Tag Archives: food

How to Pray

Prayer – spending time with God – was a vital part of Jesus ministry. There are several mentions of him taking time apart to be with his Father.

Jesus Goes Up Alone onto a Mountain to Pray James Tissot

So not surprisingly his disciples ask him for a master-class.

Luke 11:1-13

Prayer

11 When Jesus had finished praying, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his followers to pray.”

2 So Jesus told them, “Pray in this way:

‘Father, help us
to honor your name.
Come and set up
your kingdom.
3 Give us each day
the food we need.
4 Forgive our sins,
as we forgive everyone
who has done wrong to us.
And keep us
from being tempted.’”

5 Then Jesus went on to say:

Suppose one of you goes to a friend in the middle of the night and says, “Let me borrow three loaves of bread. 6 A friend of mine has dropped in, and I don’t have a thing for him to eat.” 7 And suppose your friend answers, “Don’t bother me! The door is bolted, and my children and I are in bed. I cannot get up to give you something.”

8 He may not get up and give you the bread, just because you are his friend. But he will get up and give you as much as you need, simply because you are not ashamed to keep on asking.

9 So I tell you to ask and you will receive, search and you will find, knock and the door will be opened for you. 10 Everyone who asks will receive, everyone who searches will find, and the door will be opened for everyone who knocks. 11 Which one of you fathers would give your hungry child a snake if the child asked for a fish? 12 Which one of you would give your child a scorpion if the child asked for an egg? 13 As bad as you are, you still know how to give good gifts to your children. But your heavenly Father is even more ready to give the Holy Spirit to anyone who asks.

Jesus gives them several pointers on what their prayer should include:

  • That we honour God’s name in all that we do
  • That he come and set up his kingdom – in our lives, our hearts, our communities
  • That he give us the food we need to survive
  • That he forgive us our sins – whilst also recognising that we need to forgive the sins of those who have upset us (see this prayer needs time and space)
  • That we have the strength to walk away from all that tempts us away from God’s ways

Personally, I do think there’s more to praying than chewing God’s ear. I think listening to what he has to say to us is just as, if not more, important. Prayer generally is just us chatting things over with God. Nothing more scary, nothing more grand.

And if I can be controversial (remember “all opinions are my own”!), I really don’t think Jesus meant us to parrot these same words every time we pray. Yes I hear the point about losing yourself in the familiar, or having a framework – but I don’t think we need to use the exact words every time. So often that becomes a race to get to the end, something said without feeling or out of habit, it more often than not feels like anything but prayer. It is a useful pointer to the kind of things we should pray for, but I wonder if Jesus shudders at what we have turned it into.

What matters is that we pray. We take the time and space for God to talk to us and us hear him, as we also tell him the things that are on our heart.

Lord,
I bring to you
the concerns of my heart,
my life,
this world.

Thank you that you are someone to share them with.
May I never forget that

Thank you
that we can all come to you,
pour our hearts out to you
and know that you listen.

Thank you that you also have things to share with us,
help us to be as willing to listen
as we are to talk,
and having heard
make us willing to do

“What a Friend we have in Jesus” is the Perambulation family hymn – sung at our wedding and significant services since. Easy to sing – not always so easy to remember…

That’s enough

What’s not to like about a picnic with friends?  A nice leisurely afternoon enjoying the fresh air, and good finger food.

Yet that is not quite the situation Jesus and his disciples find themselves in, in this story.  The people have gone out to listen to Jesus speaking, and had spent so much time there that now it’s getting late and they’ve got no food.  The disciples want to send the people on their way, Jesus tells them not to do that, but to do something about the situation themselves.

I’ve blogged about Mark’s version of this story already this year You Do Something.

It can be so easy to pass the buck, let someone else pick up the pieces of a situation, but Jesus challenges us to do something.

I’m not sure about you, but so often I’m with the disciples, ‘what have I got that can be of any use?’  ‘Look what a small thing I have for such a large task.’

Jesus response to that?  To smile slowly, and say

bring it here, give it to me

In Jesus hands, five loves and two fish are not just enough – but an abundance.  They meet the need and some.

So what have we got that we’re doing nothing with – because we don’t think it’s enough?  We think the little we have is too small, too insignificant.  But Jesus says to us,

bring it here, give it to me

and in his hands, what we have to bring to him is enough.  He can take it and use, and bless others with it.

So don’t worry that you have nothing to offer, that what you have is not enough.

Bring it to God, give it to him – and watch what he can do with it.

Lord,

I feel insignificant,

inadequate,

lacking –

but,

I offer to you

what I have,

and ask you to take it,

and use it,

to meet the needs you see