O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer: give ear, O God of Jacob.
It is interesting to me how many mental pictures of Jesus are ingrained into my mind based on very bad works of Sunday School art. Having grown up going to many different churches in several states here in the US one thing was constant, bad copies of mediocre art depicting the life of Jesus. With those mental images came a subtle impact on my theology that I only discovered many years later.
Ideas like, Jesus was white like me and that Jesus was not a very happy person. I also learned that prayer was something that I could not really do very well. In most of the pictures of Jesus praying he was shown to be in the wilderness, alone, on his knees with a beam of light shining down upon him highlighting his folded hands and glowing halo. I never could make it to the wilderness, I never had a glowing halo or beam of light to shine down signifying that I had a good connection to heaven. And it was really painful being on my knees for very long.
So many years later when I began to put aside all of my memories of bad Sunday School art and allow scripture to paint for me some new images I found a very different Jesus. I found that I had to make some changes to my understanding of prayer.
One of the things that jumped out to me as I examined the life of Christ was that he often prayed alone. Now this might not seem like a big deal to you or it may appear to be so obvious that you think it does not need to even be mentioned but I think it is a core value for Jesus as he prayed. He spent a great deal of time alone with God the Father.
Now I don't know about you, but for me having alone time to pray does not just happen. It comes at a cost. When my kids were growing up it was nearly impossible for me to carve out time to be alone and pray. It has always been something that I have had to purpose to do.
Having read great books on men and women of prayer it seems to me that they are made differently than I am. Their ability to pray for hours on end by themselves astounds me. I am so easily distracted by life, my thoughts, the days agenda, the next big idea, and the vagrant notions that flutter about my brain. Praying alone is hard work. But I want to be like Jesus and he prayed alone on a regular basis. So, I continue to make it a part of my life.
I still do not have halos or spotlights from above but I pray anyway. Just to be honest, I rarely pray on my knees or in the wilderness. I almost never clasp my hands together or stare into the heavens. But I pray and I am learning to pray more like Jesus.
Jesus often spent time alone with the Father so I will too. It's that simple and that challenging as well.