Of carts and horses
"Give us today our daily bread." Matthew 6.11
All Christians aspire to live by prayer. Many fail to make it beyond the foothills of prayer onto the mountaintops because they mistake prayer for a technique to be mastered, rather than the relationship that it is. If you insist that, before you can turn to prayer, you must read every book, attend all the available courses, arrange your circumstances and clear your diary, then you are putting the cart before the horse. The end of prayer is its beginning: wherever you are, here and now.
Imagine you are putting your ahead around the door and saying "Do you have a minute?" Or throwing your hands up in exasperation and crying out: "For goodness sake!" or simply: "Help..."
Simple prayer has been likened to a child approaching their parent. Motives are mixed. The reason might be to say "I love you", or to ask for something outlandish, or plain wrong. Nevertheless the parent is just glad to be in a relationship where their children are prepared to trust them with whatever is on their mind. And God is the ultimate parent, whose love is eternal and whose patience is without limit. So why not throw yourself into his arms?
In the so-called Lord's Prayer, Jesus exhorts us to ask directly for what we need. Instinctively we object "Isn't that selfish?" It might be. But as we grow into our prayer lives we discover a transformation is happening. Thinking that we need what we really just want becomes wanting what we really do need. And our desire will grow beyond those personal needs to the needs of others and, indeed, God's will for our lives and for the life of the world. So let the adventure begin...