Jesus was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray…” – Luke 11:1-13
How do you pray? Who taught you to pray? What do you pray for?
When I reflect on my childhood, praying with my family was daily done with the traditional Catholic meal prayer during dinner: Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Where I learned the most about prayer was with the Sisters in my parochial school. They taught me that prayer was about building a relationship with God and that my words didn’t need to be fancy and perfect, they just needed be from my heart.
In the gospel reading this week Jesus says, “Ask, and it will be given to you.” Um, Jesus, we’ve been asking. We’ve been asking for more wisdom in our world, for more support for the oppressed, for more racial justice. Some of us have been asking for relief of mental and physical pain, for parents and children to have what they need, for difficult work situations to resolve…the list is long.
What are we to do when Jesus says, “For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened?” How do we hear Jesus’ words in this time when we are all so unsettled and so tired?
Asking isn’t the problem. It’s what we receive when we ask. Every person of faith has had unanswered prayers, and times when God seemed to be painfully silent when there is so much need. Even Jesus doesn’t receive everything he wants. At the end of his life, he would love for God to win over the evil that brings him to the cross, and that doesn’t happen. The suffering still comes to him. He, too, has to face the power of evil and unanswered prayers.
At the end of the reading this Sunday Jesus says, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
This is not Jesus promising trips to Disney and a Tesla in every driveway. This is not a promise of trouble-free lives, or even God’s protection from the evil of the world. This is the kind of prayer where we learn to connect our hopes and dreams with the things Jesus is hoping for. This is prayer where we change, instead of God changing. Prayer, for Jesus, is more about aligning with him than asking, until we are so in sync with God that all we want is more and more of the Spirit’s presence in our lives and the world. Join us on Sunday as we explore more about the life changing power of prayer.