Pray the Mission

Goleta Presbyterian Church
February 25, 2007

How, What, Why, When Do You Pray?
Reflect for a minute.
Is your life one of unfulfilled desires (James 4:2-3)?
Or powerful prayers (James 5:13-18)?
Prayer in Luke
Luke is punctuated by prayer at significant times, for instance:
John the Baptist's annunciation (1:10).
Jesus' baptism (3:21).
In solitude as his fame grows (5:16).
Before calling the Twelve (6:12).
Before Peter's confession that he is the Messiah (9:18).
At the Transfiguration (9:28-29).
Before his disciples ask him how to pray (11:1ff).
On the night he is betrayed, for his disciples (22:32).
In Gethsemane as his disciples sleep (22:41).
Prayer Happens in Mission
In Luke, all this praying is set within the unfolding mission of God
through Israel, Jesus, and Church.
Jesus' deputized disciples are not ready to participate in that mission:
They fail to understand Jesus at the Transfiguration (9:33),
misunderstand the Kingdom's greatness (9:44-45),
reject the Son of Man's rejection (9:46-48), and
misinterpret that rejection as calling for wrath (9:51-55).
In sum, they are rather "James 4-ish."
Yet they are still
sent out in 10:1-2 and warned of rejection,
joyfully return in 10:17 and are gently rebuked in 10:20, and
are advised of two starkly diverging futures, in 10:25-37 (Good Samaritan) and 10:38-42 (Martha and Mary).
So the stakes are high!
The need to be "James 5ish" sets the stage for asking Jesus how they (not just he) should pray.
So Pray Christ's Mission
Jesus' instructions to his disciples occur from the 'travel narrative' to Calvary (18:1-8, 9-18) regarding their trials to come (21:36, 22:40, 22:46).
He answers their request with an extended Kaddish:
centered on his own work for his (now our) Father,
for God's advent and then our exodus,
shifting from macro to micro
and from the Father to us
This is our 'rule of prayer' to know whether our prayers serve that mission (thus James 5) ...
or some other rival mission (thus James 4).
Mission Parameters
Do you know the mission of God through Israel, Jesus, and the Church?
(Remember, for some time the disciples don't.)
The prayer's petitions are God's mission parameters (Luke 11:2-4):
achieving the holiness of our Father's name (theology),
announcing his Kingdom's advent (new creation),
realizing his will on earth (pneumatology);
resourcing his people to tell his good news (providence),
replenishing our relationships to restore humanity's personhood (atonement), and
saving us solely through the Son (worship).
Knowing the mission means knowing the story of Jesus: Christ crucified and risen.
The disciples come to understand because they live that story.
We pray the Son's mission with the Son's persistence (Luke 11:5-10) to receive the Son's Spirit (Luke 11:11-13).
This life is "baptismal" in the fullest sense of the word.
Mission Creep
The rest is 'out of scope'.
Now I often pray for my kids' welfare etc. (Who wouldn't?)
But do these elements of our prayers, meaning our plans and hopes, find their place in Christ's mission?
Or do we distort Christ's mission to fit our rival plans and hopes? (Plasma TV.)
Or just ignore it when it gets in the way?
Does "praying for scorpions" and not receiving
distract and discourage us from asking for all that is offered?
The unremitting negativity of the rest of Luke 11 announces the consequences of rebelling against Christ's mission.
(Rebellion can be passive or active.)
But the transfiguring work of the Lord's Prayer converts James 4-ish life into James 5-ish life.
Think back to how you pray.
How well does it fit?
How would you pray now?
Shall we?