Sunday, July 25, 2021 – Pastor Beckie Sweet
“God’s Prayer” – Based on Luke 11:1-13 & attributed to Donald E. Jarvis
Narrator: The other day I came across a video tape with a label which read, “Pearly Gates Tape.” It was a conversation between God and Jesus. They had just finished playing tennis (God had won, 6 games to 3), and they were seated together (Jesus on the right hand), feeling a little exhausted, but good. They had both played well.
Jesus: Good match, O Ancient of Days!
God: You’re getting better, Son, but I’ve got a few million years of experience on you. Just hang in there. (Pause) Son, I’d like to have a god-to-god talk with you about that planet you like so much.
Jesus: You mean earth?
God: Yes, Son. It seems that people on earth are forgetting the true meaning of your life with them. I’ve spent several centuries meditating about what to do. Send a prophet? Work through some great historical event? Get the Spirit to have the churches work on a little more definite goal-setting? You’ve been there; what would you suggest?
Jesus: Have you tried prayer?
God: Prayer? Come on, Son! People pray to me.
Jesus: Well, look at it this way. Prayer is communication. It’s identifying with a situation in dialogue. Since dialogue is a two-way process, you might get through to them with prayer.
God: Hmmm. Margaret Mead says this is an age when parents learn from their children. You’ve had experience with this. Would you teach me to pray, Son?
Jesus: The way you asked that gives me an idea. Remember when the disciples asked me to teach them to pray? I gave them a sample prayer, and people identified with it: “Our Father who art in heaven . . .” Everyone knows it; even if some just say it without meaning, it’s still a great prayer. Since human beings are familiar with its pattern, they could identify with a prayer of yours using the same pattern. Why don’t we work together on a prayer for you. We could even set it to music. We’ve got a lot of skilled people up here. Charles Wesley, for example.
God: No. Wesley was good with words, but he didn’t write much music.
Jesus: Well, we could ask Jim Croce. He had such a good feeling in his music.
God: We can work on that later. But your idea does interest me. God’s prayer to people. Give me some idea of what you think I could pray.
Jesus: To start with, you could pray, MY PEOPLE WHO ART ON MY EARTH. This will remind them that there is an intimate relationship between you and them. And some have forgotten that the earth is your gift to them. Because it is so fragile they need to care for it and protect it from the current trends of their technology.
God: Good start. What next, Son?
Jesus: MY PEOPLE WHO ART ON MY EARTH. . . mmm . . . LIVE UP TO YOUR NAME. This would be a nice ego stroke for them, reminding them that their name is child of God, that they are made in your image with the capacity to think, to feel, to create, to make moral decisions. Let’s give them some positive motivation.
God: Yes. Sometimes I have to confront them with judgment and wrath, but let’s give them some TLC, an appeal to their pride. Those loaded with guilt could use a boost to their spirits. And those self-centered ones need to be reminded not to use other people.
Jesus: OK. Now we follow that with WORK HARD ON YOUR COMMONWEALTH. They are going to have to work together as a world to survive and get rid of wars, prejudice, hunger, persecution.
God: That’s right, work. Some of them are always playing games with the Bible, predicting when the world will end. Maybe they’ll get the idea that I’m wanting the world to really begin.
Jesus: The next phrase is tricky; YOUR WILL BE DONE ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN. But that’s asking them to use their free will responsibly.
God: O yes, free will. I knew that would cause problems when I gave it to them, but I figured they needed free will to have dignity and potential. I took a chance; there has to be trust. If Adam and Eve hadn’t abused it, probably one of their kids would have. But they’ve also done some good things.
Jesus: You’ll be praying for them to be more responsible in their decision making. And let’s keep in the connection between earth and heaven. If they can’t make it together on earth, they would never feel at home in heaven. And they have to start participating in eternal life on earth.
God: Let me try the next phrase. GIVE GOD THIS DAY GOD’S DAILY BREAD. You don’t think they’ll take that too literally, do you? I can see them bringing all this bread to church, trying to outdo one another – date nut bread, banana bread, cinnamon bread – and thinking they are honoring me, while some people are starving.
Jesus: Let’s leave the bread in. Some of them are pretty creative and imaginative. They should see the point that you want all of their resources as a response to you.
God: OK, Son, we’ll risk it. What next?
Jesus: Let’s try, FORGIVE ONE ANOTHER AS I HAVE FORGIVEN YOU. Paul wrote something like that in one of his letters. But a lot of people never get around to reading Paul.
God: Maybe my prayer will combat the grudge game. A lot of people are carrying around guilt – about how their kids turn out, about not pleasing everybody, about succeeding or failing. There is too little forgiving of themselves and each other.
Jesus: And end your prayer with DON’T TEMPT ME. Just think of all the excuses we’ve heard. Like, the devil made me do it.
God: And, we’ve always done it that way.
Jesus: It’s human nature.
God: And remember, everyone does it.
Jesus: And what about, Charity begins at home. (Sigh) I really had to struggle to keep going when I was with them. I don’t know what I would have done with out my prayers to you!
God: I hope they see the difference between challenging me and challenging misrepresentations in my name. They’ve pulled some real boners in the name of religion, but they’ve also listened to some of my prophetic voices.
Jesus: Well, I think we’ve got a real good prayer here.
God: OK, I’ll go with it. But what about methods of prayer? Do I stand? Kneel? Should I use some sort of satellite system to reach them?
Jesus: Let’s ask the Holy Spirit. She’s been pretty successful in getting messages through.
Narrator: The tape ended there so I can’t tell you exactly how God will pray to you. But if during your time of meditation you seem to be aware of a voice that is guiding you to find a deeper meaning in the good news of Christ, it may God praying: My people who art on my earth: Live up to your name. Work hard on your commonwealth. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give God this day God’s daily bread. Forgive one another as I have forgiven you. Don’t tempt me. Amen.