By Jake Hall
published in Family Matters eNewsletter, September 1, 2016
In Luke 11 the disciples asked Jesus, “Lord, teach us how to pray.” The words of Jesus from Luke and from Mathew inspire what we know as, The Lord’s Prayer. You probably know the Lord’s Prayer by heart. I, too, learned that prayer when I was a child. I studied the prayer in seminary through the work of the early church fathers. But, it wasn’t until I became a father that I prayed, “Lord, teach me to teach my son how to pray.”
A friend shared recently that “What you pray about is less important than the act of intentionally engaging the practice of prayer itself." I think about that when I pray with my son.
Right now his petitions are simple. Erin and I established a family ritual of prayer around our dinner table each night. Since Logan was too young to recite it we have held hands and prayed the following: “Thank you, God, for giving us food. Thank you, God, for giving us friends. For the food, we eat and the friends we meet, thank you, God.” We call it the “Superman Prayer,” because more often than not we sing that prayer to the tune made popular by the superman movies.
Dinnertime prayers have led to bedtime prayers. Teaching my son to pray now includes people for whom he is thankful and things for which he prays. We kneel by the bedside and fold our hands. Every night Logan explains to God that he will be standing for the prayer because he is not tall enough to kneel. I pray and thank God for his prayers and the impact that praying will make on his life over time.
Our attention to prayer shapes our intentions over the course of a life. Maybe we all need a reminder of that. In January 1946, while studying at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Flannery O’Connor began keeping a prayer journal. She filled the notebook with a series of prayers to God. “Please help me to get down under things and find where You are,” she writes. “I do not mean to deny the traditional prayers I have said all my life, but I have been saying them and not feeling them.” Consider taking the time to pray, not just by recitation your memory, but to pray “feelingly” and from your heart.