He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples." 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 indebted to us. And do not bring us to the time of trial."
Jesus disciples asked him to teach them how to pray.
And he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.' And he answers from within, 'Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.' I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.
"So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give 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!"
Now, its not like they hadn't ever prayed before. Prayer was part and parcel to the life of every observant Jew in the first century. Each and every day, Jewish men would pray various prayers:
Amidah, 3 times a day
We praise you, Lord our God and God of all generations:
God of Abraham and Sarah,
God of Isaac and Rebecca,
God of Jacob and Leah and Rachel;
great, mighty, and awesome God, God supreme.
Master of all the living,
Your ways are ways of love.
And goes on for 10 or more stanzas
Or a more concise version:--which still includes 18 blessings
We praise you, Lord our God and God of all generations:
But on this day, the disciples as Jesus to teach them to pray.
With love You sustain the living,
with great compassion You give life to all.
You send help to the falling
and healing to the sick;
You bring freedom to the captive
and keep faith with those who sleep in the dust.
You are holy,
Your name is holy.
Help us to return, our Maker,
to Your Word
Notice a couple of things. Jesus didn't give them an acronym to remember the components of prayer. Jesus didn't insist they take a certain posture, hold their hands just so, or their heads or eyes just so.
But Jesus always has a way of looking at complicated matters and making them simple.
Make it personal:
Father: hallowed be your name. Claim the relationship, take care of the basics
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 indebted to us. And do not bring us to the time of trial.'
Share in God's goals
Take care of daily needs
Ask for forgiveness, as we forgive everyone indebted to us,
And keep us out of trouble. Powerful, but not complicated, not formulaic. A prayer asking God to be active in our daily lives
Now, in Matthew's version of the Lord's prayer, there are a few more phrases--but here in Luke, Jesus is spare and strong. Boiling down the 10 or 18 stanzas of daily prayer to the real basics. Finding God in our daily sustenance, recognizing God's role in forgiveness--of others and ourselves, and asking for God's protection.
I spent last week a Camp Sierra, in the--Sierras, between Shaver Lake and Huntington Lake, about 2 hours east of Fresno, about 4000 feet elevation. 88 of us--families and singles, grandparents who had brought their grandchildren, moms and kids, dads and kids, teens who came to be counselors, single adults who came to be together at camp--88 of us working and playing together against the amazing backdrop of redwoods lakes and mountains.
This year the camp's theme was crafted around finding God in the ordinary. We kicked off with the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus. You remember the story. Two disciples, disheartened even after the tomb was found empty, were returning to the village of Emmaus when a third man joined them on the road. They didn't recognize that man as Jesus, but he joined their conversation. They talked about the events of Jesus ministry, and when they got to Emmaus, invited this traveling companion to join them for dinner. Then, they recognized Jesus when he took the bread and broke it--in the ordinary events of the day.
Friday evening, as I led the closing communion service, I asked the group where they had seen God this week. About 40 kids hands went up, and adults joined in too. In nature, in the rushing water at the potholes (the favorite swimming place), when my grandmother told me bedtime stories, with the counselors, in the music, being with friends, when we prayed for my grandpa (we had one senior who spent Thursday and Friday night in the Fresno hospital--the elevation and his medication didn't sync-up.) learning bible stories, taking naps, remembering what the wind in the trees sounds like--now that I have a hearing aide. Finding God in the every-day things of life.
Asking God to be in our lives, finding God there, being in relationship with God, and rejoicing in that discovery. And, I have to add, sharing that joy with others.
For Jesus, prayer was breath: it brought life and light, strength and refreshment, nourishment and guidance. It is almost astonishment how often we read gospel stories that start or end, "and he went out to pray", or "as they returned from... " And, if Jesus, who was "better tuned" to God, than anyone before or since, retreated to times of prayer, how much more should we be seeking God--in prayer and in our everyday and ordinary life.
On of the things I loved about the kids answers to "where did you find God this week" was the completely un-self-conscious answers. They found God in everything they did. And why not?!?
But, for some reason, we've been "taught" that either we can't find God in everything, or we can't pray God in everything--that it isn't polite, or politically correct, or politically Christian to utter some prayers. Or, that if it is ok to pray the prayer, that already justify why the answer to prayer will contain a lesson in patience, or understanding, or "God's time".
But listen to what Jesus says:
Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give 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!'
Now, before we get too far, know that that word "ask" has no polite translation in formal company. This isn't a polite request. This is AAAASSSSSSSKKKKKK. This is persistent, insistent, resistant, consistent--you got it: intercessory prayer. Take it to God unceasingly. And, what does Jesus promise: How much more will God give the Holy Spirit to those who ask. And, walking with the Holy Spirit, the world changes. God is in all things, and there is now doubt that all things are possible with God.
Sometime today, pick a quiet moment. It doesn't even have to be very quiet. But pick that moment, find God around you, claim the relationship, rejoice in that relationship, and ask God to be active in your daily life.
Find God in the ordinary, connect and rejoice.