Jump Start # 2790
Luke 11:1 “It happened that while Jesus was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, on of His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples.”
How do you do it? That’s asked a lot. I’m asked that often concerning our Jump Starts. How do you do it every day? And, I think folks are looking for some deep inspiring story or that I have a cottage in the woods that I go to and crank these out. But, it’s nothing like that. Some are written from my office at home and some are written in my office at the church building. A laptop, a screen and I just type away. This must take a big portion of your day, people say. It doesn’t. Usually less than thirty minutes in the morning is all I have for these. I find when I go back some typos that I missed. I write, read it through once and out it goes. But how? How do you do that? And, I could ask the same of you. How do you look at a pound of hamburger and make a great meal? How do you sit at a piano and play a wonderful piece of music? How do you take a few boards and some elbow grease and build a store quality bookshelf?
In our passage, the disciples wanted Jesus to teach them how to pray. I find that interesting on several fronts. First, you never find these disciples asking the Lord how to preach. Go into all the world and preach the Gospel was the commission given to those apostles. This was said to fishermen. They likely never stood before a crowd to speak. Do you write down a few notes? How do you build a sermon? They may not have been good at public speaking. Yet, they never asked Jesus how to preach. They never asked Jesus how to conduct a worship service. How many songs? Where do you put the Lord’s Supper? They never asked Jesus how to appoint shepherds to the congregation. Should this be a formal thing or something casual? Just how to do it?
But the one thing they did ask was about prayer. Now, some thoughts.
First, having seen Jesus pray, they wanted to learn how to pray. Having watched someone do something is the best time to ask them the “how” question. Saw you do that, can you teach me? John had taught his disciples to pray. They knew about that. They wanted Jesus to do the same. Teach us how to pray.
Second, they already understood the basics of prayer. They were not wanting Jesus to tell them to close their eyes, bow your head, fold your hands together. These were Jewish men who grew up with prayers in the home, synagogue and in the temple. They had seen prayer. What they had not seen was prayer like Jesus prayed. Teach us to pray—means, teach us to pray like You just did. Show me how you did that. Prayer is more than just reciting requests. It’s more than reading a check list of important things. Prayer comes from the heart. It is intimate, personal and profound.
Third, prayer is something that we all can do and most never feel very good at it. We pray. We pray all the time. We pray often. Yet, if put on a piece of paper the things that we need to work on, prayer would be on just about everyone’s paper. I’ve yet to meet the person who is satisfied with the way he prays. Teach us. Show us. Help us.
Fourth, Jesus was a man of prayer. Before choosing the apostles, He prayed. Before the cross, He prayed. On the cross, He prayed. He prayed all night. Prayer was the subject of much of His teaching. Did you think to pray, is much more than a hymn. It’s a reminder. Don’t forget prayer.
Private prayer and public prayer are not the same. A few are good at both. Most are not. Prayer involves more heart than words. Prayer must be believed if we hope God will listen to it. Having asked the Lord to teach them, He does. What follows in Luke is the model prayer. Many call it the Lord’s Prayer. But that isn’t the best title. The Lord was giving this to the disciples, so it wasn’t His. And, there is little indication that He actually prayed these words. We know especially the “forgive us of our sins” section would not have been prayed by Jesus. He was without sin. But what is fascinating about what Jesus gave the disciples is short, simple words, flowing quickly. This is how you pray.
I have found one of the best ways to pray is to simply pray. Do it. You can talk about prayer, study prayer, read about prayer and cut it this way and then that way, but in the end, just pray. Pray hard. Pray often.
I wonder if we could ask Jesus to teach us something, what would it be? For the disciples it was prayer.