Prayer is a marvelous thing. It is deeply challenging and many of us find it difficult to do. In Luke 11:1-13 Jesus gives us a little insight into what he thinks about prayer. Take just a moment and read what he has to say,
Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And 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 who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.”
And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks fora fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him 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!”
Typically, we focus on what is known as the “Lord’s Prayer”. However, I want to shift our focus to the last sentence. “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!” What a remarkable sentence. Jesus statement here, I think, gives us some important insights into prayer.
First, we struggle to pray because we think of our context as people. We know our own hearts and we think God’s heart must be similar. We know how frustrated we get when people are standing at our door knocking and asking for “three loaves” in the middle of the night. Our own sense of self shapes our view of God. We think God must get as annoyed as we do when people start “begging” him for stuff.
Second, we struggle to pray because we don’t really want what the heavenly Father is offering. A good gift, according to Jesus, is the Holy Spirit. We don’t really want the Holy Spirit. We know that if we begin to engage with the Holy Spirit then our lives just might be changed. We may have to do things and experience things that we don’t really want to. We may have to be kinder, we may have to suffer, we may have to choose joy instead of anger. What we don’t understand is that the Holy Spirit really is the best gift that the Father can give us. It is the Holy Spirit who leads us into truth and righteousness. He is the one who brings about our transformation into greater Christ-likeness.
Prayer is overwhelming for the believer. We are interacting with the one who is wholly other. When we pray we are talking to the God of the universe and we know he listening. Jesus makes it clear that the Father wants us to pray and that when we do he knows how to give us good gifts. May we humbly and joyously come to our Father without any fear, knowing that he loves and cares for us.
Share about your experience of prayer in the comments.