Learning to Pray, May 14. 2012

JOHN 17: 6-8 
“I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.
Now they know that everything you have given me is from you;
for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.”
These verses from the Gospel of John are part of what’s been called Jesus’ “High Priestly Prayer”. In praying for the disciples, with the disciples he is teaching them how to pray as well as saying goodbye. In praying these words aloud Jesus conveys his own faith and reliance on God, his experiencing of belong to both God and the disciples and his faith in the disciples. Even though they would struggle with pain and doubt, they would in fact become the apostles they’ve been called to be. They would become the ones to bear the Good News story to the world. It strikes me that Jesus’ prayer is not only modeling how to pray but in these moments he is ministrying to the disciples themselves. Naming them as God’s beloved and speaking on their behalf to God.

Praying aloud is a particularly vunlerable way to pray isn’t it? It’s self-revealing and imperfect. I remember my first few months as a hospital chaplain. I learned so much about prayer. I learned that folks didn’t care so much if I could wax poetic words of prayer but they needed me to listen and to reflect their deepest needs and their stories; to weave those stories into words of prayer — requests that God rememember and attend to them in their darkest moments. My words were often clumsy and awkward, but when we pray aloud for one another we stand in solidarity with them. It’s comforting when we hear our own fears, our deepest desires and our joys reflected in prayer, spoken aloud to God and our personal prayers become corporate prayers. Out-loud prayers to God acknowledge our common humanity.

May God be in your head and heart as you listen for the stories of others that need lifted in prayer,
May you know the peace and healing of hearing your own needs and hopes spoken aloud.
And may God hear your prayers.