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It was characteristic of Jesus to be in constant communication with his Father. Prayer was central to his life and ministry. The disciples who witnessed this discerned something of the importance of prayer and they asked Jesus to teach them to pray. We have considered how so many failed to hear Jesus and the message he had for them, how they distanced themselves from the kingdom. Prayer, in contrast, is a way not only to speak to God but also to hear God speak. Prayer, as one author suggests, “reframes, reminds and re-awakens”. In the busyness of ordinary life it is easy to forget our identity. Prayer alerts us to the kingdom framework in which we are to live. Prayer is a place where we are invited to leave behind our sinful habits, find forgiveness and pursue righteousness. In prayer we can find fresh openness to the promise of the kingdom – and the knowledge that the “kingdom, the power and the glory” belong to God.
To support his teaching on prayer Jesus tells the story of a late night request for bread from a neighbour. Though the neighbour was perhaps unwelcome because of the poor timing, Jesus makes plain there is no poor timing in our requests to God. The story speaks to asking for ordinary things like bread, which is also noted in the prayer he taught them. But at the end Jesus makes an unexpected remark. “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” The unreceptive hearts which have been blinded to the coming of the kingdom are only a request away from receiving the Holy Spirit through whom they will have eyes to see and ears to hear.
Welcoming God, teach me to pray. I ask for your Holy Spirit to open my eyes, soften my heart and guide me in the ways of the kingdom. Thank you for the gift of prayer and the invitation to intimacy as I speak to you and you speak to me.