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Summary: In launching this series on prayer, this message was meant to examine some of the things that keep us from pursuing prayer as a lifestyle. Part 1 in series, "Learning to Pray."

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Anyone here know virtually nothing about music? Raise your hand. Let’s say that today you began piano lessons. At first it would be this difficult, deliberate attempt for you to master certain basic skills. You don’t consider yourself a musician and for you to learn piano, at first you would kind of feel like you are stepping into my world, or Dan’s world, or the world of some other musician you know. But at a certain point you’d realize that you consider yourself a musician and are at home in that world. At first you strive constantly to capture music, but at some point you find yourself captured by it. It has begun to form you, so that even as you continue to learn more, it continues shaping who you are, from the inside out. You’re not all musicians but almost all of you can relate to what I’m saying if you simply think about what it is that you love -- the hobby or activity that has captured your heart. Chances are you are a student of that thing --fishing, hunting, Xbox, sewing, golf, music, athletics.

We do not move forward in prayer when we are not willing to be a student of prayer. This resistance is a normal human tendency that shows up in many areas of our lives. There are some of you in this room today who say you want to make a bigger impact on the lives of your friends and family, but you will not prioritize your schedules in order to learn how to do it -- will not make yourself a student of it. There are some who say they want to learn how to manage their household, their money, their economic lives better to live free of the burdens of debt and bad credit -- but you have not been willing so far to make yourself a student of it -- to learn not the new technique, but the new lifestyle that will deliver you. We can learn techniques, but we must be students of lifestyles. You could say, "Dave, show me the one technique that would make me a guitar player." And I’d tell you that being a guitar player is a lifestyle of continual learning of many techniques that never ends, each building on the one before. The more you learn, the more you realize there is to learn.

So let me ask you: are you willing to think of prayer in that way? Are you willing to become a student of prayer? In our website survey a few months ago, 80% of respondents to the survey said they wanted to hear a series on prayer more than any other topic. That’s great, but what if I tell you that all you¡¦re going to learn in this series is how important it is that the series just be the beginning -- that you dedicate yourself to a lifetime of learning the lifestyle of prayer, that you become a student of prayer. That is what I want to urge us toward today -- a lifestyle of the learning of prayer that we can embrace together.

Another obstacle to learning to pray is our expectations of prayer. Friday as I was finishing up this message I got a call and was told that the mother of one of my former youth group students was diagnosed with terminal cancer that morning and has six months to live, and would I consider going up to the hospital. She’s 51 years old.

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Carol Patterson

commented on Dec 31, 2007

I would like to use some of the things you wrote in a series I am doing on prayer. I especially appreciated the thoughts on expectations. I will be exploring what we are to expect when we pray. Carol

Gordon Jones

commented on Feb 2, 2008

Thank you for your thoughts. They will be helpful as I start the process of bringing before my congregation the need to get real in prayer.

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