Once when Jesus had been out praying, one of his disciples came to him as he finished and said, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” Luke 11:1
“Teach us to pray.” This disciple had a flash of insight. He realized that there were hidden depths, unrealized complexities to prayer that were eluding him. When audiences who are not familiar with the art of grappling watch two master wrestlers, they often think not much is happening. Because they have not tried wrestling themselves, they don’t see the nuances. They don’t notice the vibrating deltoid muscles that tell a story of nearly superhuman strain. They don’t see the little adjustments of balance that should telegraph that the person is trying to get a tactical advantage. Ah, but get an old grappler to watch and he will thoroughly enjoy himself. When my father-in-law watches a hockey game, he leans and twists and his muscles twitch in sympathy with the players. You see, he once was one of them and he realizes that there is more to hockey than just staying up on your skates and pushing around a little black puck.
We Christians are often satisfied with only surface knowledge of things. The great depths and reefs of theology elude us through lack of effort or concern. Never be guilty of this. Realize that you know little about the business of prayer. It matters not that you have been praying for twenty years, there are yet unplumbed depths to explore. “Teach us to pray” the disciple implores. Not only does he realize the need to learn, but he goes to the right Teacher.
As much as I would like to, I cannot teach you everything you need to know about praying. The problem is that I am also a student. I can teach you what I have discovered so far but any insight shared will be limited by my own limitations. I do know a great Teacher, however, who once said “Ask and it shall be given, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you.” He knows everything there is to know about the subject. How does He know so much? Well, He was the Inventor, the original Creator of the concept of God/Man communication.
Prayer is like the Japanese game of Go. It is so simple that a child can learn to play in a few short minutes. It is so complex that some people dedicate their lives to mastering it and die short of their goal. Prayer is so simple that a child can kneel beside his bed and be instantly in communication with the sovereign Lord of the universe. Yet it is so complex that old prayer warriors can struggle sometimes almost to the point of death, wrestling with God. More rightly, they are wrestling with themselves, trying to get their hearts to submit to the will of God. This is the strength, the beauty, the challenge of prayer.
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