“Lord, teach us to pray.” Luke 11:1
Have you ever prayed with someone who prayed with such familiarity and authority with God that it made you feel like you barely knew God? I wonder if that’s how the disciples felt every time they heard Jesus pray? I wonder if that’s why they asked him to teach them to pray? They clearly didn’t ask Jesus to teach them to preach, lead, or even disciple. The only asked him to teach them to pray.
Based on my own experiences through prayer, I concur with Mark Batterson when he states, “If we change the way we pray, everything changes. It changes the way we work, the way we parent, the way we lead. It changes the way we prioritize and strategize. It changes the way we think, the way we feel, and the way we speak. Prayer changes everything from the inside out.
“The word prayer often induces feelings of guilt simply because we don’t do enough of it or because we feel inept when we don’t know what to say. For the record, I’ve never met anyone who felt that they pray too much or too effectively! All of us fall short. But instead of feelings of guilt, the thought of prayer should induce unbridled excitement because nothing is more potent than kneeling before God Almighty.
“While my prayer batting average is no better than anyone else’s, I’m determined to get back into the batter’s box because I can’t get a hit if I don’t take a swing. And if I swing enough times, I’ll hit a few homers and accumulate a lot of RBIs. So quit worrying about striking out, and swing for the fences!
“Don’t beat yourself up over past failures or present struggles. Simply do what the disciples did. Ask Jesus to help you, to teach you. Let their simple request become your modus operandi: ‘Lord, teach us to pray.’
“It doesn’t matter how much you know. Do you have a teachable heart? Are you hungry to learn? Are you open to change? Wisdom is knowing how much you don’t know. So you have to start there and ask God to teach you.”
Have you ever gotten to a point where you were praying the same words over and over? Or maybe your worship time felt small or cliched? The lyrics on the screens were like greeting cards? When this happens, we start saying words that someone else wrote but never expressing love to God in our own words. This kind of relationship with God isn’t enough. We must find new ways to worship; our own words to sing. God wants to hear our voices, our words, and our praise.
Batterson writes about, “the story about the grandfather who walked by his granddaughter’s bedroom one night and overheard her praying the alphabet, literally. ‘Dear God, a, b, c, d, e, f, g.’ She prayed all the way to ‘z’ and said, ‘Amen.’ The grandfather said, ‘Sweetie, why were you praying that way?’ The granddaughter replied, ‘I didn’t know what to say so I figured I’d let God put the letters together however He saw fit.’
“Sometimes I feel that way too. I have no idea what to say when I pray. And that’s OK. The first objective of prayer is prayer about what to pray about. Prayer isn’t about outlining our agenda to God; it’s about getting into God’s presence and getting God’s agenda for us.
“If you don’t know where to start, or if you get stuck, go back to the Bible. Start reading, and God will start speaking. That’s when you need to stop reading and start praying. Words, phrases, or verses will jump off the page and into your spirit. You need to circle them in prayer. And don’t be in such a hurry to get through the Bible that you don’t get the Bible through you.
“Prayer is the difference between appointments and divine appointments. Prayer is the difference between good ideas and God-ideas. Prayer is the difference between the favor of God and the luck of the draw. Prayer is the difference between possible and impossible.
Prayer is the different between the best we can do and the best God can do. -Mark Batterson
Begin where you are!