Did I shock you with the title? Good. Maybe you will think with me from the Bible about this. Should we be praying, “Lord, teach us to pray”?
Check out that very popular request. It is found in Luke 11:1. The passage concludes with verse 4, but the next passage (5-13) does reveal more about prayer also. For now, I won’t get into why we do not need to pray for the Holy Spirit to be given to us (13), but if you want to privately contact me, we could talk about that.
OK, have you looked at Luke 11:1-13? You probably noticed that Jesus was praying, and when He finished that particular period of prayer, one of the disciples requested, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” That’s great that that disciple asked for that, isn’t it? It reveals that John the Baptist was a man of prayer who taught his followers to pray, and it demonstrates that the Lord’s disciples were humble and teachable concerning prayer. Many who call themselves disciples aren’t willing to learn concerning how to pray. They’ve accepted notions like, “Well, just kneel down and talk to God,” without considering passages like this one.
So, why do I say, “Stop asking the Lord to teach you to pray”? I actually used to say that a lot as I prayed. I’ve heard a lot of other believers say the same thing when crying out to the Lord; “O, Lord, teach me to pray!!!” Here’s why I don’t do that anymore–He did teach us to pray!
Right here in Luke 11:1-13 and in Matthew 6:5-15 we have instruction from the Lord Jesus Christ concerning how we are to pray. Doesn’t that make things much simpler?! It’s really not that we need some special, mystical, extra-Biblical light about prayer. We just need to learn from the instruction already given. You can’t get any better than “what is written.”
I’m sure you know that there are other passages where we see other “prayer-instruction” from the Lord also. I think we should consider all of those and also look at the many examples of prayer throughout the Bible. For instance, last fall I preached through 2 Thessalonians and when we covered 1:11,12, we learned from that prayer that was given by Paul, Silas, and Timothy. It has been very helpful for Mid-Coast Baptist Church to understand that prayer and to utilize it before the throne of grace.
Instead of “Lord, teach us to pray,” I’m suggesting that we say, “Lord, thank you for teaching us to pray,” and then following through by studying His instructions and praying accordingly. Maybe we should also request, “Help us to study, to learn, to understand Your teaching concerning prayer in Your Holy Word, so that we can obey it and pray as You have taught.” That could be a wonderful plea.
For starters, you should notice in our passages in Matthew and Luke that the Lord Jesus taught that His disciples should pray to God the Father, recognizing His authority, His dominion, His reign over all: “Our Father which art in Heaven.”
Next, notice that the first request in this model prayer is that God’s name would be “hallowed” or honored, respected, and revered. We have a tendency to go right to, “Please help me to ______, and please give me _______, and please heal my ________, and …” We really should be praying like the Lord taught, with the honor of God’s Name being our first desire. Wouldn’t that be different than how we’ve prayed so many times?
Maybe this is strange to you, but you do want the Lord to teach you to pray, don’t you? I hope you’ll consider this.
That’s enough for now, though. I challenge you to dig into the teaching the Lord did give concerning prayer and to accept His teaching. Then, pray!