Teach Us to Pray Rev Dr Durrell Watkins “Teach us to pray like John the baptizer taught his disciples.” Jesus responds by saying, “Pray like this” and then gives a model for prayer. Our God in heaven – God, omnipresent: God, throughout the universe; God everywhere. There’s not a spot where God is not. Once […]
Teach Us to Pray
Rev Dr Durrell Watkins
“Teach us to pray like John the baptizer taught his disciples.”
Jesus responds by saying, “Pray like this” and then gives a model for prayer.
Our God in heaven – God, omnipresent: God, throughout the universe; God everywhere. There’s not a spot where God is not.
Once that is embraced, then we can face the challenges and recognize the opportunities in life. So we see Jesus expressing awe and gratitude, placing demands on the universe for blessings to be made manifest, and even humble requests (help us to let go of the regrets and the grudges that make us miserable)…but it begins with the idea that God is everywhere, fully present.
Jesus then gives them some ways to think about prayer as a relationship to the Infinite.
A friend would help you out if she possibly could. If it were in a friend’s power to help you in a moment of need, why wouldn’t she? If God is a benevolent presence, if God is indeed the power of love, then surely God would respond compassionately to us when we ask for divine assistance.
But, some will say, what if God isn’t like a person; what if God is a neutral power, like the force in Star Wars. Jesus has a response to that very question.
Jesus feels an intimate connection to the power of the universe, and so he refers to It in relationship terms. But he says, even if God isn’t predisposed to offer help when it is needed, even if God is just a neutral power like electricity, even so, the more we try to tap into the power, the more likely we are to get it right.
As we keep praying, we are forming psychic conduits through which the power can flow. So, even if God doesn’t show us kindness out of love, God will still show up for us because of our own persistence.
Which is your theology? God is love, or God is a neutral power?
God is a benevolent presence, or God is an energy that can be accessed and used for good? Either way, prayer is useful. Whether it activates the love that God is, or whether it channels the power that God is, prayer can make a positive difference.
Jesus repeats the point by saying just like friends want to help each other, parents want to help out their children. Love gives. Love cares. So, while Jesus suggests prayer works regardless of one’s theology, he shares what his theology is. For Jesus, God is a loving presence and love always responds lovingly.
Finally, Jesus makes a powerful point that we all too often miss.
Jesus isn’t saying that if we say the Lord’s Prayer the next scratch off will pay off big for us. Jesus isn’t saying that prayer will rig elections or sports events. Jesus says, if friends and parents are generous with those they love, how much more will God give the spirit to those who ask.
The spirit is the presence and power of God, the life-force, the energy of life. The holy Spirit is the whole spirit of God…all the power, the entire presence, all the love, all the beauty, all the peace…
Of course we wish for our loved ones to be safe as they travel, we hope for good results from medical procedures, we give thanks for lucky breaks, but the best gift we can get is a more profound awareness of God’s presence…and Jesus promises we will get that gift if we continue to grow in prayer.
And once we remember that God is with us, that God’s love will never abandon us, that we are held in God’s light forever, then we are filled with that peace that passes understanding and from that place of peace, the obstacles seem manageable and opportunities seem abundant.
The point of prayer is to learn to trust that we are one with God, and that awareness is the one thing we are promised we can have as a result of faithful prayer. And that blessing is enough, because it’s everything.
Whatever we are facing, we are not facing it alone, because God is with us. That reminder is the gift we are promised in prayer, and this is the good news.
©Durrell Watkins 2016