1 One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” 2 He said to them, “When you pray, say:“‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. 3 Give us each day our daily bread. 4 Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.’”
5 Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6 a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ 7 And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.
9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?” Luke 11:1-12
The heart of our faith is an intimate relationship with Christ Jesus. Our God is personal and caring. If God is relational than how we pray will reflect that kind of relationship. When there is no relationship than what we do will be done out of habit simply fulfilling an obligation. We all have experienced these kinds of relationships. They simply dry up and die.
This was the issue in first century Judaism. They lost the intimacy of the relationship they had with the covenant God. The result was a faith done out of rules. There were lots of rules on how to have the right kind of relationship. Except rules do not create a healthy relationship. Any relationship based on rules will soon fracture.
In Luke 11, Jesus instructs his followers on prayer. He changes the rules because there are no rules. Jesus speaks of God’s love for His people. As any father, he provides for His children. “If your son asks for a fish, will the father give him snake instead?” Of course not. So, when we pray, Jesus instructs, start with “Our Father…” This was unheard of by his listeners. God called Father said something of how God views us and we are called to view him.
For our Lenten reflection:
How is your prayer life? Is it done out of habit with words said without speaking? Do you pray as one speaks to his parent? How often do you pray?
Prayer: Dear God, Give me a heart that yearns to speak to you. Pour your Holy Spirit into me so I am free to call you Father. In Christ’s name. Amen.