As someone who has spent their entire life in and around the church, I have heard it said many times, “I don’t know how to pray.” I’ve found that those who claim to not know how to pray tend not to pray at all. This action, or lack thereof, is baffling. If a kid doesn’t know how to do something, we teach him.
I have a nephew who, at the ripe old age of twelve, just started his first job as a little league umpire. He didn’t show up for his first shift completely unprepared. He had already been through training. He’d read the rule books. He bought the uniform and extra equipment required of his position. When he showed up on his first day, he already had an idea of what would be expected of him. He didn’t know exactly how everything was going to go, but he and his co-worker addressed the coaches and let them know this was their first go. They went to work and figured it out as they went along. They made a few mistakes, but since the coaches were aware that they were newbies, there was a certain level of grace allowed. At the end of the game, he went home having had a successful first day on the job.
So why, then, if we don’t know how to pray, do we avoid it? In Luke 11:1, Jesus’ own disciples asked him to teach them to pray. Jesus offered what we now refer to as The Lord’s Prayer. Most of us can rattle that one off in our sleep – so don’t say that you don’t know how to pray because you already have a start.
And I tell you, ‘ask and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who ask receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.
Luke 11: 9-10 (ESV)
How do you knock on a door? Is there only one specific way that you can knock in order for someone to open the door? Of course not! All you have to do is make a noise loud enough to be heard on the inside. That’s all God is asking when you pray.
- Hallowed be your name
- Acknowledge the holiness and greatness of God.
- Your kingdom come
- Request God’s will for your life
- Give us each day our daily bread
- Go ahead and ask for provision – Jesus said you could!
- Forgive us our sins
- Mark 11:25 says, “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
- Lead us not into temptation
- It is perfectly okay to ask God to help you to avoid the things that would draw you away from Him. Remember that He is strong in your weakness.
The next time you think you don’t know how to pray, remember Jesus’ words. Start with the basics and expand from there. There is always grace to be found when we go to God in humility. Tell God that you don’t know what you’re doing and ask Him to teach you.
If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Luke 11:13 (ESV)
Daily Bible reading: Judges 20-21; Luke 11:1-28