For all the mysteriousness of prayer, Jesus, by word and example, teaches us simply to keep at it. I’m sure his disciples couldn’t help but notice the way he would slip away to pray, often. Occasionally he brought a few of them with him on these extended prayer times. His prayer must of have been of such a quality that it inspired the request to “Teach us to pray” that opened this dialogue. Aside from the Lord’s Prayer, there is precious little about the form and substance of these prayers aside from Jesus’ own persistence at it.
He goes on to assure them that they will receive, they will find, and doors will be opened to them. It seems evident that they need reassuring, anyone who has attempted to pray for something will quickly run into the uncomfortable truth that it’s not as simple as putting in your quarters and selecting which soda you want. Nor is it even like filing the correct paperwork for a zoning variance and navigating layers of bureaucracy until getting approval.
God is not a vending machine. God is not a bureaucrat. God is not a trickster. Jesus tells us he is our heavenly Father, capable of giving good gifts like we would give our own children. God is our good shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep. God is the great physician in the business of healing the sick.
Prayer then, is nothing less than active participation in the divine life of the Trinity. Father Benson wrote that “We often use the phrase that Jesus pleads for us, but pleading is not the same as praying. While we pray, Jesus pleads for us as claiming for us what we require. The Father gives to us as Members of Christ, while He the Head gives efficacy to our prayers. When the Father answers our prayers, He is rewarded, for His glorious Headship is recognized, while by the Holy Ghost He distributes to us what He has already received personally.”
There is no part of God that is not active in prayer, there is no convincing or cajoling, there is simply participation. When we pray, we enter into the unceasing self-giving of the Trinity. And this is the life of union with the Godhead that we were always meant to enjoy. Prayer is that invitation to participation that does not stop because a request has been granted. Prayer draws us into new and unending life. Therefore, let us pray.
Thursday in Proper 22
 Letters of R.M. Benson, Mowbray & Co., London 1916, p. 320
Please support the Brothers work.
The brothers of SSJE rely on the inspired kindness of friends to sustain our life and our work. We are grateful for the prayers and support provided to us.