Proper 23C’22
9 October 2022
Jeremiah 29.1,4-7
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church
North Little Rock, Arkansas
The Rev. Carey Stone <+>

God be in my head and in my understanding, God be in my eyes and in my looking.

God be in my mouth and in my speaking, God be in my heart and in my thinking.

God be in my heart and in my thinking, God be at my end and in my departing. Amen.


Today’s sermon is on the subject of prayer and is the last in the series of four based on the book by Rowan Williams, Being Christian: Baptism, Bible, Eucharist, Prayer.

What is prayer about? Is it about us treating God the same as we do Santa Claus offering our want lists? A 3rd grader named Will Hamilton, advised his fellow classmates to stick with Santa over Jesus, “The results are better, and much quicker, Santa is on a deadline, and I usually do get a lot of what I ask for. I like Jesus, but if you’re interested in fast results – stick with Santa!”

Christian prayer is not necessarily about getting what we want – it is more about getting what we need, and what we all need and are hungry for, is a relationship with God, through Jesus Christ. Like stones worn smooth by the flowing presence of water, so we are transformed more and more into the image of God by our regular companionship with Christ through prayer.

In staff meeting last week, I asked them to speak the first word that came into their minds when I mentioned the subject of prayer, they had some pretty good answers: Appeal, ASK, plea, fellowship, help, intercession, life stream, relationship. Our invitation to prayer is an invitation to relationship with God. Relationships require time spent together, and includes both talking, and listening, and sometimes, moments of silence.

When the first disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to prayer Jesus told them to begin their prayer that signaled a huge shift in the human understanding of God. Jesus said, “When you pray say, ‘Our Father who are in heaven…” Those two words Our Father meant that rather than some impersonal cosmic power, God could be intimately known and communicated with, in other words, Christian prayer is relational. Not someone to fear, but a God that wants us, that wants our company, and wants us to relate our most intimate concerns.  Williams writes, “Jesus begins his instructions on prayer by telling us to affirm that we stand where Jesus stands: ‘Our Father.’ Everything that follows is bathed in the light of that relationship.”[1]

Through that relationship, we become the daughters and sons of God and are invited to intercede for the coming of the Kingdom of God, and to participate in its breaking through on earth. As we continue to pray one of the false ideas that starts to fall away is the notion that God is somewhere very far away. But through the Holy Spirit we come to experience the God that lives inside us – so God is not only relational but is immediately available for us to turn to. Through prayer we carve out inner space for God by emptying our minds and hearts as we seek to join in the action of Jesus.


Prayer reveals that our intimate relationship with God is directly related to a loving relationship with our neighbors. As St. Matthew’s gospel reminds us: “If you bring your gift to the altar and remember a brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift, go and be reconciled with your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.[2] Conflict in our relationships with our neighbors have a negative impact on our relationship with God. We cannot mistreat our brothers and sisters and still expect to have a close relationship with God.

But as the habit of prayer grows, we will become more attuned to the will and purpose of God that leads us to become agents of healing in our relationships with others, and for others.

Where will a genuine life of prayer lead? “You’ll be able to go and do miracle like, forgiving your neighbor

[1] Williams, Rowan, Being Christian: Baptism, Bible, Eucharist, Prayer p.63

[2] Matthew 5.24