Lord, teach us to pray… Luke 11.1
Prayer is not just nice – it is necessary.
Too often prayer is viewed as some rite or ritual with little involvement or makeup.
We may have heard of “saying our prayers” before a meal or bedtime or when we have gone into a church building.
Other times, prayer is given some lip-service and acknowledged as important but seems all too lacking. It is an optional extra – nice but not necessary. All too often it is a brief afterthought.
A tale of two meetings
A vivid illustration of this stands out to me. Some time back I attended a fraternal of pastors. Allegedly of like mind theologically, one might think that this would strengthen resolve and unity in prayer. Towards the end of the time it was suggested that we spend some time in prayer. It was rather bewildering when one pastor said “Do we have too? Couldn’t just one person pray?” Another seemed uncomfortable with the idea before it was uttered “It’s ok…go on then…just keep it short.”
Some months later, I attended another meeting of some pastors many of which had different backgrounds on some secondary and tertiary issues. And yet there was a love, a unity, a friendliness, and a passion not present at the first meeting. The difference? The first 30-45 minutes was devoted exclusively to fervent prayer. Not slow, not reluctant, not overthinking, but spontaneous, eager, truly thoughtful, honest, and active. At a few points some simple choruses of praise were sung. Not announced or looked at on a sheet. Just spontaneously sung from the heart.
If you are struggling to pray, if you don’t know what to say – why not approach the Lord in prayer about that? Ask as the disciples, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Then look at the models of prayer throughout the Scriptures from the book of prayers and songs that is the Psalms to the prayers of the heavenly realm in Revelation. Jesus guides his disciples in Luke 11 saying:
When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.
A simple acrostic as you learn to pray is A.C.T.S.
A = adoration. Do you love God? Then shouldn’t you express that? Shouldn’t you praise Him? Approach Him for who He is in majesty – our loving Father in Heaven – whose very name is holy!
C = confession. Everyone has thought, said, and done things that are not good when observed by God, things that are evil, that are wrong. The Bible calls this ‘sin’ and speaks of this sin as alienating us from God. But through Jesus Christ we can confess our sin to God, asking that he would forgive us while giving us an attitude of forgiveness to others.
T = thanksgiving. Just as we ask for God’s provision and protection, we acknowledge He continues to provide day by day. Have we received good things in life? Have we been helped in all situations? Do we have life? What are our blessings? Count them up and give God thanks!
S = supplication. This is basically an old-time word for ‘asking’. Prayer is petitioning God on the basis of His mercy, bringing cares and needs and desires of others and ourselves to God. Do you ask God? Do you ask God with right motives? Do you bring your cares and needs to God, knowing He cares for you?
Lord, do teach us to pray!