Lent sermon series: “Prayer”

During Lent 2023, we considered the topic of “prayer” in sermon series.  It is a practice that is fundamental to many faiths, yet one that is often not learned in depth.  In this series, we examined why we pray, how we pray, and how God answers prayer.

If you missed some part of this series, or want to hear the message again, you can go to each of the services as they are linked below, and listen to the sermon via the service video.


February 26, 2023: Go to service
February 26, 2023: “Why Do We Pray?”

February 26, 2023 – “Why Do We Pray?”
When was the last time you sent a text to a friend, or called a relative?  When was the last time you talked to God? In this service, Pastor Linda began a sermon series on Prayer by addressing fundamental questions – why do we pray, why do we NOT pray, and how do we learn to pray?  Rather than there being a specific “correct” way to pray, she suggested that any way that works for us is acceptable to God.

Pastor Linda encouraged us to consider these 3 questions:

  1. How did we learn to pray?
  2. What is your prayer life like?
  3. How would you like your prayer life to change?

She also recommended the Examen Prayer, developed by St. Ignatius of Loyola, which includes these bits:  What are you most grateful for? What are you least grateful for?

“Of all the things the world now desperately needs, none is more needed than an upsurge of vital, God-centered intelligently grounded prayer.”  – Georgia Harkness

March 5, 2023: Go to service
March 5, 2023: “A Fresh Look at the Lord’s Prayer

March 5, 2023 – “A Fresh Look at the Lord’s Prayer”
Have you ever driven a regular route, and discover you’re at your destination without remembering the drive? When you do something routinely, it’s easy to start doing it without thinking. What about your prayer life – has it become routine? Do you pray the Lord’s Prayer “on automatic,” while thinking about things on your to-do list?  Regardless of the words we say, God is listening to our intent. In this service, Pastor Linda did a deep dive into the Lord’s Prayer, examining what we are declaring and what we are requesting of God.

Pastor Linda encouraged us to think about each line of the Lord’s Prayer as we say it, so that it has meaning rather than just being something we say by rote.  In addition, read the prayer from a different Bible translation than you are used to – for example, The Message, or The Voice.

“As we pray continually, even during times when God seems distant and prayer feels fruitless, we immerse ourselves in the benevolence, grace, forgiveness, and love of God.  Our attitudes toward life are modified accordingly.”  – Jimmy Carter

March 12, 2023: Go to service
March 12, 2023: “Pray Always”

March 12, 2023 – “Pray Always”
As a child, were you taught a specific way to pray – holding hands just so, eyes cast up or down, head bowed or reaching up, at a certain time of day?  Pastor Linda showed us how we can pray always, not just in the way we learned as a child, but in other ways that help us engage with God throughout the day.  See if you can find a new way to pray that suits the person you are today.

Pastor Linda demonstrated several ways to pray, so that we could be in an attitude of prayer at any time of day or night.  These methods are listed below, with links for more information.  They are not specific to any one religion or denomination, but may be practiced by people of any faith.

  • 5-finger prayer, a method of using the fingers on one hand as a prompt for prayer
  • Lectio Divina, a way to read the scriptures and discern what God may be saying through them.
  • Icons, religious works of art that tell the Christian story in images and colors.
  • Mandalas, a circular art form that encompasses a graphic and often symbolic pattern.
  • Prayer beads, a string of beads that can be used to help count prayers, say mantras, or memorize scripture.
  • Prayer shawls, a piece of cloth worn over the shoulders to represent the love of God and/or community.
  • Christ candle, a candle whose flame symbolizes the light of God.
  • Labyrinth, a winding path that leads to a center then back to the origin, symbolic of the journey toward God’s illumination then out to the world. (There is a labyrinth in front of St. John the Divine Episcopal Church in Morgan Hill.)
  • Breath prayer, a short prayer of petition or praise that helps us become award of the presence of God.
  • ACTS prayer, acronym for a prayer of Adoration, Contrition, Thanksgiving, and Supplication.
  • Prayer body positions, and how they impact our connection with God

“All that increases our awareness of God is prayer.  There are various ways to pray, and each of us will generally find one method that best fits our personality. – Rueben P. Job and Norman Shawchuck

March 19, 2023: Go to service
March 19, 2023: “Answered Prayer”

March 19, 2023 – “Answered Prayer”
Knock, knock.” “Who’s there?” When a knock-knock joke is left hanging, with no answer, it’s unsatisfying, as we expect something – almost anything – to be said in response. When we pray, and don’t feel like God is answering, it is also unsatisfying.  Pastor Linda discussed how God does answer prayer, perhaps in ways that we do not expect.

“True prayer is never merely human work.  It involves God’s activity within us.  The Holy Spirit testifies that we are God’s children and heirs to God’s kingdom.  When we do not know what to ask for or how to do so, the Spirit intercedes for us ‘with sighs too deep for words’  (Romans 8:26). – Avery  Dulles S.J.

March 26, 2023: Go to service
March 26, 2023: “The Lord is My Shepherd”

March 26, 2023 – “The Lord is My Shepherd”
Lush meadows – quiet pools – goodness and mercy. The images evoked by Psalm 23 are peaceful and refreshing, just what many of us need in our hectic week. This week, in the last of the sermon series on prayer, Trish invited us to re-read Psalm 23 as a prayer, inviting God to settle our fears so that we can truly rest in Him.

“Prayer is coming into the presence of the One who loves us all the time – more than our parents ever loved us even in the best of times – and waiting in that presence, merely being there in that presence. – John Killinger

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