One Practical Way to Learn How to Pray
I learned how to pray that day. I was probably eight or nine years old, and my grandma had dragged me to church. I remember sitting on the tail gate of an old farm truck behind a small church in rural Kansas. All I remember is repeating the prayer of an elderly man to “invite Jesus into my heart.” The prayer really didn’t mean anything though. It was just simply words…but it is the first time I every remember trying to talk to God.
But this raises a question in my heart.
How should we learn how to pray?
It seems that in most cases, that we learn from experience. We learn how to pray from observing others. If that is the case, my first experience with prayer tought me that it was all about saying the right words, and if I got them right something magical would happen.
Of course I don’t think that is the case now…but this idea creeps into my heart every now and then. Like a weed, the roots run deep. It’s not easy to kill.
My prayers so easily turn into a string of heartless phrases strung together in hopes that they will cause God to magically be happy with me. It’s even worse because I have almost 20 years of practice. That’s almost 20 years of learning how to pray just the right words to sound pious and spiritual. I can pray with just the right amount Father God, theological jargon, and old englishism that it would make even an angel cry.
But how do you kill the roots? How do you really learn how to pray?
“Jesus, teach us to pray.” – Luke 11:1
Anyone knows that if you want to learn something, it’s best to go to the master of the craft. No one is better at prayer than Jesus. It’s one of the reasons why his disciples went to him with this request.
Now at this point you might expect me to dig into how Jesus taught his disciple to pray. I could dive into the passage and show you the profession of how Jesus went from glorifying the Father, to asking for personal needs, and finishing up by repenting of sins. But that just puts us back in the same place where we started…looking for a magic formula.
I think the answer even simpler…we need to go to the master ourselves. If we want to learn to pray, we need to ask Jesus to teach us how to pray.
Sometimes the most practical thing we can do…is to ask for help. Don’t forget…Jesus is not dead, and he is more than willing to teach you how to pray. You just have to take a moment and ask.
–Question for the Week–
What is the biggest lesson you have learned about prayer?