Throughout the summer, I have been preaching a series called “Caffeine for the Soul.” In our caffeinated, sometimes hyper lives, prayer is counter-cultural. It is an invitation to be still, quiet, and centered.
We get up in the morning and have our coffee so we will be invigorated and ready to meet the day, able to tackle whatever life throws at us, and energized to climb every mountain. Prayer is the opposite of that. It is sitting in the presence of God and acknowledging that we actually can’t do it all alone, no matter how buzzed on caffeine we are.
That may be the most important lesson for our souls: to humbly acknowledge that we really can’t do it alone.
I love the way the Gospel for this past Sunday began. Jesus went to pray. When he finished something about him make his disciples say, “Lord teach US to pray.” Jesus responded to their request in three ways.
First he gave them a pattern for praying. We call it the “Lord’s Prayer.” The Catholics call it the “Our Father.” It is a prayer that is prayed in various forms by millions all over the world every Sunday. I don’t think Jesus was saying that this was a prayer we all needed to pray all the time, but he was giving us a pattern for praying.
In the second part of his lesson, Jesus told a parable about persistence. It seems a lesson we forget when it comes to our spiritual life. In a world that demands instant gratification, persistence and perseverance are rare. Jesus was clear that prayer is a skill learned by perseverance. Like learning to do anything that is important, it is requires lots of practice.
This lesson on prayer ended with perhaps the most neglected truth. Jesus reminds us that God is like a good and healthy parent who would never give us a scorpion if we ask for an egg or a snake when we wanted a fish. Jesus says, if parents respond in healthy ways, how willing is God to give the Holy Spirit to those who ask?
This is the part we always miss: God’s answer to our prayer is always the Holy Spirit.
by Michael Piazza
The Center for Progressive Renewal