â€œBut when you pray, go to your room, shut the door, and pray to your Father who is present in that secret place. Your Father who sees what you do in secret will reward you.â€ – Matthew 6:6, Common English Bible
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus warns against ostentatious religious displaysâ€”giving money or praying in a way that only draws attention to oneself. His suggested alternative to public, long-winded rambling was to find a quiet place out of sight and earshot to offer oneâ€™s prayers to God. He seems also to have practiced what he preached; amidst the demands of ministry, he repeatedly withdrew from crowds and friends to be alone in prayer.
But if prayer is often done in private, how does one learn how to do it? The disciples clearly wrestled with this question, and thank goodness they spoke up! At their behest, Jesus taught them to pray in the words we now repeat each Sunday. But even Jesus needed some prayerful company from time to time. This weekend, weâ€™ll revisit the story of him praying in the garden, pleading with his friends to stay awake and keep watch with him.
Both personal and communal experiences of prayer can prove powerful, yet we often struggle to share about them. Maybe weâ€™re not sure weâ€™re doing it right, or we donâ€™t (think we) do it much at all. We may fear our supernatural experiences will be met with skepticism, or we might just prefer to keep things private. There are many good and understandable reasons not to share how we pray, yet if we donâ€™t, how will others learn?
This weekend, weâ€™ll have the opportunity to share humbly with one another what our own prayer lives look like. I very much welcome short video submissions so that we can hear and see in our own words how we meet God in this world through prayer. Send clips via text or email no later than Friday to be included in Sundayâ€™s worship.
With prayers of gratitude,