Proclaiming the Glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ

Is Prayer Caught or Taught?

The answer is, “Yes!” However, I think prayer is more caught than taught. Here’s why.

When the disciples ask Jesus to teach them to pray, do you remember what Jesus does? He doesn’t lecture for forty five minutes. He doesn’t require them to read a book and write a book report. Jesus teaches them how to pray by giving them a model prayer (Luke 11:1-4).

Granted, Jesus did not pray the “Lord’s Prayer,” because Jesus could not have prayed “forgive us our trespasses”: Jesus had no trespasses to be forgiven. Nevertheless, the method Jesus uses to teach them is a model prayer.

Jesus teaches them to pray by modeling because we learn to pray by hearing prayer, even from the earliest of days.

My wife and I stress thanksgiving to God when we pray. We usually open with thanksgiving and sprinkle thanksgiving throughout our prayers. Sometimes our prayers are simply one long list of thanksgivings strung together. “Lord, thank you for this, and thank you for that, and most of all thank you for Jesus. Amen.” My three year old son is hearing us pray. He is learning how to pray. So he prays before dinner one night: “Thank you that the sun came up; thank you for the food; and thank you for Bob the Builder. Amen.”

Here’s the point. Do you want to grow in prayer? My suggestion is to be around those that pray. Listen to your parents pray. Listen to older, wiser Christians pray. Be present at church during the “pastoral prayer.” Attend the church prayer meeting on Wednesday evenings. Attend the Sunday morning prayer gathering before the worship service from 8:10-8:20. Simply, be around prayer, and lots of it.

In addition, a great resource for learning how to pray is a little book called The Valley of Vision. This is a book, yes. But it is not a “how to” book on prayer. It is not a “try this” book on prayer. It is not a “this is why” book on prayer. All those types of books are fine and good. But The Valley of Vision is simply a collection of prayers: life-giving; gospel-saturated, biblically-based prayers.

Most of all, if you want to grow in prayer, study our Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6 and Luke 11. Mine the riches of these prayers so that you catch how to pray.

To learn more about prayer and why it seems so hard, listen to Pastor Dan’s message from Matthew 6:11.