For me, I think the most valuable life lesson I may have ever learnt is how to pray. I used to find days - and sometimes weeks- would go by in my life, without much awareness of what thoughts and feelings filled my mind, somewhat responsive to whatever life cast my way. Most devastatingly of all, I found that I could go days without God even crossing my mind. The culture of the developed world has now not only become one where people do not think God exists, but one where people do not even think about God at all. Many Christians may feel a disparity between the fullness of life they imagined to have as a follower of Jesus and the daily rhythms of life they find themselves in. For some it may even feel that the living God is not really alive. Prayer is God’s antidote to this. It is the means by which God translates his real existence into the life of a believer. For those of us who have known about God and Christianity for a long time, prayer is likely to be the difference between identifying as a Jesus’ follower and starting the process of actually becoming like Jesus and participating in His kingdom on earth. To put it another way, being and communicating with God, i.e. prayer, is how we begin to become like Him.One helpful way I have learnt to consider the spiritual practice of prayer is to consider it the exercise of becoming aware of God in all times of life and then attempting to listen and talk to Him in those moments. Since I have began to learn how to pray - I have known God to enter increasingly more aspects and moments of my life with great effect. Such moments include receiving a heart-sinking email, then uttering the prayer “Oh Holy Spirit stay close to me” and beginning my journey of conquering one of my worst fears with the Holy Spirit. Or hearing my wife read the poem she wrote for me at our wedding, whispering to the Lord, “Thank you Father, you are so good to me” and pouring out thanks on God for once again confirming His faithfulness to me throughout my life. As Sarah Lear expounded, in her week 7 entry on Ignatius’ Examen, prayer is the means by which we make real our relationship with God.
When the disciples asked Jesus to “teach us how to pray”, they were articulating a desire to imitate the kind of life Jesus had with the Father. I so desire that life. We see many of the most pivotal moments of Jesus’ short life on earth was marked by such moments of awareness to the presence of God and dialogues with the Father: praying alone before preaching, praying before the cross at the last supper with others, and in the garden alone. May we follow in the way of Jesus, depending and punctuating our lives with the practice and rhythm of being with God in prayer.