O Lord, let Your merciful ears be attentive to the prayers of Your servants, and by Your Word and Spirit teach us how to pray that our petitions may be pleasing before You; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
One of the things I love about being a pastor is that I get to meet so many interesting people. Herb had been placed in an orphanage when he was a child. His mother could not care for him in the Great Depression. He ran away when he could. What he described in that place can only be called abuse. He joined the military and spent the rest of his career either in uniform or working for a military contractor. I don’t think he ever graduated from high school. Herb could pray. He could pray like no one I had ever heard pray. He opened his heart and out of his mouth came words of love, devotion, praise, and supplication which bore eloquent witness to a lot of time spent on his knees in prayer.
I learned most of what I know about praying from Herb and my parents. No one at the seminary ever taught me how to pray. No one even tried. I think that was a failure of my seminary education. I am glad God did not fail to educate me. He gave me Herb. We started a small ministry of prayer in the first parish I served. It was just a group of people, including Herb, who would come together and pray.
I find that many of my parishioners over the years feel they are not good at praying. I still have much to learn. Luther, who prayed for hours every day, once said that he wished he could pray like his dog watched him eat sausage. He yearned for that sort of single-minded attention to God. Even great practitioners of the art of prayer are always growing into it. If you know someone who prays, ask them about that. Ask them why they pray, how they pray, and ask if you can join them in prayer. Let them be your teacher. We pray that God would teach us to pray. He will do that through people who pray. Start that conversation today. Go to the school of prayer. Sit at the feet of someone who is further along in that prayer-life than you. They will teach you something.