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.”
Do you pray? Do you know how to pray? If your answer to these questions is “no” or “not really,” don’t feel bad, neither did the disciples. At this point in our scripture, the disciples had been with Jesus for quite some time. From the time Jesus gathered the first batch of disciples, promising to make them fishers of men, they followed him everywhere, witnessing the numerous miracles that he performed. Often, when the entertaining thrills of the miraculous wore off and the crowds dispersed, it was these same disciples who experienced Jesus’s mentorship and training. They spent countless hours with him, broke bread with him, had been commissioned by him, and even went out to demonstrate what they learned amongst the people. Today, prayer seems like such a mundane function, that it could seem puzzling that the disciples would ask Jesus to teach them how to pray after all this time.
What was it about Jesus’s prayer style that appealed to the disciples? After all, it was not as if prayer was a new phenomenon. Moses prayed to God often as he was leading the children to the Promised Land. Jacob, Joseph, Daniel, and countless other Biblical figures embraced lives of prayer. However, there was something different and powerful about Jesus’s prayer that made the disciples desire the same experiences that Jesus was having. Upon being asked to teach his disciples how to pray, Jesus leads them through the process of reimagining the posture and purpose of prayer. For Jesus, prayer was an intimate two-way conversation built on love, trust, and commitment. It was clear to all, that whenever Jesus prayed, he connected directly with God. This fact is what made prayer more interesting and meaningful to the disciples and other onlookers.
It would seem that today, many people pray without understanding the proper posture, purpose, and potential power that can be released as a result of an effective prayer life. For many, prayer has become a routine and sometimes mindless exercise in which we engage God only when we need help or when we are asking for something. There is so much that is forsaken when we neglect to embrace prayer as the intimate exchange between a Sovereign Father and his beloved children. In response to the question of how to pray, Jesus provides a general prayer template that could be used. It should be noted that the prayer passage provided in Matthew 6 is actually one that could be used to address anxiety over material needs. This devotional series will present leaders with a thorough walk-through of the prayer template that Christ provided to his disciples. The goal is to help leaders reimagine the purpose and power of prayer. What’s the first step? We must be willing to humbly admit that we need to be taught how to pray.
God, teach us how to pray. Teach us what prayer means to you, and why you instruct us to always pray. Take us to the place of intimacy with you where you reveal your heart and plans to us. In Jesus’s name we pray, Amen.