Tuesday, February 9, 2016

“Lord, Teach Us to Pray”

Somebody prayed for me,
had me on their mind,
they took the time and prayed for me.
I'm so glad they prayed
I'm so glad they prayed
I'm so glad they prayed for me.

Dorothy Norwood, Alvin Darling. Kosciusko Music, Savgos Music Inc., Peertunes Ltd

One of the more important requests that Jesus’ disciples ever made was to ask the Lord to teach them how to pray. They noticed that John the Baptist was teaching his disciples how to pray and they wanted the same instruction (Luke 11:1).

In response Jesus gives them the model prayer of all time: “The Lord’s Prayer.” In its simplicity is its profundity. It includes adoration, praise, petition, repentance and even a strong teaching embedded in it about the reciprocity of forgiveness and being forgiven.

But Jesus does not stop there. He tells a parable about the inopportune visitor at night begging his neighbor for bread. The persistent beggar gets the results he wants from his sleepy neighbor because he would not give up asking. It has been said that “We have not because we ask not.” I think Jesus is saying here, “We have not because we give up too soon.” Persistence in prayer is probably the most important teaching that Jesus had to offer his disciples on that day long ago.

These words are still important for us as contemporary disciples. We need to pray continually and not give up when we have a pressing need.

Every week I pray for a different district in my two conferences. There are 10 districts in all. The district resource assistants send out an e-blast to the clergy and lay persons on their district rosters; and people e-mail me their joys and concerns.

What a blessing it has been to hear about some of the answered prayers. Some of these prayers have been the fruit of years of faithful prayer for a health concern, for a young person who has strayed from the faith, for a long-standing conflict in the church, or a building project in an international country that has been completed.

The faithful Christians of the Eastern PA Conference and the Peninsula-Delaware Conference know the power of persistent prayer, and their lives give testimony to God’s gracious providing.

Keep praying! Nothing happens in this world apart from prayer.

Bishop Peggy A. Johnson