The Gospel for Sunday, July 24 is Jesus' teaching his disciples to pray I found this wonderful dialogue sermon many years ago, and although I didn't use it for my sermon, it is well worth re-reading! -- Please enjoy the humor and the depth. --- AOW+
A conversation with the Lord - By Andy Lund
Petitioner: "Our Father which art in heaven........"
Petitioner: Don't interrupt me. I'm praying.
God: But you called me.
Petitioner: Called you? I didn't call you. I'm praying. "Our Father which art in heaven.......
God: There, you did it again.
Petitioner: Did what?
God: Called me. You said, "Our Father which are in heaven." Here I am....what's on your mind?
Petitioner: But I didn't mean anything by it. I was, you know, just saying my prayers for the day. I always say the Lord's Prayer. It makes me feel good, kind of like getting a duty done.
God: All right. Go on.
Petitioner: "Hallowed be thy name......"
God: Hold it. What do you mean by that?
Petitioner: By what?
God: By "hallowed be thy name?"
Petitioner: It means...it means...Good grief, I don't know what it means. How should I know? It's just a part of the prayer. By the way, what does it mean?
God: It means honoured, holy, wonderful.
Petitioner: Hey, that makes sense. I never thought about what "hallowed" meant before... "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."
God: Do you really mean that?
Petitioner: Sure, why not?
God: What are you doing about it?
Petitioner: Doing? Nothing, I guess. I just think it would be kind of neat if you got control of everything down here like you have up there.
God: Have I got control of you?
Petitioner: Well, I go to church.
God: That isn't what I asked you. What about your bad temper? You've really got a problem there, you know. And then there's the way you spend your money, all on yourself. And what about the kind of books you read?
Petitioner: Stop picking on me! I'm just as good as some of the rest of those people at church.
God: Excuse me. I thought you were praying for my will to be done. If that is to happen, it will have to start with the ones who are praying for it. Like you, for example.
Petitioner: Oh, all right. I guess I do have some hang-ups. Now that you mention it, I probably could name some others.
God: So could I.
Petitioner: I haven't thought about it very much until now, but I really would like to cut out some of those things. I would like to, you know, be really free.
God: Good. Now we're getting somewhere. We'll work together, you and I. Some victories can be truly won. I'm proud of you.
Petitioner: Look, Lord, I need to finish up here. This is taking a lot longer than it usually does..."Give us this day our daily bread."
God: You need to cut out the bread. You're overweight as it is.
Petitioner: Hey, wait a minute! What is this, "Criticise me day?" Here I was doing my religious duty, and all of a sudden you break in and remind me of all my hang-ups.
God: Praying is a dangerous thing. You could wind up changed by it, you know. That's what I'm trying to get across to you. You called me, and here I am. It's too late to stop now. Keep praying, I'm interested in the next part of your prayer.....(pause). Well, go on.
Petitioner: I'm scared to.
God: Scared? Of what?
Petitioner: I know what you'll say.
God: Try me and see.
Petitioner: "Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us."
God: What about Alice?
Petitioner: See? I knew it! I knew you would bring her up! Why, Lord, she's told lies about me, spread stories about my family. She never paid back the debt she owes me. I've sworn to get even with her.
God: What about your prayer?
Petitioner: I didn't mean it.
God: Well at least you are honest. But it's not much fun carrying that load of bitterness around inside, is it?
Petitioner: No. But, I'll feel better as soon as I get even. Boy, have I got some plans for that neighbour. She'll wish she had never moved into this neighbourhood.
God: You won't feel any better. You'll feel worse. Revenge isn't sweet. Think of how unhappy you already are. But I can change all that.
Petitioner: You can? How?
God: Forgive Alice . Then I'll forgive you. Then the hate and sin will be Alice's problem and not yours. You will have settled your heart.
Petitioner: Oh, you're right. You always are. And more than I want to revenge Alice, I want to be right with You....(pause)...(sigh)...All right. I forgive her. Help her to find the right road in life, Lord. She's bound to be awfully miserable, now that I think about it. Anybody who goes around doing the things she does to others has to be out of it. Some way, somehow, show her the right way. There now!
God: Wonderful! How do you feel?
Petitioner: Hmmmmm. Well, not bad. Not bad at all. In fact, I feel pretty great! You know, I don't think I'll have to go to bed tonight uptight for the first time since I can remember. Maybe I won't be so tired from now on because I'm not getting enough rest.
God: You're not through with your prayer. Go on.
Petitioner: Oh, all right. "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil."
God: Good! Good! I'll do that. Just don't put yourself in a place where you will be tempted, that's your part.
Petitioner: What do you mean by that?
God: Don't turn on the TV when you know the laundry needs to be done and the house needs to be picked up. Also, about the time you spend coffeeing with your friends, if you can't influence the conversation to positive things, perhaps you should re-think the value of those friendships. Another thing, your neighbours and friends shouldn't be your standard for "keeping up". And please don't use me for an escape hatch.
Petitioner: I don't understand the last part.
God: Sure you do. You've done it a lot of times. You get caught in a bad situation. You get into trouble and then you come running to me. "Lord, help me out of this mess and I promise you I'll never do it again." You remember some of those bargains you tried to make with me?
Petitioner: Yes, and I am ashamed, Lord. Really I am.
God: Which bargains are you remembering?
Petitioner: Well, there was the night that Cliff was gone and the children and I were home alone. The wind was blowing so hard I thought the roof would go any minute and the tornado warnings were out. I remember praying, "Oh, God, if you would spare us, I'll never skip my devotions again."
God: The tornado was ten seconds away from landing on your roof when you called me. I protected you, but you didn't keep your promise, did you?
Petitioner: I'm sorry Lord, really I am. Up until now I thought that if I just prayed the Lord's Prayer every day, then I could do what I liked. I didn't expect anything to happen like it did.
God: Go ahead and finish your prayer.
Petitioner: "For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever"....Amen.
God: Do you know what would bring me glory? You know what would really make me happy?
Petitioner: No, but I'd like to know. I want to know how to please you. I can see what a mess I've made of my life. And I can see how great it would be to really be one of your followers.
God: You just answered the question.
Petitioner: I did?
God: Yes. The thing that would bring me glory is to have people like you truly love me. And I see that happening between us. Now that some of these old sins are exposed and out of the way, there is no limit to what we can do together.
Petitioner: Lord, let's see what we can make of me, OK?
God: Yes, let's see.
© Andy Lund 1999 All rights reserved
This play may be performed free of charge, on the condition that copies are not sold for profit in any medium, nor any entrance fee charged.
In exchange for free performance, the author would appreciate being notified of when and for what purpose the play is performed.
He may be contacted at: email@example.com
Anne+ is the Rector of St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Lappans. She says,