He was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray just 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 in debt to us, and do not subject us to the final test.” (Luke 11:1-4)
The disciples watched Jesus pray often. They saw the confidence and the passion in which he prayed. They asked him to teach them how to pray. From that comes your gift and mine. The gift of prayer.
Prayer is not having special skills and saying the right words so that we can reach God’s ear. Rather, prayer is best captured in a vignette. Imagine a small child who wants to tell his dad something really important. What does dad do? He bends down, lovingly puts his arm around the child and lets the child whisper in his ear. In this sense then prayer is not so much us reaching up to God with special words or techniques, but it is God reaching down to us.
God reaches down to us in prayer because we don’t know where to find Him. God finds us. Jesus comes into our lives through the Word of God and baptism and makes himself known to us. God, the Father becomes our heavenly Father. Praying is being in the presence of God, who bends down and like a father makes his ear available. Even the whispers of the small child in a father’s ear might be soft and stammering, so infant-like, but the father hears the words of his child as the most precious things he has ever heard. He hears the incomplete sentences and funny words with the love of a father. He hears the soft requests with love when the child is hurting. In the same way, God hears our prayers.
Prayer is a gift. Prayer is possible only because of who God is and his intense love for us. And the more helpless we feel, the more we learn this to be true. Prayer is for the down and out, who finally no longer rely on themselves, but want to be helped by God. Prayer is for those that have been gifted and used to express their gratitude to God. Prayer is for those moments when life seems to have overwhelmed us– in one way or another– and we reach out to our Father and ask for His help.
Prayer is a precious gift from God to aid us on our journey through this life. God is ready and waiting to hear our prayers and to give us all that we need.
But why is it that we find it so hard to pray? I guess at the bottom of it all is that it takes effort to pray.
It takes effort to make time available every day to pray.
It takes effort to be quiet and still for just a short while.
It takes an effort to stop during a busy day and to spend time talking with God.
It takes an effort at the end of a long day to stay awake long enough to pray.
The first and often the most difficult step is to set time aside every day to speak with God. God will hear your prayer. He will answer your prayer with divine love and power. Even if the answer is not what we expected, be assured it is the best. Our heavenly Father is waiting to hear from us. He is waiting to use his power to help us.
Prayer of The Day
“Father in heaven, you have given me a mind to know you, a will to serve you, and a heart to love you. Give me today the grace and strength to embrace your holy will and fill my heart with your love that all my intentions and actions may be pleasing to you. Help me to be kind and forgiving towards my neighbor as you have been towards me.”
That gift from Jesus also carries with it a set of reminders.
I can’t say “our” if I live only for myself. I can’t say, “Father” if I don’t endeavor each day to act like His child. I can’t say “hallowed be your name,” if I’m playing around with sin. I can’t say “your kingdom come,” if I’m not allowing God to reign in my life. I can’t say “give us this day our daily bread,” if I’m trusting in myself instead of in God’s provision. I can’t say, “Forgive us our sins,” if I’m nursing a grudge or withholding forgiveness from someone else. I can’t say “lead us not into temptation,” if I deliberately place myself in its path