(Luk 11:1 KJV) And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.The disciples wanted to be taught. Jesus gave them what we call the Lord’s Prayer. A longer, more familiar version is found in Matthew 6:9-13.
What is interesting is not what Jesus demonstrates but what he leaves out. Think about the last pastoral prayer you heard and ask yourself how it compares to the sample Jesus gave.
What are the main concerns of the last prayer you heard? I would venture to guess that you heard a lot about the sick in the congregation. You probably heard a lot about the needs and wants of people in the congregation. You may have heard concerns that were expressed in terms of a political position.
An example that came to mind was praying for the homeless. Should we pray for the homeless? Yes, but pray for their real needs. They don’t just need a place to live. More important is help overcoming the priorities and actions that keep them helpless. Their real needs are not for a roof tonight but better choices tomorrow.
The church is better at helping people than social workers. In addition to the divine aspect we expect people to make choices and change. If we are following the teaching of Jesus we realize we cannot do it for them. We also have a more realistic long term motivation. If social workers as a group became successful they would soon find themselves out of a job. Churches that are successful find themselves strengthened.
The same emphasis comes into play whether the need is from illness, financial crisis or salvation. If someone always makes the wrong decisions they will have disaster in this life and damnation in the next.
Pray with purpose and focus.
homo unius libri