Summary: Examines the necessity of adopting a lifelong learning attitude toward prayer, and being willing to allow Christ to be our teacher. Part 2 in series, "Learning to Pray."
“Lord, Teach Us to Pray”
Prt. 2 of series, “Learning to Pray”
Wildwind Community Church
January 30, 2005
NOTES ON THIS MESSAGE: This message, and all the other messages in this series, were based on Andrew Murray’s book, "With Christ in the School of Prayer."
[Begin with video from The King of Queens, then get back to the message title screen as soon as it’s done.]
So what do you think, is it Doug or is it Carrie who really understands prayer? I think the main problem here is they both think they have it figured out and they’re both really screwing it up. They’re both willing to manipulate God, just in different ways. Carrie will try to manipulate God to get her the shoes she wants, which Doug finds appalling, but he’s okay with trying to manipulate God to mess up Carrie’s prayers. I think they both could have stood to learn quite a bit about prayer, don’t you?
Our message today is called, “Lord, teach us to pray.” So before we get into the four main points of today’s message, let me ask you – did you? Did you pray this week? Did you accept my invitation to make prayer a priority? Did you struggle to actually do it? Did you find that your good intentions to do it last Sunday just didn’t get you through the week? We will naturally gravitate toward whatever will occupy our time and keep us from the work of prayer.
Here’s what I found this week. I found myself with this amazing sense of God waiting for me to come to prayer. God waited for me in my fatigue on Monday. And I had to resist the urge to say God I’m too tired. He waited for me in the pain and loneliness I felt during parts of Tuesday and Wednesday. And I had to resist the urge to say God, I’m too achy. He waited for me in the busyness of Thursday, and I had to resist the urge to say God, I’m too preoccupied. He waited for me through the excitement of Friday and I had to resist the urge to say Not right now God, I’m on a roll here finishing up stuff for Sunday. And he waited for me through the peaceful rest of Saturday, and I had to resist the urge to say, God, I just need some me-time to chill out today.
See, you and I will always be tempted to believe there are things more important than prayer. And the things in your life that will seem more important than prayer will nearly always be whatever you happen to be doing at the moment you think about praying. I have told the story before about the time I was home sick in bed for nearly two weeks with one of the worst flare-ups of my MS that I have ever experienced. I was just too exhausted to get out of bed, so I lay there, holed up in bed day after day. Now at the beginning I thought, “This might not be half bad – I’m out of the office for a while, no expectations of me, nothing to do but lay around. Plenty of time for me to pray and write and concentrate on God. Maybe in a way this time is actually a gift from God. You know what I did that week, and I am not kidding you – I’m serious. I watched the Beavis and Butthead movie several times. I watched several other movies several times as well, but I’ve never stopped thinking it’s kind of fun to say, “Beavis and Butthead.”
Anyway, I watched a bunch of completely worthless movies, laid around thinking about how tired I felt, and wished I was back at work. I don’t think I spent 15 minutes in serious prayer all week long. I have gone out to rustic camps for prayer retreats and found myself literally looking at the ceiling, daydreaming, anything to avoid a few minutes of serious prayer. Then when I do pray I often end up feeling let down, like it was supposed to be different than it actually was. So that’s why I challenged you to pray last week, because most of you need to be challenged. I need to be challenged. There is something in me – something in many of us – that resists prayer at all costs.
As I said the title of today’s message is, “Lord, teach us to pray.” That comes from what the disciples said to Jesus in Luke 11:1. Jesus has just finished a personal time of prayer, and his disciples come to him and say, “Lord teach us to pray.” They didn’t say, “Teach us to fish,” or “Teach us to turn water into wine,” or “Teach us to heal,” but rather “Teach us to pray,” because I think they understood that it was from prayer that Jesus got his power to do all the other things he did. So today’s message is, “Lord, teach us to pray,” not “Teach us to watch Beavis and Butthead,” or “Teach us to clean house,” or “Teach us to fix the car,” or even, “Teach us to go to church.” Christ doesn’t need to teach us any of those things, because we will naturally gravitate toward whatever will occupy our time and keep us from the work of prayer. Let’s work through that request word by word this morning, starting with the last two words. “Lord, teach us TO PRAY.”