Teach Us To Pray

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Tomorrow morning I will be starting a series of messages on the Lord’s Prayer. When you pray “our Father” what are you saying, believing, doing?

The first thing I notice is the corporate nature of the prayer. We aren’t in this world alone.

When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, he could have given them a theological dissertation based on familiar principles. But he didn’t. Instead he gave them the essential components of prayer.

And he starts with our Father—not simply Father. There are definitely times to get alone with God, but when the group came to Jesus, and the group asked to be taught how to pray, Jesus addressed their corporate need to pray.

I encountered a situation recently that drove this point home for me.

How many times when a friend or acquaintance shares a need, have you told them you would pray for them? You are sincere in your intention to pray, but life gets in the way and that opportunity for intercession is lost.

I don’t get many people coming to my door these days. So I was a bit surprised when the dogs began barking in their “oh boy, there’s someone at the door” way. With the reluctance that comes from dreading the annoyance of one more salesman, I went to the door.

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The woman at my door was quick to assure me she was not there to sell me anything. She gave me her name, told me she was from the women’s abuse shelter. She added that their group had the permission of the Sheriff and Chief of Police to be going door to door.

I apologized for not inviting her in, but my dogs are big and overly friendly. She seemed okay having the door between us. I introduced myself as the pastor of a local church that makes a point of regularly supporting the shelter.

We chatted and she was about to leave my door. This would be that moment when we say those words that roll off our tongues almost without thought: I’ll be praying for you.

But I couldn’t say them. Because I knew, with a knowing that comes from the Spirit, I needed to say, “Can I pray with you now?”

So I did. And her eyes got big. She put her hand on the screen and I put mine up to hers and we had a wonderfully blessed moment of connected prayer.

And then she was gone. But she will stay with me. Her name and face come to mind often and I pray, like Paul, as often as I remember her.

Now, I’m not telling you that story because I’m anything special. I’m telling you to encourage you to not miss those kinds of moments, those kinds of blessings—that kind of power.

The question that needs our response seems to be: how will we be open to the opportunities of corporate and connected prayer?

How can I pray with you today?

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Teach Us To Pray

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Have you ever had someone pray over you?

I have. I’ve had people pray with such intensity it felt like they broke through the roof, reached right into heaven, and grabbed God by the robe.

I have been there when prayer warriors shout, scream, moan, weep, dance, jump, pace, and whoop.

I have also heard the whispers of prayers so intense the words are barely audible.

But I have never had anyone pray so intently they sweat drops of blood for me.

Wait. There was one. His name was Jesus.

Early on in his work with the disciples, they came to Jesus and asked him to teach them to pray. He gave them words that day. Words we still use…sometimes without truly making the effort to understand.

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It was in the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus showed them. He demonstrated the hard work of prayer…of intercession.

Jesus wrestled with God. Take this cup. Not my will but yours.

Jesus was honest with God. If there is any other way. Not my will but yours.

Jesus didn’t quit until he had his answer. Not my will but yours.

He paced. He needed his friends. He prayed with such intensity he sweat drops of blood.

And then he was done. And able to face the horror that came next.

PRAYER: Lord, teach us to pray.

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