Pray Like Mary

It’s more than okay to pray simple prayers; they’re often the best kind.

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Marriage at Cana by Giotto, 14th century

A few days ago, a friend asked me to pray for an upcoming project to be a means of financial blessing to her and her family. Then she said, “Do you think it’s okay to ask that?”

I assured her that I think it’s more than “okay.” I think such prayers—short, simple, straightforward—are the best kind of praying we can do.

You may know the story in John’s Gospel about Jesus attending a wedding celebration with his mother, Mary. At one point early in the festivities, Mary came to Jesus and said, “They have no more wine” (John 2:3, NIV). Chances are, either the bride or groom was related to Mary and Jesus; in any case, they both would have known that running out of wine at a wedding feast would be a major embarrassment to the family.

But Jesus’ answer sounds odd: “Woman, why do you involve me?... My hour has not yet come” (John 2:4, NIV).

Nonetheless, Mary told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5, NIV).

You probably know, of course, that Jesus eventually instructed the servants to fill giant jars with water, which when they served it up turned out to have been transformed into high-quality wine.

But I think Mary’s request often gets lost in the account of that water-to-wine miracle. Remember? To our knowledge, she spoke only five words to Jesus: “They have no more wine.”

She didn’t tell Jesus what to do (maybe because His initial response was, well, a trifle off-putting). She didn’t whine or wheedle or cajole. She laid out the problem—short, simple, straightforward—and left it in His hands.

But she did something else that we often neglect. She prepared for the answer. She told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

It’s a pretty good primer on prayer. She knew where to go (to Jesus). She knew what to say, briefly and simply and straightforwardly mentioning the need. And she knew what to do next—prepare for the answer.

Whatever your need is today, it’s more than okay to follow Mary’s pattern. Don’t whine or wheedle or cajole. Lay out the problem. Keep it short, simple and straightforward and leave it in His hands. And prepare for the answer. It may not come as quickly as you like, but that’s okay. Just do like Mary and maybe, like her, you’ll see something special happen.

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