A Prayer About Prayer
by Marion Stroud
A centipede was happy
until one day a toad, in fun, said,
“Pray which leg goes after which?”
This strained her mind to such a pitch
she lay distracted in the ditch
considering how to run.
Have you got a moment, Lord?
Thank you for this glorious morning. Normally I’d be humming “Summertime, and the livin’ is easy,” as I wander across the grass, leaving dark footprints in the silvery dew. But I’m feeling muddled and uncertain after last night. My newly believing friend asked me, ‘What is prayer?’ and I didn’t know how to answer her.
“How do you pray? When . . . where . . . what are the right words?” She said that she didn’t know any prayers . . . didn’t get to church that often. Should she kneel or sit? Questions, questions, questions.
I’ve walked with you for many years, Lord. And I’m still puzzled about prayer. I look at those twelve men, who sweated, argued, and walked through ordinary days at your side. Did they shadow you in those early mornings when you slipped away to a remote place to pray? Whether or not they heard you praying, they saw the results and knew that your prayers had power. So they asked you to teach them to pray. And you gave them an outline that can still be relied upon.
Our Father in heaven. Most of us know this prayer, Lord. The opening lines tell me something that I often forget. It’s all about you, not me. May your name be kept holy (or be treated with respect). I need to remember that I am coming to the Creator of the universe before I rush in with my list of anxieties, questions, and requests.
May your Kingdom come, your will be done. But how is that going to happen? I guess that the old song just about gets it right, Lord: “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.” You work through your people. You didn’t have a plan B when you told your disciples to go and win the world for you. Help me to make serving your kingdom and doing your will my first concern.
Give us today the food we need. Lord, thank you that you know about my daily needs. You know that I have to feed my family, and that often in the midst of all the practical demands that fill my days, I forget to feed my spirit. Sometimes I feel as if I’m running on empty. So many people wanting my time and attention, and so little of me to share. Please feed me, Lord, one day at a time.
Forgive me . . . and help me to forgive others. I could stay at this point all day, Lord. Satan loves to accuse. Thank you that there truly is “no condemnation” for those who have received your forgiveness (Romans 8:1). Burn that fact onto my heart. And then help me offer the same grace to others who offend or annoy me. To turn the other cheek time after time (Matthew 5:39).
Shield me from temptation. The spiritual armor that you offer may not be the most stylish outfit I possess, but it is the most important. Help me to put it on daily. And thank you, dear Lord, that you don’t measure my prayers by how or when I pray. As long as my heart is right, you welcome me at any time, anywhere, with open arms.
Ultimately it’s just you and me, Lord.