Sometimes reading through the prayer requests we receive each day acts as a valuable corrective to all the storm and stress flooding the internet. While the headlines are worrying us with their concerns about nuclear war, corruption in high places and the terrible effects of abortion, slavery and gun/knife crime, most people are concerned with matters nearer home, what I call ‘the personally important’. That differs for each of us and varies according to circumstance. Sometimes it is difficult to articulate what is needed, or, for whatever reason, someone may feel hesitant or embarrassed about naming their fear or current preoccupation. As a result, they find it easier to pray for people or needs ‘out there’ than for themselves or the things that keep them awake at night or fill their days with anxiety.
I think myself that a reluctance to pray for oneself or the things that are personally important is a pity. We are the apple of God’s eye. There is nothing he would not do for us (which is not the same as always agreeing with us what is best for us). Learning to trust God with ourselves, so to say, is a necessary part of learning to trust God with the needs of the world. Perhaps the problem is that we have a false idea of prayer and it gets in the way of our actually praying. Prayer is really very simple, it is we who make it complicated. We have only to turn our gaze towards God, trusting that he will see and understand.
Today could we each spend a few minutes asking the Holy Spirit to pour the gift of prayer into our hearts, to take away all barriers and teach us how to be simple and natural in God’s presence? No matter how old we are, no matter how long we have been praying, those first steps remain as vital as ever, in every sense of the word.