2He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. 3Give us each day our daily bread. 4And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but deliver us from evil.” Luke 11:2-4
The word for us today is that God desires for us to ask for those things we need, and carry on a conversation with God. All we have to do is ask. Indeed, sometimes, often, we don’t even have to ask and it is still ours to receive. I think that is part of what Jesus is getting at in this instruction he gave to the disciple who ask him to teach them how to pray.
Jesus teaches us to address God as our “Father” recognizing God’s sovereignty, and seeking first for God’s Kingdom to come in us and in our world. Jesus wants us to understand and depend on God as a loving Father, providing what we need. This is a relationship where we often find ourselves asking, searching, and knocking. Yet, I am sure that there is not a person reading this who has not had a prayer go unanswered, or hasn’t struggled with what God is up to in the world. Yet Jesus is saying that prayer is how we stay connected with God, and that we should not give up in our asking for those things we need.
There are lots of things I do not understand about prayer, but there are two things I believe passionately. God wants us to pray because God loves us and wants us to love him. Unless we converse with our creator and redeemer we don’t have a close relationship with God. In prayer we are getting to know God and God is getting to know us. When my sons were each born, I was overwhelmed by how much I loved each one. I did not know them, but I loved them. I couldn’t get over how strong my desire in those very first moments of their lives was to love, protect, and provide for them. In those initial moments, I looked forward to a lifetime of relationship, a lifetime of listening and talking, of laughing and even crying, together. I believe this is the way God feels about us.
More than that, God wants us to ask for the desires of our hearts. The word many Bibles translate as “persistent” in Jesus’ parable on prayer is anaideia (11:8). This word is actually better translated as “shameless.” So Jesus is saying that our petitions to God should be bold, and shameless.
God meets us in the darkest, hardest, most painful moments of our lives. God knows our pain and suffering, fear and loss first hand. God, in his Son Jesus, took on our humanity and died so that we might know there is no where we can go that Christ hasn’t already gone, and that there is nothing we can do — or have done to us — that God cannot love and forgive, redeem and save.
God loves us, always has and always will, and for that reason God listens to our prayer, and desires to be in relationship with us, so when we pray we can count on God’s attention.
Of course, prayer is more than asking for things. Prayer is praise; prayer is thanksgiving; prayer is conversation; prayer is questioning; prayer is arguing; prayer is lamenting. Prayer is all these things and more. But prayer is also asking God for what we most need and desire…shamelessly. Go ahead.
- How have you experienced God as a loving parent giving you all that you need?
- What are your daily practices of conversing with God?
- How have you experienced God answering your prayers, maybe in ways you did not expect?
Rev. Sue Beall -National Lutheran Secretariat Spiritual Director