As you can tell from the posts that I have written recently, I have really been working on my relationship with Christ this year. It seems that every year I start out assessing how I am doing in the faith department and I usually wind up contemplating things that I could do better to strengthen my relationship with the Father and His Son. I believe that I have been a little light in the prayer department and I am trying to make a more conscious effort to make sure that I take time to pray stuff through.
At the cafeteria, we have seen a number of miracles already this year and, in part, I attribute that to the fact that we pray before leadership meetings and we keep Christ at the center of our mission and our business. The entire leadership team is very focused on the will of God – and we try to be humble and realize that God is a God of miracles and that He can make anything happen.
If you’re doing it right, prayer is hard work. Most of us shoot up arrow prayers and short little prayers meant to help us through a particular issue or crisis. But real prayer is intense and can leave us exhausted. For one thing, prayer require time. There are many references in the Scripture to people praying through the night. And when we read passages like this, most of us glance over them, but think about that for a moment. I usually find it very difficult to even pray for an hour – and I don’t do that very often.
My mind wanders, I think about other things, and quite honestly, I end up asking God for stuff two or three different way and then I wait for an answer. I can also get impatient. The other morning I went into the office early to get ready for a meeting and decided to pray for a while. I was interrupted a number of times by other people – and I found it difficult to pray when I was trying to get ready for a meeting.
When I read about Jesus praying, I can’t believe the effort that he expended. When he went with three of the disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray, he told Peter, John and James to wait while He prayed. One hour later he returned and they were asleep. He admonished them and returned to pray again – and we don’t know how long, but when He returned to them, the disciples were once again asleep. Christ then prayed a third time. You guessed it – the disciples were asleep a third time. And we are told in Matthew, where this story is recounted, that Jesus assumed a posture of humility in His prayer; He fell with His face to the ground, addressing the Father. I don’t do that very often – do you? And three times in one night – can’t say that I have done that very often at all…
The disciples learned quite a bit from Jesus during the three years that they were with Him. Jesus taught them about the kingdom of heaven and how His mission was to do the will of the Father. He taught them about social justice and how to care for the poor. He performed miracles in front of them, such as the feeding of the 5000. He told them about baptism and He argued with the Pharisees and others who were scholars of the law. He was a Rabbi and amazed the elders in the temple with his knowledge of God. The disciples were witnesses to almost all of these activities.
And yet, after all this, there was still one thing that the disciples asked Jesus to teach them. You know what that was? They asked Him to teach them to pray. That’s right. With everything they had already learned from Jesus, they felt, after all they had heard and seen, that they needed help from Jesus in learning how to address the Father. I find that incredibly remarkable. But when you think about it, the disciples had seen Jesus pray for years and they knew that it was hard work.
The verse for this evening is from Luke 11:1-2, the verse where the disciples realize that they need to learn how to pray. Ironically, this happened just after the disciples once again witnessed Jesus praying. We are told, “And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” What continues is the rest of what we refer to as the Lord’s prayer. The model for the way Jesus encourages us to pray is usually the first prayer from the Bible that most of us learn.
My encouragement this evening is to let you know that God wants you to do the hard work of praying to Him and to deepen your relationship with him in the process. My prayer for you this tonight is that God will, through His grace, divinely inspire you to a richer, fuller prayer life and relationship with Him. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…