Simon says game over! That was fun, thanks for playing! I was thinking about that game, and it seems like the only reason that it works is because we all agree on the rules. In fact, the only reason any games work is because we all agree on the rules. In Simon Says we agree that one person will be able to tell the other people what to do. What if, instead of one person being the leader and giving instructions, we all started giving instructions? Like if you were saying, “Simon says sit,” and I was saying “Simon Says stand,” and someone else was saying “Simon says jump?” Would the game still work? Probably not, no.
That is kind of what the devil is hoping for in today’s Gospel story. See, Jesus is out in the desert and doesn’t have any food or water, or a place to sleep. It’s just Jesus and the desert. The devil thinks that he can get Jesus to try to take control from his Father because Jesus is probably weak with hunger and thirst. The Devil is probably hoping that Jesus and God the Father will fight for control, which is kind of like God fighting with herself (himself, whichever works for you), but that’s a longer story. Jesus won’t do it, though. Jesus says that it is not his place to challenge God’s power, or to tell God what to do. He tells the devil that God is in charge and that is how it should be. If Jesus can’t tell God what to do, should we?
Now I know what you’re thinking, isn’t prayer like telling God what to do? I say, no, it’s not! Let’s think about our game again. Remember how we said the game works because we all agree on the rules? The person in charge isn’t giving commands, really, it’s a game! And what about when we are not playing a game? How many of you like to be told to do something? Like, “Go clean your room,” or “Eat your asparagus!” Or think about the adults in your life. They will probably do good things for you if you ask them. Like asking, “May I please have a cookie?” or “May I please wash your car?” But if you try to command them to do something it probably doesn’t work out so well, right. When we pray, we are asking God for help, or giving God thanks, or praising God for the good things in our lives. We aren’t telling God what to do.
Let’s practice that and pray together using the Lord’s Prayer (ask the congregation to join if that works in you setting).
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours,
now and forever. Amen.
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