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?
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.
Jesus’ 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.
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,
More to come …