photo © 2009 Leland Francisco | more info (via: Wylio)
A friend of mine works with the youth group at his church. One day he asked me, “I have a teenager in my youth group who got in trouble by wrecking her car. But she doesn’t want to tell her parents about it (her parents live overseas). I’ve trying to think of good reasons and arguments to tell her why she needs to tell her parents about it. What should I tell her?” I told him that it is not a matter of reasons anymore — if this teenager has not lived with her parents for some time, and if they had not developed the appropriate bond and intimacy and relationship between them, then no kind of reasoning can convince her to take her matters to her parents.
After that conversation, I thought about it over and over, and I realized that this is perhaps why we don’t often pray to God. Our lives are messy, my life is messy, and even though we have made lots of messes and disasters in our lives, we often do not talk to God about those things, let alone just the common matters in our lives. However, many times when I hear people’s teachings about prayer, they use “law-based” approaches to get people to pray, e.g. “You should pray everyday for N minutes!” or “How do you pray? Start with adoration, then confession, then thanksgiving, then …… etc.” or “If you say you believe in pray, then you should pray!”
When Jesus’ disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, Jesus did not go into guilt trips, nor prescribe a daily prayer regiment. He did not even tell them the different ingredients of a prayer (despite well-meaning bible teachers who over-analyze Jesus’ prayers). His only response was to simply be an example — He prayed.
The first word in the Lord’s prayer — “Father” — was the most significant word in the prayer. Jesus reminded us that it was our relationship with God, our acknowledgment as His son and He our Father, our willingness to humble in the light of who He is, that should lead us to prayer. In the words of a blogger, “Prayerlessness is the inevitable result of pride or a lack of faith, usually both.” If I were there when Jesus taught his disciples to pray, in the words of the movie Jerry Maguire, I think I would say, “You had me at ‘Father’!”