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April 26, 2017, 8:58 AM

Teach Us To Pray

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

“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)

Can prayer be learned? Is it not of the very soul of prayer that it shall be offered in the freedom of the Spirit? Yet, John the Baptist gave his disciples a form of prayer, and the disciples of Jesus asked to be taught to pray. There were not many things they asked Him to do for them, and when they did, they were usually wrong. I wonder: Would He have given them a form of prayer if they had not asked Him? Why did they ask? In short, His own praying awoke within them a desire to pray, and when they wanted to pray they found they did not pray like Him.

The disciples felt the need of some ordered form by which they could speak out of their heart to God. Forms are easier than a creative spirit. Such praying, as those found in prayer books, help the inarticulate to expression. Such praying may be perfectly sincere, and the devout may find in provided prayers a real help to devotion, and it may be that such praying may need to be learned at the feet of instructors. For, the reality is, all praying begins with forms of prayer – such a prayer is offered below. And there is hardly a soul who does not remember the simple, earnest prayers repeated at the mother’s knee with reverent wonder and joy.

Yet, while there is a time to learn and repeat those prayers which have been authored by others, there is also a call for us to sincerely poor out our own hearts to God. The secret of Elijah’s power in prayer (James 5:17-18) was that he “prayed in his prayer.” That is the translation given in the Authorized Version. The NIV says, “He prayed earnestly.” The ESV declares He prayed “fervently.” The Greek text literally states that he prayed with prayer; he prayed in his prayer. That is to say, he really prayed his prayers. He did not say prayers; he prayed in praying. His whole personality was in his supplication. He fervently meant what he said. Can that kind of prayer be taught? And do we really offer those kinds of prayers?

It is the fervent, earnest prayer that prevails. Prayers are measured neither by time, length, nor by number, but by intensity. Psalm 63:1 declares, “You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.”

Let us pray together: Gracious Father, thank You for the stirrings in my mind and the longings in my heart. They are a sure evidence that You are calling me into prayer. Help me to live out Your calling to genuine, personal, humble prayer and communion with You today. Amen.

You are Loved!

Pastor Jason Stevens

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