“[Jesus] 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 NRSV
Who taught you to pray?
“My sister,” was the quick, first answer when I asked the congregation last Sunday. I have to admit that I was a bit surprised. But I shouldn’t have been. Our siblings – biological or spiritual – teach us all kinds of things when we pay attention. Why wouldn’t a sister be a teacher of prayer?
Other answers were more along the lines of what I expected. More than one mother taught the bedtime prayer “Now I lay me…”. At least one father made sure the family said grace at mealtime. A grandmother was mentioned. And a Sunday school teacher.
Earlier in the worship service the three children in the small crowd, their father, and I enjoyed Tim Ladwig’s beautiful interpretation of the Lord’s Prayer. Ladwig’s illustrations in this children’s book are exquisite and a great way to talk about the meaning of each phrase of the Lord’s Prayer in ways younger children – and the rest of us – can understand.
Whenever I preach on the prayer, I remember one question from the old Evangelical Catechism: “What is prayer?”
What is prayer?
Prayer is the conversation of the heart with God
for the purpose of praising [God],
asking [God] to supply the needs of ourselves and others,
and thanking [God] for whatever [God] gives us.
Ps. 19:14. Ps. 34:3. Ps. 103:1-4. Matt. 6:6. Matt. 7:7- 8. Matt. 18:19-20. Matt. 21:22. Ps. 92:1. 1 Tim. 2:1-2. 1 Thess. 5:17.
Evangelical Catechism, https://www.ucc.org/beliefs_evangelical-catechism
“Prayer is a conversation of the heart with God.”
A conversation. Speaking and Listening.
For praise. For help. For giving thanks.
I didn’t use it last Sunday, but here’s my favorite prayer by Saint Francis.
The Prayer before the Crucifix by Saint Francis
enlighten the darkness of my heart
and give me
and perfect charity,
sense and knowledge,
that I may carry out
Your holy and true command.
May it be so.