What is Prayer?

A rarity occurs this day. Every once in a while, the Revised Common Lectionary lines up with the Moravian Texts.  The Gospel text assigned for Sunday, July 24, 2016, happens to be Luke 11:1-13. So, today’s devotion includes some thoughts that I will be sharing on Sunday, too. 

Hope this will be a helpful tool to help you through the day!

S (Scripture): Luke 11:1 Now Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he stopped, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” 2 So he said to them, “When you pray, say:

Father, may your name be honored; may your kingdom come.

3 Give us each day our daily bread,

4 and forgive us our sins,

for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.

And do not lead us into temptation.”

5 Then 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, 6 because a friend of mine has stopped here while on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him.’ 7 Then he will reply from inside, ‘Do not bother me. The door is already shut, and my children and I are in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though the man inside will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of the first man’s sheer persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.

9 “So I tell you: Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. 11 What father among you, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead of a fish? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, although you 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!”

O (Observation):  The part of the text that strikes me most is the idea of the friend who comes asking for bread… shamelessly… persistent.   The idea that one can come to God and be so bold is a striking thing.   The promise then, is equally striking: “how much more will the Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to this who ask.”

God promises to give the gifts of wisdom and discernment (a la the Holy Spirit) to any who ask.  

In the asking is a recognition that a relationship exists and that prayers are always heard…even if the one praying doesn’t necessarily get what they want.  

A (Application): The text doesn’t say, “Ask, and you will get what you want;” although, that is mostly how people see prayer. Almost like a vending machine: put in the quarter with your request, and your automated response will spit out what you pray for. 

The problem with this is that when we DON’T get what we want from prayer, we assume that God isn’t listening, or that God doesn’t care.  Perhaps, instead of getting what we want, God provides what we need (the Holy Spirit). 

Or some see prayer like a one-way message, just hoping that somewhere out there, God is listening. Like putting a note on a scroll and stuffing it inside a bottle and pitching it out to sea.  

So much can be said about prayer, and about this prayer in particular.  

I’ll leave my thoughts on this note:   Just pray. Don’t worry about form or correctness.  Just talk with God.  Or listen to God.  Or both.  Be bold in your request, and be ready to receive the Spirit.  For praying is also opening ourselves up to be changed…transformed.  

P (Prayer): Lord, we are open, at times, and closed, at times.   Help us to always be open to you and your gift of the Spirit.  Amen.  


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