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  • Jason Gaskin

Learning to Pray Again.

Growing up I loved to take part in electronics and put them back together. There were many times that I took something apart and then I couldn't figure out how to put it back together. My sister's cd player stopped working and I offered my services. I took part in the entirety of the stereo. Only to realize that one I could not fix the broken cd player and now two I couldn't put her cd player back together.

I have found for most of us deconstructing our faith is the easier part of our journey. We name the toxicity of how our faith journey might have harmed and disappointed us. Maybe causing us to rethink our relationships with family and friends. Rethink what it is we read and our spiritual practices. We might even in this process fully abandon anything that looks and smells like the church experiences we have come from. Our deconstruction becomes a bunch of pieces that we are now left to figure out how to put back together.

And this is the challenge on our faith journey is how to discover a faith that enlivens us and grounds us. One in which our wounds can be healed. This is the part that takes work.

Someone recently said on an NPR show I was listening to, "Don't aim at what you are trying to avoid... look at where you want to go." I am captured by how simplistic yet how profound these words are.

Are we trying to extrapolate all the fears, triggers, and shame inducers so that we might not feel those feelings? So we surgically carve out a faith, a community that won't ever hurt us or challenge us? Yet so many of us begin our pursuit of deconstructing and reconstructing our faith in this way.

Albeit each of our journeys are different. Some of us have been deeply harmed by the church and that will deeply affect our journey. Some of us were just bored with our faith... and so we started to pursue other ways that might enliven us. Others of us simply want to continue to pursue a more meaningful pursuit of Christ.

My journey is different from yours. Your journey is different from mine. But I do think there is space to learn from one another. Over the last 10 years, I have found deep meaning and vitality in the traditions that have been carried down for generations. One of these traditions is the continued practice of praying the Lord's prayer. And maybe the traditional prayer, "Our Father, who art in heaven..." is limiting and might wreak off the places we are trying to leave... I have found that the church has found life in this prayer in the myriad of translations and languages.

And that this prayer was introduced to a group of disciples eager to "learn" how to pray again. Jesus was introducing the difficult task to his disciples of reconstructing their faith. Jesus gave them a prayer that comes from various Jewish prayers. One that addresses the divine and human relationships.

Our experiences have shaped what we believe about prayer. But I want to ask in a fresh and new way how might we reconstruct this spiritual practice in a new way that might give us life and vitality as we together learn to pray again.


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