After working at home for the day, I walk alone in the wonderful community space in my suburb and in my mind’s eye I visualise the usual bustle of life there. Children riding their bikes and climbing on the play equipment and families enjoying together the beautiful outdoors while dogs run in the pet area. Life seems to roll-on, care-free and blessed. Except until that moment when nothing is the same. The park now seems a lonely place, where the cultural air we breathe is dominated by the fear of death. There is a sense of feeling unsafe that covers our communities like a blanket.

Into this speaks the words of Jesus “Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. [1] “For most of us” wrote CS Lewis, “the prayer in Gethsemane is the only model”. For we need God’s mercy and hope.

We do not choose sorrow but some of life’s deepest and most sacred truths are learnt in the midst of hardship and suffering. Every human lament is a love-song that yearns for the wonder and goodness of life as God intended. In this context, we need to help our students make sense of a world that is both beautiful and ugly. Prayer is the lifeline that God has given us that enables us to commune with our Heavenly Father, the One who is not only Sovereign over all, but the one who dwells with us through the reality of life. But there is a strange sharp edge to faith in an all-powerful, personal God who is good. At times, we may have felt led down by God for not giving us what we asked for and felt disillusioned. Or we raise the question “God, why did you let this happen? “Like the myth of Sisyphus, who repeatedly rolled a huge rock up a mountain only to watch it roll down again, unanswered prayer may well be where most of those who have lost their faith began with the journey of unbelief.” [2]

Jesus, the master instructor on prayer, gives us deep insight into how to teach our students to pray. Jesus made it clear through His life that prayer is “the line of connection from the heart of the praying person directly to the heart of God”. [3]

Our Father has given us the gift of His Holy Spirit who dwells with us, prompting us to ‘ask, seek and knock’, trusting Him for the outcome. We are promised His indwelling presence, the very One who will never leave or forsake us. So prayer is not trying to get God to do our will, but where He reshapes our heart’s desire for His will and we humbly submit to it though we may not understand it.

As we help our students to pray like this in the midst of the current global suffering and fear may we be encouraged by these words.

“We live in bite-sized portions of time and must seek God for strength for the day, one day at a time. We must depend on God each day we live. When we live life this way, we are able to face history with the guarantee of His keeping watch over all of time. Unless we live with the eternal in mind while addressing the specifics of each day, we will live life as temporarily suspended, with faith always seeking sight.” [4]

Grace and Peace

The Team

The Excellence Centre

[1] Matthew 6: 9-11

[2] Zacharias, R. Has Christianity Failed You? P153

[3] Ibid P152

[4] Ibid P163