Luke 11:1 (NKJV)
Now it came to pass, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, that one of his disciples said to Him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.
It’s an act of humility, to recognize that we need to be taught. No matter how long we’ve been at it, there’s still more we can learn – and unlearn — about prayer. The very fact that we want to pray pleases God. The God of Love wants to commune with us. But where do we start?
The first prayers I learned were simple, short and childlike. They were the words of others that I learned by heart, but I learned to say them as my own. As I grew in my faith, I learned to pray in my own words, sometimes following formulas that helped me cover all the bases. Somewhere along the way, praying got complicated, weighed down with words. These days I’m drawn more and more often to prayers like the one Jesus taught his disciples, The Lord’s Prayer, and to psalms that speak for me. When I don’t know what to pray, one of my favorites is this one from Thomas Merton:
“My Lord God I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that my desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”
Today’s Prayer Practice: Conversational prayer
What God cares about more than anything is our hearts. Start with that. In your own words, tell him where you are right now, as you would a close friend. What do you long for? What are you grateful for? What do you most want to receive from him? What do you need to learn, and unlearn? Ask him to teach you to pray.