Everybody prays, at one time or another, even atheists. All creatures need to communicate with the source of life—God the Father.
Although there are different types of prayer, the most popular is the prayer of petition. We ask, God gives. “And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” We will never find a better invitation anywhere else. Jesus gives humanity a signed blank check. We fill in the amount. Most of our interactions with each other come with conditions, especially an invitation. If someone invites us to a celebration we usually ask, What do we wear? What can we bring? Can someone come with me? Jesus asked no questions. He does not place conditions on His invitation to pray. The Lord didn’t say, “Now make sure you behave yourself. Be in the state of grace when you address God. And don’t get distracted during your prayer.” Jesus does not put conditions on us, because He knows us. Prayer is for everyone, even the unworthy. Truth is that we can never be worthy. Prayer is asking. What prevents us from asking? What obstacles get in the way of prayer? When we think that we do not need anything or anyone. Our self-sufficient attitude keeps us from asking, in other words, pride. In a world when all seems to be at our fingertips, we turn up our noses at kneeling before God to ask for something. Perhaps until everything is taken away, when we hit rock bottom, the point when we feel abandoned, then we turn to God. Unfortunately, for many, God is a last resort. When all else fails, we turn to God. Yet, Our Father is always waiting. He is like the Father waiting for the son who left, spent his inheritance, sinned “big time”, but returned home. God is always waiting for us to come home.
No questions asked. In prayer we are speaking to Someone who loves us more than we love ourselves. Fathers usually love their children. Jesus said, “Just think, what father would give his son a snake when he asks for a fish?” If you who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” “You who are wicked” does not mean that we are bad people but limited human beings. We get moody. We fluctuate. We change our minds. God is consistent. He takes the initiative to love us. We can do nothing to deserve unconditional love.
On day, the disciples noticed that Jesus was praying. They noticed that He prayed often. The disciples wanted to be like Him—to imitate Him. So, they said, “Teach us to pray.” Perhaps they were looking for a secret formula—some combination of prayers that would unlock the mysteries of the universe. Jesus taught them the words of the Lord’s Prayer—the Our Father. Simple, to the point, all inclusive. Jesus did not repeat one of the Psalms—He gave them the road map of a perfect way to pray. Notice that one of the main topics of the “Our Father” is forgiveness. As we want to be forgiven, we want to forgive those who have hurt us. It a tough order. We are always ready to receive, not so ready to give. Consider that none of the other parts of the prayer make sense without forgiveness. Forgiveness is the key to our communion with God. Jesus offers us a way out of the madness. Therefore, if we say, “I just can’t forgive….” We invalidate the invitation to pray. There’s a difference between “I can’t, and I refuse.” The One who can help is waiting to be asked. God can soften our heart. Perhaps our first prayer of petition needs to be, “Lord help me to forgive”. The greatest miracle is not the moving of a mountain, but the embrace of two people who were angry with each other. Takes childlike confidence to trust the Father.
Like a child we hold up our arms in prayer knowing that we are heard; that we are loved, and that the Father always answers.