When you’ve been in church for decades, it’s difficult to appreciate how daunting Christianity can be for newcomers. Those who come to faith later in life might know a little better the kind of courage that it takes to come to a church on a Sunday morning for the first time, open a bible for the first time or go to a small group. There is no area in which this is more true than in our prayer lives.
If you’ve never been to church (and even if you have), learning to pray can be wildly uncomfortable and deeply intimidating. From the outside looking in, it appears as though everyone else intuitively knows how to do this stuff! Everyone seems to know when to bow their heads, what words to say and what is or is not appropriate content for prayer. Even more challenging, when you go to a small group or bible study for the first time, you’re likely to hear a leader gush forth with the most beautiful prayer that seems to evoke the actual face of God. It feels like there are only two options in this game: either you’re Mother Theresa and possess a supernatural capacity to spend hours in wondrous, powerful prayer, or you’re a hopelessly remedial pray-er who will never figure it out.
Don’t fear- there’s good news for you here! In spite of our impressions, we’re not born with or without the innate ability to pray and you haven’t been hopelessly left behind in that pursuit. Prayer is a learned skill and experience. We don’t need to look any further than Jesus’s own disciples, who asked Him to ‘teach us to pray’ (Luke 11:1). If Jesus’s disciples needed to learn how to pray, then surely it’s ok for us to confront our own need to learn how to deepen our prayer lives. That’s where we’re headed during this Lenten season.
Lent is an ancient season in the life of the Church that is intended to help us prepare to celebrate Easter meaningfully and well. Lent begins tomorrow (on Ash Wednesday), so for the next several Sundays we’re going to explore Jesus’s prayer life and teachings about prayer as a guide that will deepen and broaden our own experience of prayer. I’m incredibly excited for you to hear what Jesus teaches us about prayer because it’s relevant to every follower of Jesus, no matter how experienced or inexperienced you may be! We’re also excited about our daily prayer focus as a church, and I hope that you will sign up to participate. You’ll receive a video every day of one of our own church members who will lead us in prayer. I truly believe that this Lent could be a life-changing season for us as we dive deeper into our relationship with Christ in preparation for Easter!