When Anne first arrives at Green Gables, Marilla is shocked to learn that Anne has never prayed properly before. So she sets about teaching her to kneel at her bed and say her prayers and to learn the Lord’s Prayer off by heart. Anne forms her prayers like a letter to God and Marilla teaches her the ‘right’ way to pray.
I read this Pete Greig comment on Facebook this week…
“I meet so many people who struggle with prayer simply because they’re trying – usually quite heroically – to copy a style or a system that belongs to another person or another time in their own development. In prayer more than any other area of life, the adventure begins when we stop imitating and start innovating. Haltingly at first we venture to develop a language, a familiarity and fluency particular to our own unique circumstance and psychology.
You probably don’t look like anyone else. You certainly don’t need to pray like anyone else. (I’d hate it if my kids were anything other than fully themselves with me.) Dance. Weep. Sing the Blues. Rap. Run til you sense his smile. Write Petrarchan Sonnets or throw yourself down a water-slide (dressed as Tarzan, yelling hallelujah) if that’s honestly your thing.
The Father’s invitation to each one of us is to relax. Exhale and unclench. Swap religious formulae for real relationship. Stop aspiring and perspiring, performing and pretending and simply pray – naturally and from the heart – in the full and wonderful weirdness of the way he’s actually made you.”
I love the freedom to be invited to be fully myself when I relate to God, to not have to express or experience prayer in a particular way. It’s pretty awesome to live in a time when we can reach far, far back into our traditions and stretch out as wide as we can imagine to connect with our loving God.
Earlier in the year our amazing Kid’s Connection leaders helped our kids experience praying in lots of different ways. (Ask them about it – I especially loved the spice prayers). I hope that all of our children and teenagers can experience freedom in being able to pray “in all the full and wonderful weirdness of the way he’s actually made you”.