I don’t know how to pray.

I don’t know how to talk to Nancy, either, if by pray or talk you mean

  • “always get what you want” or
  • “always understand what the other person is thinking as you speak” or
  • “never be surprised by what the other person says or by where the conversation goes” or
  • “always feeling better about myself in the middle of the conversation”.

I am an expert,  on the other hand,  if when you say pray or talk you mean

  • “say things and then walk away without hearing what the other person says” or
  • “feeling that I always have the best perspective in every interaction” or
  • “not have to stop and listen and then respond to what I hear” or
  • “stick my fingers in my ears and say ‘la la la’ really loud when I don’t like what I’m hearing.”

Of course, I keep learning how to talk with Nancy. In the past twenty-eight years, I have started to learn how to  listen, to count as talking together the times when she provides most of the words as she allows her heart to become audible.

Does that paragraph makes sense to you? The idea that talking with someone is something that is learned and developed and refined? The idea that intimacy grows and develops? The idea that I understand more about Nancy now than I did twenty-eight years ago, and that the understanding shapes our interaction?

When we talk about praying (when by that we mean interacting with a Being) it is helpful to think about a growing understanding, a deepening relationship.

Praying, and talking, are means of interacting, of learning about someone else. We can learn to speak more clearly, to be more aware of the other. But the end is never better speech. It’s better relationship.

And relationship (increasingly) rocks.

4 thoughts on “I don’t know how to pray.

  1. Rich Dixon

    This is so powerful–makes me wonder why pastors always read pre-written, rehearsed prayers. When those are our examples, it’s no wonder some folks think they don’t know how to pray.

    Do those eloquent preachers ever stumble over their emotions and fumble for words that just won’t appear?

    I’m betting they do.


  2. Hannah

    I starred my first tweet (by someone else) today: “2 pray more emotionally; talk 2 God about ur feelings, weaknesses, strengths, fears, the desires of your heart, admit your sins.” ~@Komanapalli

    This is what I need to do more of.


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