Good Shepherd Lutheran

Lord, Teach Us to Pray – Luke 11:1-13
When I look at our prayer life in general, I can’t help but wonder if instead of following Jesus’ example, our primary prayer instructor is the Coke Machine. Think about it. We put in the correct change, make our selection, and get what we want. “For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” So, we offer the coins of our wants, our needs, our beliefs, and our good behavior. We tell God what we want, and we expect to get what we asked for.
And all that works until it doesn’t. Coke Machines are great until they take your money and give you nothing back. Or they give you a Mountain Dew instead of a Diet Coke. And look how we respond when that happens. We get mad. We push the button again and again. And if it’s 100 degrees outside, we might even be tempted hit or kick the machine. We did our part, and we expect the machine to do its part as well.
It’s no different with our prayer. If we get the wrong answer, or no answer, sometimes we get angry. We feel hurt or betrayed. We lose faith. Some folks may even get so disgusted that they leave the church. We expect to get what we asked for, and when the machine doesn’t deliver we can get pretty snotty about it.
No one has ever asked me questions like, “Why was my prayer answered?” Or, “Why did I receive exactly what I asked for?” We’re okay with that outcome. When prayer is answered, when we ask and we receive, life is good. But what people really want to know is what happened when they asked but did not receive.
“Ask and it will be given you. Search and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened for you.” We hear it. We may even believe it, but we know that’s just not always going to be the end to the story, because we’ve all lost our money in the machine once or twice.
I don’t know why some prayers seem to be answered and others seem to go unanswered. I don’t always understand the mystery of how prayer works but I do know it’s not about the coins. It’s not about pushing that button. It’s not a transaction.
Prayer is about relationship and presence. That relationship means that our life, our existence, our very being, comes from our Father. Jesus speaks of that as daily bread. Spiritual bread. It’s God feeding our souls. When we don’t know and can’t understand why God hasn’t answered our prayer we need to remember that God will answer, but he’ll do it according to His will, in His time. Maybe the best we can do is echo that disciple’s request, “Lord, teach us to pray.” We’re always beginners. We’re always learning how to pray.