One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples” (Luke 11:1 NIV).
What follows is familiar to most of us. Jesus responds to His disciple’s request with what we have come to refer to as “The Lord’s Prayer”—a deeply beautifully and simple model of how to engage in conversation with God the Father.
Most of us have memorized this prayer. It’s repeated every Sunday in churches around the world. Books have been written about it. Sermons have been preached about it.
And yet, this prayer was in response to a request: “Lord, teach us to pray . . . .” Even those disciples who walked closely with Jesus in the days of His earthly ministry sought help in their prayer lives. Prayer wasn’t something that came naturally to them. They had to learn it.
The disciples didn’t ask for instructions on sharing the Gospel of the Kingdom. They didn’t request to be taught how to heal. They didn’t ask Jesus to teach them how to study the Scriptures. They asked Him to teach them to pray. They knew it was important. The Scriptures, after all, are full of exhortations to pray.
And yet, those who follow Jesus repeatedly confess that the spiritual discipline they struggle with most is prayer. This form of communion with God holds the promise of intimate interaction with our heavenly Father. And that intimate relationship is the foundation for everything else we do as followers of Jesus.
A number of years ago, when veteran Navigator Ed Reis spoke to a group of pastors about the importance of prayer, he told them, “We already know enough about prayer. We just need to pray.” That’s probably true for most of us today. We don’t need more information about prayer—we need a new perspective on it, and we need to do it. That’s how we learn.
When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, He didn’t put on a prayer seminar or discuss the various types of prayer or the biblical basis for why prayer was important. He didn’t give them techniques. He taught them by praying.
Our hope is that as you read the articles and stories on the following pages, that you’ll be motivated—not to learn new prayer techniques, or to “master” the discipline of prayer—but to spend time talking and listening to God. Becoming a person of prayer isn’t about learning to do it right—it’s about learning to engage God in conversation and about getting to know Him more intimately. It may not come naturally to us. It didn’t come naturally to the early disciples, either. But as we do it, we can ask—as they did—“Lord, teach us to pray!”