we have to do is ask. As Jesus demonstrated, God speaks our language. Sam Cappleman

 

Meditation

I cannot say OUR, if my religion has no room for others and their needs.
I cannot say FATHER, if I do not demonstrate this relationship in my daily living.
I cannot say WHO ARE IN HEAVEN, if all my interest and pursuits are in earthly things.
I cannot say HALLOWED BE THY NAME, if I, who am called by His name, am not holy.
I cannot say, THY KINGDOM COME, if I am unwilling to give up my own sovereignty and accept the
righteous reign of God.
I cannot say THY WILL BE DONE, if I am unwilling or resentful of having it in my life.
I cannot say ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN, unless I am truly ready to give myself to His service here
and now.
I cannot say GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD, without expending honest effort for it or by ignoring
the genuine needs of my fellow man.
I cannot say FORGIVE US OUR TRESPASSES AS WE FORGIVE THOSE WHO TRESPASS AGAINST
US, if I continue to harbour a grudge against anyone.
I cannot say LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION, if I deliberately choose to remain in a situation where I
am likely to be tempted.
I cannot say DELIVER US FROM EVIL, if I am not prepared to fight in the spiritual realm with the weapon
of Word and prayer.
I cannot say THINE IS THE KINGDOM, if I do not give the King the disciplined obedience of a loyal
subject.
I cannot say THINE IS THE POWER, if I fear what my neighbours or friends may say or do.
I cannot say THINE IS THE GLORY, if I am seeking my own glory and recognition first.
I cannot say FOREVER, if I am too anxious about each day's affairs.
I cannot say AMEN, unless I honestly say, "Cost what it may, this is my prayer

 

Meditation

The Gospel reading tells us that the disciples ask Jesus to teach them how to pray. At one level this is a very simple request. At another it is probably one of the most profound requests the disciples could make. And they could hardly have been expecting the first word with which Jesus then starts His instruction. In Luke’s version of the Lord’s Prayer Jesus simply starts with the word ‘Father’ translated from the Aramaic word ‘Abba’. This is a new and completely different way to pray. Up until now no one had called God ‘Father’. It implied an intimacy and relationship with God which had simply not been expressed before. Indeed, Hebrew was the normal language used for Jewish prayer. The German theologian Joachim Jeremias wrote, ‘Abba expresses the heart of Jesus’ relationship with to God. He spoke as a child to its father: confidently and securely, and yet at the same time reverently and obediently. That is the relationship Jesus invites us all to have with His Father, one of confidence and security as we come before Him in our prayers and all we do in obedience and reverence for the God who made us in His image.

 

Hymns

  1. O Lord my God
  2. Seek ye first
  3. What a friend we have in Jesus
  4. Christ be our light
  5. I heard the voice of Jesus say

Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead

representation of prayer as seed growing

"Prayer is a plant, the seed of which is sown in the heart of every Christian.
If it is well cultivated and nourished it will produce fruit, but if it is neglected, it will wither and die."

Grant us, O Lord,
to seek first your Kingdom and your righteousness.
Out of the abundance of your grace,
grant us sufficient light and strength
for our journey.
Forgive what we have been,
sanctify what we are
and order what we shall be,
in you and for you, now and for ever. Amen
Mary Tileston, 1820 -1895


Watch, Lord,
with those who wake or watch
or weep tonight,
and give your angels charge
over those who sleep.
Tend your sick ones,
O Lord Jesus Christ;
rest your weary ones;
bless your dying ones;
soothe your suffering ones;
pity your afflicted ones;
shield your joyous ones.
And all for your love’s sake. Amen
Compline collect

O Holy Spirit, come as the wind to forward our goings. Come as the dove to launch us heavenward. Come as the water to purify our spirits. Come as the cloud to abate our temptations. Come as the dew to revive our languor. Come as fire to purge our souls; for your truth and your name’s sake. Amen
Christina Rossetti, 1830-1894

God, you have poured the Spirit of your Son into our hearts so that we may call you Father. Give us grace to devote our freedom to your service that we and all creation may be brought into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and for ever. Amen.

Lord Jesus, we give you our hands to do your work. We give you our feet to walk in your way. We give you our tongues to speak your word. We give you our hearts to love you, now and for ever. Amen. Lancelot Andrewes (1555-1626)

 

Additional Resources

Commentary

After the sacrament of baptism, the Lord's Prayer is the best-known bond of unity among Christians of every tradition. The name Lord's Prayer was given because it was a prayer which Jesus taught his disciples when they asked him 'Teach us how to pray." Clearly there was something about the prayer of Jesus which made the disciples feel they were missing the mark, their prayers lacked the power and meaning Jesus' had.

In Matthew Jesus gives the prayer as a type of prayer which complies with the instructions which he has given about prayer in general. In Luke however the prayer is not only an example which complies with his teaching, it is also a specific prayer which must be prayed by his followers.

Our We have all heard the phrase 'I am a Christian but I don't go to church.' The word 'Our' is very poignant, it makes the Christian faith a shared experience, not an isolated one. You cannot pray the Lord's Prayer and mean it and then be a private Christian. The following is a simple poem but it does have a strong message about the shared nature of Christianity

You cannot say the Lord's prayer, and even once say "I".
You cannot pray the Lord's prayer, and even once say "my".
Nor can you pray the Lord's prayer and not pray for another.
For to ask for "our" daily bread, you include your sister and brother!
All God's children are included in each and every plea.
From the beginning to the end of it, it does not once say "me".


Father Jesus must have amazed those around by addressing God as "Father". The Pharisees never used such a title to address God. We can be sure that not until Jesus does it become characteristic to speak to God as Father. God was close to Jesus and this is shown clearly by his choice of this word. Moreover Jesus wants this level of intimacy to be shared by us all. A relationship so personal that we can call the Creator of the universe 'Father'. God is somebody we can approach as we go to a human parent and share the good times and the bad, the success as well as the failure, the joys and sorrows. As 'Father', God is concerned for the needs of his children.

Hallowed be your name Hallowed means to treat as holy, to reverence, to be pure, sacred. There is an acknowledgement of the fact that God is 'worthy.' This is about the essential quality of God which is beyond our imagination. In calling God 'Holy' we acknowledge that God is 'other worldly' and that there is much about God which is above and beyond us: We cannot expect to place an infinite God into the container of our human finite minds. This is also a prayer for the mission of the church, we are seeking
that all people would reverence God.

Your kingdom come Jesus expresses our longing to have the kingdom fully now, not just a taste of it. Our deepest longing is to see the day when the triumphant, sovereign lordship of our loving God will no longer be a mere hope clung to desperately by faith, but a manifest reality in all human affairs. We all long to see the end of death and pain and suffering, this prayer seeks the time when all these things will come to an end.

Give us each day our daily bread. We are half-way through the prayer before Jesus allows us to ask for anything for ourselves! This phrase reminds us of where our priorities must be. It reminds us of our daily dependence upon God and calls us to simplicity of life. As we pray these simple words we pray that we will live just one day at a time and we also acknowledge that all things come from God. (Deut 8:18, 1 Cor 4:7, James 1:17). True prayers are born of present trials and present needs. Bread, for today, is bread enough. As every day demands its bread, so every day demands its prayer. No amount of praying, done today, will suffice for tomorrow's praying. This part of the prayer is also about NEEDS not GREEDS. Jesus acknowledges that our physical needs must be met but it is not a prayer for luxuries. To pray for 'our daily bread' is to remind ourselves that in a wealthy society we should not be asking for more than that, anything else is a bonus! Indeed for many people daily bread itself would be a real luxury.

Forgive us our sins In this prayer we admit that we are sinners! By sinning we have incurred a moral and a spiritual debt to God who has authority over our lives. So we ask for forgiveness as a gift, for we can never earn or merit God's forgiveness. Some would say that we should be praying forgive me 'my' sins. There has been a tendency to become over excited about our individual sins: Of course the ones that we get really excited about are sexual sins and sins of morality. Jesus is not so focused on individual but rather corporate sin. It is actually harder to say forgive us our sins, since when we take shared responsibility for corporate sins it challenges us in a new way.

As we forgive those who sin against us Think about the things God has forgiven you for. Now with all that forgiven how can you not forgive someone who has sinned against you? Jesus does not suppose that God's forgiveness is contingent on our forgiving. Rather, he simply assumes that as we pray we will understand the need to forgive. Once our eyes are opened to the enormity of our offence against God, the injuries done to us appear by comparison to be trifling. If we exaggerate the offences of others then the chances are that we have a minimized our understanding of our own ! Forgiving others shows that we are living out the kingdom standards in our own lives now.

And lead us not into temptation Does God lead us into temptation? We can all be sure from personal experience that he does allow us to be tempted, to go through difficult circumstances. We are told in scripture that God will not allow us to be tested beyond what we can endure and that he will help us through it (1 Cor 10:13). Perhaps we could say that this prayer asks God to help us avoid sin, and that our sinful nature may not deceive us or mislead us into sin of any kind. If we continue to say this prayer each day, then we will find it hard to live knowingly with sin each day. It is interesting that when people do things which they know to be wrong they frequently find a reason to avoid confronting their sin. They will perhaps leave their church which challenges such behaviour, sometimes finding fault in the church itself as an excuse. Our prayers will challenge us not to live a double life. Charles Royden

 

Meditation


Schools should be allowed to do away with daily collective worship in favour of weekly or monthly assemblies, says the Chief Inspector of Schools, David Bell. "I struggle, as do my inspectors and most secondary schools, with the requirement that every school day shall include an act of collective worship," Figures from Mr Bell’s department show that 76 per cent of secondary schools fail to comply with the regulations for collective worship; many say they lack the physical space to hold an assembly, or they cannot squeeze worship into their timetable.
Mr Bell says he tried to crack down on schools’ failure to comply — but "ran into a firestorm of protest", because school inspectors found themselves having to declare schools that met every other standard "unsatisfactory", simply because they were failing to implement the daily act of worship.

This Sunday we think about prayer and the need to create space in our busy lives. If schools stopped having PE, games or sports lessons, I wonder if then they would be allowed to drop sport from the curriculum in schools? I would suggest that such an idea would be utterly rejected. The fact that Mr Bell has made this statement shows that spiritual activity is regarded as of less importance than physical activity. ! If we remove from our children an awareness of things which are spiritual, what kind of people will they become? Is it merely coincidence that in a society where we are removing the spiritual focus, that we are seeing less and less respect for others and a degeneration in the behaviour of children and young people.
If schools feel able to break the law so wilfully, is it any surprise that children in those same schools are morally confused? Charles Royden

Meditation

Pray, and let God worry. Martin Luther, 16th century

Jesus said

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?

Jesus was a carpenter and in the days before health and safety and protective glasses I am sure that there were many times when he suffered from having sawdust in his eye. So we can understand what he meant when he told his followers not to go worrying about specks of dirt in somebody else's eye when you had a plank of wood in your own. 

we can all judge others and criticise them, never seeing anything positive in them. We can even measure people by a high standard which we are unable to live up to ourselves. Jesus is right, we all need to learn to cut other people a bit more slack and remember the words of Mother Teresa said:    “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”

Post Communion Prayer

Lord God, whose Son is the vine and the source of life, ever giving himself that the world may live: may we so receive within ourselves the power of his death and passion that, in his saving cup, we may share his glory and be made perfect in his love; for he is alive and reigns, now and for ever. Amen.

Prayer

God our Father, you made each of us unique and unrepeatable. Inspire me to live in such a way that I respect others and am ready to learn from all who are part of my life this day. Amen.

Lord we remember before you all our brothers and sisters who are weighed down with suffering. Bless and guide us that your love may be reflected in our concern for the hungry, the oppressed and the unloved. Help us to acknowledge and grow in appreciation that all people are made in your image and likeness. Amen.

Make us worthy, Lord, to serve our brothers ands sisters throughout the world who live and die in poverty and hunger. Give them by our hands this day their daily bread, and by our understanding love give peace and joy Amen.

Hymns

  1. From all that dwell below the skies
  2. Go tell is on the mountain
  3. May the mind of Christ my Saviour
  4. Jesus, we thus obey
  5. It is God who holds the nations in the hollow of his hand