Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Lord, teach us to pray

When I was a kid I found out my dad was pretty good with a Yo-Yo. I discovered this when I brought one home one day. He could make it “sleep,” “walk the dog,” and even do that triangle move, whatever that’s called (like the dudes in this picture). I never knew he was so talented. Of course, the first thing I wanted him to do was show me how to do all those cool tricks. He could do something that I couldn’t do and I wanted to know how he did it. I could picture myself at recess becoming the coolest kid in the third grade because I could “walk the dog!”

In Luke 11.1 we find the disciples wanting to learn something from Jesus far more significant and life changing than Yo-Yo tricks. Luke 11.1 says:

“One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, ...’"

We usually don’t ask just anybody to teach us stuff. For us to ask to be taught there usually has to be something special about the way they do things, or who they are. At this point, the disciples have been watching Jesus, spending time with him, and hearing him teach. They know he has a special relationship with the Father, so after he returns from a time of prayer they say, “Lord, teach us to pray.”

Even though the disciples requested it, I can’t help but sense God’s invitation in all of this. I love that the disciples were drawn to prayer by Jesus’ example. His life and his close relationship with the Father provided the invitation. Jesus didn’t have to say, “When I get back we’re going to have a seminar called Prayer 101, so have some paper and pens ready.” When he got back from praying the disciples were waiting for the chance, the opportunity, to be taught to pray like Jesus prayed. “Lord, teach us to pray.”

Maybe the disciples were clamoring for power like they usually did, but I also can’t help but wonder who put the desire to pray in the disciple’s hearts in the first place. Out of his love and compassion the Father must have been wooing them, drawing them closer, and preparing them for the future (John 6:44). He knew that someday they would need to connect with the Father just like Jesus did. He knew they would need to pray just as badly as they needed air to breath. We need it just as badly too. Sadly, we aren’t as in touch with this need as the disciples were at this point in their lives. God longs for us to communicate with Him and he longs to communicate his love and mercy to us too. When the disciples saw that it was possible to communicate with the Father, or Abba as Jesus intimately called Him, they responded saying, “Lord, teach us to pray.”

If Jesus got away to pray, the disciples must have been thinking, “there really must be something to this prayer thing.” God had something wonderful waiting for them. He has something wonderful waiting for us too as we learn to pray. Maybe they were hoping to have the same kind of relationship with the Father that Jesus had, and they sensed that prayer was part of the equation. “Lord, teach us to pray.”

What must it have been like for the disciples to be around Jesus? The disciples see something extraordinary in the life of Jesus and they want to know what he knew, they wanted to know how he prayed. They wanted what Jesus had. Maybe they were thinking: Where does his extraordinary relationship with the Father come from? Where does his power and authority come from? Where does his compassion and grace come from? His love? His mental toughness? His entirely different paradigm than the highly religious, judgmental, system we live under? His purity? His incredible knowledge of God's will, and his willingness and courage to carry it all of the time? Could prayer be part of the answer? “Lord, teach us to pray.”

You and I know technique is not the answer, but maybe they were thinking it was the way he prayed. Maybe they were thinking it came from the times he slipped away in the middle of the night, or got up before all of them to go and pray. Maybe it was his 40 days in the desert fasting and praying. Maybe it was the time he spent praying and learning in the temple. Maybe it was the way he commanded demons to flee and they did. In reality, it was just that Jesus wanted, and needed, to be alone with the One he loved, and the One he loved wanted to be with him too. “Lord, teach us to pray.”

Of all the things the disciples could have asked Jesus to teach them they say, "Lord, teach us to pray."

When Jesus responds he doesn’t give them a lot of technique, or explanation, he just prays and shows them how to pray by example.

He said to them, "When you pray, say:
" 'Father,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation.' "

No comments: