St. Luke 1:1 “He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”
This week our 8-year-old daughter decided it was time for a summer room make-over. So, she and her sister planned this girl’s room make-over with a double decker bunk bed as the center piece. It was to be fully decorated with Poke Mon emblems. Then her twin brother, as boys would often do, sought to derail the plans by reminding her that she is afraid of heights. As priest of twenty-five years, I was stunned by her immediate response “Listen you, I have prayed about it and now I am ready to face my fears”. Her Sunday School teachers would be proud.
How often, as adult Christians, have we wavered on the brink of many overwhelming situations and allowed our fears to cripple us into inaction? One would want to believe the early disciples of Jesus found themselves struggling with the overwhelming fears and tasks of discipleship and often times found themselves floundering. They would often encounter some of the disciples of John who would be actively involved in following through on the demands of the ministry set by John and wished the courage and energy for themselves.
Christian prayer is greater than soothing comforting sentiments. Our prayer is tightly linked to discipleship. Discipleship begins in prayer and prayer leads us deeper into the complexities of discipleship. Jesus calls us into a life of prayer and this leads us to act upon the prayers. When we pray “Our Father”, it means not only are we in a relationship with God, but we are also in relationships with each other. Discipleship then is seeking not only for a closer walk with Christ, but to begin to be able to deepen and develop relationships in this world. These relationships fulfill the mandate of God’s presence in each other and in the world in which we dwell. Through Adia’s prayer, life gives her courage to face her fear of heights, and one can only hope that prayer becomes a springboard that will gives her courage for life.
Churches today are deeply in need of Christian disciples who are embolden by their prayers and have the courage which is needed to take the gospel of Jesus into the neighborhoods and homes right here in our communities.
Increasingly, more young people have decided to live on the fringes of the church while claiming to maintain their faith. Is it possible to be a Christian disciple without an active prayer life? Can one have an active prayer life outside the community of faith? That which holds the community together is prayer. This was the underlying call of the disciples. They understood the difficulties they faced in a community bought together from different tribes, differing socio-economic positions and different perspectives. They were called and held together by the presence of Jesus. However, without His physical presence they were fearful it was not enough to live on only His memory to hold them together.
The need for prayer was then a response to the many factors which could have driven them apart. Prayer is that which held them together in the midst of their many fears and challenges. Prayer bonded them together and motivated them to engage in the work of Christ even in overwhelming presence of evil, doubt and fear. Prayer pushed them beyond themselves into becoming a worldwide force and God fueled energy.
Prayer is about Courage for life!