Prayer. Talking to God. Communicating with the Being that made us. Interacting with the One who created us with a built-in need for that interaction. Prayer.
A lot of books written, a lot of sermons preached. Why is it so hard? Why do we have to learn how to pray? Prayer retreats, seminars on prayer, lectures — on talking to the One who loves us most, who knows us best. Why?
Don’t get me wrong — I have plenty of books on prayer, some of which I have read (!), and I love prayer retreats. I’m just wondering, though, why it is such a thing? Why it is so hard? Is it really that way, or have we made it so?
Maybe we should look at it through a different lens.
Maybe it shouldn’t be “I only prayed for a couple of minutes today,” but more, “What portion of my day was prayer?” We are told in the Bible to pray without ceasing. If I pray in the traditional way while I’m driving (eyes closed), I’ll wreck my car, and if I wander around Costco mumbling prayers out loud . . . well, let’s just say I might get a line to myself at checkout time. But can acts of kindness be prayers to the One we love? Is listening to your child talk on and on and biting your tongue not to interrupt — is that prayer? Is not saying the sharp retort that comes to mind when your spouse does something that irritates you, but instead speaking kindly and keeping the channels of love open — is that prayer? Waving cars to get in front of you, complimenting the check-out clerk, beaming at the older lady at the restaurant who calls you “honey” (maybe that only happens in the South, but still –) –is that prayer?
Looking at it from another angle — maybe we don’t need to learn how to pray and to praise God — maybe what we need is to remember.
Praising God comes so naturally to children. Ever volunteered at a Vacation Bible School? You should, and then you will know exactly what I mean. Children are so happy, so free, so exuberant in their praise of God. It is a beautiful thing to see, and whether or not you were actually taught it, I believe there was a time when your soul was ready for it, eager for it. When we study prayer and talk about prayer and practice different methods of prayer, we are making our way back to that original knowing — the child-like certainty that Jesus Loves Me, This I Know, and He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.