How should we pray?
That is a question over which believers have wrestled, saints have pondered, and volumes have been written over the ages.
Sometimes we pray like the man in this story prayed. This man had a seminary education, and so presumably had studied things like prayer. He and his family and friends went hiking in the woods. Toward the end of the afternoon they stopped for a rest. To his horror, the man discovered that his 9 year old daughter was missing. He became frantic, and for the next two hours everyone searched through the forest to find this little girl. This man’s prayer started off as, “Dear Lord, help me find my daughter.” After about an hour, he became more frantic and his prayer became, “Dear Lord, if you help me find my girl, I will be the best dad ever, and I will never raise my voice at her, ever again.” Then as the sun was going down, and as he was becoming desperate, his prayer became, “God if anything happens to her, we’re through! You hear me? I’m not going to do you will ever again, I’m not going to talk to you ever again, and I’m going to hate you forever!” The man did find is daughter, but chances are it wasn’t because he was threatening God.
In our main scripture for Sunday, October 19 from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:7-13), Jesus addresses the question of how to pray. His answer, known as “The Lord’s prayer,” has become so familiar that perhaps we miss what Jesus teaches us about the nature of the God to whom we pray, about the proper priority of our prayers, and about what we need most to survive every day.