Who Did You Learn To Pray From?
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.” 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.” - Luke 11:1-4
Jesus’s followers asked him to teach them to pray. Who did you learn to pray from? Was it from your parents? From the movies? From a being in a church service or reading a book?
Maybe none of those are wrong answers - perhaps they are all helpful because they remind us we all need teachers to grow. This week we’re going to think about this remarkable prayer, but let’s start by remembering the stages of growth the disciples went through (and we all go through) in all areas, including in prayer.
You get the sense that at these verses come at the D1 stage in the disciples’ journey of prayer and Jesus is laying out some of the basics of how to go about it. Soon enough they would be in the D2 stage and have real struggles in prayer, like we all do, and they will be asking “Why didn’t God answer our prayers and deliver that child from evil?” (Mark 9:28). When we’re in the D2 stage we no longer need basic information, we really need someone to walk along side us, to be patient with us, and sometimes to do the praying for us.
That passage in Mark 9 is a great picture of the D3 stage of prayer as well, but for a different character. That’s because Jesus challenges the boy’s father to trust in him (the essence of prayer), even though it was a hard thing to do. Jesus was inviting him into the process of healing, and the man took a big step of faith when he said, “I believe; help my unbelief” - recognizing his own agency in asking God for help.
Then there are so many prayers in the letters in the rest of the New Testament where you can see people like the Apostle Paul have entered D4 and have become mature enough to pray on their own, to trust God on their own, and to help others pray and trust God as well. For example, this short prayer in 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17, “May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.”
Close your time by talking with God about what stage you’re at in regards to your prayer life and who might be a someone you could talk with about that. Then pray that prayer from Luke 11 and/or 2 Thessalonians.