by Max Lucado
Jesus set a compelling prayer example. He prayed before he ate. He prayed for children. He prayed for the sick. He prayed with thanks. He prayed with tears. He had made the planets and shaped the stars, yet he prayed. He is the Lord of angels and Commander of heavenly hosts, yet he prayed. He is coequal with God, the exact representation of the Holy One, and yet he devoted himself to prayer. He prayed in the desert, cemetery, and garden. “He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed” (Mark 1:35).
Jesus would even disappear for an entire night of prayer. I’m thinking of one occasion in particular. He’d just experienced one of the most stressful days of his ministry. The day began with the news of the death of his relative John the Baptist. Jesus sought to retreat with his disciples, yet a throng of thousands followed him. Though grief-stricken, he spent the day teaching and healing people. When it was discovered that the host of people had no food to eat, Jesus multiplied bread out of a basket and fed the entire multitude. In the span of a few hours, he battled sorrow, stress, demands, and needs. He deserved a good night’s rest. Yet when evening finally came, he told the crowd to leave and the disciples to board their boat, and “he went up into the hills by him-self to pray” (Mark 6:46 nlt).
A storm exploded over the Sea of Galilee, leaving the disciples “in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water” (Matt. 14:24–25 nlt). Jesus ascended the mountain depleted. He reappeared invigorated. When he reached the water, he never broke his stride. You’d have thought the water was a park lawn and the storm a spring breeze.
Do you think the disciples made the prayer–power connection? “Lord, teach us to pray like that. Teach us to find strength in prayer. To banish fear in prayer. To defy storms in prayer.”
What about you? The disciples faced angry waves and a watery grave. You face angry clients, a turbu-lent economy, raging seas of stress and sorrow.
“Lord,” we still request, “teach us to pray.”
When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, he gave them a prayer. Not a lecture on prayer. Not the doctrine of prayer. He gave them a quotable, repeatable, portable prayer (Luke 11:1–4).
Could you use the same? It seems to me that the prayers of the Bible can be distilled into one. The result is a simple, easy-to-remember, pocket-size prayer:
You are good. I need help. Heal me and forgive me.
They need help. Thank you.
In Jesus’ name, amen.
Let this prayer punctuate your day. As you begin your morning, Father, you are good. As you commute to work or walk the hallways at school, I need help. As you wait in the grocery line, They need help. Keep this prayer in your pocket as you pass through the day.
When we invite God into our world, he walks in. He brings a host of gifts: joy, patience, resilience. Anxieties come, but they don’t stick. Fears surface and then depart. Regrets land on the windshield, but then comes the wiper of prayer. Struggles come, for sure. But so does God.
Prayer is not a privilege for the pious, not the art of a chosen few. Prayer is simply a heartfelt conversation between God and his child. My friend, he wants to talk with you. Even now, as you read these words, he taps at the door. Open it. Welcome him in. Let the conversation begin.