When I was a child, my parents taught me to give thanks to God. For meal time, it meant saying thank you for the food on our table, and our bedtime prayers, for protection while we sleep and blessing others.
In Sunday School, at age 5 and 6, we sang those early songs of praise for creation. I remember a small friendly woman with white hair teaching us songs, with pictures on a chart to help us learn the words. Those songs were like prayers to a tune. Only we didn’t know it then.
Not all of the hymns we sang were about praising God though. Many were requests for help in times of trouble. And now that I think of it, I wonder if Noah asked God for protection while all that rain came down? Maybe that they’d have enough food on board for his family and all those animals, and that their ark would be kept from sinking or something worse. Noah knew God was with him in the helm, but being human, he might have been anxious sometimes as well.
The shepherd David prayed, and not all of them were thank you prayers. Many of them were about longing, asking for protection against enemies (Psalm 59), begging for wisdom for kings (Ps 72) and for an answer for himself in difficult times (Ps 13, 61).
Perhaps we don’t pray like David did, unless we sing his songs, but we do pray for protection, for wisdom in difficult times. We may also pray that others come to know God (Ps 20). Then also there are times that we show our love for God (Ps 18, 23). We do pray for others. Let’s keep saying thank you to God for answers to our prayers, and when things go well and we have something to celebrate.
We pray the corporate prayers in our services,
when someone else leads and we respond. We can pray by ourselves too, as we go
about our days, as we kneel in our garden, with work worn hands, or on a walk in the neighbourhood. Not all prayers need to be
alone in our bedroom at night, or as we say grace before meals. Those are important
Let’s not be shy about prayer. It’s not so hard, after all. We just need to remember to reach out and know that Jesus goes to the Father on our behalf.
Photo permission from Julianna McKenzie for portrait photo. Other photos are my own © C. Wilker