Religious leaders, politicians and people in the marketplace selling their wares surrounded Jesus and the disciples. Everyone had something to say and their own way of saying it.
Jesus commented on the public display put on by religious leaders when they prayed in synagogue and on street corners. It was quite a production number. Tongue-tied disciples felt the pressure to follow their leaders. Thank goodness Jesus relieved them of the pressure to perform like that.
Still, prayer is important. If Jesus could point out the ridiculous, what about the genuine? Jesus kept going away alone to pray, so what happened in His private time? “Teach us how to pray,” they asked. He was the leader they wanted to learn from. And a few pages later, they are sound asleep at Jesus’ Gethsemane prayer meeting.
Maybe they felt the way I do about praying. God is pretty important and definitely part of the soundtrack of my life. I’d like to talk to Him and have an intimate discussion, but find myself awkward and pensive at times. I’ve seen the way others pray in public and wonder if I’m supposed to do it like that. I don’t want to be phony, but I wouldn’t mind the attention of others shouting ‘Amen’ to my performance. And then I fall back to earth and feel awkward about the whole idea.
Without pre-writing the script, Jesus gave a quick lesson on how to pray. We have forever since referred to this as ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ or the ‘Our Father’.
9 “This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
I want to absorb this teaching. I was trained to dissect Scripture in order to understand it more. Though, sometimes it feels like taking apart frogs in Grade 11 biology.
There are these inner parts that we can identify, but the frog is lifeless. The formaldehyde is an unappealing odor on a hot afternoon near the end of the school year.
Have you ever felt that way about approaching prayer? The truth is we need Holy Spirit to help us pray. Prayer and Scripture are not lifeless, but they can be dry as bleached bones unless God’s Spirit breathes into us.
If prayer is going to have any substance for us, we need to make up our mind about some things.