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.”' (Lk 11:1).
That we ought to pray to the LORD our God seems a given. It is a natural and inescapable fact that the people who belong to God should pay homage to Him, thank Him and ask for blessings from His all-powerful hand.
What child would refuse to speak to his Father?
What soldier would refuse to speak to his CO?
Yet we know, that there are right ways and wrong ways to speak to those in authority over us. Insolence can be forgiven and overlooked, but it does not make it a good standard mode of operation!
Our Father King speaks to us, the Word of the Lord has been given, how will we respond? In silence? With facile timidity? With a voluminous vomit of vocabulary? With the irreverent tropes offered in endless repetition?
The one who belongs to God must fear him. It is right for us to take a moment to consider how God would like us to speak to Him. Even if we don't fear being cast from his presence (seeing as it is secured in Christ), we do want to do what is most pleasing to him, and we want to pray in such a way that our prayers are not hindered.
The Disciples of Jesus, not yet cognisant of the fact that God was standing in their midst, asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. Perhaps because they felt under-equipped for such an lofty task and knowing that John the Baptising had taught his own disciples how to pray, Jesus disciples felt they could ask for the same.
And who better to ask than the one who was constantly seeking his Father in prayer! Jesus modelled what it looked like to pray, even forgoing sleep to pray through the night!
We too will do well to sit at the feet of Christ and have him instruct us in the way of prayer. Over the next few weeks these articles will walk through the so-called Lord's Prayer so that we may take in the depths of what Jesus teaches in this simple, short, deep, powerful prayer.
Whether we realise it or not, we inherit a great many traditions in our walk of discipleship. Some of these are wonderful and biblical traditions that have been passed down through the ages to our generation, like praying in Jesus name and saying "amen" (which means "may it be so"). Some traditions, however, are accidental things that we have fallen into the habit of doing, perhaps without thought. Some traditions are the fruit of heterodox teaching, worming their slimy tentacles into our present practice.
Some of us, Lord forbid it, have no practice for us to examine! Perhaps then you are in a blessed position, because you can some without predisposition to Christ to be instructed in the way of prayer.
My prayer life is lacking. Is there anyone among us who feels theirs is up to scratch? How wonderful that it is not me who will be the schoolmaster, but Jesus himself.
"Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name." (Heb 13:15).
"Teach me your way, LORD,
that I may rely on your faithfulness;
give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.
I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart;
I will glorify your name forever." (Ps 86:11–12).