The Heart of Prayer

Welcome to Spirit Wednesday where we take a look at all things spiritual from meditation to prayer to cleaning the house. Yes, even house work can be a spiritual experience… if you choose to see it that way.

To find the heart of prayer, we have to go to someone who not only taught about prayer, but lived a prayerful life.

For Christians, the authority on how to live a prayerful life is Jesus. He taught his disciples to pray by example, as well as giving them a solid template of words to build on called The Lord’s Prayer.

One of the best examples of what prayer can look like is Jesus’s prayer at Gethsemane:

Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go there and pray.” He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and severely troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here, and watch with me.”

He went forward a little, fell on his face, and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass away from me; nevertheless, not what I desire, but what you desire.”

He came to the disciples, and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What, couldn’t you watch with me for one hour? Watch and pray, that you don’t enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Again, a second time he went away, and prayed, saying, “My Father, if this cup can’t pass away from me unless I drink it, your desire be done.” He came again and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. He left them again, went away, and prayed a third time, saying the same words. — Matthew 26:36-44 (World English Bible)

Jesus’s prayer is not only beautiful in its emotional depth, but also in its simplicity. Here we see God’s Son in deep spiritual communion with God the Father, his “Dada.” Jesus shows his pain to God and asks for what he most desires at that moment in very simple language, something we often have a problem doing.

For some of us, it’s not the language that’s a barrier, it’s the sharing. I grew up believing I had to be tough. I thought any mention of pain, be it physical or emotional, was a sign of weakness. Emotions were only acceptable if they were mild, as in being mildly amused or slightly irritated. Anger was taboo and anger at God was blasphemy.

Somewhere along the line, though, God reached into my heart and showed me what Jesus demonstrates in his prayer at Gethsemane. Because God made us, he understands how we feel. He expects us to show our emotions, especially when we pray. To keep them to ourself is to keep God at arm’s length. When we do that we make prayer into just a petition again instead of the communion God desires.

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Simply Prayer ebookThere are a lot of ideas and examples on simple ways to pray in my book Simply Prayer. Ebook version available for NookKindleKobo, and Scribd or…

buy the .pdf version here

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2 Responses to “The Heart of Prayer”

  1. One of the most beautiful and poignant descriptions on prayer passed through my lovely daughter’s lips, when she was troubled about a boyfriend’s urging to pray in public over food. She said, “Doesn’t he realize that my whole life is a prayer?”

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