Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” (Luke 11:1, NKJV)
There are some things you just know as a child. I knew my parents prayed. I heard them start their day with prayer, and I heard them praying at the end of the day. Prayer was not an occasional occurrence for them. It was a daily habit.
The greatest example we have of consistent prayer is Jesus Christ. Time after time, Scripture speaks of Him going up a mountain or to a desert place to pray, often through the night hours and alone. Prayer was a way of life for Him. The disciples observed His prayer life and then requested, “Lord, teach us to pray.” They desired this in their own lives.
Jesus shared with them a pattern, or template, of prayer that we now call The Lord’s Prayer. You’ve read it often and can probably recite His words from memory. Within this prayer pattern we find adoration, consecration, and supplication. We also learn to intercede for forgiveness and to seek protection from evil. When Jesus taught the disciples how to pray, He did not intend for them to recite it as a word-for-word copy of what He said. He offered a pattern that would enrich their prayer life. This pattern was more than just asking Him to bless “me and mine.” It reached beyond personal needs to kingdom building.
As I read the words “teach us to pray,” my mind shifted from the how-to of prayer to the discipline of prayer—our consistency and frequency in praying. Approximately half of all Americans say they pray each day (all religions combined, not just Christians). Others say they pray weekly or monthly, but over twenty percent say seldom or never. These numbers are “good” when compared to other wealthy nations. But rather than look at how many others pray, the more important question is, “How faithful am I in my prayer life?” We cannot compare ourselves to others as a measure of how strong our prayer life is.
Corporate prayer—praying with others in the body of Christ—is a wonderful thing and needful. It brings unity as we pray with each other and for each other. But the depth of my relationship with the Lord is built upon my personal time with Him. I must shut the door to busyness and distractions as I join Him in the secret place and spend time alone with Him.
“But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” (Matthew 6:6, NKJV)
Prayer is not easy. Our flesh often resists the discipline of prayer; but when we push beyond the flesh into the spirit, we find Him waiting for us. This happens when we are consistent, persistent, and passionate about prayer.
Lord, I am ready! Not only do I want You to teach me how to pray—teach me to pray. Help me to discipline my flesh to spend time alone in sweet fellowship with You each day.