‘Lord, teach us to pray…” – Luke 11:1
Have you ever wondered what should form the content of your prayer? Have you ever wondered what you should pray for? Today’s gospel reading is set against a “mysterious” background. It is mysterious because Jesus’ disciples saw something they were not used to. They saw Jesus pray. They pray, they are Jews. But there was something about how Jesus prayed. It is probably the peaceful countenance on his face or the moments of solitude that we all crave and try to satisfy with people and material things. They couldn’t lay a finger on it but they knew they wanted to experience it. Jesus is God and so He didn’t need to pray but to offer us an example of intimacy with God and the peace that comes with it, he presents his disciples with the mysterious sight of divine intimacy. So what is the content of Jesus’ prayer? It is contained in this summarised version of the “Lord’s Prayer”:
- Praise: In prayer, we praise God. Praise is simply acknowledging the presence and importance of the other person. You can liken it to what two lovers do when they sit to have a conversation. All the emotion they feel is captured in the way they hold each other’s gaze and the three little words they say as they sit holding hands: “I LOVE YOU”. In prayer, we desire to see God for who He is, our first love and the only one who will never stop loving us (1Jn 4:19). Our “I love you to God” should always be “Father, may your name be held holy”.
- Holiness of Life: Prayer should make us holy. A common feature among best friends is that they begin to sound alike, think alike, dress alike and even act alike. This is because they have grown to hear each other, trust each other and even imitate each other. We become more like God the more we spend time with Him. And those we encounter should experience a different way of thinking, speaking and acting when they meet us. God’s kingdom comes every time we become God’s presence to others.
- Our Needs: We pray for our needs because God is our provident Father. His provision for us also means that we employ our natural endowments (body and mind) to our daily tasks. When we do our work well and offer it to God who is the source of all strength and goodness, He blesses it and we will never live in lack. If we learn contentment, we never need to worry about our needs.
- Forgiveness: Forgiveness is like a gold coin. It clears our debt just as it bails others from their indebtedness to us. But like gold, we have to mine and purify it over time so that we can have it on hand to give out to those in need of it. Always ask God in prayer to teach you how to forgive sacrificially and unconditionally like He does.
- Temptation: We also pray for strength to overcome our weaknesses, love what is good and always do it. God can grant this prayer easily. But we must reject sin of every kind as the worst evil on earth since it makes us less of what God created us to be, it hurts those we love and it also keeps us as slaves unable to do what we know is right.
This is a summary of what our prayers should be each day. Share your thoughts on prayer and let’s discuss.
Lord teach me to pray for the things that matter most, that I may grow to love you, serve my neighbour and live in true freedom.
Jonah 4:1-11; Ps 86:3-6,9-10; Lk 11:1-4