From ChurchtoYou.org

“Lord, Teach Us to Pray” Part II

Only here is this request, “teach us to pray,” recorded in the Gospels. Around it Luke places the essentials of Jesus’ teaching on prayer.

Please read Luke 11:1-13. See our translation in the previous post.

For Luke, a concise Lord’s Prayer provides the structure for prayer (more on this in an upcoming post).

But the energy for prayer springs from the longings, desires, and yearnings of the heart.

However, will we persist? Will we keep asking, seeking, and knocking? Will we not give up, not go away, and not give in?

tM_IMG_7897In the face of apparently unanswered prayer, amidst the vicissitudes, natural disasters, injustices, deaths, our own ever present foibles, and the horrors humans inflict on one another,

is God really good?

Can we sustain belief that our “effort,” that is,
the expenditure of our life’s energy, will make a difference?

Can we sustain belief that our prayers and effort will result in a positive outcome?

Will we not give up, not go away, and not give in?

Luke picks up this theme again in 18:1-8: “Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart.” Then follows the parable of the persistent widow demanding the judge give her justice. At the end of the parable Jesus asks the question: “But when the Son of Humanity comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

So what gives? Why this emphasis on persistence?

Because the great and simple mystery of prayer eludes us. Once seen this mystery becomes all too obvious. Yet it remains elusive, wispy, like the morning mist. The mystery? Prayer changes us not God. Why so elusive? We don’t want to grow up.

.5IMG_4667Jesus’ teaching urges us to start where we are. Our longings are the energy for prayer, and right there our heavenly Father meets us (more on how we address God in coming posts). If we think we need to be something other – have the right words, thoughts, feelings, posture, place, etc., then the first movement of prayer will be the Spirit bringing us back to the truth of our self. We need only be our self. We are invited, no, urged to be who and where we are. Here our heavenly Father welcomes us and meets us. This is both a great grace and a humbling truth.

As God meets us, we meet God and transformation begins. We start to grow up. We discover God’s Presence is the ultimate answer not just to prayer but to everything. We discover not only that God’s kingdom (= God’s Presence) is the true longing and end of all creation, but also that we are being transformed into Christ into God’s image into unity in God.

MOD_IMG_3429

As we meet our true self in the dawn of Grace we are humbled and sometimes humiliated. We discover our desperate need for compassion, mercy, and forgiveness. All our longings, desires, and yearnings; our questions, searching, and hopes become transformed into universal compassion. We are pried from the demand of our desiring. We discover more Presence. We further awaken to compassion for our self and every living thing. We discover the simple Goodness, Beauty, and Joy of existence itself. We become free. We become the answer to prayer. We become Presence.

Along prayer’s transforming path we can lose our way and our faith. But only for a season, because our heavenly Father will never give up, never give in, never go away.

See our translation of Luke 11:1-13 in the previous post. Please remember to engage. (= tell God your response and listen for God’s response to you). [If you are new to our blog, a description of our method of “engaging,” which is a method for reading and praying with the Bible, other literature, and life itself, can be found here.].

Grace and Peace,

Jim

More to come …

About jclark

The Rev. Jim Clark is the Rector of the Episcopal Parish of St. Barnabas on the Desert in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Comments

  1. I am continuing the journey and reading Church To You. Thank you for your postings, and they are much appreciated.

    Ann von Geldern

  2. The forgiveness of God given freely from God requires that we believe in our forgiveness and we truly forgive others. The gift of the Cloud of Unknowing given by God to all that forgive brings that peace that passeth all understanding.

  3. Elizabeth Garas says:

    (As I engaged the thoughts in this post I was impressed with the phrase “Is God good?”)

    “Is God good?”

    Throughout our Christian story, God is powerfully represented as longing to be gracious to the one who makes even the slightest attempt to move nearer….”He inclines His ear…He searches hearts….He receives human tears…He whispers in our prayers….He interprets our groanings…and He draws near though we make our beds in the depths.”

    So what about the reality of tragedy? I think of the redemptive work of the Crucifixion of Christ and the disasters that befell Joseph in the Old Testament. What seemed tragic in the short term was actually a blessing in the long term.

    Joseph’s words to his brothers recorded in Gen. 50: 19, 20 state: “Do not be afraid, for I am in the place of God! But as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as is this day, to save many people alive”. Joseph’s “tragedy” was ordained of God, a divinely appointed event for a redemptive purpose.

    A verse in Scripture that has given me comfort in difficult times is summarized in Romans 8:28…”And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called (some versions say ‘the called’) according to His Purpose. It’s comforting because I believe that God, in His Providence, has the power and the will to work all things together for good for His people.

    When really bad things have happened to me, I have tried to broaden my perspective to see that they are only bad in the short (proximate) time, never from the eternal perspective. The finite cannot grasp the infinite. The eternal perspective belongs to God, and I’m at peace with that.

    As I struggle with my own “thorn in the flesh”, I remember the Apostle Paul. His thorn was given to him for his own sanctification, to manifest the GOODNESS of God, so that Paul would rely constantly on divine Grace. Yes, God is good!

  4. Susie Parker says:

    “Being present”; it sounds so simple, yet why do I struggle with it? I must be too much like Martha, trying to get “things done”, instead of finding the quiet time to be present with Jesus. You inspire me to try harder!

Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: