The theme we’ve been focusing on is the “Holy Spirit & Prayer.” Understanding both are so crucial to a healthy faith journey. After a couple of reflections on the Holy Spirit, today we focus on prayer with a simple example given to us by Jesus.
You may recognize it like I did. I grew up saying the Lord’s Prayer in church every Sunday. I never realized where it came from. Matthew 6:9-13 is another place where Jesus teaches us how to pray.
What this tells me more than anything is to keep it simple. Our prayers don’t need to be elaborate or long. We do need to keep this one thing in mind. Jesus starts his prayer by calling out God’s greatness, his holiness. I think that’s a good reminder for us. Who doesn’t like a little praise and recognition? God must certainly cherish each time we honor him and give him attention. He craves a relationship with us.
Leviticus 26:12 says, “I will walk among you; I will be your God, and you will be my people.” Even as God’s law was being revealed to the people, he made it known to them he was with them. He created us for a purpose. That purpose was to love and obey him. Our prayers or communication with God should reflect that from the start.
Jesus also showcases we should ask for God’s kingdom to come. I’m not sure I include that in my prayers all the time. However, I have been known to cry out, “Jesus, please come back!” I suppose it’s in those times of despair when I see what’s happening to families, individuals, and even nations. I know who wins in the end. I just wonder how many lives need to be ruined before Jesus returns for the final victory.
Many times, my prayers can seem like a laundry list of “I wants.” Does that happen to you? Jesus doesn’t seem to discourage that; in fact, he wants us to ask for God’s provision. But here it seems that provision is focused on our needs, not necessarily our “wants.” However, even our wants can be motivated by our needs or those of a loved one. What about our enemies? Do we pray for them, too?
Jesus also encourages us to ask for forgiveness in our prayers. He takes it a bit farther to include the line, “as we forgive those who sin against us.” Ouch! That’s a hard one, isn’t it? Forgiving others can be one of the hardest things to do. Yet, in this short example, Jesus includes that as important. What if God only forgave us as much as we are willing to forgive others? This is certainly a line to wrestle with.
I think of bullying. It seems like school children aren’t the only ones being traumatized these days. Evil is running rampant causing all sorts of unhealthy divisions in our world. It seems like it’s “new,” but, it’s not new, just packaged a little differently perhaps. Evil has always been at work to take a foothold in our world. History has a way of repeating itself.
What’s our best defense against this evil? Prayer. Lots of prayer. I don’t think we can pray too much. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “Never stop praying.” Never is a very long time. It suggests that prayer is always the relevant choice. We can’t survive without it.
Jesus concludes this lesson by reminding us to ask for help with temptation. He knows from his personal experience that the evil one will tempt us time and time again. We might even not recognize the temptations at all. That’s how crafty the evil one can be. It’s a little frightening. Covering ourselves in prayer is a defensive act to be sure. Putting on the armor of God is also good. You can read more about that in Ephesians 6:10-18.
Jesus has given us a great prayer model to follow. Simple and to the point! But I’d like to add one more very crucial piece of our communication with God. What do you think that might be? Gratitude. Don’t you think we should tell God how thankful we are for what he is doing in our lives? What is the last thing you thanked God for?
Let’s pray. Father, you are an amazing God full of truth and love for me despite my own weaknesses. We need you Jesus! Thank you for all that you supply me each day. Forgive me when I take you for granted. Continue to guide me each step of the way. In Jesus’ name. Amen.