Do you remember the old saying, "Be careful what you ask for, because you just might get it?" Yeah...sometimes prayer is like that.
The beautiful thing about prayer is that when we communicate with God, he hears us. Sometimes the answer is not yet, sometimes is straight-out no, and other times, he says yes. But God always hears.
We read this passage last week in our Sunday Services, but I thought it worth repeating. In Matthew 6, Jesus is wrapping up what we call "The Sermon on the Mount." It is a lengthy sermon where Jesus goes through a bunch of mini lessons on how to live in the world, but not be of the world. Then he gets to the part about prayer, and we read these words:
When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father know what you need before you ask him.
One of the sayings I have picked up over the last few years of ministry, started as a way to transition from my pastoral prayer into the Lords prayer. While I admit, it kind of became a filler to move to the Lord's prayer, over time, it has picked up meaning for me.
It goes like this:
"God, we thank you for your son Jesus, who you sent so long ago to walk with us, talk with us, and teach us many things. One of the things you taught us was how to pray, so that when worlds failed us, and we didn't know what to say any more, we would have words that speak directly to your heart."
If you've been a part of any of the churches I have been appointed to, you have heard me say these words. In fact, I even work it into our understanding of prayer for our Confirmation Students. But I say them, not to be just a filler, but to remind us that when we do pray, sometimes, words fail us. Sometimes, we don't know what to say, and so maybe we just stop praying...or maybe we just babble (which is often my problem).
So, when we pray, it helps to remember that while we pray for specific things, when we pray the Lord's Prayer we are praying first of all about the Holiness of God. We pray about his kingdom and will; we pray about receiving that which we need to survive on a daily basis (bread), and we ask for forgiveness. For lack of a better phrase, we're covering all the bases...not just for the sake of covering the bases, but because these are the things we need.
We need God's holiness, we need to recognize that we are not of this world, that God is sitting on the throne, that we need sustenance, both for our bodies and our souls, and that we need his grace, mercy, and forgiveness.
SO...with that, let us pray.
Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy Will Be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the Glory