July 19, 2020

Persistence:  A model for prayer (click here)

Passage: Genesis 18:20-32; Luke 11:1-13
Service Type:

Lighting the Christ Candle

The light of Christ has come among us!

Entry of the Bible


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God of all people: we come to you in worship
We pray… to you
We sing… for you

God of all people we come to learn from you

We read scripture…to learn about you
We come together as your church…following your call.
As we gather in your house
we dedicate this time to you,
with all our heart, soul,
mind and strength.

HYMNFor all the love (click the blue text for YouTube music, sorry there may be advertising)


Seeking One,

you are the beginning and the end of our search.
Finding One,

you are the alpha and omega of all discovery.
Asking One,

you are the voice and the silence of our exploration.
Giving One,

you are the fullness and the emptiness of all yearning.
Persistent One,

you never abandon your search for us,
nor tire of our repetitive comings and goings.
Receiving One,

you endlessly welcome us home,
and spread before us a feast
in the face of our constant requests for mere morsels of bread.

Thus we turn to you with trusting hearts as we bring our confession before you.


Search us, O God, and find within us the secrets we hide.
Ask us, O God, and receive from within us the pain we bear.
Keep knocking at the door of our lives until we open our wills to your purpose, our lives to your life, and our yearning to your hope.

When we forget to seek you and discover that we have lost our place:
When we ask once and leave it at that:
When we draw back from knocking, lest we disturb you:
Lord, have mercy.

Strengthen our courage; bolster our endurance;
spur us onward in your way in our world
through the power of the Holy Spirit
and the name of Christ.



Assurance of Pardon

In this place we find God's word, God's way, God's love, God's forgiveness.

What more do we need to sustain us as we continue as pilgrims along the Way?
In every wilderness, on every road;
in every moment, in every life;
in every journey, in every heart,
we receive the daily bread we need—

God’s hope, God's mercy, God's joy.

Thanks be to God, we are forgiven. Amen.



May the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

HYMN Holy Spirit hear us



20 Then the Lord said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous 21 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.”

22 The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the Lord.[a] 23 Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare[b] the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? 25 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?”

26 The Lord said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”

27 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, 28 what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five people?”

“If I find forty-five there,” he said, “I will not destroy it.”

29 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.”

30 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.”

31 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.”

32 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.”


1 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:

hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.[b]
Give us each day our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
    for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.[c]
And lead us not into temptation.[d]’”

Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity[e] he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.

“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. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for[f] a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 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!”


SERMON:  Persistence:  A model for prayer

Prayer is something that is important to me, I attempt to be faithful at it.  That time in prayer is when I work out what I am thinking and feeling and figure out what God is asking me to do.

But for me prayer is not only about private time, I love the connectedness of praying with the body of Christ.  The Monday morning prayer group has been an important part of nourishing my prayer life.  Praying with them, praying for them, them praying for me, us praying for others and the world—it makes the connections with God and with each other very strong.

The prayers of the people is another such touch point with our community, as we share our needs for prayer for ourselves or those whom we know.  Prayer is about community as much as it is about our personal practice.  There is something very important about the voices of all the people united in prayer.

Whether in community or alone,  there are those times when prayer is a struggle, when it feels like God isn’t listening or perhaps more accurately we are not connecting.  Joyce Rupp speaks so eloquently of this in her book, Drinking from a dry well.

Her advice, keep lowering the bucket.  If you pull up dust, lower the bucket.  If you still don’t pull up water, lower the bucket.

The advice is good, but sometimes when it feels as if the living water is not flowing, it can be challenging to keep going back to the well.  I have known those dry spells.  Sometimes they have felt as if they were taking on Abrahamic proportions.

And yet, there is something within us all, that deep desire to connect with God, that keeps us going back and keeps us saying, “Hi God, its me again.”

So today I speak to you as someone who has an interest in prayer, but who, like you, struggles to be faithful in the practice of prayer… never mind being as persistent in prayer as Jesus points out that we need to be.

Sometimes I think that we don’t always get what we pray for because we just don’t keep praying.

Sometimes I think that we don’t get what we pray for because we have mistaken our will for God’s and we are asking for the wrong thing.

And how do you know the difference between not enough praying and praying outside of God’s will?  That’s a tough question, but I think the answer lies in discerning if what we are asking for is really how God wants to bless us.  That requires understanding, and maybe a more outwardly focused intent.

Sometimes I think that we don’t get what we pray for because we don’t understand the privilege that God has given us in being partners with him when we intercede for the world and our prayers become too limited.

Today’s Scripture Lessons give us the answers to all of our dilemmas concerning our prayer lives.

The first lesson that we learn from Jesus is that prayer is about God.  We forget that, don’t we?  We get focused on what we want, and we forget to give God the praise and honour that is due to him, and we forget to seek what it is he wants of us when we pray.

The pattern for prayer that Jesus gives his disciples is one that is short on our wants and big on God’s wants.

The authors of the Spiritual Formation Bible write that in the Lord’s prayer half of what Jesus tells us to do in prayer is worship God, keep him holy and ask that his kingdom and his will take shape, in us and in the world.  Prayer that is focused on God is about putting first things first… and God is first.

The second lesson in what Jesus teaches about how to pray is that we confess our sins.  When we confess our sins the barrier between us and God is removed.  In truth it was removed on the cross, but sometimes in our sin and guilt we erect a new barrier.  Being aware of our sinfulness and the need to confess means that we are seeking to walk in righteousness with God and we are reminded that the barrier is gone and has always been gone.

We learned today that Abraham was included by God as a partner in interceding for the world because God was influenced by Abraham’s righteousness.  Righteousness simply means right standing before God.  We are given that in the work of Jesus but we fine tune that righteousness as we come before God in confession.  Then with a clean heart we ask God for what it is we are seeking.

The third lesson about prayer is that we need to be praying for what God wants to happen.  When we use the petition thy will be done, we acknowledge that we will work with God to bring his will about.

For that reason the writers of the Spiritual Formation Bible use this definition of prayer.

PRAYER is interactive conversation with God about what we and he are thinking and doing together. 

You have heard me say this before, and it bears repeating.

PRAYER is interactive conversation with God about what we and he are thinking and doing together. 

That is why we need to be grounded in God’s word so that we know what God’s will is …When we know that word, we pray do not come before God to stumble in the dark, rather, we come before him in confidence knowing what his will is.

And more than that….

We come to praise.

We come to confess.

We come to pray for others.

Above all, we come to glorify God…to seek his will and to make it evident in our lives.


Praise, confession, intercession, glorification.  This is the pattern of prayer in the Lord’s prayer, the pattern by which Jesus is asking us to pray.

It is a bare-bones sort of prayer.  Just how bare-bones is seen in this translation from the Message:
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.”

  The Lord’s prayer is a very bare bones sort of prayer, because it is an outline or model for prayer—like a foundation upon which we are called to build.   This is a prayer that we are meant to make our own by including our personal confessions, and remembering those whom we need to forgive, and then expands beyond us into the community and into the world as we bring the concerns that we share with God about the needs of the people and the world around us; then, in thanksgiving we give God the glory.

But it is the final lesson that points out that prayer is not a one-time thing, or a two time thing or even a ten time thing.  Prayer is never ending.

In the story of an unexpected guest, the neighbour first says no, but then as his friend kept knocking and asking, got up and gave him bread. The story of the friend who gets out of bed to answer his friends request is given as an example that God who loves us more than even our best friend, will get up and if need be move heaven and earth for the intercessions we bring before him.  But I think there is a story that points this out even more forcibly is part of the same lesson plan that Jesus was presenting, but was not included in our reading today… and that is the story of the widow and the unjust judge.

The widow comes to the judge repeatedly and asks him to intervene on her behalf so that she may have justice.  And the judge eventually gives her what she asks for not because he wants to give her justice, but really just because he wants to stop her coming to him again and again. 

And Jesus points out that if an unjust judge can give justice to someone who is persistent in making requests, how much more will a just God who has called us into relationship and who loves us with all his heart, answer the persistent prayers we offer.  He answers because we are the ones whom he loves.

That need to be persistent in prayer is crucially important in our intercessory prayer.  We can do so much when we bring the world to God’s heart, simply because it is in our heart.  Intercessory prayer is how we connect with God about what we and he are thinking and doing together.

What we see in the lesson from Genesis, is that God listens to and respects our persistence.

The Lord has been sitting with Abraham regarding the long delayed promise of a child.  Sarah listening from the tent, laughs.  And the promise is again repeated, you will have a son by the time I return next year.

Following that pronouncement the Lord prepares to go to Sodom,  God already has a plan about what he is going to do—destroy the whole place.  As he departs, God wonders if he should share the plan with Abraham, because Abraham understands the faith to hope on God’s promise, but also because Abraham understands honouring God by choosing the way that is right and just.

So God announces his plan to go and see what is going on.  The others depart, but God waits to hear what Abraham will say.

The question Abraham asks is simple:  Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?  What if there are 50 righteous people?  Will you spare the place for the sake of the 50.

And God agrees, and then Abraham presses his advantage.  For 40, for 30, for 20, for 10.  One wonders if the outcome would have been very different had Abraham pressed for the sake of 1.  How often are we that bold in prayer, that confident that God will hear and answer?  We need to remember that our prayers make a difference for the world.

This plea from Abraham is a reminder to all of us to be not only bold, but also persistent as we pray for others.  To remind God that the cause of the righteous is always just, even if the righteous are a minority in the land.

This exchange reminds me of the parable of the wheat and the tares, where for the sake of the wheat that would be harmed when the tares are removed, the sifting out would happen at the harvest.

No matter what the circumstances, our prayers matter.  Our prayers matter to God, and for that reason they make a difference for the world.

That difference for the world is also a part of the lesson.  It mattered to God what Abraham thought.  Abraham’s prayer could persuade God.   Why?  Because God wanted Abraham to intercede—that’s why he waited to hear what Abraham would say.  That prayer for the sake of even 10 people was a part of God’s heart.  We recall that after the flood God’s heart was broken and he vowed never to destroy the whole world again.  The thing God wants most of all is to save, redeem and heal his people.  When we pray, we partner with God in that part of his mission to the world.

So in part, we see that God sought Abraham’s opinion to test Abrahams commitment to God’s way of peace, mercy and justice.  Is Abraham praying to connect with God on what he and God are thinking and doing together?

There are so many ways to grow as disciples, worship and praise, the Word and meditating on it and prayer as we pray persistently for the world.  In all that we do,  our hearts become engaged, and our labour is given to what fills our hearts and God’s heart.

For that reason, a refrain to our prayers that I often turn to is this:

The things good Lord that we pray for, give us the grace to labour for.

So today’s lesson:

Praise, Confess, Ask, Labour, Thank.

Know that you are asking in God’s will, and do it all over again.

Praise, Confess, Ask, Labour, Thank.

Remember that you are a partner with God in interceding for the world.   And do it all again.

Praise, Confess, Ask, Labour, Thank.

Prayer invokes primarily God, but we need to do our part.  We do that as we give our will over to God’s and come to him again and again.

God wants to hear our prayers, and God wants to answer our prayer, that is why our prayers are a part of the growth we have in our relationship with God.

There is a prayer by Ambrose of Milan, which speaks of our relationship with God being a part of every prayer we speak.

Let us pray together.

You are medicine when I am sick
You are my strength when I need help
You are life itself when I fear death
You are the way when I long for heaven
You are light when all is dark
You are my food when I need nourishment.




HYMN:  Lord listen to your children praying 3x




Today we remember the gift of Jesus Christ given to us.
For ways in which to bring your offering into the storehouse check the front page of the website.  Thank you.

Let us now pray for the offering received 


Take our lives and our gifts.  Use them to accomplish more than we could possibly imagine, so that, through us, Your kingdom might come and Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Amen.


Refrain:  the things Good Lord we pray for
Give us the grace to labour for

Oh God, holy Lord, as we come to prayer let help us to remember that we do not twist the arm of a reluctant God; but rather, that your heart desires us to pray to seek good things for this world, and that as we speak, you come near and listen to us.


as we pray we recall that we kneel alongside Jesus Christ, who in your presence intercedes for us and lends his voice to our voice, so that we pray in one with him and with you.

So today we rejoice, that as we come before you in prayer, you have already determined to hear and answer.  May we O God always be a part of your answer.  May this plea be the strength beneath all of our words.

Refrain:  the things Good Lord we pray for
Give us the grace to labour for

So we bring to mind now those people who are in need of our prayers:






Refrain:  the things Good Lord we pray for
Give us the grace to labour for


And we pray for your world:

Where there is famine, flooding, locust and plagues, as well as the plague that is common to us all these days.

Where people’s health is at risk, bring wisdom, healing, hope.

Where people are anxious remind us that you wait to hear from us our pain, and our prayers to give us the bread that we need for this day.

Refrain:  the things Good Lord we pray for
Give us the grace to labour for


Where there are those who are hungry or homeless bring aid, relief and a safe place to live.

Where there are those who cannot find work, bring new possibilities and renew their hope,  Until that day, O Lord, give them bread, and fill the storehouse at the foodbanks to overflowing.

Refrain:  the things Good Lord we pray for
Give us the grace to labour for.


We pray for all those who work for us, that we might know the security of safety and health.  We pray for our government and ask that you guide them in with wisdom and encourage them to seek your way and your counsel.

We pray for those who care for our health, that you will keep them safe as they work, and that all your people will heed your call to action and live so that the health of others is paramount.

Refrain:  the things Good Lord we pray for
Give us the grace to labour for

WE pray for those whose plight we hear about in the news.  People who suffer from floods and fire, those who grieve the death of family through murder or suicide.  We know God that we can’t personally help all of them; but we also know that you have other servants who are in a place to make a difference.  And where that person is us, nudge us we pray.

We pray this week especially for the people of Search and Rescue, that they may work in safety, and for all of us who when we go out hike and boat with safety in mind, so that none need to be rescued.

O God, our Master in heaven, make us fair and just in our dealings with others; keep us persistent in prayer for them, alert to their needs, and constantly thankful for your presence and intervention.


Refrain:  the things Good Lord we pray for
Give us the grace to labour for

In your presence O God we pray now as Jesus taught us, vowing

to live out our prayers through our lives, saying:

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
forever. Amen.


HYMN  Take time to be holy



Benediction Song  Go now in peace