One day Jesus’ disciples came to him and made this request: “Lord, teach us to pray.” Of all the requests and questions the disciples brought to the master, I have a feeling that this was one of His favorites. This was music to Jesus’ ears! “Lord, teach us to pray.”
Who taught you how to pray? When did you learn how to pray? Was it bedtime prayers with mom and dad? Someone saying Grace before a meal? Sunday School? A Prayer group? Maybe it was the night you knelt by your bed and asked Christ to be your Lord and savior? Maybe it was in the hospital? Or by a graveside? Whenever and wherever it was and even if you don’t remember - at some point you learned how to pray.
I am intrigued by this idea of learning how to pray. Is prayer really something we have to learn how to do? Doesn’t it come naturally? Why can’t I just pray in a way that I enjoy, that feels comfortable to me, that suits my schedule, that makes me feel fulfilled and happy? Well, that would make sense if you were simply talking to yourself or only talking to the four walls. But if prayer is talking to God, then I am in a conversation with a person. And if I am having a conversation, then I am part of a relationship - a relationship with the Lord God king of the universe. And maybe, just maybe God has some preferences on how he would like to be addressed.
This example might help. I was teaching the children’s Sunday School class a few years ago and one of the children wanted my attention and called out over all the others. She got my attention!
“Just who are you talking to? I don’t want you to just call me Steve.”
“Oh, so do you want me to call you Pastor Steve like everyone else does?”
“No, I don’t want you to call me Steve or Pastor Steve because you are not everyone else. You are one of a select group of the only three individuals on this planet who are allowed to call me Dad - and I don’t want either of us to forget that.”
It was my daughter who was trying to get my attention. She accomplished her goal, but I don’t think she was pleased with the attention she received. I was not happy with the way she addressed me. It is important that she call me, Dad, because that is our precious relationship to each other. Jesus teaches us to pray, “Our Father, who art in heaven” because that is how God wants His children to address Him. We never can forget that God is a person and not a force or a thing. Prayer is conversation with the Living God, who loves us deeply, and is always to be honored, respected and worshiped as Lord and God.
I hope you join me in worship as we learn how to pray by studying the Lord’s Prayer.