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September 2012

Praying with God

Pentecost Proper 21

From “Sitting on the Rainbow”

Artwork by Elsa Ingulsrud

Scripture Reference: James 5:13-18

Preparation: A good illustration for this talk is a portable CD or cassette player with a familiar song ready to play.

How many of you sing in a choir? Raise your hands. Do you enjoy singing with other people? What do you like about it? (A volunteer may respond.) What would it sound like if a choir got up to sing, and one section started to sing “Happy Birthday,” a second section sang “Jesus Loves Me,” and a third section sang “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”? (Children can answer.) That would just be a confused noise. A choir has to sing together with parts and music that all fit together.

Let’s see what happens if we try to listen to one song while we sing another. (Here you may play your recorded song while you lead the children in singing a completely different song. Make sure the recorded song is loud enough to compete with the voices of the children.)

That did not sound very good. Those two songs didn’t really go together. They clashed with each other, and it was hard to sing our song while listening to a different one.

How many of you pray to God? Raise your hands. A lot of us pray to God, but I wonder how many of us pray with God. Praying can be like singing in a choir. If we are praying with God, our voices work together, and the prayer is a beautiful and powerful thing. When we are just praying to God, we might be just asking and asking God for things we want. When we pray with God, we are also listening carefully for what God can tell us, for what God wants us to know and wants us to have. For example, we might pray to God for a motorized scooter, but God really wants us to run and walk more in order to make our bodies stronger. Or we might pray to God that a bully would disappear from our lives while God really wants to help us turn that bully into a friend.

So even though it’s tempting to kneel down and ask God for everything we want to have, even better things can happen if we try praying with God. Pretend that you and God are singing in a choir together, and before you ask for something, listen carefully to what God might be saying. Find out what God wants to give you and what God wants to do with your life. Then jump right in and start praying for those things.

Prayer: Teach us to listen to your voice, dear Lord. Help us to pray with you; not just to you.


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