Luke 11.1-13; 1 Timothy 2.1-8
For goodness sake communicate I’d spent all day trying to avoid her – plotting my route so that we wouldn’t make even accidental contact – finding things to do that kept me busy anywhere other than where we might meet up – acting like I didn’t exist – which is ridiculous, I’m always in the way. I thought she’d be mad at me for something I’d done, and something I should have said – so I was keeping out of the way, even though I knew at heart she would ultimately put me at my ease, I was dreading how I envisaged the process.
Aren’t we like that with God? Our all too accurate self-knowledge can make us very reluctant to place ourselves in any situation where He might relate to us in terms of our sin and weakness. We become terrified of what He might say or do – worse still we’re afraid that He might remain silent and unmoved in the face of our failings and even our self-effacing grief. What a tragic attitude! How far of the mark we have fallen! How foolish to miss that our weakness qualifies us more for a Divine welcome than our self-confidence and arrogant “faith”. How are we then to pray, to communicate with God?
Opening the conversation The disciples had noticed something strange; Jesus had need to pray – regularly – in private. They noticed that it gave him direction and fresh energy for service in the midst of incredible demands on His time and His loving ministry. So of course they wanted to learn how He did it – if it was important to Him it was important to them – as it should be.What did He teach them then? Recognise and honour God for who He is – Hallowed be your name – even if all you say is “Your name is holy and worthy of all praise” you are honouring Him. Welcome and invite the reign of God – Your kingdom come – agreeing that things should be done God’s way, that we should work with God’s programme, in His power and authority and grace. Remind yourself of your dependance on Him – give us each day our daily bread – do we really believe we need to do this? Recognise that in His reign we’re provided for – mundanely but often miraculously. Seek His grace for your failings – forgive us our sins – for those times we fail or refuse to live our lives in line with His reign. Examen – confession – trust. Remember that we owe others His grace – for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us – in prayer, open communication with God, you are going to hear about those you need to forgive, to free yourself from bitterness – so you might as well deal with it rather than live with an obstacle to an open line with God. Ask for the grace to not be distracted or sidetracked from following Jesus – and lead us not into temptation – this is a prayer you really have to mean for it to happen. It’s like saying, “God, please hold my hand when sinful distractions lie on the path of life.”
Believing in God’s attentive ear In the second half of the gospel reading (Luke115-13) is all the encouragement you need to trust that the Lord is attentive to your every word, and that He responds according to your need. God is, in fact, more willing to give whatever we need than we are to ask for it. There is so much that seems to be within our own grasp, that we don’t see how dependant we are upon the provision of God, so when real need threatens, prayer is often a last resort, rather than the first port of call. It is as well to understand that the greatest gift Jesus wants us to have from God is His Holy Spirit, who is after all the enduring, and the lively communicating presence of God – ever-present – all-seeing – ever responsive.
Keep the conversation going Paul, in writing to his young disciple, urges that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people precisely because it pleases God that we should do so. Why is that? Because our prayer for others is a key to their salvation – far more than you could achieve by nagging them about the gospel and conversion. How much does it matter to us that our family members and loved friends find themselves lost in wonder, love and praise in the embrace of the the Saviour of our very lives? It also happens that when we pray alongside of others with a heart open to God, that a surprising unity grows between us and in our churches.
So why should you pray? Stop and think about it for a moment…..If prayer is communication, and if Jesus has not only left the door to God’s action centre open for us, inviting and urging us to enter, isn’t it obvious that in that place, our lives will change. I mean change in terms of morals and passion, in concern for those for whom God is concerned, in enthusiasm for what He’s about in the world around and beyond us. I also believe that coupled with careful attention to the Bible, spending time with the Lord, corrects and redirects us onto His paths and encourages our courageous service and persistence in all He has yet for us to do. Prayer is also the place where we refill with the Holy Spirit, the fuel for all that has yet to come.