One of the great blessings of the Church Calendar is the cumulative wisdom it brings to us in directing our prayers. The disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, and he gave them the Lordís Prayer, the Our Father. But the apostles did not stop there. They taught their congregations to pray for all sorts of needs and situations, to give thanks in all things, to pray for those in authority, to pray without ceasing, to cast their cares upon the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. If God is our Father, as our foundational prayer teaches, then he is our Father at all times and in all places. And this apostolic wisdom has continued to grow and expand throughout the history of the church. The Calendar is training for prayer. The feasts and fasts of the Church Year are lessons in worship. During the Advent Season we are taught to pray in expectation, we remember Israel in exile awaiting the Messiah, we remember that we too await the Messiah who will come at the end of the ages to judge the living and the dead and to raise us up with new bodies when death is no more. But we not only await our King at the end, we must learn to wait on the Lord throughout our lives. We must wait and pray for many situations that are completely outside of our control. We must wait and pray for wayward children. We must wait and pray when we are afflicted with disease, when we are in pain, when we have offended someone who refuses to forgive us. We must wait and pray when finances are tight. We must wait and pray when we have lost a loved one. Sometimes sin afflicts us and no matter how hard we try, it does not seem to leave. And God does not seem to hear our cries, our pleas, our prayers. And Advent teaches us to continue to pray to our faithful Father. Advent teaches us to pray to the God who has come, to the God who will come, to the God who comes. The entire Christian Year is a tutorial in prayer. It reminds us to pray without ceasing, that prayer is the life-breath of the Church.
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