Jesus was deliberate about teaching his disciples how to pray. The apostles devoted themselves to prayer. For centuries, monks have devoted their lives to prayer. This long tradition of prayer has produced many different and meaningful answers to the question of how to pray. One of the most enduring practices involves simply offering God’s own words back to him. This is called “praying the Scriptures”.
Practice Praying the Scriptures: Look through your Bible for a passage that connects with you. Or look for a passage that seems to capture what you might want to say to God. Try looking through the book of Psalms for a passage you could pray. When you’ve found the passage, spend a few moments in silence to ready your heart. Then read the words of the Scripture to God as a prayer. You may be surprised to find that praying the Scripture helps you to express your own words. If so, pray those words to God after reading the passage.
THE SHEMA of JESUS (aka The Jesus Creed) When an expert in the law asked Jesus for the greatest commandment out of the 613 in existence, Jesus responded with the Shema, the ancient Jewish creed that commands Israel to love God with heart, soul, mind, and strength. But the next part of Jesus' answer would change the course of history. Jesus amended the Shema, giving his followers a new creed for life: to love God with heart, soul, mind, and strength, but also to love others as themselves.
Mark 12:29-31: "Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." These words are an echo of an Old Testament creed Jews called the Shema.
"As Thomas a Kempis puts it, in the Jesus Creed Jesus has 'put a whole dictionary into just one dictum:' Everything about spiritual formation for Jesus is shaped by his version of the Shema. For Jesus, love of God and love of others is the core. Love, a term almost indefinable, is unconditional regard for a person that prompts and shapes behaviors in order to help that person to become what God desires. Love, when working properly, is both emotion and will, affection and action."
Practice praying the Jesus Creed several times per day. "Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."
THE LORD’S PRAYER In Matthew 6:5-13 Jesus said, This then, is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, As we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
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