Ed, my old neighbour, was suspicious when I told him that I have declared a weekly day of fasting for myself during the summer. “Does your fasting mean that you are so heavy that you are using fasting to starve a few pounds off?” Ed asked me.
“Not exactly,” I answered. “I have been eating too many cookies, and desserts, and my weight is too high, but a day of fasting each week won’t be enough to change my waistline. I will be using daily prayers to help me gain more self-control over my snacking after supper. “
My old neighbour felt that I should just eat less and make sure our kitchen door is locked between meals. Ed reserves his praying for rare occasions and only after he has tried everything else first. Ed admits he sees prayer as a spare tire, not a steering wheel for his life. Mostly, he feels prayer is a waste of time.
Some of us were brought up on prayers before bed each evening. Such praying always included the Lord’s Prayer, Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep (prayer), and an opportunity for personal prayers as well. Bedtime prayers and grace before meals were just part of our daily lives. Many of us have continued to have confidence in praying as adults. I have found coincidences happen when I pray. I do not see unanswered prayers as a tragedy but unoffered prayers as the problem.
Jesus set the example of prayer before his disciples. Praying was very evident in Jesus’ life, so much so, that one of his disciples asked Jesus to teach them (his disciples) to pray. In the gospel of Luke Jesus says, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.”
The longer version of the prayer from the gospel of Mathew may be more familiar as it may be more commonly said: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your 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, and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.”
The disciples could see that through prayer, Jesus was one with God His Father in heaven. Jesus was powerful and effective in all that he did on earth through his prayers with His Father. Jesus instructed his disciples to pray with boldness. He says, “Ask, and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it will be opened to you.”
Like a father, God gives to his children praying to Him what will be good for them. We know how to give gifts to our children and God, who is far greater than ourselves will provide what is best for us and for the others for whom we pray. Jesus promised his disciples that our heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him. May the Holy Spirit teach us to pray faithfully in the example of Jesus. Amen.