Sometimes it can feel as if our lives have turned upside down, not knowing in what direction up down or forward lie. It could be that these experiences come upon us due to the events of the world such as the tornadoes in Oklahoma or the terrorist attack in London this past week. Even if we haven’t directly experienced these kinds of traumas, they can have their effect. Then again, that feeling of emotional vertigo can come upon us very personally and directly. Our own personal struggles and challenges can leave us feeling without solid ground.
Jesus tells the disciples how to pray in the face of such experiences. First we should take note that Jesus‘ lesson on how to respond to disruption is not to act, to react, but to be still and pray. That alone is worthy of our consideration in a culture that expects action, response, reaction, activity...Jesus encourages disciples not to respond first with frenetic activity, but with silence and stillness in prayer.
We should pause also to consider the fact that Jesus encourages prayer as the first response to disruption NOT as he is talking about the challenges or the troubles that happen to us. Jesus is in the midst of the Sermon on the Mount. He has just taught those who will listen, to forgive, to give generously, to turn the other cheek, to love and pray for enemies and those who hurt us, to value relationships and humans above all else. He has invited the disciples to choose a way of life that is purposefully a disruption in the ways of the world which choose anger, vengeance, fear, strength, and selfishness as the safe and effective ways of living in the world. Jesus is asking the disciples to live in such a way as to be a disruption in the ways of the world. And in order to maintain that disruptive way of life, they will need to pray.
What he teaches them, to start the prayer is important. Our. First Jesus reminds the disciples that they do not pray in private, but as a community. We disrupt the brokenness of the world together. Every time we pray this prayer we are reminded of the gift of church as a community, that we are not alone. Jesus also teaches us that God is not a concept, an idea. God is Father, which is to say that God offers to us intimate relationship. Every time we pray, we are reminded that the creator of all things, values us as his beloved children.