Scripture: Matthew 6:7-15
Key Verse: (9) Pray then in this way…
Reflection: Jesus is teaching his disciples how to pray. Often, and for good reason, we focus on the what of prayer — the words Jesus gave us to give to God. A devotion on the words of the prayer are plentiful and commendable, but this isn’t one of those. Lets talk about the how of prayer for a moment. A classmate once commented that our Hebrew instructor must have an especially gifted mind to be so proficient in the ancient language. Overhearing this our instructor said, “Do you want to know how I do it?” We leaned in close, ready to discover the secret formula, the tricks of the trade.“I get a Hebrew book,” he said “and I sit and I read it. And when I get to the end, I read it again. That’s it. That’s why I can read Hebrew. Practice.”
So it is, I think, with prayer. If you make yourself, if you set yourself to the task, you can find the will and the time and the place to pray. It may be in a lonely place, it may be in the midst of a crowd. It may be for an hour or for just a few moments. It may be with beautiful words or awkward pauses. But you can enter into the sacred space that prayer creates, no matter your schedule or resistance, if you just keep at it. Don’t give up. Pray whether you want to give thanks and pray when you want to curse. Pray when you are found and pray when you are lost. Pray because you want to and pray because you have to. Pray because your faith is strong and demands that you pray, or, in the words of Jewish scholar Abraham Heschel, pray because you don’t know how to. Pray like the man in the gospel of Mark: “Lord I believe, help my unbelief.” Discover that prayer is not only for the faithful but also for the uncertain, the unsure, and the uneasy. And if in the arena of prayer we work and sweat, applying the same principles we use at the gym to our lives of prayer, we will discover how prayer breaks down the barriers we put up between each other and the barricades we have built to separate us from God. Every time we pray we make it that much easier to find ourselves, every time we pray we make it that much easier to find each other and our God.
What we pray is important — Jesus teaches us that in the prayer. But that we pray, that we find ourselves often and always seeking God is essential. For in seeking we find and, most importantly, in seeking we find we are found.
Prayer: Our Father, Who is in heaven, Holy is Your Name; Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.
Author: Derek Macleod
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].