“He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” (Luke 11:1)
For those who knew Jesus, knew him as a man who worked the earth, they knew where the place was that he prayed, or where his favorite places to pray were. Matthew, Mark, James, Peter, and John – they knew where he was when he was off praying. And those were times when he was not to be disturbed, and they I am sure guarded and protected Jesus alone time with God. But when he was done and ready to rejoin the group, they asked – teach us to pray.
“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 indebted to us.
And do not bring us to the time of trial.” (Verses 2 – 4)
In some gospels the pray is a little bit longer with more of the familiar parts to it that have come down to us. But the important parts are there. This is prayer to a God who loves us as a parent loves a child – unconditionally and without end. But this is also a God who is holy above and beyond all of our understanding. This a God who has plans for us, and plans for creation; and some days those plans will come to completion. This is a God who provides for us; not only for our bodily needs but for our need of forgiveness – which reminds me that this year’s lectionary theme is confession, penance, and forgiveness. How wonderful that this passage brings that theme back around – or at least back to my attention!
“And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.’ And he answers from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.
“So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? 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!”(Verses 5 -13)
When we truly ask the Lord for what our deepest needs are, we do not ask in vain. There is a commonly used phrase – “The Lord will not give more than you can handle.” But I do not know that is completely true. I know there have been things “given” into my life that I cannot handle. Plain straight-up truth – I can not handle them. So how have I survived them, thus far? Because what I cannot handle, God does. Now, you may say that God “gave” me what was needed. But I do not and can not put such faith in my self. It was God who did the doing and handling.
So, how do we tie this all together? Prayer. We pray to God, as Jesus taught his disciples to pray. We pray – maybe not in ways that seem obvious and explicit for the need of confession, penance, and forgiveness – but God gets the message that is what we need. We pray for what we need to handle things in this life. And assurance that in the life to come we will be with God. And God gives us these things – the things we truly need; and not the things that would harm us.
May you pray, beloved reader. May you pray the prayers that God and our Lord Jesus Christ has taught you. Selah!