Lord, Teach Us to Pray
Give me your prayers.
The unexpected thought whopped me upside my head. I may have been only a few years into my walk with Christ, but I understood the importance of prayer. Had already received enough answers to prayer to know it is as real as ever. I had also been taught that if a person wanted answers, they needed to be diligent in making their requests known to God. And I was all about diligence. So, what was it with this ‘give me your prayers’ business?
Would God say such a thing when the Bible clearly instructs us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17)? Prayer is an essential and often-forgotten piece of the armor of God we’re to put on. I’d hardly think God would want me to give it up. Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints (Ephesians 6:11–18).
Or was the devil trying to trick me into not praying? I wouldn’t put it past him.
Again, Give me your prayers.
Taking into consideration that it just might be God speaking, I glanced down at my prayer list the length of the Trans-Siberian Railway and gulped. “Give . . . as in all of them?” I asked. I had invested much time in these requests for people. Many heartfelt prayers had been offered on their behalf. To give them up just like that . . . Granted, I had recently learned that a man I’d been fervently praying for died three months prior. Didn’t see that one coming. Might I just add that discovering you’ve been praying for a dead man can do a world of hurt to your confidence in hearing God.
They’re your prayers, not mine.
Indeed, they were my prayers. I’d written them out myself and poured over them daily. Wasn’t praying supposed to be about asking God for everything? Paul obviously had some sort of personal prayer list going because he said, I cease not to make mention of you in my prayers (Ephesians 1:16).
Not knowing what to think, I asked my pastor for advice. He suggested I spend my usual prayer time, in the Word and giving God thanks until He gave me further instructions. Sounded like good advice.
Dialing down was difficult at first. It was tough letting go. I feared for the safety of the people I wasn’t praying for. What was to become of them? Then again, how had my prayers benefited the man three-months dead? Point made.
About mid-week, my times spent with the Lord became more relaxed, even pleasurable. The checklist of names I’d felt so responsible for took a back seat to learning to chill with God, to read my Bible and thank Him. It was my steep learning curve. My time to reset, to refuel.
The next week, God launched me into my next phase of learning through Larry Lea’s teaching on The Lord’s Prayer (Could You Not Tarry One Hour? 1986).
Lord, teach me to pray! (Luke 11:1)
There are so many facets to prayer, so many things God wants to teach us as we go along. There’s learning to listen to His voice and connect with His heart—what is He thinking and feeling? —so we can pray heart-of-the-Father prayers. Morning by morning . . . he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught. (Isaiah 50:4–5). Prayer also gives Him the opportunity to connect with our hearts. When you pray, go into your [most] private room, and, closing the door, pray to your Father, which is in secret; and your Father, Who sees in secret, will reward you in the open (Matthew 6:6, 8).
There’s the pray-and-faint-not aspect of prayer (Luke 18:1–8; Luke 11:1– 13). We’re to be shamelessly persistent and insistent. Ask and keep on asking. Seek and keep on seeking. Knock and keep on knocking. What loving parent can resist their child’s requests? Our Father is the ultimate gift giver. We will receive; the door will be opened. He not only gives us good things (Matthew 7:7–11), but gives even more so the Holy Spirit when we ask (Luke 11:13).
And I mustn’t forget to mention what I learned in that week-long reset time—being thankful in prayer. How fortunate we are that He takes time to teach us to be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God (Philippians 4:6). It’s funny how thankfulness tenderizes the heart to see things it couldn’t otherwise. I had taken so much for granted—like breathing, and good health, a home to live in, food on the table, a bed to sleep in and the ability and desire to get up out of that bed . . . You get my drift.
Have you ever considered what a privilege it is that we have an audience with God? My beloved shepherd said to me O my dove . . . let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely (Song 2:14). He’s given us a voice to worship Him, to carry on a conversation with Him, and to pray for those unable to speak for themselves (Proverbs 31:8).
I have learned—am still learning—how to chill with God and enjoy Him. I’m learning to hear His voice and pray Spirit-led prayers instead of my own. Because I’m now asking things according to His will, I am confident that He hears me and that I will have the petitions that I desired of Him (1 John 5:15). I’m learning how to be shamelessly persistent and insistent in prayer. And I’m learning to be thankful—in prayer and in all things.
Lord, teach us to pray.