St. Luke 11.vv.1-13
~Jesus was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples". He said to them, "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 every one indebted to us. And do not bring us to the time of trial".
And he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, "Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him". And he answers from within, "Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything". I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.
So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!".~
"Ask, and you will receive".
"Is this so?", we say. Does God always answer prayer? "Yes", says the true believer. All prayer is answered. But in what way is it answered?
There is often heartbreak in asking for those things you deem good and in accordance with God's will and finding prayer "not answered".
Only by knowing how Jesus himself prayed can we resolve the problems of prayer life.
Jesus prayed for hours in solitude. Prayer for him was being especially aware of the presence of God, being still before him, making his requests known to God, but all in the context of "Thy will (not mine) be done" for he trusted (as he assures us) that God hears and cares and answers.
The answer God gives may be "Yes", because it is not only his will but for the good of those who pray - and who knows better than God?
The answer may not be what we like, as in Gethsemane, but God's "No" is accepted by Jesus in the context of "Thy will be done". If God in his infinite love, compassion and wisdom says "No", it will still be hard to accept; but we know that God knows better than we do what is ultimately our highest good.
The answer may be "Wait". This "wait" may be for a day or two, a year or two - perhaps a lifetime? Sometimes we can look back over the years and by hindsight realise that God's "Wait" was for our good.
In His wisdom and love God says "Yes", "No" or "Wait", but as Jesus taught us we must persevere in prayer, not to "wear God down" by our importunity, but to assure him and ourselves that we truly desire his loving kindness and his purpose and direction in our lives.
Jesus gives us the pattern prayer.
1. The Our Father
We pray first for the things God wants.
Our Father. We acknowledge that all are his children. Perhaps one of the reasons why so much prayer seems unanswered is that we are selfish?
Hallowed. We need to recover (if we have lost it) reverence for God, for nature and for mankind made in the image of God.
Kingdom. Do we and does the world acknowledge the sovereignty of God in our lives?
2. Material Needs
We pray for our daily bread, but why do we need to ask if he gives it anyhow? We ask because we are totally dependent on his generosity and love.
We pray not for my but our daily bread and we remind ourselves that it will not be bread for all his children if we refuse or forget to give and share with others.
3. Spiritual Gifts
We ask for forgiveness for we all stand in need of reconciliation, pardon and peace.
We ask that our temptations may not be too severe for we know our frailty.
"Deliver us from evil" is a heartfelt plea, for there is so much evil around us and within.