Dr. Ryan White, in the movie ''Gravity'', hyperventilating as she stares death in the face, gasps, ''No one will pray for me...I've never prayed...Nobody has taught me how.''
Once in a blue moon, Hollywood gets theology right. In that single, sad soliloquy, perfectly played by Sandra Bullock, they nailed it. No one is born with the ability to pray. Like English, Russian, Swahili, the language of prayer must be taught.
Of every language under the sun, prayer is the hardest to learn. Not because you have to employ the right grammar of glory and the correct punctuation of praise. Not because the vocabulary is so expansive. Not because without peppering your speech with the proper sacred buzz words, the Almighty will snub you.
The reason is much simpler than that: to learn to pray, you must first die.
The language of prayer is taught in the school of death. When you’ve taken all the words whereby you planned to appease God, woo him, bargain with him, stroke his ego, or trick him, and put all those words under the knife, then you’re about ready. When you’ve taken all your will and wants and desires and dreams that would form the thesaurus of your prayers, and hacked them to pieces, then you’re getting closer. When you yourself—your body, soul, mind, all of you—have been plunged into the fathomless waters, and there nailed to a man who is himself affixed to a cross, and there expire with him, and be carried with him into the darkness of a tomb, then you’re getting real close.
For to learn to pray, you must first die with Jesus, that you might rise to newness of life in him.
Joined to Jesus, whether you utter a bare-bones prayer or enunciate an eloquent petition, the Father hears. He hears because once you have died and risen with Christ, your every prayer is the prayer of Jesus. Your death with him, and his life in you, commingle the two of you so that every prayer is a duet sung to the heavens.
Prayer is Jesus talking, in you, through you, for you, in the language of the Spirit, that the Father is well-pleased to hear, and answer.
In Christ, we are dying to pray.