Teach Us To Pray

“Lord, teach us to pray.”

Writing about prayer yesterday dredged up some memories of teaching people to pray. Paul has much to say that is practical. Jesus’ disciples asked him point blank one day. He responded with the “model” prayer that we call the Lord’s Prayer.

Once in my idealism, I offered a class on how to pray to my church. There were a few takers. My idea was to, well, er, teach them how to pray. As in, let’s see an example of a type of prayer, then spend the rest of the class practicing that prayer. You know, contemplation, intercessory, supplication–the whole thing.

The trouble was–they didn’t want to practice. They wanted what we call “book knowledge.” But they were uncomfortable actually praying.

Did the same thing with a class on spiritual formation. We gathered a dozen people into our family room and I led them through Richard Foster and Dallas Willard. What I tried to do during those 10 weeks or so was to get them to start actually practicing some of the “Spiritual Disciplines.” Did we pray daily? Study daily? Fast regularly? Worship? Serve?

They just wanted to learn the words from the book. I don’t know if any actually changed their life practices by incorporating a daily habit of spiritual practice.

Funny thing is I read constantly. But when I find something worthwhile, I try to add it into my daily or weekly (depending) habits. I’m far from perfect, but it would take a book to discuss the growth in my life due to spiritual practices. More even-tempered. Discernment. Ability to recognize the needs of others.

I think when Jesus taught his disciples to pray that he expected them to actually pray. Pray to recognize God’s holiness. Pray for our daily sustenance. Pray for God’s kingdom. Pray for others. Even pray for ourselves.

So let’s lift up our hands and actually pray–and follow Paul’s advice to do it without arguing or anger. Prayer is so powerful; it will change your life.

 

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