Jesus was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”
When Albert Einstein worked at Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study a graduate student approached him for help on a doctoral dissertation. “Dr. Einstein,” the student began, “I am supposed to research a topic that no one has written about, but it seems every area of research has been taken. What do you recommend I write about?” Einstein thought for a moment then answered, “You must find out about prayer. Someone needs to find out about prayer.”
This genius, who peered deeply into the mysteries of time, matter and the cosmos, longed for someone to find out about prayer. Most people I know want to find out about prayer. I do! We want to know more about how prayer works and how it shapes our lives and the world. Like Jesus’ disciples in today’s scripture, we want to know about prayer.
It is because many people desire to know about prayer that, beginning Monday, October 15, our Water from Rock website will feature our daily guide to prayer, Beside Still Waters: Fifty Daily Prayer Retreats. Each day’s reading begins with a short Scripture reflection followed by a Prayer Retreat with suggested activities. Like C. S. Lewis said, “We want to know not how to pray if we were perfect, but how we should pray being as we are now.” (Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer). Or, as Abbot Chapman counseled in his classic on prayer: “Pray as you can, and do not try to pray as you can’t. Take yourself as you find yourself and start from there.” (Spiritual Letters)
You will discover that there are probably as many different ways of praying as there are people. Each of us has our unique, God-created way of being with Him. We will explore many different ways of praying, some that will feel more comfortable to you than others. If over the course of the Fifty Days of prayer you ever find yourself asking, “Am I praying right?” Relax! God will teach you!
We will explore many of the facets of prayer, not just to obtain something from God, but to act in partnership with Him. We will see that prayer is more than petition and pleading; prayer is our whole relationship with God. Eugene Peterson wisely reminds us: “Prayers are not tools for doing or getting, but for being and becoming.” (Answering God: The Tools for Prayer)
Seventeenth century Scottish theologian Henry Scougal wrote about this wondrous adventure we call prayer: “In prayer we make the nearest approaches to God, and lie open to the influences of heaven; then it is that the Sun of Righteousness doth visit his directest rays, and dissipateth our darkness, and imprinteth his image on our souls.” (The Life of God in the Soul of Man)
We see in Mark’s Gospel nine times when the very active Lord Jesus goes on short retreats to pray. For example, “In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed” (Mark 1:35). Amazingly, Jesus came into the world in order to draw us into His very life of eternal communion with the Father. I hope, beginning next Monday, October 15, you will begin these fifty days of prayer retreats. To begin, simply go to www.waterfromrock.org, and click on the tab at the top “Fifty Prayer Retreats.”
“Lord, teach us to pray…”!
Grace and peace,