‘Pray as you can’ 24th July 2022 – Sixth Sunday after Trinity Eucharist

To watch this week's service on Youtube, please click here:


To download a copy of the order of service please click here:

22 07 24 The Sixth Sunday after Trinity Eucharist

The Readings

Colossians 2.6-19

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have come to fullness in him, who is the head of every ruler and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a spiritual circumcision, by putting off the body of the flesh in the circumcision of Christ; when you were buried with him in baptism, you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. And when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses, erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it.

Therefore do not let anyone condemn you in matters of food and drink or of observing festivals, new moons, or sabbaths. These are only a shadow of what is to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Do not let anyone disqualify you, insisting on self-abasement and worship of angels, dwelling on visions, puffed up without cause by a human way of thinking, and not holding fast to the head, from whom the whole body, nourished and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows with a growth that is from God.

Luke 11.1-13

He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.’ He said to them, ‘When you pray, say:
Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.
And do not bring us to the time of trial.’

And he said to them, ‘Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, “Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.” And he answers from within, “Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.” I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.

‘So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!’


New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

The Sermon

By Kath Boyd

It may sound like a strange and possibly shocking thing for a lay minister to say but I quite often struggle with prayer and find it difficult. So much so that a few years ago I made the decision to come off the intercessions rota. In all honesty I found writing prayers, that were to be shared in public, more demanding and stressful than writing sermons. It wasn’t an occasional feeling either; if it had been then I’d have found a way to get past it, but as it persisted I decided, ironically after much prayer, to bow out of that particular rota. It was quite a relief, I felt as if a great burden had been lifted from me. If things are right, surely prayer shouldn’t be a burden and I certainly didn’t want to feel that way about it.

Personal prayer had never been a problem, or so I thought. Each day I would take time to focus and say my prayers but also, throughout the day much of what I was thinking would feel like an ongoing process of me chatting away to God and taking him with me wherever I was going and whatever I was doing. I’m not sure how much of a chance he’s ever had to get a word in by way of a reply but I’ve always trusted that he’d find a way when he wanted to.

My more “formal” prayers, ie more structured would include saying thank you for the new day and for the many gifts I have benefitted from, prayers for the world and all that are part of it, prayers for individuals and groups who are ill or struggling or in need, prayers for the resolution of bad situations, for loved ones, friends and community and finally for personal guidance, support and forgiveness. I still think all these are good things to pray for but my desire to make sure I didn’t leave anyone or anything out led to my prayers getting longer and longer and more convoluted and again they were beginning to feel like a chore. Again this wasn’t how I wanted to feel about prayer. So often it would feel like going through a sort of shopping list, which neither God nor I needed, because both he and I knew who and what was on it, but somehow it felt like I had to do it or I’d be failing the people and the situations, not doing it properly. That said, just occasionally I would feel that I’d really connected with God in my prayers and I noticed that this tended to be when I let go of the “all inclusive” structure and just let the thoughts and the words flow.
What became apparent was that most of the time I’ve been getting in my own way by trying to include too much, but how to change? This is difficult when you’re doing the best you know how.

In our passage from Luke’s Gospel we hear Jesus’ disciples asking him to teach them how to pray and his answer is what we know as The Lord’s Prayer. It’s actually very uncomplicated and succinct but it covers everything that is really important and it’s a prayer we can all use. We don’t have to be experts in religious knowledge or masters of complex language to understand it and it’s fairly easy to learn by heart. Alongside this wonderful prayer we can say other prayers if we wish and I really do feel that our thoughts and concerns, especially for others, are part of our prayers because prayer isn’t separate from life but is part of it, permeating our minds, shaping us and how we live.

In the little story that Jesus uses after teaching the basics of prayer he gives us something else too and that is encouragement to keep on asking God for what we feel we need. Our prayers may not be answered straight away or in quite the way we had imagined or hoped for but we are assured that they are heard. I’ve often found that it is with the benefit of hindsight, sometimes many years later, that I can see how my prayers have been answered. Probably differently to what I’d asked but more often than not I can see that it’s in a way that is ultimately better.

Going back to my difficulties with prayer. I had discussed them with a friend who has been very caring and supportive. He recently sent me an article about prayer which has helped me a lot. There were contributions from several people that were all good but the one that stood out to me was from Dom John Chapman, “Pray as you can and do not try to pray as you can’t “. Although some people are called to specific kinds of prayer such as intercessions for individuals and others are gifted in writing very eloquent prayers, although we can learn from them it doesn’t mean that we all have to try to do the same. Not being able to do so doesn’t mean that we care less or that our prayers are of less worth. We’re all different and what we bring to God in our prayers is unique. So to quote John Chapman again, “Pray as you can and do not try to pray as you can’t”. I’ve found it to be very good advice.

The Prayers
Prepared by Veronica

In the power of the Spirit and in union with Christ, let us pray to the Father.

Lord our God, we pray for our world which we have failed to care for by burning fossil fuels. We have been warned this past week by excessive heat and forest fires all over Europe that we must take action to ensure we can pass on this beautiful earth to future generations. Give wisdom and resolution to all governments that they may take the action required, and also to work for peace in Ukraine, Yemen, Afghanistan and all other places where there is conflict.
Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer.

We pray for the Church worldwide, that all Christians will work together for peace and for a better world in accordance with your will. We pray for our bishops Pete and Sophie, for our parishes of St John’s, St Mark’s and St Mary’s, and all the clergy and lay people who enable us to maintain our regular worship here at St Mary’s. Help us to witness faithfully to your love within our parishes.
Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer.

We thank you for our community of Walkley and for all its organisations and artistic talent, which makes it such a wonderful place to live in. We pray also for our local schools as they start their summer holidays, and for all families who are finding life a struggle at present. We thank you for the work of the S6 Foodbank supporting people in need, and the Langsett Advice Centre also supporting and helping people struggling with life.
Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer.

We pray for all who are ill at this time, for all suffering in the new wave of Covid, and also for all NHS and care staff who have worked so hard for so long to look after people, and now face a big backlog of other patients. We pray for them all, especially for those known to us at present….
Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer.

We pray for all who have died recently, and those we remember from many years ago, family members and former members of this congregation. In a moment of silence we commend them to your love..………… Grant us with them a share in your eternal kingdom.
Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer.

Rejoicing in the fellowship of Mary, John, Mark and all your saints, we commend ourselves to your unfailing love.
Merciful Father
Accept these prayers
for the sake of your only Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ.