I was raised by a praying mother.
The last thing Mom did before closing her eyes for sleep was to read her Bible and her devotional book and pray for her family and friends. She set that type of an example for me and my four siblings.
Alpha Tangen Dezotell Scott prayed for her children up until the day that she died and I have felt Mom's prayers many times over the years.
My dad's mother was a praying woman too. Grandma Fontaine would walk across town to attend mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church just about every day for as long as she was able and the weather would permit. And grandma would pray for her nine children and all of her grandchildren all throughout the day.
We used to pray before every meal when I was growing up. We all learned a Lutheran table grace when we were little, and it went like this, "Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest. Let this food to us be blessed. Amen."
The Catholic one we prayed was, "Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from your bounty, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen."
Since Mom was Lutheran and Dad was Catholic we prayed either one or the other. And I know God heard them both.
My mother taught us to pray a bedtime prayer as well. "Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen."
The thought of dying in the middle of the night was scary for me as a child, so I would shorten that prayer most of the time. "Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. Amen."
The older I get though, the more I like the idea of dying peacefully in my sleep. That's the way to go! (But, back to praying....)
Another prayer I learned as a child was one that I learned in Sunday school, and we prayed it every Sunday as a part of the liturgy in church. It's found in Matthew 6:9-13 and we call it the Lord's Prayer.
"Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen."
Mom would pray that prayer with us many a night too.
I am so thankful that I learned to pray as a child, and as I grew into an adult prayer became such an important part of my life.
There were many times over the years that I have prayed a quick and frantic prayer, like "Oh, God, help me!" or a bargaining prayer such as, "Oh, Lord, if you will get me out of this mess, I will...." And I know that God answers prayer, even those types of prayers.
Sometimes, one of the hardest things to do is to simply pray, just like Jesus taught us, "Lord, Thy will be done!" It just seems easier to tell God what my will is, and what my wants and desires are, and to ask Him to give me those things. After all, His will might be different than mine.
But I have learned that I need to surrender my will to the will of God, and that is such an important part of prayer.
"Not my will be done, but Thy will be done."
When Jesus was praying alone in the Garden of Gethsemane, he told the Heavenly Father that if the cup of death that he was facing could pass from him, he would like that, but he prayed, "Nevertheless, not my will but Thy will be done." (Matthew 26:39)
I am so glad that he did, too!
I find time to pray throughout my day. Mom and Grandma taught me that. And I try to pray for others whenever I can.
In fact, I am praying for you right now as I am typing this column. I pray that God will bless you, that He will keep you, and that He will let His face shine upon you and give you peace. Amen!
-- Doug Dezotell is the pastor of Mt. Lebanon UMC and Cannon UMC. He is a former staff writer for the Times-Gazette, and he is a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a friend to many. He can be contacted at email@example.com.