This should be the motto of every follower of Jesus Christ. No matter how dark and hopeless a situation might seem, never stop praying. ~Billy Graham
“I asked them to translate the Lord’s Prayer into Chinese. I thought it might be helpful for me if I could pray a little in their language.”
“Why? It’s hard enough to pray in English.”
I was talking to an old friend, one I am sure has been praying for at least 50 years. I understood her question -praying in Chinese will be difficult to learn and it isn’t necessary -but her statement left me stunned.
Praying in English is hard.
For a nearly life-long Christian? How can this be?
In Luke 11, Jesus’s disciples ask him to teach them to pray. It was normal for a rabbi to teach their followers to pray. The disciples even comment that John the Baptist taught his disciples to pray.
Jesus gives them a simple way to approach the Father. Direct. Unassuming. Grateful. Full of forgiveness.
He said to them, “When you pray, say:
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation.”
It must have left the disciples stunned. No flowery speeches? No self-effacing condemnation?
Jesus follows his sample prayer with a lesson, a little story.
You need something badly from your neighbor, so you ask. It’s not a cup of sugar on a Saturday afternoon, but some money in the middle of the night. You’re humiliated to have to ask, but you ask anyway. The neighbor loans you the money.
Jesus wants to know why you’ll ask your neighbor, but not your Father? He encourages us to ask.
“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
But we have all asked God for something and he hasn’t given it. We’ve stood at the door knocking for years. Our knees are giving out, our back is weary, and our knuckles are bloodied.
Jesus asks, how many of you would give something horrid to your child? Would you hand him a snake or a scorpion? Of course not. And neither will God.
If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Good gifts?! Really?
Cancer sure feels like a scorpion. A prodigal child feels like a snake. The loss of a child, a job, a home, a marriage -it all feels like evil served on a platter.
This is where praying gets hard.
Do you trust Jesus? Do you believe that he and his Father have your best interest at heart?
Jesus says a strong man can protect his house until someone stronger comes along. You can’t handle the cancer alone. You can’t force the prodigal to come home. So many things you can’t replace.
But it isn’t up to you to do any of those things. God will take care of it all. He only asks that you . . . pray.
The Lord reigns forever;
he has established his throne for judgment.
He rules the world in righteousness
and judges the peoples with equity.
The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
Those who know your name trust in you,
for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you. Psalm 9:7-10 NIV