Monday, October 12, 2009

Teach Us to Pray

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples." (Luke 11:1)

One of the greatest lessons I've had in life is learning how to pray. I think that most people (even non-Christians) have an instinct to utter a "Help me, God" when something goes wrong, but that does not imply intimacy. For me, learning how to develop a meaningful prayer life has been key to fostering an intimate relationship with God.

I'm so thankful that God has provided so many people along the way to teach me to pray:
  • My parents taught me to pray consistently.
  • Aleah taught me to pray words of praise and adoration.
  • Paul taught me to pray "big" prayers.
  • Susan taught me to pray honestly and to share my hurts and struggles with God.
  • Jon taught me to pray expectantly, thanking God in advance for the things He was going to do.
  • Heather taught me to pray as if Jesus was just sitting in the chair right next to me.
  • Toni taught me to pray reverently.
  • Karla taught me to pray with an eye on eternity, keeping in mind the perspective that there is a greater, eternal life to come.
I could go on and on, but you get the picture. All of these people--and the other prayer warriors that God has brought into my life at different points--have set examples for me as to how to communicate with God in real ways.

That intimacy was what the disciples saw in Jesus' own prayer life, and what they were seeking when they asked Him to teach them to pray.

He said to them, "When you pray, say: " 'Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.' " (Luke 11:2-4)

Although brief, this prayer, commonly known as the Lord's Prayer, points to so many of the prayer lessons that I myself have learned. In this prayer, Jesus modeled reverence for the Father, acknowlegment of kingdom businsess being done on Earth, daily dependence on God, and the need for forgiveness, protection and wisdom. This prayer is just as relevant in our lives today as it was in the disciples' lives two thousand years ago.

It's a great blessing to have so many people demonstrate to me these characteristics in their own prayer life. How about you--who taught you to pray, and what did they teach you? What have you learned about prayer that you are trying to pass on to someone else?

1 comment:

That Girl said...

My mother taught me to pray, by name, for people I don't like.

My divorce taught me that I don't have to talk to pray... I can cry.

Our class on prayer taught me to expect to be answered.

My Precepts class taught me to acknowledge that Jesus is right along with me when I go to talk to God.