(Jesus said): “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” Matthew 18:18-20 (NRSV)
Sometimes we get it in our heads that prayer is an option- that we aren’t holy enough to pray, or that we don’t really have to do it- or that prayer is a last resort, or that prayer is a way of earning brownie points if we keep repeating the words enough. Martin Luther had much to say on the value of prayer in his Large Catechism in his explanation of the Lord’s Prayer.
Jesus taught us to pray:
“When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
“Pray then in this way:
Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:7-15 (NRSV)
The Lord’s Prayer, that we learn as children as a rote prayer, is actually a template for prayer.
There is a saying that there are no atheists in foxholes, but crisis is not the time to learn to pray. Prayer should already be natural to us and written on our hearts well before we are in desperation mode. Rote prayers, the Psalms and all of the encouragement offered in Scripture are given to us to study and pray and commit to memory so that we know how to pray, in good times and in bad. Then when we are in crisis and can’t find the words to pray, the words are already written on our hearts and minds.
In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus teaches us the prayers that God wants to hear from us. Prayer is God’s way of calling us closer to Him.
Have we come to God in prayer today? Have we agreed in prayer with another Jesus follower today?
Have we taken the time to listen to God’s response to us?