Teach Me To Pray

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Prayer Helps Us Be More Hopeful And Grateful

by Eric Elkin

He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.
— Luke 11:1

The meme on Facebook read, “Our mobile phones have more computing power than all of NASA in 1969. NASA launched a man to the moon. We launch a bird into pigs.” It is breathtaking to consider the access to power the average person has at their disposal. And, yet, time and time again we do the silliest of things with that power.

Youtube is a power rarely wasted. Matter of fact, it may be the most helpful resource ever invented. Sure, people use it for silly things like cat videos and to record epic fails. But, if you don’t know how to do something, search Youtube. I bet someone has made a video showing you exactly what you need to know and how to get it done. 

A couple of years ago, I replaced a plaster wall with tongue-in-groove birch wood. The wall had a problematic angle which required an exact cut to join the boards together. I did not know the degree of the angel or how to determine it. I must have slept during that math class in high school. Thankfully, a man on Youtube was there to supply me with a short, clear, and precise answer. Then he demonstrated it in a video. Reading those instructions and figuring it out on my own would have been too confusing and time consuming.

People on Youtube have helped me figure out to use my new Green Egg grill and how to smoke a brisket. I have found easy to use videos for biblical interpretation, movie clips for sermons, instructions on how to wire a light fixture, change the oil in my snowblower, and how to compost. I bet there is a video showing you how to land on the moon. I know there is one questioning the moon landing. If only the disciples had Youtube, they wouldn’t have needed to bother Jesus for instructions to pray. 

Prayer is not changing God’s mind about us or about anything else, but allowing God to change our mind about the reality right in front of us (which we usually avoid or distort).
— Richard Rohr

I’ve always thought the disciples were asking “how” to pray and Jesus responded with “what” to pray. When I think of how to pray, my thoughts are focused on posture, environment, breathing, and necessary motions. Do I sit still, or, do I rock back and forth like those praying at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem? The words are more important than gestures. 

The words of the Lord’s Prayer are worth remembering during these unique and strange days. Reading about the Mueller Report, immigration, poverty, housing, international trade causes me to worry about the future. When this happens, I pray, “Your kingdom come.” The words remind me God’s kingdom will come no matter what we do or what we believe. But when I pray these words, I pray God’s kingdom will happen in me.

The news of the day often fills my soul with anxiety.  Anxiety blinds me from seeing the blessings in my life. I struggle to be completely thankful for them. When I pray for my daily bread, I remember all that I am grateful for in my life. Daily bread is more than food. It includes good friends, family, house, job, all the things we sometimes take for granted.

Lord, if only you would teach us all to pray these two things our lives would be better. If nothing else, we would be more hopeful and grateful. 

Click to read Luke 11: 1-13

Reflection Questions:

  • What causes you the greatest anxiety?

  • How do you cope with anxiety and fear?

  • What do you need to learn about prayer?

  • What does it mean to you to have “God’s Kingdom” happen in you?

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