"So I say to you:
Ask and it will be given to you;
seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks receives;
those who seek find;
and to those who knock, the door will be opened.
Luke 11v9-10 [TNIV]
Prayer is so easy. Anybody can do it. Prayer is so easy - it's as easy as asking your dad for some dinner, it as easy as knocking on your neighbor's door for a cup of sugar. It's that easy!
The LORD's Prayer - which Jesus gave his disciples per their request on how to pray - is a really easy prayer to pray. It's short, it has a rhythm to it, and it's kind of catchy. Jesus doesn't have an interest in making prayer hard or boring or irrelevant. Jesus wants us to pray often, to ask, seek, and knock without inhibition.
Jesus gives two little illustrations about how easy prayer can be. He tells of a man who has a friend on a journey coming to spend the night; the man doesn't have enough bread to properly host the friend, so he goes to his neighbor's house and knocks to get what he needs. Unlike the neighbor who grumps but complies with the man, God will gladly give us as much as we need. The other little story is of a boy asking his father for a fish and egg for dinner - what dad, when given that everyday kind of request, would turn around and give a snake or scorpion instead? Outrageous! And Jesus makes the point that God knows how to give good gifts to his children even more than we do.
Jesus wants us to go to God in prayer - go ahead and knock, go ahead and ask, go ahead and seek an answer. It's easy. Prayer is easy. We're the ones who make it hard. We don't like to wait. We don't want to have to trust God - we want immediate assurance that our prayers will be answered satisfactorily. We don't like having to ask God for stuff - we want him to take care of bad things BEFORE they happen. We don't like to be in pain or trouble - we want God to bring about relief right away! We don't like inconvenience. We don't like having to work through the consequences of our own behaviors and habits. When God doesn't answer our prayers the way we expected, we get irritated. We're the ones that make prayer hard.
When it comes to making prayer easy, working your way through the LORD's Prayer is an act of faith. When you don't know what to pray, pray what Jesus suggested. When you don't know who to pray for, pray through the prayer Jesus taught you. When you're tired, overwhelmed, despairing, unfocused - pause, and then pray through the LORD's Prayer. And then do it again. And again. As many times as you want or need to in order to focus.
And to hear. Hear what the LORD is saying to you, what he wants you to focus on in praying. Clearly it's not about how long the prayer is, or how often you say it that will get your prayer answered. The prayer is about listening for what God wants you to do next, about getting guidance and assurance, but also about maturing your faith and trust. In praying to God, using the LORD's Prayer, will you trust God to hear you, to direct your next steps, and provide direction eventually...even if the silence lasts too long?
If the LORD's Prayer is a little too long for you, there are three other little prayers you can pray that stem from the prayer Jesus taught us. So for those times when you feel the urge to pray, you can utter one of these three very short prayers:
These three short prayers don't require any memorization, but they do require some trust. Most of us dwell on the negative too much. When things aren't going the way we want, change the mood, turn the tide by saying Thanks to God for some of the good stuff in your life. There will always be something to complain about, so instead of feeling sorry for yourself, feel grateful. When something goes awry, when something happens to you or someone you care about, something that is not good, but you don't know what to do or ask for, Help is a good prayer. Of course, if you are going to ask for Help, it's wise to then pause and listen for what God wants you to say/do next. As complicated as life is, there are many, many times where we want to know Why? As most of us know, God rarely gives us the answer we want. But he is ready to give us the answer we need, if we will again listen and wait.
Prayer is easy. You can do it. You need it. Other people need you to do it. You can say Thanks! You can ask for Help. You can seek for Why? You can pray the way Jesus taught us. It's so easy. Do it today!