Learn by doing

Every once in awhile, a new karate student will ask me excitedly about book recommendations. They will notice my bookshelf in the dojo and expect me to match their enthusiasm with a reading list or, at the very least, a book title to start.

Inevitably they are disappointed at my answer.

Karate is best learned by doing. I urge my students to get their feet out on the floor and train, to get the basics down before worrying about anything else. I tell my beginners that the book recommendations will come later, much later. First they need to do karate — practice, practice, practice. After they have matured in their training, the books will be helpful rather than a confusing hindrance.

I feel slightly hypocritical when I say that. My standard m.o., when embarking on a new endeavor, is to gather a bunch of books and resources on the topic. Karate was a rare exception for me, and I’m thankful for it.

It’s important, with some disciplines, to spend more time doing than studying. Sometimes it’s best to do first, read later. Sometimes a foundation of training and experience is needed in order to glean things of real value from reading.

I think prayer is like that.

When the disciples asked Jesus, “Teach us to pray,” he didn’t give them a lecture in different types of prayer, or why one should pray, or any of the other topics typically covered when prayer is taught. He gave them a model for prayer, and told them to do it.

I chose the title of this blog carefully. I want my “adventures” to be in prayer, not about prayer. This won’t be an academic discourse, or a bunch of theories. It will be mostly my story, my experience, my journey.

My parents made sure, when I was a little kid, that I prayed daily. Unfortunately, it did not become a lifelong habit — there were times when I was, sad to say, not on very good speaking terms with God. But now I am seeking more than just a daily habit or discipline. I’m not content with prayers that don’t make a difference, in me and in my world.

I’ve done quite a bit of training in basics. I’ve been breaking open a few books lately to supplement my own experiences. But, most of all, I need to remember to pray.

Just pray.

That’s the most important thing. Learn by doing.

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