“I assure you, even if he wouldn’t get up and help because of his friendship, he will get up and give his friend whatever he needs because of his friend’s brashness.” Luke 11:8
A couple of years ago I had to write a paper called “A Rule of Life.” Coming out of the Christian monastic tradition, A Rule of Life helps guide one’s spiritual path. In a monastery, it helps the monks live out their daily lives through the intricacies of prayer and work. For me, I was to write down what I would do to maintain my spiritual health through the years.
I pulled it up recently to check and see how I was doing, and the results were not so great. Follow the daily lectionary in the Chalice Hymnal which includes several Bible readings and a hymn? Oops, haven’t done that. Pray at meals as a reminder of the sustaining nature of our “most glorious God” (had to get that word count up apparently)? I’d say I’m right at about 2/3rds of the time. Fast one day a month to further that understanding of dependence on God? Yeah…we won’t talk about that.
I haven’t really lived up to my Rule of Life. Since then I’ve tried different rituals and types of prayer: reading through the Bible in a year, having a morning and evening devotion, the lectio divina (divine reading), and spiritual direction. I’ve tried my best to find what suits me, not really committing myself to anything.
That’s why I love it when the disciples tell Jesus to teach them to pray. I’ve admitted it before, I would really like to know what Jesus says on the matter. In the verses which follow, Jesus gives us a different view on what prayer is to look like.
Whereas I’ve been focused on getting it right, or it “fitting,” or even the content of what I’ve been praying, Jesus is concerned with something else. Jesus is concerned with us praying “brashly” (CEB), “shamelessly” (NIV), or even “persistently” (NRSV). We are to pray, and to pray, and to pray, for this is how we stay in relationship with God.
We are to brashly, shamelessly, and persistently connect ourselves to God through prayer. Jesus calls us to align our lives with God’s will for the world (thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven). The first step to figuring out that will is to be in relationship with God. It is a two-way street. The answer Jesus gives to his disciples is to show we are to continuously seek God in all that we do.
Praying is more than words memorized and repeated (though that might help me or you), is more than committing yourself to the same time and action (though that would certainly help), more than just selfishly asking for God to do things for you (as if God was a cosmic vending machine).
Prayer is when we seek our lives to be transformed by God and to be connected with the one who is already making all things new.
Thanks be to God.