Funny how prayer becomes important, even in our very secular society, when things are going badly or there’s a tragedy. Media images abound: people congregating at a local church to light candles; opening a book of condolence; an interview with a local clergyman; flowers left with messages of sympathy and promises of prayers to be said. Don’t get me wrong, I am very glad that prayer has not been abandoned. In those tragic situations turning to God in prayer becomes an admission of our own limitations, of our need to know there will be a fair judgement at the end of time, a need for something ‘bigger’ than the situation, a cry for comfort and many other things besides.
This morning the sermon at our church was based on Jesus’ response to his disciples request, “Lord, teach us to pray…” (Luke 11:1). Jesus told his disciples to begin their prayers with the most startling of words, ‘Father’!. Imagine that, being told to address the creator of the universe simply as ‘Father’! Nick, who preached this morning, gave the following illustration as an example of just how momentus this opener to prayer is: The Queen’s official title is “Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith” (whew) but Prince Charles calls her ‘Mother’. Only the Queen’s birth children can call her ‘Mother’ but through Jesus we can all call God ‘Father’ because as John records in his Gospel:
But whoever did want Jesus, who believed He was who He claimed and would do what He said, He made to be their true selves, their child-of-God selves.
Children of God the Creator! Designed and made to be in a loving relationship with Him, communicating through simple, child-like, prayer. Jesus continued his answer to his disciples question teaching them what we know as ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ and also using examples of how important it is to pray about our everyday needs and situations, not just the big, bad stuff, knowing that God will respond with what is best for us (not necessarily what we want!) at all times. He has promised to be with us always and He is to be relied on to keep His promises. How strange then that prayer can be such a struggle? The answer must be for us to persist, and to recognise God’s answers in the everyday blessings we take for granted (we forget even to ask for the good things we are blessed with day in and day out) and learn to trust Him for the ‘bigger’ things too.
I’ve written all this as a reminder to myself! And I’ll close with a link to a song of praise we sang this morning, ‘Behold our God seated on His throne’. Rightly seated on a throne yet completely accessible – remember the children with Aslan the lion in C S Lewis’ ‘The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe’?