Luke 11:1 (New International Version)
1One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples."
I used to be intimidated by people whose spoken prayers sounded like poetry. Whether it was giving thanks before dinner or praying publicly during a memorial service, I have always been impressed when the words flow freely and beautifully and seemingly without much thought to what would come next.
Feeling like I couldn't "perform" as well as others often kept me from vocalizing my prayers.
What I finally realized is praying - whether the words are spoken out loud or whispered in my heart - is not about connecting all the words in the prettiest way possible, or even about the words at all. Rather, it's about connecting ourselves and our hearts with God.
Seems simple, doesn't it? Well it wasn't that simple for me.
I think, after years of practice, I have finally reached that place where the words do come a little easier, but there are still nights when I am tired and rushing through my mental list of people I promised I would pray for and I give in to the exhaustion and go generic and say something like this: "Heavenly Father, you know what is in my heart and you know the names and the faces and the needs of all those I wish to pray for. Please surround them with your loving embrace and allow them to feel your presence in their lives."
And you know what? It's all good. He gets it. God knows the specifics even more intimately than we do and it pleases Him that we pray, even if it is simply to ask that His will be done.
Today is the National Day of Prayer. Cities all over the country have events planned to focus on our freedom to worship at the time and place of our choosing - even on the steps of our local courthouse. But if you can't make it to your courthouse or there aren't any events in your town, I encourage you to take some time to focus on your own prayer journey today. Are you doing OK? Are you practicing? Is your prayer "voice" a little rusty?
I believe in the power and significance of prayer in our everyday lives. I believe it is just as important to thank our Lord for His blessings on us as it is to ask for guidance, healing, and grace. I believe every day should be a day of prayer.
With that, a quick story about sharing the power of prayer with my children:
The kids and I were working on our vegetable garden one spring (maybe even last spring, I can't remember) and I was trying to start our old, heavy, cantankerous rototiller. I pulled and pulled and pulled at that rope and nothing was happening. I went inside and called Steve to ask if there was anything I should be doing differently. Nope. I had checked the gas and oil, all the levers and buttons and thingamabobs were in the correct positions. So I went back outside and kept trying.
That tiller would sputter and die, over and over. The air was hot. I was exhausted. But I wanted to get the rest of that garden planted.
Out of sheer frustration, I took a deep breath, looked skyward and said aloud, "Dear God, I am willing to do the work if you would just let this tiller start for me. If it won't start I will take it as a sign that today just isn't our day to work on the garden."
Rachel looked up from planting something and said, "Mom? What are you doing?"
"I'm praying for God to help me get this stupid tiller started," I said.
And then I pulled the rope again.
And that sucker fired right up.
Rachel jumped up, her face beaming, and shouted over the noise of the machine, "I guess praying really does work, mom!"
Yes it does, baby. Don't you ever forget it.
Have a blessed day.