Stay awake and pray for strength against temptation. The spirit wants to do what is right, but the body is weak."
-- Matthew 26:41
We read in Luke's Gospel that one day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples made a simple--yet profound--request that Christ-followers remember to this day.
"Lord," the follower began. "Teach us to pray, just as John (the Baptist) taught his disciples."
Jesus' famous response is what we know today as The Lord's Prayer:
"When you pray, say: 'Father, help us to honor your name. Come and set up your kingdom. Give us each day the food we need. Forgive our sins, as we forgive everyone who has done wrong to us. And keep us from being tempted.'"
Jesus wasn't teaching His followers some magic formula to compel God to grant their most heartfelt wishes. Instead, He was modeling his intimate, ongoing conversation with his Father. The religious leaders of the time were highly offended by the notion. "After all," they reasoned, "Who dares go before God but our High Priest?"
The answer, of course, was much closer than they could imagine.
Jesus also taught his 1st Century disciples that he could do only what he saw his Father doing. That's a reminder to 21st Century Christ-followers that to do God's will in our communities--and the entire world for that matter--we must be in constant conversation with Him. It's through ongoing prayer that our hearts, wills and vision become closer to the Father's. And it's then that His ways become our own.
It's a remarkable concept. The Creator of the Universe--the One who knows the number of hairs on our heads--wants a personal relationship with us! In these uncertain days marked by distant wars and economic uncertainties, it's reassuring to know that every Christ-follower has a direct line to the Father.
"I was in terrible trouble when I called out to you," wrote the Psalmist. "But from your temple you heard me and answered my prayer."