Teach Us to Pray

Wanting to pray effectively is not a new concept. Prayer has been around as long as, well as long as God. Abraham prayed, Moses prayed, David prayed, and those are just some of the big names. None of them were perfect, they were all flawed in some way, but they prayed, because they knew there was a higher power they could turn to. Even Jesus’ disciples, who heard him pray often, asked Him to teach them to pray. Like they were asking for a secret formula or magic words.  

But the truth is, there is no “trick” to praying. It is just a talk with God from our heart to his. It doesn’t have to be filled with flowery words or long phrases. Prayer is simply a way keeping the lines of communication open with God — our strength in times of trouble, our peace in a turbulent world, our friend, and our biggest cheerleader. Prayer doesn’t have to be perfect. The Holy Spirit that moves in us and through us, takes our cries, words and feelings and intercedes for us with “sighs too deep for words.”  The Holy Spirit takes our praise and desperation in perfect form to God. The Holy Spirit is the supreme editor.  

 Growing up, my mom would pray a bedtime prayer with my brother and me. I don’t remember the words now, wish I did, but it was the start of a prayer life. When I was ten, my dad had open-heart surgery. That kind of surgery was just pioneering and there were only two hospitals in the country that were performing that type of surgery. My dad had his performed at Cleveland Clinic.  His doctor came back to my mom with the information that he (the doctor) had done over two thousand heart operations, and that my dad’s were the worst set of arteries he had ever seen, the next 24 hours would tell the tale. I remember praying those next 24 hours with all the commitment my ten-year-old heart could handle: “Please, God.  Please, God.”  I don’t know if I went into anything more specific, but God heard me and answered my prayer. We had my dad for 40 more years. It was then that I KNEW that God hears and answers prayer.  

 My prayer life has grown over the years. I truly do enjoy praying. I enjoy being Liturgist and consider it an honor to be asked. Coming before my Lord’s throne, bringing our congregations’ cares and concerns, and praises is a privilege. 

 In telling someone you will pray for them, you touch them, deeply. It lets them know that you care about them and what they are going through. Say that prayer for them. I find it helpful to keep a list of people to pray for on my phone, since I am one of those who is attached to the addictive device.

 I have found prayers on the internet, social media, novels, and inspirational writings. I like to copy those and keep them on my phone as well just in case I have a blank prayer moment.  

 In Jan Karon’s Mitford Series of novels about an Episcopalian priest and his life and service in a small town, she writes about the priest praying “the prayer that never fails.”  Finally, the prayer is revealed. It is “Thy will be done.”  Leaving “it” all up to God, his infinite love and wisdom.  

 Enjoy prayer. Pray in the car, in the elevator, in your happy place. Sing his praises (prayer takes many forms). Praise God for his greatness, let him know your cares, woes, anger, sadness, and joy. Don’t worry about the words, the Holy Spirit will take care of that. Just relax in God’s loving arms and talk to him. Only something beautiful will come of it.  

Carol Zars