Tag Archives: Celebration of Discipline

Teach Us to Pray (Focus Friday!)

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – January 16, 2015

PRAY teach us to pray

Teach Us to Pray (Focus Friday!)

“Teach us to pray.” That’s what the disciples wanted their Rabbi Jesus to do in Luke 11, wasn’t it?

The prayer guide we are considering this month has this request of God as its centerpiece, or foundation. Rev. Howell has based each basic or foundational “lesson” on some general aspect of prayer. He sets up each chapter as a brief lesson or tutorial on prayer. Howell mentions Richard Foster in today’s chapter, and I wanted to find out more about Foster’s viewpoints on prayer.

Accordingly, I checked out his book Celebration of Discipline, in the chapter dealing with prayer. Sure enough, Foster mentions Jesus teaching His disciples to pray. “They had prayed all of their lives, and yet something about the quality and quantity of Jesus’ praying caused them to see how little they knew about prayer. . . . It was liberating to me to understand that prayer involved a learning process. I was set free to question, to experiment, even to fail, for I knew I was learning.” [1]

Yes—the ultimate point, the shining beacon ahead of us is God. Drawing us forward and upward. Yet, I am grateful and relieved that I don’t have to be a perfect practitioner of prayer. As time passes, each of us has the opportunity to grow closer to God in prayer. As Foster explains it, prayer can be understood not only as communication, but as a process.

“In the beginning we are indeed the subject and the center of our prayers. But in God’s time and in God’s way a Copernican revolution takes place in our heart. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, there is a shift in our center of gravity. We pass from thinking of God as part of our life to the realization that we are part of his life.” [2]

This revolution—sometimes almost imperceptible—occurs over time. The starting point is all about me, but change does happen.

As several of my friends and I were considering recently, our self-absorption and self-centered orientation gradually changes. It morphs into something oriented towards God, and towards others. Prayer becomes more and more communication and fellowship with this Higher Power, and less and less asking for favors, requests, and wanting for my desires to be filled, my menu items taken care of.

What do I think is the most important part of this? The point that I cannot achieve communion in prayer alone. God is always there, to help and to guide. To pick me up when I fall down or trip up. (And believe me, I do trip up.)

Thanks, God. I couldn’t do it without You.

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blog, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.

[1] Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline (San Francisco, HarperSanFrancisco, 1998). 36.

[2] Richard Foster, Prayer (San Francisco, HarperSanFrancisco, 1992). 15.