I love Matthew 6: 5-15, where Jesus teaches how we should pray, and I return to it often to remind me how I could better pray.
5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
9 “This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Those are the beautiful calm words of Jesus on prayer and the power of prayer. In contrast this world plows forward without purpose like an rusty old truck without a muffler, blowing it's horn, leaking motor oil while all ready being two quarts low. This world is distracting, and without prayer, without our Lord this life does not go well.
So this brings me to a lazy Saturday morning where I was discussing life with my wife while eating an egg with toast, and drinking my daily allotment of coffee. Mary is a school teacher anxiously preparing for school that starts next week. Also in our conversation Mary shared about a little baby boy born last week with some serious health unknowns. With this in mind and other issues in life we decided we should pray.
As I started to pray out loud, our dog Cooper sniffed over to Mary's breakfast plate she was holding and started licking it. Mary moved the plate across her body, but Cooper was happy to move too. So she then stacked it on the table out of reach. As we chuckled I continued to pray only to be drowned out by loud engine sounds like on a race track from not too far away. There are no race tracks near me but a classic car show was being held that day, and while a classic car show sounds like fun, it was distracting. We chuckled again, then Cooper heard a neighbors car, a chipmunk crossing our yard, and/or maybe a gathering of 'nefarious cat lovers' up to no good at the end of the block. No matter what it was he ran to the door barking. We chuckled again, calmed our dog, and continued to pray.. finally my wife inserted. AMEN.
It was funny, but we did persevere though if there was an angel nearby my wife and I could have been pulled over and ticketed for 'Praying while Distracted'. Sorta like distracted driving for our prayer lives.
Now while this distracted prayer did not fit nicely into the Lord's teachings in Matthew 6 I know this sometimes is how our prayers look. I confess too often my prayers are fit into my day without setting aside a time to be QUIET. Yes this world's dogs may bark, the engines roar, there is 24/7 entertainment and news available to us on our literal fingertips via our smartphones, TV, and the internet calling for our attention, but I know I should do a better job of being quiet, and pursuing God in this quiet.
Again read.. Mt 6:6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
I am not at all saying, those quick prayers, and impromptu conversations with God are wrong. I am simply wanting to encourage us to seek our Lord in the quiet without distractions using Matthew 6 as our model. Let the dogs bark, phones rings, and the world rage all while finding God's people quietly pursuing to be obedient to the Lord, and not man.
May God bless each of you with a relationship with Him where your prayers become adoring conversations with our creator. May we seek and are blessed with the quiet alone times with our God knowing He hears our prayers.
Jeff (distracted in the Back Pew) Larson
The mutterings on life and faith by cartoonist Jeff Larson