O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
you call us to fullness of life:
deliver us from unbelief
and banish our anxieties
with the liberating love
of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Benedictus (Luke 1.68-79)
Blessed be the Lord the God of Israel,
who has come to his people and set them free.
He has raised up for us a mighty Saviour,
born of the house of his servant David.
Through his holy prophets God promised of old
to save us from our enemies,
from the hands of all that hate us,
To show mercy to our ancestors,
and to remember his holy covenant.
This was the oath God swore to our father Abraham:
to set us free from the hands of our enemies,
Free to worship him without fear,
holy and righteous in his sight all the days of our life.
And you, child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High,
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way,
To give his people knowledge of salvation
by the forgiveness of all their sins.
In the tender compassion of our God
the dawn from on high shall break upon us,
To shine on those who dwell in darkness
and the shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now and shall be for ever. Amen.
Reading: Luke 11.5-13
Jesus said to them, ‘Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, “Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.” And he answers from within, “Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.” I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.
‘So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!’
Yesterday’s reading recalled the moment when Jesus gave us the Lord’s Prayer, the prayer which famously open with the words: Our Father. That opening remind us that God is the divine father of the whole of humanity; God is father to all who he created in his own image. Today we are being invited to look at our relationship with God from a different angle. Today we are seeing God as Our Friend. As we continue to reflect on the perfect fatherhood of God, Our Father, we now add the model of perfect friendship that we can see in God’s relationship with the totality of humanity.
In the ancient Middle East there were strict rules of hospitality. The traveller in need of food and shelter always knew that it could be found. No matter how inconvenient the time or circumstances, the friend in need could always be certain of the support of friends, even if it was in the middle of the night. And, of course, the friend in bed could be certain of similar support, should the roles become reversed.
Yesterday, as we considered the Lord’s Prayer, we pondered on Jesus’ response to the plea: teach us to pray. Today we are not only being urged to pray, we are being told that we must be persistent in that prayer. Too many of us fall into the trap of ‘formal’ prayer that only happens in church and at set times of the day, or week, or month, or year! But … that is not how we should pray. We should be in a constant dialogue of prayer with God, our Father and our Friend.
When we have exciting news, or when we are bowed down in grief and fear we like to talk our problems through with our friends, with those who are closest to us and who we know we can trust. Too often, God is not on that list of confidantes. We wrap up our conversations with God in such formality that we lose the intimacy of friendly conversation.
Then, of course, comes that persistence in prayer. Our earthly friends can so quickly and so easily become bored and disinterested in our problems. God, our divine friend, never does. God urges us to ask, to search and to knock. God wants us to keep on talking to him until we find the peace that only he can give. And, God really does not mind if that conversation is in the middle of the night.
God is our Father, and God is our Friend. Let us take everything to him in persistent prayer. In that way we will come to fully understand and feel the love of God in our lives.
Prayers of Intercession
As children of our heavenly Father, let us pray for the Church and for the world.
Guide your Church, rooted and grounded in Christ, in the way of the Gospel. As you have taught us to pray, keep us constant in prayer. Increase our faith, that we may bring our needs before you with perfect confidence.
Release all people from the selfishness of the closed door and the closed heart. Help them to care for the needs of others, knowing they are children of the same Father.
Give grace to us, our families, friends and neighbours, to be generous in giving. Teach us how to share our spiritual blessings and the good news of the Kingdom.
We pray for all those who feel excluded from the company of others, and for those whose pleas for help in distress have been ignored. Give strength and perseverance to agencies of relief.
Receive the faithful departed who prayed on earth that their sins might be forgiven. As they were buried with Christ in baptism, may they rise with him to eternal life.
We make our prayer in the name of Christ, who has taught us how we should pray.
Prayer for the week
Lord and heavenly Father,
make us mindful of your presence with us;
that we may draw near to you
with holy and humble hearts,
and offer prayers and praises
acceptable in your sight;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Lord’s Prayer
Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us
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 trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore. Amen.
Ask and it shall be given unto you;
seek and ye shall find;
knock, and the door shall be opened unto you;
Karen Lafferty (b. 1948)