Monday, July 7, 2014

Learning to Pray (An Introduction)

"For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy." - Saint Thérèse of Lisieux

"What is absolutely essential to the Christian life?"

I suspect most Christians, should they ponder this question for even a brief moment, would conclude that prayer is essential to the Christian life.

I bet there have been many times you've heard (or said) "I would really like to have a better prayer life." For the Christian, what is really being said is "I seek to have a better relationship with Christ."

I propose that regardless of the state of our own personal prayer life, there is always room to grow and improve. For if Christian prayer is relationship with Christ, does the true Christian not seek to constantly and continually grow and improve that relationship?

While we may seek a better prayer life, we may often find ourselves to be inadequate or "dry". We might set out with some plan that soon thereafter falls by the wayside. Why is that?

Perhaps it is our misunderstanding of Christian prayer at the very basic and fundamental level. Do you think that prayer is all about words?

Does a baby understand it is loved by its parents? How is that? Do you think it is because the baby understands its parents when they tell him or her "I love you"? Of course not! The baby understands that the parent loves him or her because of the parent's actions!

Ah, the baby's ability to understand that it is loved begins with the actions of the parent. As the baby learns and grows, the relationship between baby and parents grow too. The baby learns to express it's love for his or her parents in ways that they most certainly understand. This is true long before the baby is able to express such affection through verbal communication.

Think of yourself as that baby and God as the parent. We know how to do this! It is at the core of our being, and that should be a comfort to anyone who thinks, "I don't know how to pray."

Kendra and I recently went on a Marriage Encounter weekend. On the second evening of the weekend while Kendra and I were reflecting on the day, we discussed one of the presenting couples. "Have you noticed how Judy looks at Ron?" I asked. "How couldn't I?" Kendra responded.

We went on to discuss some of the little ways that each member of the presenting couples had displayed love and affection for each other. These were all non-verbal means. They were each able to visibly express their love for each other to one another and to us without saying a word.

If our prayer is relationship with Christ, then we are able to understand His love through non-verbal means. We are able to express our love to Him through non-verbal means. Others are able to visibly recognize our relationship with Christ through such means, and this all works toward some benefit in the salvific plan of God.

Assignment for the day: Think of someone special in your life today. That person is a gift from God to you; a non-verbal means of His communication to you. Think about that gift today - and smile.

There, you did it! What a nice little prayer.

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