Saturday, May 5, 2018

Learning to pray

This week I met with the small group of girls who live here at Good Shepherd’s Fold and are in my cord group. These girls get opportunities to visit with some family members during their upcoming school holidays. Before they go for holiday visits we always meet and pray together and talk about the upcoming visit. We also debrief when they come back. 

During this cord group time, I asked the girls how I could pray for them. A girl named Esther (not my daughter) responded that she wants us all to pray that her family will come to  know God. If I were this young lady, I can imagine so many other requests I would also have. I would ask God to heal the wounds on my feet so that I could walk. I would ask for God to provide for the physical needs for my family members. I would be thinking about my feelings and needs during the upcoming visit. But this amazing girl just asked for prayer that her family would know God. She said that is what they really need most. 

After sharing prayer requests, we decided to all take turns praying. I was going to be the last one to pray, so I had the privilege of listening to these girls pray first. When it was Esther’s turn to pray, I expected to hear her ask God to answer the requests we had just mentioned, but her prayer was strikingly different from what I expected. I cannot remember her exact words, but I will paraphrase the gist of her prayer. In her humble, gentle voice, her prayer went something like this:

God, you are the Almighty One, the Holy One  and everything is in your hands. You are good and love us so much that you sent Jesus to save us from our sins. You have given us so many things, you have provided for all our needs. You have given us life. You can bring my family to know you. You are the Almighty One. You are so  loving and faithful and you are working for our good. Thank you that you have all of us and our families in your hands and you can do all things. We trust you because you love us so much. Thank you, God. 

I was almost in tears realizing how much I have to learn about prayer. I often bring my requests before God, but not like this. As I listened to this precious child of God pray, my faith was strengthened. Her prayer took my eyes off of my concerns and put them on the good, faithful God who is at work. It was beautiful! 

Reflecting on her prayer afterward, I was reminded about Jesus teaching his disciples to pray. We have heard the Lord’s prayer and recited it so many times, that I sometimes forget to consider how it ought to affect the way I pray. Jesus  began his prayer acknowledging our Heavenly Father and his character. Esther so naturally did this out of her love and appreciation for who God is. And her request for her family to know God was essentially asking for God’s kingdom to come. She did not seem to be following any formula, but her prayer sounded a lot more like the way Jesus taught his disciples to pray than my usual prayers. 

I’m thankful for the opportunity to learn from listening to the prayer of this sister in Christ who is less than one-third of my age. Her faith humbles me. Her prayer teaches me that I should spend more time looking at my Savior than I do looking at myself or my circumstances. Isn’t it interesting that due to the medical challenges she lives with, this amazing young woman spends much of her time on her knees? I want to learn to pray like her. I want to fix my eyes on Him and ask him to strengthen my faith as I continue to learn to pray.