By Dave Butts
I love teaching about prayer. I’ve spent much of my life doing just that. So you’ll understand if I bristle a bit when someone says, “Why do I need to learn about prayer? Isn’t it just talking to God?” Actually, I really do understand those comments. Prayer is simple. It is talking with God and the youngest child can do it.
So why learn about prayer then? Scripture has perhaps the most undeniable apologetic for the importance of learning to pray through the story of Jesus’ followers. The Apostles were men who spent all of their time with Jesus for three years. One of the many things that amazed them about Jesus was His prayer life. So it’s not surprising that one day they came to him and said, “Lord, teach us to pray.” What Jesus didn’t do was to respond to them by telling them they didn’t need Him to teach them to pray. Instead, He taught them to pray, giving them that powerful teaching tool that we often call, The Lord’s Prayer or Disciples Prayer. Jesus evidently believed that prayer could and should be taught. Scripture tells us that Jesus never did or said anything apart from the Father. He connected, as fully human, with His Father through prayer, because it was the human way to communicate with God.
Often, believers are left to their own devices in prayer. If they are not raised in a home where prayer is taught, or if the church they attend does not train them in prayer, they cannot possibly see prayer as a priority in their spiritual walk. It is just one of many spiritual disciplines which Christians should do. Prayer is rarely seen as the foundation for all of Christian life…even though it is the one way for us to connect with God about everything in this journey of life.
I’ve talked to thousands of people about their prayer lives. Most people feel inadequate and that they are not connecting well with God. Their perception is that their prayers are erratic and often powerless. Why would anyone who feels that way about his or her prayer life want to spend time praying? That’s the issue. Why give yourself to something about which you feel inadequate? Herein lies the power and purpose of good prayer teaching…it leads you to greater prayer.
May I suggest to you that the beneficiary of teaching on prayer is not God, but you? God does indeed hear the prayers of little children and the simple. He doesn’t need for us to receive great teaching on prayer in order to hear us. But we need to learn prayer so that we will pray! Prayer is God’s chosen way of accomplishing His purposes on earth…and He uses His people for that purpose! What an amazing gift and awesome responsibility!
If you are a pastor, teacher, leader, parent, etc. know that teaching prayer is of primary importance. Training all generations to pray, following the example of Jesus with His disciples, helps us focus our hearts on God’s kingdom agenda. This is what PrayerU has been developed to do. We want to come alongside of churches to offer good, solid, biblical training on prayer so that as many people as possible can grow in prayer…and so as many churches as possible can become praying churches.
Prayer is the most important love relationship possible – it connects us with the God of the Universe, Creator of ALL things…who was and is and is to come. Knowing Him involves communication with Him. It is coming before His throne of grace, bowing before Him, submitting our will to His, listening to His heart and carrying out His plans and purposes for His kingdom with deep devotion and obedience.
When Jesus ascended into heaven, He left behind a group of praying believers – a house of prayer for all nations. Lord, teach us to pray!