“The Key that Can Open the Door to Prayer.”
I want to start with something funny. I read this story on an internet site: Three preachers sat discussing the best positions for prayer while a telephone repairman worked nearby. “Kneeling is definitely best,” claimed one. “No,” another contended. “I get the best results standing with my hands outstretched to Heaven.” “You’re both wrong,” the third insisted. “The most effective prayer position is lying prostrate, face down on the floor.” The repairman could contain himself no longer. “Hey, folks,” he interrupted, “the best praying I ever did was hanging upside down from a telephone pole.”
Which one do you think is the best position for praying? As you may know, what position you’re in doesn’t matter for praying. What’s important about prayer is building a good relationship with God. Some may say, “Well, I think I am good with God. But I don’t know how to pray, or how to start praying.” It is true. We know and feel we should pray, but sometimes we don’t know how to pray. Today, I want to talk about “the key that can open the door to prayer.” Some of you very often have heard that prayers are the key that can open many doors. That may be true. Jesus also says, “Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it for you.” And then we pray in Jesus’ mane. However, above all, if we don’t know how to pray, in other words, if we don’t know how to use the key, how can we open the door and enter?
Many of you, perhaps at least once in your life, have lost a key, such as your car, or house key. And you may worry about where you lost it and struggle to find it. If you lost your house key, you cannot get into the house. If you lost your car key, you cannot go to work or back home. Likewise, there is a key that can open the door to prayers. If you don’t find the key that can open the door, it may get difficult to pray. Furthermore, even though you find the key, if you forget how to use it, you may have to ask someone how to use the key instead of staying locked out. Sometimes we hesitate to ask how to pray because we feel shame as if you don’t want to share your forgotten experience because it embarrasses you.
In today’s scripture, one of his disciples said to Jesus, “Lord, teach us how to pray as John (the Baptist) taught his disciple.” Do you think his disciples asked Jesus how to pray because they didn’t know how to pray? They knew how to pray because they were Jewish. Jews prayed three times a day regularly. But, they thought Jesus was something different from other teachers as John the Baptist was different. So, his disciples were curious about how Jesus prayed. They saw Jesus pray very often even though he was busy. Sometimes he disappeared to pray alone. He prayed more than three times a day. While he was busy in his ministry, he used to pray between moving from village to village. His disciples saw that Jesus’ prayed very often, but they were curious about how to pray and asked him how to pray.
One day, Jesus prayed at a certain place, and as soon as he finished his prayers, one of his disciples, who saw him pray, said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray.” He said to them, “When you pray, say, “Father, hallowed be your name.” Remember, to whom we pray. It’s God. Yes, Jesus’ disciples have prayed to God, but they never called God Father. But Jesus used to call God, Father. When he prayed for Lazarus, who was brought back from the dead; when he prayed at Gethsemane with deep concern, and when he prayed on the cross for the forgiveness of the people who crucified him, he called God Father. So he told his disciples to call God the Father when praying as did he. That’s the key that can open the door of our prayers. You know, the other faith communities (the other religions) may also call God for their prayers, but they didn’t call God Father. It is a very transformative moment. Jesus taught us to call God Father. As we call God Father, we confess our life is from God; God is my father; God is the head of our family, and more. But, we may find the other Gospel, “Our Father” as we do every Sunday. That means God is not only my father but also the father of all nations. Some people do have not a good experiences with their father, and they do feel not good about calling God Father. But, listen carefully! When we call God Father it does not literally mean “Father,” but the symbol of a father which means the Supporter, the Provider, the Protector, and the One who knows everything about me, and about what I need, as if a baby thinks about their daddy.
It is like if you are good with your mother and father, it may be easy to ask them whatever you want; but even though you are good with your parents, as you grew older, you don’t want to tell everything to your parents. You might want to hide some things, or you think that it is not necessary to tell them everything, and then even though you need help, you don’t ask. Furthermore, you feel your father is different now than he was from your childhood. Therefore, the reason we call him Father is to remind ourselves that we are the children of God. Children are just children to their parents even though they grow older. Again, the key that we can open the door of our prayers is our mindset in thinking of God the Father. If you think that God is your father and you are children of God who need your father’s help, you have the key that can open the door of your prayers.
Now, you have to know how to use the key for prayer. The way to use the key is our humble attitude before God. We have to be humble before God like a baby who doesn’t know anything, and who really needs God’s help. And then, call God the heavenly Father, Mother, or the Holy Spirit whatever makes you comfortable and whatever relationship you are familiar with. After Jesus taught us the Lord’s Prayer, he gave us a parable for prayer. A story of a friend, which means even though your best friend asks you something, if you’re not in a good situation, you may not be able to answer your friend’s request. However, if your friend asks you continually, you may answer because it is bothering you. It means that you may need to pray over and over like the Apostle Paul says, “Pray continually.” The other parable is that we as parents may provide good things to our children, but God the Father provides us with the better thing. Therefore, trust God who sends us the Holy Spirit, helps us to pray, and guide us on how to pray. The Apostle Paul says, “Don’t be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
If you don’t know how to start praying, call God the heavenly Father, and keep silent for a while until the Holy Spirit guides you on how to pray. If it doesn’t work for you, you may repeat it again and again. And God knows everything about you and whatever you need, God may guide you. Some people may ask, “Well if God knows everything, why do we need to pray to God?” That’s a good question, but God wants us to build a good relationship with Him, like you are pleased when your children visit you or call you or talk to you. Remember, the key that can open the door to our prayers is a humble mindset before God, and call God Father, like a child calls their daddy. And practice praying just like a baby learns a language. May God bless you all to open the door of your prayers with a good relationship with God. “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.” May you all experience the power of prayers! Thanks be to God! Amen!