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Teach me to pray

“Grow flowers of gratitude in the soil of prayer”

~ Verbena Woods

Today, I continue to learn to pray. I want a teachable spirit. I want to know that God hears my prayer from his holy dwelling in heaven.

I specifically pray for a heart of gratitude.  I have been blessed in so many ways! I want my life, my actions, and words to reflect thankfulness.

As I pray, I start with familiar words —
Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. 

  • I am grateful that God is my father: “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1)
  • I am grateful for the identity, character, nature represented by God’s name. His name reminds me that He is my rock, fortress, deliverer, my shield, the horn of my salvation, my stronghold! “The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.” (Proverbs 18:10 ESV)
  • I am grateful that He is establishing His kingdom on earth, and that He has called me to participate in His work with Him. “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.” (Colossian 1:13 ESV)

Today I am particularly grateful for the prayers of the saints both far and near. I find reading prayers from others helps to grow my own prayer life. Maybe you are like me, in that you prayers sometimes slip into a laundry list of “please bless Aunt Sally,” or “help Uncle Joe to recover.” I’m not suggesting for a minute that those prayers are not worthwhile. They are. But when I look at the prayers of Paul in his letters, or the prayers of the Puritans, I see something different.

Reading and meditating on written prayers are beneficial.

  • Jesus used a model prayer to teach His disciples how to pray. And so we, too, can learn from model prayers
  • Written prayers not only train us, but they often teach us to pray more in depth; they help us to set our minds on things above, not on earthly things
  • They often will remind us about who God is; they explore the great theological truths of God’s character and work
  • They affect our emotions, teaching us how to express ourselves more fully, more honestly
  • They fulfill Paul’s command — “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)
  • Written prayers help us to focus, to quieten our spirits until our own prayers rise up from our hearts
  • Written prayers promote unity in the body of Christ – as we pray the same words together, our hearts are knitted together
  • Written prayers are instructional materials we can use to teach others how to pray

I want to share a few of my favorite prayer books.

  • Every Moment Holy, Douglas Kaine McKelvey and Ned Bustard
    • From the back cover – EVERY MOMENT HOLY is a book of liturgies for the ordinary events of daily life–liturgies such as “A Liturgy for Feasting with Friends” or “A Liturgy for Laundering” or “A Liturgy for the First Hearthfire of the Season.” These are ways of reminding us that our lives are shot through with sacred purpose even when, especially when, we are too busy or too caught up in our busyness to notice -over 100 liturgies for daily life (including liturgies for meals)
  • The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, Edited by Arthur Bennett
    • Published description – The strength of Puritan character and life lay in prayer and meditation. In this practice the spirit of prayer was regarded as of first importance and the best form of prayer, for living prayer is the characteristic of genuine spirituality. This book has been prepared not to ‘supply’ prayers but to prompt and encourage the Christian as he treads the path on which others have gone before.
  • A Diary of Private Prayer, John Baillie and Susanna Wright 
    • Published description – In this wonderful collection, famed theologian Dr. John Baillie shares personal prayers for people who are seeking a better understanding of God and themselves. Organized by morning and evening—with special prayers for Sundays—A Diary of Private Prayer is written with eloquence, piety, and directness.
  • Prayers From the Heart, Richard Foster
    • Published description – Simply and powerfully expressing such basic human experiences as wonder, stillness, the loneliness of anonymity, and the search for faith, Foster encourages us to explore the transformative power of prayer that draws us into the love of God and gives Christian community its life. Longtime Foster readers and newcomers alike will cherish this rich and thoroughly contemporary book from one of our most respected spiritual leaders.

Why is it so important that you are with God and God alone on the mountain top? It’s important because it’s the place in which you can listen to the voice of the One who calls you the beloved.
To pray is to listen to the One who calls you ‘my beloved daughter’ …  
To pray is to let that voice speak to the center of your being, to your guts, and let that voice resound in your whole being.

Henri Nouwen

My prayer today for me, for you, for all of us,
attributed to Frances Drake in 1577 —

Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.

We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.

Sir Frances Drake
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  1. To learn to pray and to have a teachable spirit. Yes, me too. I have and enjoy The Valley of Vision, and now I’m intrigued to find the other books on prayer that you mention. I especially loved the prayer attributed to Sir Frances Drake. Thank you for this inspiring post.


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