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Reference: Luke 18:9-14
Format: Sketch
Season: Ordinary time

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The Four Prayers

NARRATOR: One Sunday morning, four people arrived at church together and each bowed their head for a moment of prayer. One was a doctor, another was a bookmaker, the third was a retired teacher and the last was a young student. The doctorís prayer was this.

DOCTOR: Here I am, Lord, ready to worship you and hear your word. Thank you for all the opportunities you have given me to serve you by helping others. Thank you for the skills you have given me to heal the sick. Thank you that I have a well paid job and am able to give generously to the church. Lord, I am grateful that I am not like that bookmaker over there, whose work involves taking money from the poor and gullible. In fact, Lord, I donít know how he has the audacity to turn up in a church. He never even puts anything in the collection. I know. Iíve watched him. Thank you, Lord, that we have nothing in common, so I donít have the embarrassment of having to talk to him. Amen.

NARRATOR: Meanwhile, the bookmaker was also praying.

BOOKMAKER: Here I am, Lord, ready to worship you and hear your word. You know how sinful I am, how unworthy of your love. You know the kind of life I used to lead and the kind of people I used to mix with. You know how hard Iím trying to change and how often I fail. But thank you, Lord, that you have saved me. Thank you that I am not like that stuck-up doctor over there, who looks down her nose at me all the time. I donít know how she can call herself a Christian. Sheís had it too easy Ė cushy job, lots of money. She doesnít realise that being respectable and even helping other people is not what faith is about. Not like me. I know Iím a miserable worm and I constantly have to throw myself on your mercy. Sheís such a goody-goody. I bet she never thinks of herself as a sinner. Thank you, Lord, that we have nothing in common, so I donít have the embarrassment of having to talk to her. Amen.

NARRATOR: And the retired teacher prayed like this.

TEACHER: Here I am, Lord, ready to worship you and hear your word. I come to you just as I am, with all my gifts and my faults. Iím nothing special, Lord, but I thank you for an ordinary life with many daily blessings Ė food and clothes, friends and family. And Iím sorry, Lord, for the times I let you down Ė when I am thoughtless or selfish. Forgive me, and help me do better. Thank you that you have given me enough common sense to keep things in perspective. Iím grateful, Lord, that Iím not like that bookmaker who goes on and on about the wicked sinful life heís led and the mighty saving power of Jesus. Iím glad Iím not so intensely spiritual as him. And Iím glad Iím not a high-powered do-gooder like that doctor. She lives such a perfect life that it makes the rest of us look bad. Please bring her down a peg or two, Lord. Thank you, Lord, for making me so ordinary. I donít want anything to do with people who are super-spiritual or super-competent. Itís too embarrassing. Amen.

NARRATOR: As they were praying, the young student said to God...

STUDENT: Here we are, Lord, ready to worship you and hear your word. Itís good to be here alongside all these wonderful and unique people who are your followers. Thank you for that doctor who helps so many people. Thank you for that bookmaker who is so aware of your undeserved love. Thank you for that friendly retired lady with her simple quiet devotion to you. Lord, help us sing your praises this morning. Open our ears to hear your word. May you speak to each one of us. May we leave church this morning knowing we have met with you. Amen.

NARRATOR: The text of that morningís sermon was from Philippians chapter 2 verse 3 Ė ďIn humility consider others better than yourselves.Ē The studentís prayer was answered. God confronted and challenged three members of the congregation about their attitudes. The student herself was a little puzzled. She couldnít understand why the preacher should spend the whole sermon stating the obvious.

[ Note: I have assumed everyone except the bookmaker is female. If this is not the case, then some of the pronouns may need changing Ė he to she, him to her, or vice versa. ]

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