The Adventures of Billy and Bobby
Book 3, Chapter 14
Learning to Pray
by Greg Wright
Reggie was quiet as he rode to Felixís office. It almost seemed easier not knowing what had happened to his mother than facing a possibly tragic reality. In a few moments, he would find out what had happened that night when he had to flee for his life. Did she survive; was she injured. Would he be able to face the truth, whatever it was.
There was no phone at his motherís house, so he would call Mrs. Campbell. If anyone knew about his mother, it would be her. He had her phone number memorized. On many occasions she had gladly permitted Reggie and his mother to use her phone, and she lived next door to his motherís house.
Finally, they walked into Felixís office. As Reggie picked up the phone, he looked over at Felix."
"Felix, Iím uneasy about this. What ifÖ"
"I understand, Reggie, perhaps we should pray first."
"Pray first, hmm."
"It always helps me," Felix continued. "Scripture tells us to not worry about anything, but rather, to present our requests to God. Then, it promises that the peace of God will cover our hearts and minds."
"But Felix, Iím not sure I even know how to pray."
"Youíre not alone, Reggie. The disciples of Jesus didnít know how to pray, either, at first. So, Jesus gave them a model that went like this."
"The first clause was ĎOur father in heaven.í The word Jesus used for father is almost like our word for Daddy."
"Well, he was Godís son," Reggie observed.
"Yes Reggie, but remember, he was teaching his disciples how to pray. God invites you to go to him just like a boy would go to his father."
"Iím not sure what that would be like," Reggie said sadly. "My father died before I was two years old. I donít remember anything about him."
"In that case, Reggie, thereís a promise in the Bible thatís just for you. God says that he will be a father to the fatherless."
"So God will be my father?"
"Thatís right, he will be your father, with all the tenderness and compassion that an earthly father should have for his son."
Felix continued. "The next clause says Ďhallowed be thy name.í" Godís name is holy. His willingness to draw close to us should never be taken as license to be flippant or even playfully disrespectful, like you would with a good buddy. In the Ten Commandments God warns us that he will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name. In spite of his tenderness, we must approach God with reverence and respect."
"So, donít disrespect God?"
"Thatís right. The next clause says ĎThy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.í Here, the disciples acknowledge God to be their Lord and master. They set his plans and purpose ahead of their own. Before they even bring their requests, itís as if they say that they belong to God, and that anything he wants in their lives is okay."
"But, what if itís not okay," Reggie exclaimed. "I got shot at and had to leave home; thatís not okay. My mother may be dead; thatís not okay. How can anyone pray this?"
"Reggie, I know itís hard to give your rights, wants, and demands over to God. But, scripture is clear. Jesus died so that men would live no longer for themselves but for God. However, scripture does give us a couple of promises to help us, here. One is that all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to his purposes. Another is that godliness has value not only in this life, but also in the life to come. So, even if you go through some tough times here, if this causes you to grow in perseverance and character, it will have value, even after you die."
Reggie sighed, then nodded.
Felix continued. "Finally, we get to the request part, Ďgive us this day our daily bread.í"
"Excuse me, but I think I need more than bread."
"Thatís true, Reggie. This prayer is just a guideline. Here you would bring your needs before God, including the need to find your mother. But, thereís an even greater need that many forget."
"Itís the need to have your sins forgiven."
"But, Iím a Christian; arenít they already forgiven."
"Yes, they were paid for when Jesus died for you. You recognized this when Godís Holy Spirit drew you to repent and believe. But the Christianís whole life is a life of repentance, a continuous turning away from sin and turning back to God. So Jesus included the clause, although he would never himself need to pray it, Ďforgive us our sins.í"
"Does this mean that I cease to be a Christian when I sin?"
"No, but how you respond to sin is a good sign for whether or not you are a Christian. If you remain in your sin, you have no basis for assurance of eternal life. But if the Holy Spirit stirs you to turn away from your sin and turn back to Christ for forgiveness, it is evidence that your faith is real. Further evidence is implied by the next clause, Ďas we forgive those who have sinned against us.í"
"The book of First John was written to show us how we can know that we have eternal life. It is bad news for us if we hate or refuse to forgive anyone."
Reggie stood up. "But what about those gang people who tried to kill me. Are you saying I have to forgive them? If they hurt my mother, I will hunt everyone one of them down."
"Reggie, if you didnít have Jesus in your heart, your would be doing what theyíre doing, even now. Reggie, how many people did you hurt when you were in the gang?"
"Several," Reggie muttered, as he sat down.
Felix continued. "When Jesus was dying on the cross, he looked at the people who mocked him, who drove the nails into his hands and feet, and said, ĎFather, forgive them, they donít know what they are doing.í We can do no less. To do otherwise, is to walk in darkness."
"But Felix, what if I canít forgive?"
"Donít be fooled, Reggie. Itís your flesh that doesnít want to forgive. But, your spirit wants to obey God. God made your spirit alive in Christ. Your flesh and your spirit will always fight each other in this life. Just confess your hatred, ask Jesus to take care of it, and walk in the spirit. Donít dwell on your thoughts and donít try to fix your flesh. The flesh has to die. Struggling is a good sign. It not only means you are still alive but it keeps the buzzards away."
"Speaking of struggling, scripture urges us to never get to the point where we donít depend on God. Jesus included this clause: ĎLead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.í God doesnít tempt anyone, but he permits us to be tested and tempted. When we pray that God will deliver us from evil, we pray according to a promise that heís already given us: weíll never be tempted beyond what we can bear and there will always be a way of escape. However, when we stop depending on God and step too close to sin, the scriptures warn us Ďif you think you stand, take heed lest you fall.í"
"Donít worry," Reggie assured, "if one thing is certain to me, it is that there is no way Iím going to make it as a Christian without help from God."
"Thatís right Reggie, and in the last clause, we affirm that God can do anything when we say, ĎYours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.í"
"So, to sum this up, we begin our prayers with praise and adoration, even as we address God as father, and after weíve expressed our requests, we end with praise, agreeing that he has the power to answer our prayers. And we know that whatever answer we get, we can praise him, because he is holy in all that he does, and we can trust his character. Does this make sense to you?"
"Yes it does. I think Iím ready to pray now."
"Great, go ahead."
"Dear Heavenly Father, Felix says I can talk to you like I would my daddy. I expect that Felix knows you much better than I do. But, I know that you are holy and good and that you are kinder to us than we deserve."
"Iím on your side. I donít always understand what you do, but thatís okay. I want to obey you and I want your will to be done."
"Please help my mother if she is hurt, and please help me to find her."
"Forgive me for all the anger and hatred thatís in my heart, even now. I give it to you; I donít know what else to do with it. In your name, I forgive my enemies."
"Father, Iím so new at being a Christian. Please keep me from falling back into sin."
"For you are all powerful, and you can do anything. In Jesusí name, Amen."
Then Reggie looked up at Felix. "Iím ready to make that call, now."
Felix watched as Reggie dialed the number. Time slowed to a crawl as they counted the rings. Finally, after the 15th ring, seeing Reggieís countenance fall, Felix offered, "Thatís okay, Reggie. Letís go to Albertsonís and pick up some groceries. We can call again in a little while."