Luke 11:1 NLT
'Once Jesus was in a certain place praying. As he finished, one of his disciples came to him and said, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.'
Jesus’ disciples were Jews, steeped in the ways of their faith and familiar with prayer. Observing Jesus they became aware of a different dynamic to prayer that wasn’t part of their experience. What this was we can never know. I think it was something about both the intimacy in relationship in prayer between Jesus and his Father, and the reality of God’s presence during his prayer.
As I began to seek God afresh in my own place of confusion and pain, I turned to reading many extracts from the Church Fathers. I made formal retreats where I observed the daily prayer rhythm of Franciscan and Benedictine brothers filled with a serene sense of God encounter. I sensed it more than understood it. It drew me towards a growing appetite for God in my own experience. I too spoke with several, asking that they might teach me to pray.
The disciples themselves requested teaching; revealing prayer isn’t something that comes naturally to any one of us. It is a learned practice. That learning lasts a lifetime, with the benefit that in older age when one is less active and perhaps increasingly socially isolated, the space in which we encounter God is highly developed, enriching and real. We also discover that the time we choose freely to invest in prayer increases and we yearn to step away from the daily clamour of everyday life and sit within the stillness and silence of our solitary space in God’s presence.
When I started my regular daily office of prayer, I struggled. It was quite simply a discipline I chose to impose upon myself. Like any learning, it felt both strange and uncomfortable initially, with many temptations to give up. It did require perseverance. I often felt I was only speaking to myself, and frequently emerged with no sense of God encounter. But all these experiences were building blocks for my highway to heaven.
QUESTION: Ask God to teach you how to pray, a request that will be the start of a journey of disciplined personal prayer discovery.
PRAYER: Lord, there is always more to discover about prayer because there is always more to discover about you. Please keep teaching me. Amen.