One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him,Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.Luke 11:1
This is a very significant request, because these disciples were undoubtedly already men of prayer. When they say to him,
Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples, they do not mean to imply that John had a superior school of ministry. They are not saying,
In that traveling seminary that John conducted he had a course on prayer, but you have not told us anything about this yet. What they mean is,
Some of us once were John's disciples and were taught by him how to pray, but Lord, we have been watching you, and we see that you are a master at prayer. Now as John once taught us how to pray, would you also impart to us the secrets of prayer? For, as we have been watching you, we have seen that in some manner the marvel and mystery of your character is linked with your prayer life, and it has made us aware how little we really know about prayer. Lord, would you teach us to pray? What did they see in his life that wrung this cry from their hearts? What was it that impressed them as they watched Jesus pray and convinced them that his prayer life and his amazing power and wisdom were somehow together?
They saw that, with Jesus, prayer was a necessity. It was more than an occasional practice on his part, it was a lifelong habit. It was an attitude of mind and heart. It was an atmosphere in which he lived, it was the very air he breathed. Everything he did arose out of prayer. He prayed without ceasing.
It was not always formal prayer. He did not kneel every time. He did not stand with bowed head in an attitude of prayer continually. If he did, of course, he could not get anything done. The amazing thing is that he fulfilled his prayer life in the midst of an incredibly busy ministry. He was subjected, like many of us, to a life of increasing pressure, of continual interruption. Yet, in the midst of this life of tremendous pressure, he was constantly in prayer. He was praying in spirit when his hands were busy healing. He gave thanks as he was breaking the bread and feeding the five thousand. At the tomb of Lazarus before he commanded Lazarus to come forth, he gave thanks to the Father openly. When the Greeks came and wanted to see Jesus his immediate response was one of prayer,
Father, he said,
glorify Thy name, (John 12:28a KJV). There was a continual sense of expectation that the Father would be working through him and thus he was praying by his attitude all the time.
Surely this is what our Lord is teaching us. This is what we must learn, that there is no activity of life which does not require prayer, a sense of expectation of God at work. Is not this what that disciple felt as he watched our Lord praying? He knew that, to him, prayer was an option. He prayed when he felt like it, he prayed when he thought it necessary, thinking that prayer was designed for emergency use only, for the
big problems of life. Do we not need to begin right here? This phone call that I am about to make, I can't do it right except in prayer. It will never have the effect it ought to have except as my heart looks up to God and says,
Speak through me in this. This email I am about to write, how can I do it right except as I look to you, Lord, to do it through me. This interview that I am about to conduct, this chart that I have to make for my studies, this report that I must turn in tomorrow, this room that I am sweeping, this walk I am going to take, this game I am about to play. These are the unending needs from which prayer rises.
Father, what can I say in this hour but to cry out as these disciples cried out,Lord, teach us to pray.Give me a conscious sense of dependence, an awareness that nothing that I do will be of any value apart from a dependence upon you.
Is prayer so important to us that we cry out with the disciples, 'Lord, teach us to pray'? What is the profound implication for us that Jesus consulted his Father about everything? Are we people of prayer?