The Story of the Praying Man

Lord, teach us to pray.” (Luke 11:1)

There are those who cannot or will not pray. Sylvia Plath wrote: “I talk to God but the sky is empty.” Friedrich Nietzsche scoffed: “I cannot believe in a God who wants to be praised all the time.”

Both missed the point.

The story of Jesus is the story of a praying man. They asked Jesus to show them how to pray because praying was such a dominant characteristic of how he lived. He healed people with prayer and noted that some demons could only be cast out through prayer. He prayed often and regularly “with fervent cries and tears” (Hebrews 5:7), and sometimes all night. The Holy Spirit came upon him and anointed him as he was praying (Luke 3:21–22), and he was transfigured with the divine glory as he prayed (Luke 9:29). When he faced his greatest crisis, he did so with prayer. We hear him praying for his disciples and the church on the night before he died (John 17:1–26) and then petitioning God in agony in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Finally, he died with a prayer on His lips.

We tend to use prayer as a last resort, but Jesus understood it as his first line of defence. We pray when there’s nothing else we can do, but Jesus prayed before he did anything at all.

Most of us would prefer, however, to spend our time doing something that will get immediate results. We don’t want to wait for God to resolve matters in his good time because his idea of ‘good time’ is seldom in sync with ours. Jesus understood as no one else that prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God.

“Let us never forget to pray. God lives. He is near. He is real. He is not only aware of us but cares for us. He is our Father. He is accessible to all who will seek Him.” 
― Gordon B. Hinckley


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