Prayer is often seen as a personal exercise, just between me and God. But we may have forgotten something of great importance. One of the most beautiful aspects of prayer is the communal. Prayer is people as individuals joining a conversation as many, a conversation between God and His people. How sad it would be if this component was missing and prayer was indeed just between me and God. When we engage God in prayer we are voicing the cries of creation, the yearning of the whole creation for its salvation and the praises of God from the rocks and the trees. We are joining a cosmic conversation about hope and peace and longing.
Now I don't dare suggest we toss out the baby with the bath water. Prayer as a personal conversation with the God who loves us as individuals is an accurate and beautiful way to look at it, but let us not forget that our voice is part of a choir.
There is freedom in the communal aspect of prayer. it is liberating to think that we are not alone in our crying out-in our weeping, and celebrating, in our requests, and affirmations. We are not alone, the whole creation longs as we do, for peace and restoration. this is why selfish superficial prayers are simply out of place. If prayer is about the community of God's people crying out for the whole creation and the restoration of all things as a whole then any prayer that calls for revenge or is voiced in malice is off beat.
So, how are we supposed to pray? How do you pray when you just don't know how? Jesus answered this question with an example:
Our Father in heaven, Holy is your name,
Your Kingdom come,
Your will be done on Earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread
And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For yours is the Kingdom and the power and the glory