“Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep…..z z z z. The prayer life of so many people is about like that. We may be grown-up in many ways but prayer remains a childhood habit. We get by with a hurried grace at mealtime, the Lord’s prayer in church and a child’s prayer at night and the polls put us in the percentage of those in our land who pray. I hope that this is not too cynical. God has something much better. Perhaps some of us need to begin again, to start having honest conversations with God, speaking honestly and listening patiently. Praying is not easy. Distractions are many.
There is the old story of the man who was on his way to a concert in New York’s Carnegie Hall. He got lost on the way ending up in Greenwich Village. He hailed a long-haired fellow lounging against a coffee house door. “How do I get to Carnegie Hall?” he asked. “Practice man! Practice!” To get to God’s heart requires practice.
Fruitful prayer requires discipline. I know that God hears every cry uttered in a crisis, every hurried pleading sent heavenward, but prayer that gladdens His heart is the one that asks, ‘Show me your will O God, that I may obey it.” “Let me know something of your agenda that I may follow it.” Prayer is not so much asking for what we want but listening to find out what He wants and saying, “Yes Lord.” I say it again, “Prayer is not easy.”
The Sisters of the Cenacle quote a song by Joe Wise, from the seventies; it’s refrain,
Lord, teach us to pray.
It’s been a long and cold December kind of day
With our hearts and hands all busy- in our private little wars, We stand and watch each other now- from sep’rate shores; We lose the way.
The Way back is to begin with thanksgiving and praise to our gracious God. It may then be followed by confession. Perhaps some relationship needs mending. Repentance after confession includes a setting of the will to make right what we can. Then we can, more freely, intercede for others as well as for ourselves, our church and our nation.
Honesty is essential. A friend who leads an Alpha course in a prison near his home tells me that he is almost frightened by their honesty .He says, “The inmates don’t want any religious blather. They cut through the religious veneer and have it out with God.”
Grandiose plans to pray an hour a day to start are unreal. Begin with a bite-sized time and as you begin to enjoy God’s presence, increase it until you become a prayer warrior.
Question: Am I content with my prayer life or do I need to make some changes? Prayer: Teach me, Father, to enjoy your presence, both talking and listening. Amen