How did you learn to pray?
Do you remember?
Do you remember your first prayer?
How did you learn to say it?
Did you hear someone else pray and then imitate them?
Did you make up a prayer on the spot or were you borrowing a few words from a church service or the unforgettable scene in Talladega Nights when Ricky Bobby said grace?
Maybe you read about prayer in a book.
Maybe you don’t know how it started but, somewhere along the way, you learned how to pray.
Regardless, this might be the bigger question: Once you learned how to pray for the first time, did you ever learn how to pray again? I ask because, at some point in their adult lives, Jesus’ disciples asked him “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). They may well have been in the same boat as many of us: raised in religious households and surrounded by religious people who pray. The expectation may have been that they knew how to pray simply because everyone else did. Does that sound familiar to you? For them, just as it might be for us, asking the question, “Lord, teach us to pray,” is a prayer in and of itself.
It is both a confession and a supplication.
In confession, we acknowledge that we’re not feeling like pros, that we need help. Maybe we’re even confessing that we feel distant from God. Maybe we’re confessing that, because we haven’t felt like we really knew what we were doing, we just stopped praying altogether at some point. Whatever the case may be, “Lord, teach us to pray” begins with humbly telling God we need help.
In supplication, we sincerely ask for that help. We make ourselves teachable. It’s one thing to tell the coach, “Hey, I know I need to see the ball better and swing at the right pitches,” and it’s a different thing altogether to do what the coach tells you to do. Wanting to change is good. Being teachable is better. “Lord, teach us to pray,” contains both requests: the desire to be in conversation with God and the willingness to become teachable so that we can have that conversation.
So, before you dig deeply into the prayer Jesus taught his disciples (which we will do over the next five days), ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart and help you find a teachable posture.