As a Christian community we continue to read through Luke’s Gospel. After reading chapter 11 here are just a few thoughts from me, which I hope will be useful to you.
In this chapter, Jesus, who so often underpinned his life and earthly ministry in prayer, was asked by his disciples how to pray. Recently, in his sermon on prayer, Nathan reminded us that this prayer is also known as the disciples’ prayer as it was the disciples who asked Jesus for guidance of how to pray. Jesus responded in the words of what we refer to as the Lord’s prayer. Of course we can debate if Jesus was giving us a prayer to recite or, as I have always felt, an illustration of some of the areas of our life we can bring to God in prayer. Jesus goes on to reassure us that prayer is answered, saying: ‘ask, seek, knock and the door will be opened’.
So, how then do we reconcile the words of Jesus when we pray earnestly for something, and what we are eagerly seeking does not happen? Well, I do believe in the gift of prayer, and that prayers are answered but answered not always in the ways we would expect or hope. In our prayer life, so often if we are willing to seek God’s will for us (truly mean the words “Thy Kingdom come”) we can come to a sense of acceptance, reflection and stillness, where we can fully accept God and deal with the challenges of life. Christians still die, face challenging and painful health conditions, face persecution and have lives which are far from being a bed of roses. And yet, I have witnessed in very challenging times, even at the point of death, healing occurring, and prayer being answered. A good and fear free death, or determination to overcome a life changing event, or in the support of a friend or a stranger, we can see prayer answered and Emmanuel (God with us). I am sure I am not the only one among us, who has really wanted something, prayed hard, and been acutely disappointed when my prayers have not been answered only to realise some time after, (even years later) that what I wanted was not the best thing for me or for others. Again, to me this is prayer answered .
So as we reflect on the disciples’ prayer (our prayer as modern day disciples) – my hope for us as a Church is that we may re-experience it. That we may use it as a prompt for some of the areas of our lives we can bring to God, that we may explore its many forms and translations (old and new, conservative and progressive) and that it may be for us a useful tool in our developing spirituality. There are many translations of the Lord’s (Disciples’) prayer, but one of my favourites is this version translated by the late Jim Cotter – like all translations, people will love it or hate it, but it’s worth reading and giving it bit of thought.
Eternal Spirit, Life-Giver, Pain-Bearer, Love-Maker,
Source of all that is and shall be,
Father and Mother of us all, Loving God, in whom is heaven: The Hallowing of your name echo through the universe!
The way of your Justice be followed by the peoples of the world!
Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!
Your Commonwealth of Peace and Freedom sustain our hope and come on earth!
With the bread that we need for today, feed us.
In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.
In times of temptation and test, strengthen us.
From trials too great to endure, spare us.
From the grip of all that is evil, free us.
For you reign in the glory of the power that is love,
now and for ever.