Malankara World

Christian Prayers

How to Pray

by Walter W. Harms, Austin, TX

Scripture: Luke 11:1 - 13

How do your pray? Who taught you to pray? Maybe no one ever taught you how to pray and what it is all about. Do you pray a lot? A little? Too little? Think you ought to pray more? I am here on this last Sunday I am leading you in worship to give you a guilty conscience for not praying enough! You can believe that if you want to.

Perhaps a more important question is: why pray at all? If God is in charge and he loves you and accepts you (I hope you have heard that enough from me), then why pray? Or perhaps you may believe that while the saying goes, "prayer changes everything," in reality, prayer changes nothing. Life, well, it just happens and so what is the meaning of prayer if that is the case? Jesus has some interesting points to make with you are persistent prayer in the Gospel for today. Now both you and the disciples of Jesus way back then had heard more than their share of public prayers. They had been to the synagogue and to the temple in Jerusalem and heard many prayers. I am certain that in their homes they had prayers spoken both in the morning and in the evening. Yet now they came to Jesus and asked him to teach them to pray, as John the Baptizer had taught his disciples to pray. So they knew about prayer and praying. John the Baptizer must have taught his disciples a special way to pray. Too bad, we have not a clue how he taught them or the contents of his prayers.

But let's not rush things too much. Let's try to understand why we are to pray and perhaps a little bit of what prayer is all about to begin with. Then I hope you will understand the prayer Jesus taught to his disciples a little better. Oh, yes, and don't get too disturbed that the Lord's Prayer in Luke is a little different than in the other Gospels. Luke and none of the other disciples include all that Jesus said. They only included what they thought, as God the Spirit lead them, to write what was important to their view of Jesus.

If you are a Christian, then you probably have been baptized. Being baptized puts you into the family of God. That's where you are with all those who have faith in Jesus as their Lord and Savior. It's a huge family, a growing family. I heard last week that 65,000 new members come into our family every week, most of them in Africa.

Now in every family, there is the head of the family. Even if the male head is gone, there is a head of the family. In most families the head is the Father. So in the family of God, we, and the "we" is important, we have our heavenly Father.

Now if you grew up in a family without the presence of a father, or if your father, sad to say, ignored you or hurt you, calling God "our Father" can be somewhat problematic. We missed something not having a father, but just what we missed, we are not sure. We may have unresolved questions about life and our place in it because a father never confirmed our importance. In fact, his absence may have unconsciously confirmed our value as being low. Why would a father desert his child, unless the child was "defective?" Lurking in back o our minds may be the notion: God is going to leave me some day because I am not good enough for him.

We cannot resolve all that. Most of us would probably say we did not have a "perfect" father. I know I would not say that. But in the family with a father, we have protection, care, love and so much more. You who are parents know what goes into parenting and it is much more than a roof over the head, clothes on the back, and food on the table. And children know where all the goodies in life come from. And they ask their father. He is the one who can give them anything and everything they want. No need to do anything but ask and the father comes through. And if he doesn't, well, they still trust and love him. So it is in the family of God. Our heavenly Father cares for all of us more abundantly that we can either ask or deserve. He is "our" Father. He has the whole family of God in mind, always. Isn't that absolutely magnificent? He protects, provides, looks down the road at what we might need, keeps harmful persons and events from getting to us, cleans up our messes, teaches us lessons, helps us so we have a good spirit about life and what's ahead, cares for the weakest and the strongest in the family. We are never ignored.

When you pray, when you invoke the deity above all other deities, then say: "Father."

Then we say, "Help us to honor you as the one who give us all things."

Keep us from thinking we are in charge and we are the ones who provide everything. Help us to remember that you sent Jesus to let us know how much you love and care for us. And it doesn't make any difference how we act as your children, loving or unloving, you always are there for us. Wow! Father, help us honor you as our Father and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

As Jesus said, if we who forget even at the tender age of whatever age you are, who God is and wish he wasn't around to keep us on the straight and narrow because the broad and easy road looks so much more exciting, he still is going to give us good gifts.

Good gifts? I'm a little suspicious. I don't know about that when I look at what I have received in life. Ever get a gift and you wondered: Why in the world would someone give me this? You know like a vacuum cleaner on your birthday. Yet all that comes from God is good for us his children. And the promise is that God will give us this special gift of the Holy Spirit! Isn't that exciting!!!! That news doesn't exactly make you jump up and down, does it?

Well, the Spirit is the one who give you the ability to trust you've got a real Father in heaven. He helps us trust that in the midst of things we cannot understand, God is a loving Father to us. The gift of the Spirit is always to be treasured, for without him, we live in the arid desert with terrible fires threatening to destroy us. With the Good News of the Living Water from heaven life means nothing and the Sacraments become simply stupid repetitions of remembering that someone long ago got nailed for being a nice guy. Well, so what? Life is tough and good guys often end up on the short end. That is precisely what we would think without the Spirit, the gift from our Father to us his children. So you be in charge of our lives, Father. Your kingdom come. And we're always worried about whether we're going to have enough. So don't forget to give us, your forgetful children what we need to live so that we will remember you and honor you and live the abundant life, trusting you as our Father.

And we always have this wash out in the road of life that we could never get around, and all progress in life would be thwarted and we would have to carry this burden of knowing that despite all your kindness, we ignore you, forget you, think we know better than you. Yes, that we are guilty of wanting to be THE BIG ONE in life. We are always trying to take your place, like a child is told when the daddy leaves: "Now you be the daddy in the family until I return." That's what we keep telling ourselves. What a bunch of @$#%X that is. Me be in charge? I can't even do well with what you have entrusted me, much less be in charge of the whole matter.

I saw the movie, Bruce Almighty, about a person who gets to be God for a while. Does he ever screw things up! He hasn't got the foggiest about what is good for others or for ourselves. And we know better than our Father?

So, forgive us our sins, and like it or not, we'll forgive everyone, yes, everyone who is indebted to us.

And if we know a little about ourselves, we would know that all too often, if it were up to us whether we would take the fruit on the forbidden tree, or our heavenly Father, we would choose the fruit and have not a thought about its consequences. So, Father, you like to test people. You tested Abraham, you even put Jesus to the test, but please, don't do that to us because we would probably more than likely fail miserably. Well, you know well enough to make the tests you give us easy, so we can pass.

Prayer is continuing to ask, to seek, to knock on heaven's door for whatever you want from God. You will be given; you will find; you will have doors opening to you.

Why have I the arrogance to say that? Because I know the Father. And how do I know the Father? Because I know his Son whose coming into this world, whose participation in our world, whose work in this world, whose mission to rescue man by his dying in this world, and who will come back to take us to himself is all a revelation of our Father and comes from our Father. And he says pray this way. I am going to do that. I hope you always will, too. Amen.

See Also:

The God Who Delights In Answering Prayer by Rev. Bryn MacPhail
Prayer is an institution of God. Over and over again, the Bible commands us to pray. And yet, I suspect that many of us, having prayed, have wondered about whether our prayers will actually change anything. The importance of persistence in prayer; why some of our prayers may not answered; what should we pray for? These are some of the topics covered in this article.

Exploring a Life of Prayer by Jane E. Vennard
Prayer is our response to God's loving call. In this reflection I will invite you into activities to help you affirm and learn from these experiences of prayer. We will explore what keeps us from responding when deep in our hearts we long to be in relationship with God. I will encourage you to try different forms of prayer to discover which ones fit you best.

Godís Generous Response to Boldness in Prayer by John MacArthur
But our God is absolutely available, absolutely approachable, gracious, merciful, compassionate, kind and you can go into His presence boldly and ask for whatever you want. You can go into His presence any time and not interrupt Him. In fact, He desires you to do that.

Sermons and Bible Commentary/Analysis for the 2nd sunday after Shunoyo

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