My oldest daughter, Emma, played Tinkerbell in the musical “Peter Pan” a few years ago. It was a fantastic production, and Emma was the cutest Tinkerbell ever!
If you’ve seen that play, you know an important scene is when Tinkerbell’s “light” goes out. Peter Pan, almost in tears, looks out at the audience and tells them they have to clap, to show Tink they believe. And when enough people clap long enough and loud enough, Tinkerbell’s “light” returns and she goes on to help Pan defeat the evil Captain Hook.
This is perfect…for a story. In a theater.
But I’ve known too many people whose prayers look a whole lot like Peter Pan’s. The “power” is in the belief. Believe hard enough, and you get what you want. If you really, really want it, then you’ll get it. Just have faith!
That sounds good to us. We’re Americans, after all! We like positive, we believe in belief. We can do anything we set our minds to.
But those thoughts, no matter how deeply woven into the American psyche they are, are just not true.
Jesus, not Peter Pan, tells us how we should pray. He says, in Matthew 6:9-13
“This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
Jesus teaches us to focus our prayers on God – His name, his kingdom, his will, his forgiveness, his deliverance. He teaches us to focus on being in right relationship with him and with others. The only “selfish” requests in this? “Give us today our daily bread” – give us what we need. Not what we want, what we believe, what we think positively about. What we need. And let’s not forget – “Lead us not into temptation.” Temptation like believing Tinkerbell prayers are biblical.
Prayer is powerful. And prayer is biblical. Let’s just be careful to pray biblical prayers.