“And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” Luke 11:9
As a pastor, one of the most common complaints I hear from Christians is that they don’t really know how to pray. People can mean a few different things when they say that, but usually they mean that they regularly drift off to sleep, or daydream, or probably don’t use the right words. Well, if that’s what prayer is, then I guess I’m not really “good” at praying either. But what if prayer is more like banging on a door? Huh? Let me explain.
One day Jesus was praying and his disciples were all standing around listening. When he finished, one of them said, “Hey, teach us how to pray!” So, Jesus taught them a prayer that you have probably said before (maybe even memorized). It’s what we sometimes call “The Lord’s Prayer”. Now the thing about that prayer is that it’s not too fancy. In fact, it’s really very simple, and almost childlike. Maybe not exactly what the disciples were expecting.
But if the prayer threw them off, then the story he told to explain prayer must have really left them scratching their heads. Here’s the story in a nutshell: A traveler shows up at a man’s house in the middle of the night. The man has no food in his cupboard to give this traveler, which in this culture would have been really embarrassing. Now, since there were no Waffle House’s back then, or 24 hour grocery stores, the only option was to go wake up his neighbor and get food from him! And so, that’s what the man does, he goes to his neighbor’s house and bangs onto the door until the neighbor gets up and gives him food. “And that is how you pray. Class dismissed.” What??
Jesus is trying to get us to see two things: 1) your cupboard is bare, and 2) God wants you to bother him. Let’s start (logically) with number one: Jesus wants you to see that to really know how to pray you first have to see that you can’t do anything on your own. He wants us to know that we are desperate. He wants us to see that we need him. And that naturally leads us to the second point. If you really see how needy you are, then you will constantly pester God with your prayers (of course, he isn’t really bothered by it, because he loves when you talk to him!).
So, you don’t need fancy words or lengthy formulas. You just need to know you are needy, and that God loves to hear you call out to him. And you know what? God loves to give you exactly what you need (though it might not always be exactly what you want), because he is a good Father and he knows what you need even better than you do! Try asking him today.