HOW TO PRAY
Dr. John K. Mathew
An important lesson that the Lord’s prayer teaches us is the complete submission of the one who prays. William Barclay puts it this way, “Prayer must never be an attempt to bend the will of God to our desires, prayer always ought to be an attempt to submit our wills to the Will of God”.
The second part of the Lord’s prayer reads, ‘Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; Lead us not in to temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” It deals with the three essential needs of man, and the three spheres of time within which man moves. First, it asks for bread, for that which is necessary for the maintenance of life and thereby brings the needs of the present to the throne of God. Second, it asks for forgiveness and thereby brings the past into the presence of God. Third, it asks for help in temptation and thereby commits all the future into the hands of God. In these three brief petitions, we are taught to lay the present, the past and the future before the ‘footstool’ of the grace of God.
Forgiveness is the hallmark of Christianity. Christians are human beings in all its sense. The only difference is that they are forgiven. There is a story of a Muslim who was pursuing an enemy with drawn knife to kill him. The muezzin rang out, he stopped, unrolled his prayer mat knelt and recited his prayer and then rose to continue his murderous pursuit. That is not true prayer.
True prayer comes from a forgiving spirit. Love and forgiveness are the Christian’s special vocation. Where we exercise them through dependence upon the power of the Holy Spirit, we find healing for our wounds and offer balm to heal others. Unfortunately, many of us seem unable to forgive, even when it is good for us. Billy Graham once said, he believes that 75 percent of patients in hospitals would be made whole if they would forgive. A group of Christian missionaries met in Delhi, India, with representatives of other religions to discuss their beliefs. In the course of their talks a member of a major non-Christian religion asked a missionary, “Tell me one thing your religion can offer the Indians that mine can’t?” The missionary thought for a moment and replied, “Forgiveness, Forgiveness”! Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, to whom we must fix our eyes, said from the cross, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. He is our role model. Shall we be Christians?