Since becoming a pastor, the questions that I hear more frequently than any others concern the subject of prayer. “How do I pray?” or “What should I prayer?” used to be the most often asked questions. However, since speaking and writing about giving up the idol of the “Big Santa-God-in-the-Sky” who grants requests or doesn’t answer prayers as if they were wishes, people have added “To whom should/do/can we pray?” to the list of most the asked questions. While I am tempted to offer answers to these questions, I suspect that my answers will not satisfy those who insist that there must be some secret formula that will make their prayer life successful.
I can say that when prayer ceases to be a laundry list of wants and desires, it has the power to open us to the awe and wonder of being a part of something far greater than ourselves. When we allow ourselves to be opened to more than what and who we are, the sense of gratitude that wells has the power to make us lovers of creation and partners with our sisters and brothers in this grand endeavour we call life.
In the stories handed down to us of Jesus of Nazareth, we are told that his followers asked him how they should pray. When I read these stories I see a frustrated Jesus whose followers insist that John the Baptist’s followers have a formula for prayer and Jesus ought to give them one as well. In these stories its as if Jesus says, “Oh well if you insist, then when you pray pray like this.” The prayer that results has become known as The Lord’s Prayer, and although there are many translations and interpretations of this Abba Prayer, these days the one I am becoming fond of is the one provided by Neil Douglas-Klotz in Prayers of the Cosmos: Meditations on the Aramaic Words of Jesus. The video below provides a beautiful interpretation of this interpretation. Enjoy. May it move you toward prayer without words so that you can pray without ceasing and let your life be your prayer!