Relational Kinks      Matthew 6:7-15

 We have all done it.  It often happens when we are in a hurry.  There we were watering the garden or washing the car, pressed for time and when we pressed the hose– nothing.  Ugh!  What’s wrong?!  Then it soon dawned upon us that there was a kink in the hose.  Tracing it back to the source we unkinked it, and the water flowed.
 I am suggesting to you this morning that the three primary relationships of life get kinked up also, even though God designs the water of life to flow freely in and through them.  I notice these relational kinks in my life.  In my relationship with myself the kink becomes to think it’s all about me, about my work, about my problem, and I become dry.  In my relationship with others I may get too bent out of shape that someone else might think differently or feel differently from me, so that my love runs dry.  In my relationship to God I may get so focused on Bless me, Help me that I forget to let the love flow back to its source.  So how does God use prayer to help our relational flow?
 Jesus is unkinking God’s flow of love to ourselves when he teaches us to pray:
Give us this day our daily bread… And forgive us our debts… lead us not into temptation.
These are all prayers for God’s love to flow into personal empty wells.  But once in a while I come across a person, like my younger brother, who proudly states, I don’t pray for myself.  I pray for others.  But Jesus wants us to pray for ourselves, too.  For prayer is a free therapy session where we learn to trust his provision of daily bread, have our guilt (debts) washed away, and feel protected (lead us not).  Dr. Alexis Carrel won the Nobel Prize in Medicine, and later wrote a 1936 book extolling the therapeutic value of prayer. 
 Prayer has always been a way of letting God save me $200/hour for therapy.  When Yancey describes his weekly “anger walk” I remember my own up in the Sussex County woods behind the parsonage of my first church.  That church was a surly bunch then.  And being the rookie that I was I often got in the middle of a metaphorical punch intended for someone else.  That made me angry.  And so I remember many woods walks working out my anger at the left jabber du jour with God. Those walks saved my ministry
 The way that prayer is unkinking the water of life to me today is more in line with Dr. Anthony Bloom.  As a physician his pace is described in this way…  My kids tell me at the supper table, You JUST asked me that!  So where was my mind?  Prayer helped Bloom receive the present of the present.  He slowed down… and became more productive.  Yancey concludes… When I…move faster and faster…
 Jesus is unkinking God’s flow of love through us to others when we are to pray:
Give us our daily bread…And forgive us our debts as we… lead us not into…
How can we pray give us our daily bread here and then go home, brush half of our baloney sandwich into the garbage not caring about those for whom that would be more than they’d eat all day?  How can we pray forgive us our debts right here and then not answer the caller I.D. when we see it’s the brother with whom we’re fueding?  How can we pray lead us not into temptation here but then yawn at the internet story of the increase of sexual trafficking of Thailands pre-teens?  Our hose is kinked.  So as the demon-possessed always need to be brought to Jesus so prayer brings others to Jesus.
 Bonhoeffer wrote: Christ stands between us, and we can only get into touch with our neighbors through him.  It reminds me of that classic story of the Constitutional Convention in 1787 where our forefathers gathered in the city of brotherly love to write our constitution.  But brotherly love did not prevail for the first 4 weeks during which they had not written a single word.  Wrangling special interests played tug of war to a stalemate.  So Benjamin Franklin stood to make this famous motion: That henceforth prayers, imploring the assistance of Heaven and its blessing on our deliberations, be held in this assembly every morning.  The Almighty was sought and the words were found to the blessing of this union.  To this day that practice continues.

 Jesus is unkinking God’s love flow through us back to the Source when we pray:
Hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is…
My great challenge in prayer is to end my therapy session, get beyond the flow of compassion to others, in order to complete the circle of love to God.  Yancey reminds us that 16th century English country pastor George Herbert called us secretaries of praise.  You and I have no higher purpose on earth than to get lost in wonder, love and praise.
 Yancey tells the story of the great German preacher, Helmut Thielicke who suffered terribly for opposing Hitler.  One day he walked to his Stuttgart church only to find it reduced to rubble and his home destroyed.  But that wasn’t the greatest pain.  His heart broke when he saw his own nearly starving children licking pictures of food in recipe books.  Yet each Sunday amidst the rubble he preached hope in God because he lived in praise.  Surrounded by crushed stones Thielicke declared: The one fixed pole in all the bewildering confusion is the faithfulness…of God!  Whoa!  Praise has power.

 This week, upon which relationship do you need to focus prayer to unkink God’s flow of love: to yourself, to others, or to God?  Concentrate on one and let it flow.  Amen