I don't know how to pray
Jesus was praying and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” Jesus said to them, “When you pray, say:
“Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.”"- Luke 11: 1-5
I can’t think of any person except for Jesus who has ever come before we believers and explicitly taught us how to pray. Have you ever noticed that? Yes we are taught how to have godly relationships, how to baptize fellow believers, and how we should evangelize, but have you ever been to a night of “Learning How To Pray?” I know I’ve never been to a church that offered that sort of class, although maybe you have.
Quite honestly, I feel awkward about praying. I’ll admit it to all of you ladies. I do not like praying out loud, and when someone in a group of people asks someone to volunteer to pray, I’m the first one to look down at the ground or at another unwilling friend I know who is also in the circle.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I talk to God throughout my entire day as if He is riding in the car next to me. I tell Him about my heart and thank Him for knowing me so well. But that’s not how you’re supposed to pray in a crowded room or over a stranger, right?
I’ve been praying to God a little differently these days. When I am in the shower I'm praying. In between classes, pressed up against the white tile walls of the first floor bathrooms I'm praying. During the worship at church, waiting for a friend to show up for coffee, walking through a door way at work, staring at my ceiling fan at 1:25 in the morning, I am praying. There used to be this pain that sat on my chest and made it so hard to breathe that all I could do was talk to Him about it, "God, take this away from me. Just make it go away, please.
"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you."
-1 Peter 5: 6-7
A few weeks ago, I was sitting in a coffee shop with my friend Hannah. It had been six months since my relationship (with the boy I was convinced I would spend the rest of my life with) had ended. My heart was heavy. It had been six months of trying to find my footing, and I had finally been making progress. Like the good, mountain-moving, type of progress. And then I got a text from him. I found out about all the new things that he has going on in his life, things that made it hard for me to breathe. Why? Because I knew, then, I had lost my front row seat in getting to watch his life happen. As I was reading about all these adventures he is going on and this new joy he has, I did something I hadn’t really done before - I asked God to give me what my heart wants, and that it might be what He wants, too.
After telling Hannah about this late night/early morning moment of vulnerability and brokenness in that same coffee shop, we decided to make a list of all the things we hoped for in a man. The whole time I kept thinking, “Am I allowed to do this, God? Am I allowed to ask You for things?”
I’d never been straight up honest with God because I felt I didn’t know how to pray. My conversations with Him have always been a, “Hey, if You feel like doing this, that would be great, but if not, I understand that there’s a better reason for it.”
But when I did feel that I finally knew how to pray, the prayers had been made out of thankfulness and communion with Jesus. Never before had I sat alone in deep prayer that had come out of a place of dependance. And until that moment of deep prayer, it had never felt so peaceful to feel so needy.
I think that’s what Jesus is trying to say with the Lord’s prayer: when we pray, we are supposed to go to the Father as the source and supplier of all things in our lives, with a heart of dependency. Prayer is not merely just a fellowship with Him nor a way to thank Him; prayer is our way of giving the control over to Him. So I pray differently, now. And lately, I’ve been known to even pray out loud in groups of people. I’ve never been in a season of such thankfulness for prayer and the fruits that can be reaped from it.
Now I have this prayer for you, sisters. For today, and for always.
Can you show us how to push ourselves to do the things that break our heart? Because You did not want to drink from the cup in the Garden of Gethsemane, but I will be forever indebted to You because You drank it anyway. Can you help us force ourselves into solitude, only so that the silence we experience might strip us of our pains, shortcomings, disappointments, and failures? Because You may have gone to the top of the Mount of Olives to be transformed in the presence of three friends, but You were alone when You suffered and persevered in the dessert. Can you help us to learn a forgiveness that yields kisses? Because You ate, traveled, slept, and changed lives with the man You knew would betray You, and yet still, You kissed him.
Can you help us fight to stand in brave nothingness, humbly asking that our hearts and your Kingdom’s will be made one and be given to us? Because that is all that we desire, Your Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
- Jenna // @jenbed