Pastor's Pondering


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Teach Us to Pray

by Duane Mabee on February 21, 2019
In Luke 11:1-4, one of Jesus’ disciples asked Him to “teach us to pray, as John taught His disciples.”  Jesus had just finished praying.  He apparently prayed where the disciples could observe what He was doing, and it caused at least one of the disciples to want to know how to pray like He did.  Obviously, John the Baptist had taught his disciples to pray, too, and Jesus’ disciples knew about it. 

I suspect most of the disciples already knew how to pray.  They were Jewish and would have been raised praying the prayers dictated by Judaism.  Still, they wanted to know how to pray like Jesus did.  That says at least two things about prayer.  One is that Jesus apparently prayed in a way that was different from what they were used to.  There was something about the way He prayed that was more personal and inviting than the rote prayers they already knew.  The other is that prayer can be taught.  We can learn to pray with greater depth, more intimacy, and better effectiveness. 

In Matthew 6:1-15, the parallel passage to Luke 11, Jesus taught the disciples how not to pray and how to pray.  We should not pray to be see and applauded by other people.  We should not pray with a lot of flowery, but empty words.  We should pray to our Father in secret.  “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret.  And your Father who sees in secret will reward you,” (6:6).  We should pray as though God already understands our needs.  “for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him,” (6:8).  We should pray very intimately.  “Our Father…” (6:9).  Notice the corporate plural “Our”.  Jesus didn’t teach us to pray “My Father”.  He taught us to pray in relationship as brothers and sisters in God’s family. 

Of course, Jesus’ teachings about how we should pray are pure and spot on.  No one knows how to communicate with God the Father better than Jesus.  But, some of the ways we have interpreted Jesus’ teaching has caused unnecessary confusion.  For example, some teach from Matthew 6:6 that we should never pray with other people.  We should only pray in private.  That is a misunderstanding of what Jesus meant and it contradicts the way the early church prayed.  Peter and the other disciples who were part of this teaching session taught the church to pray together.  Check out Acts 1:14 and 4:23-31 for starters. 

There is power in praying together.  The Spirit of God moves, and God answers when we agree together in prayer.  Jesus’ cautions remain.  We must not pray to impress other people.  We should not seek to be seen and applauded.  But we should learn to seek God together in corporate prayer.  That’s what we’re seeking to do in the new prayer cell ministry.  We want to learn to pray together with more depth and breadth than we ever have before.  I encourage you to check it out.