When I was praying the other day, I noticed that my prayers were phrased as commands, in the grammatical imperative:
"Keep me safe."
"Help me find an apartment."
"Give me peace."
As I reflected on this way of praying, I found that it seemed kind of arrogant and mean. Who am I to command the Almighty to do anything? The notion is ludicrous. So then I started adding qualifying phrases to my prayers like:
"Keep me safe, please."
"Help me find an apartment, if you want to, if you have the time or interest, because I know you have a lot on your plate."
"Give me peace, so long as it's not at the expense of someone else's peace."
Frankly, these sorts of prayers sounded lame and silly to me. So, for a while, I literally didn't know how to pray, or what to pray for, which is a strange place to be in of you are the sort of person who prays, which I am.
And then I remembered that part in the Bible where the disciples ask Jesus how to pray, and he tells them the "Lord's Prayer" which is this:
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.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
I thought about that prayer for a while and noticed that the only material thing I am to ask for is "daily bread" i.e. sustenance. This totally makes sense with Jesus' way of approaching life, which was day-by-day, living simply and humbly.
When I realized this, I felt the peace I was seeking. I don't need to ask for an apartment or financial security or any of the typical American concerns. All I need to ask for is bread enough for today. And that is enough.