But I Don’t Know How to Pray – Being God’s Mouthpiece

Stralen Smith

I lay there, cuddled in bed with my littlest guy and reminded him that we needed to say bedtime prayers before our story. He looked at me with those big, beautiful, innocent eyes and said,

“But Mommy, I don’t know how to pray.”

I knew what he meant. I’d been there myself not that long ago.

It’s amazing how adversity makes us stronger and teaches us about things we didn’t even know existed previously, like what it means to pray from our hearts. How many Catholics, even “good Catholics,” skim over words credited to some of our best known saints or just say prayers as opposed to really praying? It may not be quite a mindless, methodical, absent of meaning recitation of prayer, but it’s also not…(what’s the word here?) absorbing, engaging, encompassing, deep?

While struggling with divorce and my Catholic faith, I attended a non-Denominational church. It was there that I learned that, Wow, our Christian brothers and sisters can pray! 

What an eye opener it was to see those men and women close their eyes, raise their hands to the Lord, and speak what was in their hearts and souls, pouring out hardships and woes, praise and thanksgiving to the one true God.

The first time I went, I just sat there. Stunned. Embarrassed.

Embarrassed for them – didn’t they know people were looking at them?

Embarrassed for me – I could never be that wanton, that open, that obvious in front of people!

Prayer was a private, quiet, behind closed doors kind of thing, certainly not this.

Yet those services drew me in. I was fascinated by the way the people spoke to God as if they really new Him. Many cradle Catholics forget the true beauty of Catholic prayers passed down for hundreds of years. Others think that reciting ancient words is the only road to prayer, and, for them, prayer becomes stale. These Christians were on to something, and many at-risk Catholics long to understand.

I learned things I’d never been taught in my Catholic upbringing and became one of those rare beings, a Bible reading Catholic. As I searched for how to pray, I found the words Jesus Himself spoke, but I was no Jesus and could never pray as well as He could! I read the words of the Old Testament Jews and the early Christians, but I was struggling to get by and lacked their inspiration. I contemplated the prayers of those like Saint Francis, but I was certainly no saint!

Praying had become difficult, and I had yet to learn to lean on the Holy Spirit to put my pain into His deep groanings.

Being the Mouthpiece of God

Pope Francis has spoken of the New Evangelism, which means, not only teaching others of the beauty and depth of the Mass, but also reaching out to those at risk because they don’t know how to pray. I wasn’t alone in enjoying and learning from this large non-Denominational church. 70% of its members were ex-Catholics, many suffering from divorce, many not recognizing the depth and beauty of the Catholic Mass and faith, many simply not knowing how to pray.

We, who have been blessed with this knowledge, must reach out to others. We talk of being the hands and feet of God, but we must also be the mouthpiece of God, bringing His word and the ability to pray to others as the Lord has been asking His faithful to do for Him since the very beginning.

It isn’t always easy, but it hasn’t been easy for many of the Lord’s faithful. Many of us, when asked to pray or to speak about our faith feel a bit like Moses:

The Appointment of Aaron

Moses said: I beseech thee, Lord. I am not eloquent from yesterday and the day before: and since thou hast spoken to thy servant, I have more impediment and slowness of tongue.

The Lord had asked Moses to be His mouthpiece, but still Moses balked. Are we, in our self-consciousness over open prayer, being Moses at his least?

But watch the Lord’s response:

The Lord said to him: Who made man’s mouth? or who made the dumb and the deaf, the seeing and the blind? did not I? Go therefore and I will be in thy mouth: and I will teach thee what thou shalt speak. But he said: I beseech thee, Lord send whom thou wilt send.

God created us. He knows our faults and shortcomings better than we do, and yet still we resist speaking for Him, praying to Him just as Moses did:

The Lord being angry at Moses, said Aaron the Levite is thy brother, I know that he is eloquent: behold he cometh forth to meet thee, and seeing thee shall be glad at heart. Speak to him, and put my words in his mouth: and I will be in thy mouth, and in his mouth, and will shew you what you must do. He shall speak in thy stead to the people, and shall be thy mouth: but thou shalt be to him in those things that pertain to God.

Exodus 4: 10-16

God rarely sends an Aaron to teach our neighbors to pray, and I’m fairly certain He never sent Aaron in Moses’ place to teach Moses’ children to pray.

Maybe you feel you are a mix of Aaron and Moses – lacking Aaron’s wisdom, lacking Moses’ ability, but still God expects us to be His mouthpiece and to teach our children and all His children the world over how to pray to Him both through the beauty of prayer through the Mass and the Rosary and prayer from our heart.

We don’t need to be as eloquent as Jesus in our prayer. Throughout the Bible, in PsalmsMatthewPaul, and many others places, we see God gives people the power to pray when they seek it. We don’t even need to be as eloquent as David or Paul or Matthew or any of the others, but to save those at risk Catholics, to reverse that 70% that is right now missing out on the Mass and the Eucharist, to reach out to those outside our faith, we do need to pray aloud with belief that the holy Spirit’s will help us.

Be God’s mouthpiece, pray genuinely, take a risk, trust God, even if it means stumbling through those first awkward words and sentences.

We just need to try.

We just need to pray.  

God Bless…

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8 thoughts on “But I Don’t Know How to Pray – Being God’s Mouthpiece”

  1. From my first memories I remember my mother saying this prayer to me at bedtime, and then, as I grew, with me. Maybe your child will like it. Now I add “Lovely Lady dressed in blue, please teach _________(family, friends etc) how to pray.” Guy McClung

    Lovely Lady Dressed in Blue

    Lovely Lady dressed in blue ——-
    Teach me how to pray!
    God was just your little boy,
    Tell me what to say!

    Did you lift Him up, sometimes,
    Gently on your knee?
    Did you sing to Him the way
    Mother does to me?

    Did you hold His hand at night?
    Did you ever try
    Telling stories of the world?
    O! And did He cry?

    Do you really think He cares
    If I tell Him things ——-
    Little things that happen? And
    Do the Angels’ wings

    Make a noise? And can He hear
    Me if I speak low?
    Does He understand me now?
    Tell me ——-for you know.

    Lovely Lady dressed in blue ——-
    Teach me how to pray!
    God was just your little boy,
    And you know the way.

  2. Pingback: Liturgical Beauty: They Shouldn't have to be Stored in a Museum - BigPulpit.com

  3. Strahlen, thank you for this encouragement to make our prayers real and from the heart! And yes we do need to reach out to others. I’m too new to Catholicism to have experienced any stale prayers so far, in fact my prayer life has taken off since attending the Catholic Church. My Christian experience has grown deeper and stronger. God bless and thanks again.

    1. Thank you for commenting David and most of all welcome to our faith!

      I think converts are so important to keeping our faith alive! Things we take for granted (I’m cringing as I write that!) you see anew and delight in like a kid at Christmas. Thank you for leading the way sometimes and for teaching us how to reach out to others! May your prayers never grow stale!

      God Bless…

  4. Yes, GHM_52 – isn’t the Lord’s Prayer just beautiful!

    The Lord’s Prayer, or the absence of it, is one of the things which kept me tied to the Catholic church. It wasn’t so much that what was said at other churches went against Catholic teaching; it was more what they were missing that always led me Home.

    The Lord’s Prayer IS a perfect prayer and should be said in private silence at times, but I’m concerned that we have shut ourselves behind closed doors and prayed in silence so often that we forget to reach out to those who don’t understand the richness and beauty of the prayers we Love and of the Faith we share.

    We can’t replace silent, reverent, individual prayer, but, sometimes, we must come out of our comfort zone, lifting our voices in gratitude and in pain, in joy and in sorrow, and we must reach out to others showing them they are not alone. We can do this by praying to God from what He has given us and from where He has placed us in addition to utilizing the Lord’s Prayer, the Rosary, the words of the Saints, the readings of the Bible… We must utilize all the gifts we have been given to reach out to others and for ourselves as well.

  5. One “simple” Our Father, which is the prayer taught directly by Jesus, seems to me to be the perfect prayer. And it is best said slowly, in a heartfelt manner, behind closed doors and in an environment of silence as the Gospels teach it is best.

    1. Hi GHM_52, I responded to your comment as a separate comment and then tried to post it as a reply to you, but it’s been marked as a duplicate comment and posted as “Guest” below. I just wanted to let you know I did respond and that I truly appreciate your taking the time to comment and remind us of the beauty and perfection of Jesus’ Words and teachings.

      God Bless…

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