Teach Me to Pray
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.” – Luke 11:1
God, a little help here, please!
Lord, I know not what I ought to ask of you.
You only know what I need.
You know me better than I know myself.
O Father, give to your child what he himself knows not how to ask.
Teach me to pray.
~ adapted from prayer by F. Fenelon, 1651-1715
Dan Rather once asked Mother Theresa, “What do you say to God when you pray?” To which Theresa replied, “I listen.” Still seeking a story, Rather then asked, “What does God say?” With those intense dark pupils staring at Rather, Theresa replied, “He listens.”
Prayer is something that really doesn’t need to be taught, as much as it should be used. If you can speak, form thoughts, and carry on a conversation, then you can pray to God. Persistence and surrender are key here. In the opening scripture passage, you will note that the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, not “how to pray”. Interesting, isn’t it!
Here’s how James tells us to pray:
When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. – Be careful with the motives behind your prayer
You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? – Separate yourself from the world as much as possible
Submit yourselves, then, to God. – Submit to the Father
Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. – Stand against Satan
Come near to God and he will come near to you. – Get to know God better by reading His word
Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. – Try to limit your sinful ways and repent
Grieve, mourn and wail. – Have sorrow over your sins
– excerpted from James 4:3-9(emphasis & commentary added)
The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. – James 5:16b
A few of my thoughts on prayer:
– Pray as if you were talking to a friend
– Trust that God will answer your prayers
– Bring joys as well as troubles to Him
– Trust in God’s power and sovereignty
– Be patient & persistent (1 Thess 5:17, Rom 12:12, Eph 6:18, Col 4:2)
– Be truthful
– Keep it simple
– Pray the Lord’s prayer regularly and with meaning
– Think of your prayer life as an awareness of God
– Praise God continually as you pray
– Give thanks as you pray
– Be alone with God sometimes (Mark 1:35, Mt 14:22-23, Mt 6:5-8)
– Pray for others (Mt 5:43-45, Col 4:2-4, 1 Tim 2:1-4, 8)
– Pray for resources
– Pray for guidance
– Pray for your church
– Pray for your Pastor
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you – Mt. 7:7
“Prayer is not an excuse for non-action. Rather, prayer is the proper preparation for action.” —Rev. John Perkins