Read this before you pray for that Mercedes

Is it true that whatever you pray for, you'll receive it if you have enough faith? Jesus seems to say so. "[W]hatever you ask in prayer, believe that you receive it, and you will," he tells Peter and the Twelve (Mark 11.24).These words followed Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem. While hungry, he spotted a fig tree. But after looking over its barren branches in vain, Jesus cursed the tree. The next day, as the disciples walk by, Peter noticed the poor thing, dried up and shriveled. … [Read more...]

How the Lord’s Prayer brought Dave Brubeck to the church

Jazz pianist and composer Dave Brubeck died earlier today at ninety-one, just a day shy of his ninety-second birthday.Known for his ability to make magic happen with unconventional meters, Brubeck leaves behind a hefty catalogue of amazing jazz. Albums like Time Out and Jazz Impressions of Japan continue to impress on the hundredth listen as much as they surprised on the first.What some may not know is that Brubeck also leaves behind several wonderful sacred compositions. (His obituary … [Read more...]

The Lord’s Prayer: God’s words, our needs

Why does the Lord's Prayer matter? Let the context answer the question. In Luke's account, Jesus' disciples approach. They point to John the Baptist's practice of teaching his disciples to pray and ask for similar treatment. "Teach us to pray," they implore.This is a reasonable request. What is a person, a fallen human, supposed to say to an almighty, all-holy God? God tells us that his ways are not ours. We cannot identify with him. And if prayer is communication between two persons, a … [Read more...]

A community of prayer

Jesus tells us not to pray in public. But he doesn’t teach us to pray by ourselves.The Lord addresses this in the Sermon on the Mount. Right after saying that we shouldn't call attention to our charity, but rather do it in secret, Jesus tells his disciples to pray the same way. "And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites," he says; "for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. . . . But when you pray, go into your r … [Read more...]