How to pray like Jesus and Abraham

Posted by James Hahn on

In today's Gospel passage we hear of Jesus teaching his disciples, and us, how to pray.  There are far better qualified teachers than myself to expound upon the prayer of the Our Father to be found here.  I would rather take a brief overview of the entire Gospel passage today and pull from it four aspects
that have helped and continue to help my prayer life.

Father

As I was reflecting on this passage I noticed something peculiar about my own life as a father of eight.  Never have my children approached me on their knees with heads bowed to the ground asking to watch Veggie Tales or Clifford.  Nor have they ever come to my office, walking backwards so as not to look at me, burning incense in order to ask me if they could have a cheese-stick.  My children approach me with love, familiarity, and trust.  They know that I love them and so they do not fear to ask me for something.  This certainly doesn't mean that I give them all that they ask for.  I love them and so I often tell them "no".

Do you approach the Father with love and trust?  If not, why not?  Over and over in scripture we are told that he is Our Father.  In fact his gift of the Holy Spirit causes us to cry out, "Abba, Daddy, Father"!  This point is obviously important to Jesus.  Today's Gospel is book-ended with mentions of "Father"!  Perhaps your experiences with your own earthly father or father figure(s) haven't been ideal.  All the more reason to read and re-read today's passage.  Our Father is definitely far better than even the best earthly father (sorry St. Joseph) and you can trust him completely.  This is how God wants us to pray!

Persistence

Other than Satan, I know of no other created being more persistent in its desires than a child.  I cannot count the number of times that I have given in to a request because I just didn't want to hear the request anymore.  Jesus' example of the man coming to his friend at night asking for bread is good but I think some sort of parable about a child would have been even better.  Maybe when he mentions having "child-like faith" in other passages he does so with a smile meaning this very attribute of children.

Do you approach the Father with persistence?  If not, why not?  Over and over in scripture we see examples of people persisting in their prayer.  The first reading today concerning Abraham illustrates this very idea!  How about 50 Lord?  How about 40?  35?  What about 20?  Would you go as low as 10?  This is how God wants us to pray!!

Confidence

At various times in my life I have sold both life insurance and used cars with varying amounts of success.  If I could "blame" one thing for my lack of success it would be my lack of confidence.  It would be a lack of confidence in the product, my skills, the service, etc.  I probably would not have been the one to ask Jesus, "Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples."  I would not have bothered the man already in bed.  I don't want to bother people, I'm not sure of myself, I fear looking silly or stupid.

Do you approach the Father with Confidence?  If not, why not?  Over and over in scripture we see examples of people reaching out to the Lord in confidence.  We also see examples of the Lord calling people out of their comfort zones and instilling in them confidence, enough confidence to walk to him ON water!!  Jesus tells us today to ask, seek, and knock with confidence.  This is how God wants us to pray!

Trust

I feel as though I shouldn't even write this paragraph because of all people, I have struggled with trust.  I struggle to trust others and even at times the Lord.  Yet this passage speaks to me as a father who loves his children dearly.  Knowing how much I love my children, knowing how much I want to give them good things helps me to trust God more and more.  If I love my kids this way, how much more does God the Father love them, and me!  To completely trust the Lord is a scary proposition but it is so freeing.  It is only when I release my "perceived" control of life and trust God that I am truly free to live and love as He does.

Do you approach the Father with trust?  If not, why not?  Over and over in scripture we see examples of people who trust God.  In the end their lives and ours are blessed because of this trust.  There is no better example than Jesus himself who trusted the Father even to the point of death, death on the cross!  God the Father wants what is best for me more than I do.  Let us trust that when we ask for snakes, he will give us fish!!  This is how God wants us to pray!!

In Conclusion

Today's first reading ties these four aspects together in the story of Abraham.  Abraham was never one to shy away from the Lord.  He approaches the Lord trusting that he is both just and merciful.  He approaches the Lord with a confidence that shows both familiarity and respect.  His persistence is like that of a child - Let us look to him as an example of what it means to TRUST the FATHER with PERSISTENT CONFIDENCE!  This is how God wants us to pray!!!

FROM THE SAINTS-
"You wrote to me: 'To pray is to talk with God.  But about what?'  About what?  About him, and yourself; joys, sorrows, successes and failures, great ambitions, daily worries - even your weaknesses!  And acts of thanksgiving and petitions - and love and reparation.  In short, to get to know him and to get to know yourself - 'to get acquainted!'" - St. Josemaria Escriva, The Way #91

How to get better at prayer.
  1. Set a prayer appointment - Set a time on your calendar each day to meet and speak with God.
  2. Slowly increase your prayer time. - Don't jump in with an hour right from the get-go.  Build up your "tolerance" so to speak.
  3. Commit - to praying and slowly increasing your prayer time for 30 days.  Mark off the days on your calendar.  If you miss a day, jump right back in, don't give up.
  4. Pray - praying is talking to God, it's spending time with your attention focused on Him.  I enjoy spending time with my children regardless of their level of development.  God is the same way.  Spend time praying as best you can.  Use formal prayers if you want or simply speak in conversation.  Don't forget to listen!
  5. Journal - Our newly revised 4 Simple Steps to Better Scripture Meditations: Guide, Workbook, and Journal walks you through 4 easy steps that will help you go deeper in your prayer life.  It includes 31 days of workbook and journal pages too!
  6. Read other good books about how to pray better - Prayer PrimerDeep Conversion, Deep PrayerTime for GodThe Spiritual Life: A Comprehensive Guide to Catholics Seeking Salvation.
* Contains affiliate links.  No, that doesn't mean that the kids should leave the room.  Rather, it means that if you click on a link, and if you purchase something, I may get some financial remuneration for that click and buy.  All that means is that my kids will finally get to eat, just kidding but I may get something, just so you know...



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  • So refreshing and clarifying!! I will order the 4 steps guide. And journal! Have a blessed Sunday!

    Lynn on

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