SERMON SERIES: “Teach Us to Pray”
SERMON TITLE: “We Pray for Forgiveness”
SERMON TEXT: Luke 18:1-14
PREACHER: Rev. Kim James
OCCASION: September 22, 2019, at First UMC
When I was the pastor of the Wesley United Methodist Church in Pueblo, Colorado, there was a member there named Shirley, who grew up in a Missouri Synod Lutheran Church. Shirley told me that she decided to leave that denomination because their highly liturgical worship services had too many prayers of repentance and confession. Shirley said that every few minutes they were praying for God to forgive them. She didn’t understand how you could pray for forgiveness 10 minutes into the worship service and need to be forgiven again at 30 minutes and then again at 55 minutes into the hour. Shirley would never have said she was an absolutely perfect Christian, but she didn’t think she could sin that much during one hour of worship! What caused Shirley to decide to join our Wesley United Methodist Church was that, on the second Sunday she visited our worship service, we sang the hymn “Victory in Jesus.” Shirley wasn’t opposed to praying for forgiveness, but she very much appreciated an opportunity to rejoice that God had actually, and victoriously, answered her prayer.
All this month of September, we’ve been talking about prayer. We’ve been discussing some ideas about prayer and methods of prayer, and we’ve been making our way through the themes of The Lord’s Prayer. For example, on September 8, the youth and some of us adults acted out the prayer positions that King Hezekiah used as he prayed for the holiness of God’s will to come on earth as it is in heaven. And last Sunday, we talked about fasting and prayer closets as possible aids to praying for our daily bread and other human needs. Today, I chose this two-parable text from Luke 18 because it gives us some ideas about how to pray that we can then apply to The Lord’s Prayer theme of “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Both these parables offer us great suggestions for when we pray for forgiveness.