I’m still unpacking the incredible experience of meeting and being involved in the little community of Street Hope Saint John this past weekend.
One of the things that really touched me was to hear the Street Hope people pray. Their prayers were not sophisticated; they were simple cries for help, from people who knew how desperately they needed that help. As I said to Reed afterwards, for those folks, following Jesus and staying on his straight and narrow way was not a hobby, it was a life and death matter.
On the way home on the plane I started reading an old classic, ‘Prayer‘, by Ole Hallesby. I don’t know why I haven’t read it before, but I’m really enjoying it.
Near the beginning of the book he sets out what he regards as the two essentials of prayer: helplessness, and faith. ‘Helplessness’ reminds me of the the first step of A.A.: ‘We admitted that we were powerless over alcohol; that our lives had become unmanageable’. The first step of prayer is to find ourselves face to face with a situation which is beyond our power to cope with.
And what is ‘faith’? Faith simply means turning to Jesus. That’s all. We don’t need cartloads of it. Jesus said once that if we had faith the size of a mustard seed, that would be enough.
To pray, Hallesby says, simply means to invite Jesus into our hearts. Once he’s there, he is well able to look after whatever he finds there. And, of course, this includes our prayers for others too; the reason we pray for them is because they’re on our hearts.
Andrew Murray once wrote another classic on prayer, called ‘With Christ in the School of Prayer‘. This past weekend, I was very much aware of being in that school, and my teachers were a group of very needy people, along with an old Norwegian Lutheran pastor. Through them, the Lord is continuing to ‘teach me to pray’, in helplessness and faith.