One of the most daring things we can do in life is to ask Jesus to teach us to pray. St. Augustine called prayer “the exercise of our desires.” St. Thomas Aquinas says in reference to the Lord’s Prayer, “In it we ask, not only for all the things we can rightly desire, but also in the sequence that they should be desired” (Catechism, 2763). Authentic prayer is about exercising, screening, and correcting our desires. Prayer concerns crucifying our “flesh with its passions and desires” (Gal 5:24). Prayer is laboring (see Gal 4:19) and struggling not to get what we want from God but to give up what we want so as to obtain the desires of His heart. This means that the Lord frequently tells us “no” in prayer because our desires are out of order.
This is so frustrating that we feel like quitting. However, we must persist (see Lk 11:8), not to win God over to our desires but to let ourselves be broken of our selfishness and rebellion. The Holy Spirit “helps us in our weakness” in prayer (Rm 8:26). In the Spirit (see Lk 11:13), we persist in prayer until we let God knock down the sand-castles of our desires.
As we used to say before praying the “Our Father,” I dare you to ask Jesus to teach you to pray.