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Trinity Methodist Church Gregson Lane, Hoghton, Preston, PR5 0ED

Minister: Revd. A. Webb Telephone 01772 323818

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….And now we pray for……… I can’t count the number of times I’ve said that from the pulpit, without giving a thought for what we are actually asking God to do.

Do we expect that he will feed the hungry? Stop wars? Take care of the troubled?

I thought it might be interesting to look at what Jesus doesn’t say we should pray for in the Lord’s Prayer. For example, He doesn’t tell us to ask for the power to beat temptation He suggests that we should pray that God does not lead us into temptation in the first place.

I wonder if He had a wry smile on his face! He allowed just this to happen, at the time when He needed to feel closest to His Father, God, when he went into the desert to pray and at a time of weakness, after fasting, found that the Devil was tempting him.

Sometimes I find it is just those times when I most need solitude and a feeling of the presence of God that temptations intrude. And what subtle temptations! Like those that Jesus experienced, they seem so plausible.

Jesus doesn’t say we should pray for the hungry to be fed, though he does suggest that we pray that food will always be available. For the hungry to be fed needs fair distribution – and that is our Christian duty.

So Jesus doesn’t suggest we should pray for God to do what is our Christian duty anyway.

We can’t use God as a get-out because we can’t find time to do what He calls us to do.

Similarly, we don’t pray for an end to war – because that is in our hands anyway. We can and should pray that we work for peace. God won’t end war if we aren’t prepared to work for it.

As Bob Dylan noted in the 1960s, “If God is on our side, He’ll stop the next war.” But He doesn’t.

We should certainly pray for ourselves, for forgiveness when we do wrong, but, Jesus suggests, only to the extent that we are prepared to forgive those who have wronged us.

There’s a lot in it, isn’t there? And mostly it points back to us and our promise to God.

Food for thought for me at any rate.

Tony Bonser