Prayer is so simple that even a small child can put their hands together, close their eyes, and talk to God. But somehow, once we grow a little older we tend to find the practice more difficult. So for our first Beroean.com-exclusive content, we’re going to look a bit closer at prayer: asking what it is and how we can be better at it, and having people share their own experiences of prayer.
We’ll also be looking at some of the most famous prayers of the Bible and considering what lessons we can learn from them.
An obvious starting place – perhaps the most famous prayer of all – is Jesus’ response to the disciples’ request, “Lord, teach us to pray!” (Luke 11:1–4). He begins:
Nothing in the rest of the prayer is of such significance as this term. No-one in the Bible before Jesus addressed God in this way, no human understood the awe-inspiring nature of God like Jesus did, and yet it is he who tells us to use this intimate term to address him!
At the same time it is important to understand that ‘Father’ is also a term of respect and dependence, as the father is the traditional figure of family authority – especially in Eastern society. And so we must still come to God with an attitude of respect, bowing to his authority even as we acknowledge this intimacy.
After showing the disciples how to pray, Jesus encouraged them, saying:
“If you… know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give!” (Luke 11:13)
We can pray believing that God has our best interests at heart, and find that he answers in a way we could not have imagined. God is not limited in the way that earthly fathers are, but is able to see all the outcomes of our situation, and has the power to do whatever is right. He will always act wisely, and will always be there for us.
Why is it easy for a young child to simply pray? Perhaps in part it’s because they are always depending on those good gifts that Jesus spoke of. They’re not used to independence, but instead are constantly relying on others to provide for them, including what they’ll eat each day. If they’ve been raised in a safe environment, it will be easy for them to approach God in the same manner as they might approach an adult whose care they are in: fully expecting that he will provide them with what they need and protect them in any situation.
Learning to pray is, at its simplest, learning how to consider ourselves children before God, stripping away our independence, and entrusting ourselves and others to his care.