In the movie, Gravity, astronaut Ryan Stone, played by Sandra Bullock, has found her way aboard the Soyuz space craft. The sole survivor of her mission, she is marooned in space without hope of survival. Having lost radio contact with her command center, she scans the frequencies seeking someone with whom she might make contact.
The only person she is able to reach is an Eskimo in the remote tundra who speaks no English. But the sound of his dogs and the crying of his baby touch her emotions. She cries. And she cries out in desperation to him, “Say a prayer for me. Maybe I should say a prayer for myself. But I have never prayed. No one ever taught me.”
How much does the character Ryan Stone represent the present generation? The world seems to be spinning out of control. Evil is rampant. Death is certain. Will no one pray for us? Will no one teach us to pray?
Centuries ago another generation felt the same way. Jesus’ disciples approached him with the same desperation in their voice and asked, “Lord, teach us to pray.” And He did. Here is one thing Jesus taught us.
Prayer does not need to be a memorized formula. There are no words that are better than any others to address God. Prayer is a matter of the heart. Jesus told of two men who once prayed. One was very religious and knew all the right words. The other had made a wreck of his life. He was irreligious and broken hearted about his sin. The first prayed long and eloquent prayers that everyone could hear. The second, feeling unworthy to lift his eyes to Heaven prayed, “Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner.” The prayer of the second man was the prayer God heard, Jesus said.
When we pray with a broken and contrite heart, God hears.
Chuck Colson, special counsel to President Richard Nixon from 1969-1973, earned the reputation as Nixon’s “hatchet man.” If there was anything cruel and dirty that needed doing, Colson could do it. At the pinnacle of power, Colson was convicted for his Watergate crimes and sent to prison. His world crumbling around him, he sat alone in his parked car and cried out to God. He didn’t know how to pray. He just knew he needed God to save him.
God answered Colson’s prayers. When he emerged from prison, he was a changed man. God used him to launch Prison Fellowship and later, Prison Fellowship International. He spent the rest of his life proclaiming the saving grace of God through Jesus Christ.
It is never too late to pray. It is never too late to believe. Our problems are never too many or too big for God. When we pray our Father who is in Heaven will hear our prayer and will reward us openly. (Matthew 6:5-8).