Simple Enough

Read 2 Kings 5:1-19

One of my employment opportunities in the past was in insurance sales. I was not very successful in this profession but I did acquire some beneficial training and skills. Early in my training, a colleague passed on some advice to me which I first attributed to him but later learned that the United States Navy noted it in the 1960s. My colleague shared an acronym to follow… K.I.S.S., keep it simple stupid. The principle points to how often we want to make something more grandiose or extended than it really needs to be. While I do not like the last word choice in the acronym, I have found the principle very applicable in many situations.

The reading for today is a Biblical story which applies the KISS acronym. We are introduced to a beloved Aramian commander who suffered from a skin disorder which was given the common name, leprosy. Naaman, the commander, learned of a Samarian prophet who may be able to cure his skin disorder. The king of Aram sends him to Samaria with his blessing and a request to the king of Israel to be sure Naaman is cured. When Naaman comes to the prophet  Elisha, he receives a message from Elisha to go and wash in the Jordan seven times (or completely). Naaman is angered by this because Elisha did not even come to see him. The commander expected some great action to take place for him to be healed. His servants convince him to at least give it a try and when he does, he is healed. Naaman then wants to reward Elisha but Elisha refuses to accept anything so Naaman vows to only worship God from now on. Naaman expected something elaborate but Elisha knew it only needed to be simple.

For us, it is easy to relate with Naaman. We often view events in life as the old adage which says… Go big or go home! In some ways it seems logical to us that the Creator of the universe and all that is in it would choose to use a powerful and noticeable action to get things accomplished. However, we quickly discover that God acts in quiet and simple ways much more often than in loud and attention-getting ways. Our God does not need a flashy show to establish a presence and affect change. God’s power and authority is best experienced in the quiet surprises and subtle changes. Seems like a pretty good example for us to follow.

Praying Correctly

And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

“This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from the evil one.’

14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Matthew 6:7-15 (NIV)

Understanding and participating in prayer can be a daunting experience for people. There usually is a great concern about “getting it right.” Prayer is much simpler than many people tend to make it. Prayer is a conversation, a conversation between a human person and a loving spirit we name God. When we engage in prayer we are verbalizing what is on our hearts and mind. Prayer should be spoken using words we would use if talking to our closest friend. There is no one way to pray, there is YOUR way to pray.

In the Gospel of Matthew, a scene is recorded where Jesus gives his disciples an idea of what they could talk with God about. Jesus uses language which was common during his lifetime. He also keeps it short and sweet. First he tells God how he views God and his hopes in relation to God and God’s kingdom. Then he speaks to God about his needs to be fed (physically and spiritually) and to be forgiven. Jesus concludes by asking for assistance from God to avoid life’s pitfalls. All of this prayer is said in a corporate manner so that the disciples understand this can be used by them in an individual sense and in a group sense. A simple conversation with God, using the language of the day and not saying words just to say them.

This prayer should alleviate any concerns which you may have about praying. This prayer shows us that there are no difficult rules to follow when praying. Just talk to God who loves you beyond human understanding. Share with God.