There was an ad in every one of the comics that caught my attention. Charles Atlas told the story of Mac, the "97-pound weakling." He's at the beach and a bully kicks sand in his face. Mac is humiliated. But Mac has read his comics too and knows about Charles Atlas' body-building course. He orders it, follows it, and becomes a hulking giant that returns to the beach and takes down the bully. He gets the girl and the title "Hero of the Beach."
I'm sure some who know me are thinking, "O.K. So the point is Rick ordered the course and, sure enough, it works." That's not the point. A lot of guys felt like Mac when it came to their physique. I'm wondering if anyone has felt like a 97-pound prayer weakling?
I have a confession to make. I have been a 97-pound prayer weakling. I didn't always know I was until I started learning to pray. During college I spent one summer in Miami, Florida, to intern with a church learning how to minister in the larger cities of America.
One of the first things we did every morning was pray for an hour. Each of us had a room in the church building in Little Havana. Did I mention the rooms were upstairs? With no air-conditioning? We felt like we were in humid Havana.
Most mornings I tried to pray, but I'd get warm and it was muggy and I'd fall asleep. Then, when we'd all get back together, I'd find that I wasn't the only one. We all struggled to stay awake. We struggled to stay focused. Our minds wandered.
That probably hasn't ever happened to you, has it? I remember thinking, "I'm not a very good disciple. I can't even pray one hour!" Then I read in Matthew how Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. He asked Peter, James and John to stay with him and watch with him. While he's praying, they're... well, listen to what Matthew wrote:
And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, "So, could you not watch with me one hour?" (Matthew 26:40).
The first disciples couldn't pray for an hour either. So one time they asked Jesus, "Lord, teach us to pray." Know what he did? He began a twelve week series on prayer. He took the word "prayer" and told them what it meant in Greek and Aramaic and what the Hebrew equivalent was. He drew charts on the ground.
What did Jesus do? He gave them a prayer. The one we call "The Lord's Prayer." You may already know the words. It's short. It's memorable. It's something to build on. For 97 pound weaklings, you have to start with something you can pick up. No bench pressing 300 pounds the first time into the gym. (For some of us, never!) You start with something you can build on.
That's what this prayer does. It gives you something to take and build upon. Before you know it, you'll move from being a prayer weakling to a prayer warrior.
So let's pray it together!
Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.