31Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat. 32So they left by boat for a quiet place, where they could be alone. . . . 46After telling everyone good-bye, he went up into the hills by himself to pray.
My earliest memory of prayer is bedtime prayers with my mom and meal time prayers with my dad. Mom always prayed with us when she put us to bed. I’m sure at some age that stopped, but I grew up with the distinct impression that no one knew how to pray quite like my mom.
Dad always led the family in meal time prayers and devotions. Every morning, except Sunday, we gathered around the table for Bible reading and prayer before breakfast. We took turns praying after the Bible reading with the turns determined by age. Everyone had a turn so we all learned to pray aloud from a very young age. On Sunday, we all recited a verse in place of the Bible reading.
That was our breakfast routine. The noon meal was blessed by reciting “God is great and God is good. Let us thank him for our food. By his hands we all are fed. Give us, Lord, our daily bread. Amen.”
Our evening meal was always blessed by reciting the Lord’s Prayer. Sunday noon was blessed with the Lord’s Prayer and Sunday evening with the less formal “God is great…”
Dave and I didn’t follow that exact pattern with our family, but prayer is still an important part of our lives. For whatever reason, I am drawn to reflect on the place of prayer in my life, but more specifically prayer that is learned and recited; liturgical prayers and recitations. While rote prayers can easily lose significance after a period of time, there is sacred beauty and solemnity in worship that is repeated or used often.
The Bible records many prayers’; Jesus’ prayer — the Lord’s Prayer — is likely the most well known. In Paul’s letters, he often includes a prayer; these provide an excellent model in knowing how to prayer for others.
This week I’m going to explore some prayers. What is your earliest experience of prayer? Do you find it difficult to pray for yourself or others? How can prayer be demystified while still maintaining its mystery? How would you like to become more intentional in your prayer life?