Sunday 19 November 2017

Teach Us to Pray

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)

John Taught His Disciples to Pray:

Are all prayers effective? Do all prayers produce the desired result? Are there particular ways and methods of praying? The prophet John understood the answer to these. Thus, he taught his disciples to pray. He did not leave it to chance. Why should we? There must have been things Jesus disciples saw in John’s disciples’ way(s) and/or method(s) of praying, making them stand out. Otherwise, they would not have noted it. Not only did they stand out, but they must also have been effective - producing results. Otherwise, they would not have wanted the same effect.
"Real prayer is communion with God so that there will be common thoughts between His mind and ours. What is needed is for Him to fill our hearts with His thoughts, and then His desires will become our desires flowing back to Him." (Arthur W. Pink)
They Saw Jesus Pray:

More so, the disciples had seen Jesus pray. There must have been something that stood out about the way he prayed. Maybe his posture, confidence, periodicity of his prayers, the joy and exuberance in praying, etc. Whatever it was, it stood out, different from what they were used to. And they wanted to be a part of it. So, they came to Jesus, saying, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” Note they were specific in their demand. They did not just ask to be taught to pray, but "as John also taught his disciples." They wanted the same effect. They wanted the same result.
What is the disposition of your heart? Are you coming to Jesus to teach you how to pray? Do you know how to pray? Do you pray? 
Everyone Prays. The Question is to Whom or What:

Against the intuition of probably a whole lot of Christians, Christianity does not have the exclusive right to the word, nor act of, PRAYER, or PRAYING. Prayer simply is the act of asking, communicating, making entreaty to a power that is higher than one for the thing(s) one desires. In religious circles, it carries the higher meaning of being the process by which one brings the invisible realm's power to bear upon the visible realm. Prayer is what you find in every sphere of life. Yet, the way of praying in the different spheres and sects are different. More often than not, the way of praying differentiates the spheres and sects.
(Even the atheist prays. He hopes. He believes in something he cannot explain, but chooses not to call Him God. Yet, he believes and trust in some cosmic, destiny power.) 
Prayer, in the Face of Various Sects:

Some religious sects believe God is too big to be spoken to directly. Hence, their prayers are said in third person conversations. They speak to themselves, expecting that God will somehow listen in on the conversation. They feel unworthy to talk to God directly. Yet, another sect believes God’s names are too holy to be mentioned. So, they look for substitutes. Another sect believes the way to pray is chant. They have a set of words, which they repeat. 

Some sect believes it is easier to go to God through the mother of Jesus, or saints from time past, rather than going directly. I guess the possible reasoning being, they believe God will more readily listen to these than them. Their assumption being when they pray, the saints are listening. They presume these to be omnipresent, an attribute of the Godhead. 

So, which of these fits your billing? I’m not here to tell you one is right or the other is wrong. My question is, “are you getting the fullness of the benefit of prayer?” Are you touching God? Are you receiving of His riches? Is your life becoming one with Him?
"Pray to be taught to pray. Do not be content with old forms that flow from the lips only. Most Christians have need to cast their formal prayers away, to be taught to cry, Abba." ― Robert Murray McCheyne
Use of Intermediaries:

Don't think it strange people use intermediaries. That is the hallmark of all religions. They have their fellows in the Israelites who could not stand the voice of God and would rather have Him speak through Moses. [Exodus 19] Their love for their sins was greater than their love for God. Rather than take on the privilege God afforded, they chose the gift at the expense of the giver. Of whom is testified against, "He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel." (Psalm 103:7, NKJV) 

Moses chose His ways, His heart. He chose to know God for himself. The Israelites, on the other hand, chose His acts, His hands. They just wanted what they could get. Like Solomon, Moses chose rightly, and he got it all. He became known as a friend of God [Numbers 12:8]. Wow! What a privilege? Wow! What intimacy in the relationship? What a placing in God? And, that is available to us also. Guess how different our prayer will be if we push to this level. God himself gives credence to such by naming Moses as one of those who could move His hands. [Ezekiel 14:14]

Prayer Posture:

Some believe you have to close your eyes to pray and have made a religion out of it. How true is this? I was wondering the bible verse that supports this dogma. Or that you have to kneel down to pray. Really? Not heard of people who kneel on the outside but are all standing on the inside? Which is more important? Which does God see? Which does God honor and respect? 

We have shown so many pictures of people praying with their two hands clasped together. Some will probably never see themselves to have prayed unless they have this posture. For some, you have to make the sign of the cross before and after praying. For others, you have to always say, “In Jesus name” – Sometimes before, but always after praying. A good portion of those who say it probably, have no clue what they are saying, nor why. It has simply become a tradition. And, in more recent times, we have the “fall down and die,” “by fire, by force,” etc. chants.
"Prayer is the opening of the heart to God as to a friend. Not that it is necessary in order to make known to God what we are, but in order to enable us to receive Him. Prayer does not bring God down to us, but brings us up to Him." (Ellen G. White) 
"Prayer is not so much an act as it is an attitude - an attitude of dependency, dependency upon God." (Arthur W. Pink)
My Take:

There is no gainsaying that these different methods and ways have worked for different people. And the intent here is not to look down on any of them. The question that comes to mind is, “Is this all that there is to prayers?” Or is there more? What was it that made the disciples seek for more? Are there more heights in the place of prayer that we can attain? Does prayer have a heart that can be touched? Or, is it merely peripheral? Is there an art to prayer that can be learned? The disciples’ request seems to imply there is more. It seems to imply there is a highway, in the place of prayer, to the heart of God. Are you willing to come along?
"Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work." (Oswald Chambers) 
"What the church needs today is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use— men of prayer, men mighty in prayer." (E.M. Bounds)
I invite you on a journey through Jesus’ response as we join the disciples in asking the same,

© 2014 Akin Akinbodunse

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