One day he was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said, "Master, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples."
So he said, "When you pray, say,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil."
Then he said, "Imagine what would happen if you went to a friend in the middle of the night and said, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread. An old friend traveling through just showed up, and I don't have a thing on hand.'
"The friend answers from his bed, 'Don't bother me. The door's locked; my children are all down for the night; I can't get up to give you anything.'
"But let me tell you, even if he won't get up because he's a friend, if you stand your ground, knocking and waking all the neighbors, he'll finally get up and get you whatever you need.
"Here's what I'm saying:
Ask and you'll get;
Seek and you'll find;
Knock and the door will open.
"Don't bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This is not a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we're in. If your little boy asks for a serving of fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? If your little girl asks for an egg, do you trick her with a spider? As bad as you are, you wouldn't think of such a thing—you're at least decent to your own children. And don't you think the Father who conceived you in love will give the Holy Spirit when you ask him?"
Over the years I’ve had a tricky relationship with prayer. I have often wondered what the point of praying is. More times than I care to admit it has felt like my prayers just bounce of the ceiling. There are have been seasons when I feel like every time I pray I am ushered into the holy of holies too.
Reading the Bible has always been straightforward for me. It has “made sense.” Even though there are things in the Bible that I struggle with, the purpose of reading it and studying it has been reasonable to me.
Not so much with prayer.
A few years ago when we started the process of launching the Acts 13 Network we spent a lot of time praying. We used the acronym, A.C.T.S. to shape our times of corporate prayer. The letters stand for adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication (which is a fancy word which means to ask for things). It was a transformative time for me. I began to realize that prayer was a spiritual discipline that helped me quiet the “monkey mind" and get my focus off myself and onto God.
Over the last few years I continue to learn that what matters in my prayer life is not the length of times of prayer nor is it even walking away with a good feeling. It is mostly the faithfulness of the action. There will be times when I pray and it moves my emotions. There will be times when I pray when it feels like God hears and responds. Other times there’s just a sense of nothing. But, none of that is what matters, ultimately. What matters is that I was faithful to practice prayer.
This prayer that Jesus teaches his disciples, that we have come to know as “The Lord’s Prayer” or the “Our Father,” has become for me the foundation of faithfulness. This simple prayer is the door for my prayer life. There are some days where I pray this prayer, simply and quietly, and continue on. There are some days that as I pray this prayer I am drawn into a deeper time of meditation and prayer with the Father.
Are the words magic? Are they a recipe? No. But, this prayer from Jesus provides us a framework and foundation to faithfully show up in prayer.
This simple prayer can shape our minds and hearts because it provides a door to faithfulness.