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learning to pray

July 18, 2012
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It has been very inspiring to be part of a church that prays. I mean different to the church where three old ladies pray – rather we often have a problem finding enough chairs for people!

People are enthusiastic and more than ready to pray. They are full of faith and not hesitant to pray big prayers – or ask for healing. It is brilliant!

But I wonder if we don’t quite understand what we are doing in prayer?

In Eugine Petersons latest book `the pastor` he recalls a member of his congregation who was in need. When he visited her he asked “Is there anything we can do for you?” (good question) but the reply was quite unexpected “Pastor could you teach me to pray”

Maybe that is our/my job as a pastor, rather than organise activities, preach, pray, or whatever – perhaps there is a very deep longing in all of us to learn how to connect to God, and we need help to do so.

Sometimes we can get that help from a written liturgy. People who have gone this way before us can point to the sort of things we might need to say, although there are limitations of reading something someone else has written and trying to make it your own.  But to learn from a living person – a pray-er is surely the best way.

As I sat in the prayer meeting today I reflected whether we were starting from the wrong side: In the bible we find people start prayer with God and his character (Abraham pleads for Israel because of the nature of God/Paul prays that the God of all comfort would surround hurting people with comfort, and so on) – whereas we (although they were all great prayers) were starting with our selves and our world.

I began to imagine what prayer would be like if we began with God instead of us. If instead of bringing God that list of people who are sick, lonely, in trouble or simply unsaved, we let Jesus come and visit – if we let him wander around our town with us showing us who and what he is concerned about, what he would like to do. Perhaps even pointing us towards what he is already doing or guiding us towards where we can be an answer to our own prayers!

For sure, it is a radical approach. Dangerous even because it gives away control of the agenda! But just maybe this is what Jesus taught us when he taught us to pray “Our Father in heaven, hallowed is your name. May your kingdom rule come on earth…”

No wonder the first disciples needed to ask Jesus “Teach us how to pray”

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