This is what my younger son, Dylan, always replies in frustration every time we ask him to say a prayer. Lately, we have been trying to teach Dylan the importance of praying and how he can go to Christ in prayer every time. Dylan, however, becomes a bit nervous when confronting the topic of prayer due to the great deal of confusion that he experiences when it comes to talking to God.
“it’s just like you are talking to us…” we try to explain, but he keeps insisting that he doesn’t know how to talk to God. It’s kind of funny because every time that we ask Dylan to pray, he always reverts to his little, “God is Good, God is Great, thank you for this food, amen!” It doesn’t really matter the occasion. It could be a bedtime prayer, a prayer for someone’s well-being, a prayer before going to school…that’s what he always says when forced to pray aloud.
The reason I sigh is because Dylan’s open admission of his lack of a prayer life may as well have come from my own lips. I too am confused about what a prayer life looks like. I am also confused about what I am supposed to do or say when I pray. I often feel like my prayers are insufficient, shallow and perhaps even irreverent. Like Dylan, I am not sure I know how to pray either.
Our Heavenly Father, though, in His great provision and graciousness always gives us what we need right when we need it. So, as it happens, this week I am hopefully starting a Bible Study in the topic of, yes, you guessed it, prayer. We are going to be studying the book, A Praying Life by Paul E. Miller.
I immediately knew it was the right book for me since in the third line he says: “God taught me to pray through suffering.”
After that, he moves on to commenting how most of us are confused about what makes for “good prayer,” and often feel like praying is not much more than “whistling in the wind.” I think what I’m enjoying the most about this book is the fact that the author keeps things real. So far, I have not felt like he is out of touch and convoluted. He tells it like it is. For instance, he pointed out something like, we don’t get a good grasp of prayer since our dialogue seems to be with the air rather than with a real person, especially since, in most cases, we don’t really hear the audible voice of God in His response to prayer. Therefore, our minds fill up with questions like, “how do we distinguish our own thoughts from God’s thoughts?”
I am not very far in the book yet, but I know its lessons have the potential of becoming prayer-life-altering. As the author digs in deeper into an exploration of the way we communicate with Our Lord, he said something I thought was simply wonderful: “The praying life feels like dinner with good friends.”
“It is a journey of a lifetime.”
Christ taught us once how to pray in Matthew 6: 9-13. I know He is still teaching us. He finds great pleasure in us, despite our faults. After all, He came to the world for the sick, the needy and the lost. He came to rescue those who were trapped. He came to free those who were in slavery. He came to redeem those who needed redemption. And He came so we could someday go home.
This weekend we celebrate Dylan’s homecoming day. It has been eight years since we brought him home and became a family of four. This is always a time of greatly intimate celebration in our house. As Dylan gets older he understands more and more the story of his life. He is growing comfortable with his reality and enjoys the perks of having two “birthday-like” celebrations topped with cake, balloons and, of course presents!
Obviously, a celebration is not complete without going out to eat, right? So we went to a restaurant of Dylan’s choosing (and amazingly enough, it was NOT McDonald’s). When the food arrived, Dan asked who wanted to pray. Without hesitation, and to our great surprise, Dylan volunteered with a cheerful, “I do!” Before we could say, OK, Dylan had folded his little hands, bowed his head and began his usual…
“God is Great, God is Good, thank you for….” And after an almost imperceptible pause, he continued, “this food… I love Mamma, I love Daddy, I love Grant and I love being here. Thank you God.”
My heart melted. I gave him a gentle hug. And as I kissed his spiky hair, I told him, “that’s the best prayer I’ve ever heard anyone say…”