Learning to Pray
Use a Basic Plan, then Adjust
“Now when Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray as John taught his disciples.” (Luke 11:1)
Prayer is Learned
I find it very encouraging that Jesus closest friends and apprentices, who had spent significant time listening to Jesus’ teachings, watching Him live, observing regular miracles, and having already been sent out to start preaching, teaching, and healing themselves (Luke 10), still didn’t feel very confident in their prayer or devotional time.
I have also found many sincere believers who still struggle with what to do with God when they are alone with Him, just like these really dedicated disciples. So, although I regularly emphasize that a key breakthrough point in prayer is simply consciously focusing on God, not just a plan or a routine; it does help to have a basic plan and that is what Jesus gave them in the response to their prayer question.
When You Pray “Say”
“And he said to them, ‘When you pray say…” (Luke 11:2) Before we get to the actual plan or outline, please notice that though prayer is meant to be a two-way interaction with God, it most often starts with us taking initiative and starting the conversation.
In my experience if I wait until I feel like God is calling me to pray or until I really feel like it; I don’t pray much. (Why that is, is another topic).
“When you pray, say” is how Jesus teaches to get started because God is always open and receptive 24/7. Plus, talking to God helps us start focusing on God.
“Father, hallowed be your name, Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.” (Luke 11:2b-4)
I just prayed that prayer at a normal conversational pace and it took me 10 seconds (I’m kind of a slow talker). We all know you can’t develop a life-giving relationship with anyone in 10 seconds a day and that was not Jesus’ goal in giving them that prayer.
A Powerful, Simple Prayer Outline
Jesus was giving them a basic outline or plan on what to do when you shut the door to the world and focus on God. This does not come naturally to us. Especially because God hardly ever talks to anyone in an audible voice, so it’s not like a typical conversation you have with your friend.
If, however, you understand these are the types of things to focus on and what you can talk to God about and in time learn to hear how He talks back to you, this will help you know how to pray.
If you slow down and think about each part of the prayer as you say it, and then let other ideas come to mind around that point, you will gradually deepen your relationship with God and receive His guidance and empowering for these key areas of your life.
This is not the only way to pray or to spend time with God; but it is a good one to start with and to come back to on a regular basis. Just slow down, focus on God, and pray the different words that come to mind in line with those key life issues.
How I Apply This
I once spent at least 30 minutes responding to the reality of that first word, “Father.” The Holy Spirit was making real to me on that day that Almighty God, the Perfect One, was actually my father.
As I began to thank God for that reality feelings of incredible joy filled my heart. The more I thanked Him for making me His child, the more fresh ideas about that reality came to mind and with those revelations came more waves of joy. I didn’t get to the rest of the prayer because my soul was just saturated with that reality and adding anything else on to it just didn’t seem right for that day.
Over the years I have learned to “free style” it more and respond to what God is focusing on in my life at that particular time, but I still go back to the Lord’s prayer often as a great guide to interact with this God who though very real is invisible and rarely speaks audibly to humans. These words give great guidance to interact with Him.
If you want more FREE resources on living Jesus-Centered, Jesus-Empowered Life, including prayer check out www.TruVineMission.com
If you are at a point in your life where you want a Purpose and Productivity Reboot, check out www.MarkFurlongCoaching.com