Teach Us To Pray
“We don’t need someone telling us to pray…
…we need someone teaching us to pray.”
I am convinced that all of us want to pray more often and more effectively. The love of God and the challenges of life are enough evidence that we need to pray. However, most of us have never felt that we have been taught to pray. Even the best of people need help learning to pray. The apostles (you know the ones who saw: water turn to wine, blind men see, Jesus walk on water, and Lazarus raised from the dead) themselves asked that Jesus would teach them to pray. There is no shame in looking for help.
1. Make prayer a priority.
Set a time aside each day that you are determined to pray. For most people mornings work best. They usually don’t get interrupted as easily and the thoughts from the morning prayer time can frame the rest of the day. Others, find a time around the lunch hour to be good to refocus. Still others are finding they can focus/reflect better by taking a few intentional moments in the evening to pray for the people, opportunities, and challenges they met throughout the day.
2. Have a plan that works for you.
I have found especially if I go into my prayer time with a predetermined passage to reflect on and things to consider praying about, my time is usually so fruitful that I lose track of it. The times that I just opened up the Bible randomly and said, “Speak Lord!” have usually seemed the longest, and most unfruitful of occasions. It is usually best to have a reading schedule of some, a notebook to record insights and a prayer list.
3. Stick with it.
People that experience breakthrough in prayer often do so after long periods of dryness. Anticipate the presence of God in prayer. Yet don’t get discouraged if it does not happen as often as you would like. Keep at it. Everyone who has had a powerful prayer life has endured many dry seasons. I read somewhere, “I look at a stone cutter hammering away at a rock a hundred times without so much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the 101st blow it splits in two. I know it was not the one blow that did it, but all that had gone before.” Keep hammering away.
4.Know that you are not in this alone.
Prayer by definition is conversation with God. When we pray to the Father, both Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit are not only present, but are acting on our behalf. Not only do our prayers matter to God, we have some help with our prayers. Both the Spirit and the Son are interceding on our behalf.
When we don’t know what to pray for, the Spirit intercedes on behalf of us. Paul writes to the Romans, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” (Romans 8:26)
If that was not enough, Jesus is making intercession on behalf of us. Paul writes a few verses later, “Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.” As we are praying, Jesus and the Spirit are praying with us, and for us. (Romans 8:34)
As Robert Murray McCheyne wrote: “If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet distance makes no difference. He is praying for me.”