“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.’ He said to them, ‘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 us not into temptation.’” -Luke 11:1-4
Have you ever felt too inadequate to pray in front of someone? I still remember being asked to pray in church for the first time on vicarage. It was intimidating! I felt nervous, didn’t feel worthy and definitely didn’t know if I would be able to find the words to say. The disciples remind us that prayer is something that can be learned by any follower of Jesus. They ask Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray!” It is a mistake to think that the human heart can pray on its own and by itself. We are in danger of confusing our desires, dreams, cries, complaints, joys, pains and all the other emotions of the heart, which it can do all by itself, with prayer. Prayer isn’t simply for pouring out our hearts, but a way to speak to God and to have Him speak to us whether our hearts our joyous or empty. That is why we too need to learn how to pray.
In light of the disciple’s question, it is interesting that the perfect prayer Jesus gave His disciples is a compilation of the book of Psalms, the prayer book of the Bible. Jesus had learned to pray by first learning God’s Word, especially the book of Psalms. When He gives the disciples the “Lord’s Prayer” there is no new content in it that cannot be found in the Psalms. "Hallowed be Thy name" is found in Psalm 113:2, “Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time forth and for evermore.” Blessed and hallowed have one in the same meaning. "Thy kingdom come" is found in Psalm 72:6-9, “He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that water the earth. In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endures. He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth. They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him; and his enemies shall lick the dust.” "Give us this day our daily bread" comes from Psalm 145:15-16, “The eyes of all wait upon You; and You give them their meat in due season. You open Your hand, and satisfy the desire of every living thing.” In order for Jesus to teach us today such a perfect prayer, we know that He also took great amounts of time to read and study His Bible, and thus learned from His Heavenly Father.
If we want to pray like Jesus we should begin where Jesus started, by listening to our Heavenly Father. Take time to read, meditate and memorize the Bible. It will be a reservoir of knowledge when you need it. It will transform your prayer life and your confidence in praying in front of others. For we all must learn to prayer like a little child learns to speak, by hearing his father’s words and speech. We too ask God, "Lord, teach us to pray" and the Lord provides through His Word.