"Lord, Teach us to pray."
That was their request, "Teach us to pray." Do we ask that of our Savior? No, but perhaps we should.
Instead we go about the task of praying as if rubbing a bottle and expecting a genie to grant our every whim, or we view it as grueling and tiresome. More of a requirement than the privilege it is.
Prayer is unfortunately an area where many believers are weak and in need of instruction. "Lord, teach us to pray."
To my dismay, the model that Jesus used to 'teach' the disciples has become something it was not designed to become, but before we tackle that hurtle let us first heed the instructions of our Lord.
In Matthew 6:5-8, Jesus provides both negative and positive examples of prayer. To address what NOT to do, He used the hypocrites (a term He often called the Pharisees), who desire "to be seen by others" and the Gentiles, who use "meaningless babble" so that "they will be heard for their many words."
What's the problem? Well, as I see it the issue Jesus was addressing was that of their hearts not focusing on the right thing when they pray. You see, prayer (in its simplest definition) is communication with God. It is to be for an audience of One - that being the Sovereign, Almighty, Creator God. Anything that distracts us or seeks to reward us for our prayers actually robs God of the glory due His name. The reward sought by these will be achieved, but at what cost?
What is the cost of self glorification? I'm sure you could read pages of negative results from this behavior, but as I see it the ultimate cost is the personal relationship with the Father. This behavior is driven by pride and pride is not conducive to a healthy relationship with God. Pride is sin and sin is what separates us from the Father. A healthy prayer life fosters communication with God and maturity in the life of the believer.
So, what positive examples did Jesus give? First He instructs that prayer is a secret act. This does not mean that prayer cannot be done in public, but rather that prayer begins in the heart. No one knows your heart but the Father and He sees and rewards that which is done in secret. Secondly, our prayers are not 'meaningless babble' but rather honest communication with God. God knows what we need (even before the words touch our lips), our prayers express our faith that God will supply that which we need (not what we GREED).
How is your prayer life? Could you use some instruction? Let the Master teach you to pray.
For the full message shared on 04-28-13 at First Church of God, Racine, WI; go to:
The LORD's Prayer - Pt.1