The disciples saw Jesus praying, all the time. In good times, but also in the midst of great difficulty. And they saw that there is this conversation that happens between he and God and they saw that it was so intimate, and so nourishing. And they saw how prayer restored Jesus. They saw how it changed him and gave him new life, and how it restored his strength.
Small wonder they said “Jesus, teach us to pray. This is powerful stuff, teach us how to pray as you pray.” Over the next few weeks, every day, we’re going to look at how Jesus taught his disciples to pray. Why? Because it was a huge help to them in times of trouble. And will also be for us.
I remember watching Wimbledon. Maybe 3 years ago, can’t remember exactly. Wimbledon is tennis, for you not in the know. It’s a tournament featuring the greatest tennis players from all over the world facing each other down, day after day. Earlier in that day I had said to Kimberley “well, I’m off to do some sermon work”. An hour later she came in to the back room, and I’m sitting there watching TV. She said ‘I thought you were going to do some sermon stuff.”
And I said ‘I walked by the TV and Wimbledon was on, and I got way-laid.”
“Way-laid by a TV”, she said.
Well, what I was watching was this match, a match between Juan Ferrero, who was seeded 84th, way down the list, and the 5th seed Gael Monfils, a Frenchman. Ferrero is a huge underdog. They call him “the Mosquito” because he’s a wee skinny guy.
He took the first two sets, then lost the next two, and he seemed like he was losing momentum. ANd I thought "he’s just going to give up." It suddenly seemed hopeless. It went to the fifth set, just short of 5 straight hours and the sweat is just pouring off of him. The Mosquito was going down.
But on his face there was this look. A look of resolve and determination and focus, and confidence in his ability. It was the look that said “never give up, never quite before the race is won.” Incredibly, he won the last set 6 games to 4, and against all odds won the match. There was a three minute long standing O.
I love watching stuff like that because it’s a metaphor for life. When you come up against something big, and you have to overcome it, and you have to use everything you have, and all your heart and mind and strength and determination to get through it.
We all come up against huge barriers, and things seem against all odds. If we’re facing a relationship problem or a forgiveness problem or an illness problem or a money problem.
Or Covid-19. And we feel like we’re out there against a number 1 seed, and we’re not even seeded, and how do we even have a chance?
Jesus had strong forces to face, a whole lot stronger than a number 5, or number 1, tennis seed. And the temptations to give it all up were stronger than we can imagine. What he turned to was prayer. And there he found, the strength and the focus he needed to make it through.
Please know that prayer is not a gift that is given to some and not to others. Prayer is a gift given to everyone. If you’re someone who does a lot of texting, here’s what God wants. It’s really simple. Text God as often as you would text your best friend.
“Pick you up at three. Don’t be late”. “God, you made the universe, and you love me and have a plan and a purpose. thank you.”
“Hey, are you coming to the party, you’re late.” “God, how do I handle myself with this person who’s always rude and picking on me. I know he’s just unhappy, show me how to handle him?”
“Great dinner last night. Good times. Can’t wait til next time.” “God us all to deal in the right way with this virus. Help us to be responsible for each other and to hold on to hope for the days ahead.”
That would be a lot of conversation a day, wouldn’t it? God hears you, and wants you to be aware of him. He’s right here with you, and will give you every good thing that you need.
Jesus prayed this way, and then shows us how we can too.