In Luke 11:1-4 we see a well known story of Jesus and his apostles and his method of teaching them to pray. We don’t know why they decided at this particular time to ask Jesus to help them learn to pray properly, but they did and we have it recorded here for us. Notice the text:
“And it came to pass, as he was praying in a certain place, that when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, even as John also taught his disciples. And he said unto them, When you pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. (KJV)
Prayer should be taught early
If you were blessed as I was you learned this prayer at an early age, in fact we used to begin our day in grade school with the pledge of allegiance to the flag of the United States, then a bible reading and reciting this prayer. Sadly for some their learning about prayer never got beyond that point.
There is a example or pattern to follow
The thing about this prayer is that it is a “model prayer”. It represents what prayer should look and sound like; it is an example of prayer for us. It was used to show the disciples the types of things which should be included when speaking to our Father who is in Heaven. But, it is just that, an example, not something that needs to be repeated by rote after we have matured in Christ.
The example still works
Today we still learn to pray by example, often the example of others we hear pray, that’s a good thing, that’s how we learn. But at some point our prayers must become our own and not someone else’s. We must learn to speak from the heart to our God, who is also our Father who is in heaven. I was reminded of this again this week when Julie posted (Kindergartener), Gracie’s prayer on Facebook. “Dear God, thank you for the Bible, cheese, rain, Jesus dying on the cross, bacon, and robots. Oh, and my family.” Also I’m reminded of our oldest son’s prayer as he knelt beside his bed at about 4 years of age. Where he bowed his head and said, “God, thank you for grandma because she gives me everything I want.” I can imagine God smiling at both of those prayers.
It’s the thought that counts
You see, with prayer, it really is the thought that counts and for us as adults that is no less true. It is not repeating worn out phrases that God wants from us, it is sharing with him the things that are on our heart, the things that are really important to us. It is sharing our appreciation for all he gives us and the blessings he showers upon us. It is also sharing with him when our hearts are breaking and we don’t have anyone else to talk to. He is the father, the friend, that will always be there to listen to you no matter what.