Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Jesus, teach us to pray!

1One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples."
2He said to them, "When you pray, say:
" 'Father,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
3Give us each day our daily bread.
4Forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.[c]
And lead us not into temptation.' "

5Then he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, 6because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.'

7"Then the one inside answers, 'Don't bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can't get up and give you anything.' 8I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man's boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs.

9"So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

11"Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" (Luke 11:1-12)

Why does prayer become so difficult? Why don't we know how to pray? We know that through prayer, life becomes a conversation between us and God. Many authors of books on spirituality discuss the fact that communication with God is an essential part of the relationship. The communication of ourselves in faith, is prayer. Communication involves both talking and listening. We cannot just talk at God. We talk to God and we listen attentively for God’s response.

Prayer is the vehicle that allows us to communicate with God. Prayer does not mean simply to pour out one’s heart. It means rather to find the way to God and to speak with him, whether the heart is full or empty. Affective prayer is communion with God, a communion leading to union.

God invites us into relationship. After you are in touch with the invitation being extended to you by God, you may begin to release all words and images that are contained within you and begin to develop a contemplative spirit that allows God to break through at the right time and surprise us with grace.

As we listen to God speak, we are called to be aware of our own patterns of resistance. We are always in the presence of the sacred, but the sacred nature is only apparent to those who are open to it. This demands of us a willingness to sit quietly at the feet of God and await his touch.

The heart of true prayer is surrender to God’s redeeming will. Could it be that it is precisely at this point that we come face to face with the reason we so often do not pray? Perhaps the obstacle is not so much that we feel that God is silent, as our own fear that God might in fact respond. What if God answered that he wills to bless us by revealing to us a cross to bear? Perhaps our problem is not that we don’t know what to pray, but that we don’t want to know what to pray.

Even though it seems we don’t need God’s help with the mundane needs of life in our pursuit of happiness, God needs our help to bear Christ’s cross in the world. We don’t want to be told that God can bless us as much through his No as through his Yes. We don’t want everything to work for good; we want only good things to work for good, at least in our own lives.

Our civilization has managed to keep God at arm’s length. We generally don’t need God, and we clearly find his ways strange. Then why worry about it? Why pray at all? The answer is, of course, that our souls cannot be content with our situation. Perhaps our earthly life is too good. We are addicted to the good life, yet we can’t get Christ out of our soul. We know that there is no way out of our dilemma that does not begin in prayer, yet we are afraid, without faith, and preoccupied.

We need to ask daily, "Jesus, teach us to pray!"

Peace and love,


"Be still and know that I am God"(Psalm 46:10)

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