And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples (Luke 11:1).
“How is your prayer life?” is a question that many would just rather not answer. I am a praying man, but I don’t pray enough. I do not believe that I am out of the ordinary in that regard. Jesus, our model for Christian living, prayed hours on end at times. Sometimes, it seems as if I barely have time to utter a brief “thank you” for the day’s blessings. I am grateful that we have those public periods of worship when we may collectively stop and offer prayer. It causes me to reflect upon my own prayer life and the need I have to engage the Father in prayer more often. Public prayer feeds private prayer, and vice versa. All of it tends to the glory of God. “Lord, teach us to pray.”
Men ought always to pray. It is encouraging to know that God wants me to pray. Jesus gave the parable of the unjust judge to teach us that “Men ought always to pray, and not to faint.” The parable tells of a widow who continued to plead her case so unceasingly that the judge, though he was unrighteous, finally granted her request simply because of her persistence. I, like Jacob, need to wrestle with the “Angel” until I receive a blessing (Gen. 32:24-32). Unlike the unrighteous judge, God is righteous, longs to hear the prayers of his children, and is ready to give liberally (James 1:5). He simply wants us to take the time and ask (Matt. 7:11). “Lord, teach us to pray.”
Prayer is something that may be taught. Jesus taught his disciples to pray. The disciples then passed along his teaching to others concerning prayer. We also must realize that the next generation will pray as we have taught them to pray. We need to be serious about prayer. There are prayers in the Bible that are available for our study and contemplation. We must examine these prayers, analyze them, and seek to improve both our private and public prayers. Jacob’s prayer in Genesis 32:9-12 is a great prayer of humility and serves as a wonderful example for a private prayer of supplication on behalf of one’s family. Daniel’s prayer in Daniel 10:4- 19 is a wonderfully composed prayer of intercession on behalf of God’s people, the children of Israel. It was a prayer intended for public display. Unlike the mantras of eastern philosophies, biblical prayer is verbal, expresses a personal relationship to the Divine, and must be taken seriously as an avenue of communication and worship with God, Almighty. “Lord, teach us to pray.”
Prayer is an act that moves us out of the physical and into the spiritual. As an act of worship, Christian prayer focuses upon God the Father. Jesus taught us to say, “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed by thy name.” Prayer time ought to be a time of reverence, somber reflection, and holy gratitude. It should be taken as seriously as bringing a formal request before a magistrate, judge, or elected official. In the moment of prayer, we ought to exorcise all things common and profane that we might honor the Lord in the beauty of holiness (Psa. 29:2). There are many common concerns that plague our thoughts on a more or less constant basis. Removing our minds from such temporal concerns brings us to a higher plane where we leave behind the temporal, carnal, and feeble to engage the eternal, spiritual, and powerful. In the final equation, prayer is an act of faith. “Lord, teach us to pray.”