We had just finished our meal when suddenly I looked up and Hallie (my 21 year-old stepdaughter) was gone. I looked all around and finally found her - outside, praying with 3 girls she didn't know. When I asked her about it later, I learned that she didn't know those girls but God led her there to pray for them. She went on to tell me how God is making her bolder in her faith - often sending her to people she doesn't know to pray for whatever He tells her to pray. Seeing her do this encouraged me in my own faith, and challenged me to think back on all of the times where God has led me to step in faith. Seeing her do this reminded me that God knows what we need before we ask. Seeing her do this taught me a brand new lesson on prayer.
There was a time in the Bible where Jesus taught people to pray. Luke 11 records the story: "One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When He finished, one of His disciples said to Him, 'Lord, teach us to pray...'" Here is what Jesus came back with:
"When you pray, say: Father, Hallowed be Your Name, Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead not into temptation." (Luke 11:2-4)
I know this is a little different than the one we usually recite, but I don't want to focus on that here. What I want us to remember is what this pattern of prayer teaches us. So here are a few things for us to focus on when we pray this week.
1. Pray regularly - The text says "Jesus was praying", but this wasn't for a special occasion or purpose. This was part of Jesus' regular (daily) practice, and it should be something we do regularly as well. When my life gets crazy and out-of-whack, I know I need to spend more time in prayer. I used to think that this model was something we had to follow religiously, meaning I had to somehow incorporate these words into my prayer. But what Jesus is really after is giving us specific themes or principles to remember when we pray. We should start with recognizing our relationship with Him (Father) and how He is holy. Next, we should thank Him for the ways He provides for us. Then, we are in prime position to pray about our relationships with others. Finally, Luke reminds us to turn to Him for protection.
2. Pray boldly - When I asked Hallie about those girls, she went on to tell me how God is wanting her to become bolder. So, it makes sense that He is sending her into situations where she MUST rely on Him. Isn't that what He wants from all of us?!? If I am going to ask Jesus to teach me to pray, that is a prayer He will always answer. And when (not if) I pray, I am putting myself in a place where He is going to teach me how to do that. Sometimes, we get into a rut and just ask for small things: someone has a broken toe or needs a good parking place. But Jesus wants us to go deeper and listen to His lessons on prayer that will take us further in our faith. By the way, that same night I watched Hallie do this 3 more times...I think she is learning her lesson. I hope we all do!