Teachable Moments

The Story of Teach Us to Pray

Let me tell you a story.  A story you may have heard before, but with details you may have missed.

Once upon a time, a rabbi named Jesus visited some friends, Mary and Martha, in Bethany, a suburb of Jerusalem.  After dining with them and giving Martha some much needed advice, he went to “a certain place to pray” (Luke 11:1a).  

  • Bethany is nearby and thus, it is very possible that this “certain place” was the Mount of Olives where he went to pray prior to his betrayal and subsequent crucifixion. Where exactly?  Not sure. But, he had a designated space.

“When he was finished..” (Luke 11:1b)

  • His prayer took time. How much time?  No idea.  But, he invested time.

One of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” (Luke 11:1c)

  • Not surprising, his disciples saw Jesus’ behavior and wanted to learn to do the same thing.  What do we do?, they asked.  People are fascinated with formulas and that is what they wanted from Jesus. 

“And he said to them, “When you pray, say:  ”Father, hallowed be (holy is) your name. Your kingdom come.  Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.” (Luke 11:2-4)

  • Jesus answered the disciple’s question and told them what to pray.  Is this what we should pray?  Yes.  Is it the only thing we should pray?  No. 

A Quick Recap:

  1. Create space and time in your life to pray.
  2. Use the prayer Jesus taught his disciples to pray as a guide for your own prayers.

The Story Continues
Jesus, because he was such a good Rabbi, went on to tell the disciples more than they thought they needed to know (Luke 11:5-12).  Jesus did not end the conversation on a what but a who.  

If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13)

  • The disciples wanted a pattern; Jesus ultimately gave them a person.  

Dear Friend, the moral of Jesus’ teaching on prayer helps us prioritize our space and time, gives us a pattern for what to pray and ultimately, brings us back to the person of God, the Holy Spirit.  May what the disciples received from the teaching of Jesus on prayer be true in our lives as well.

Blessings to you and fondly yours, dear readers, Elizabeth

Prayer and Quotes of St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430AD) on Prayer

Breathe in me O Holy Spirit that my thoughts may all be holy.
Act in my O Holy Spirit that my work too may  be holy.
Draw my heart O Holy Spirit that I love only what is holy.
Strengthen me O Holy Spirit to defend all that is holy.
Guard me then O Holy Spirit that I always may be holy.

“You have created us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.”

“To fall in love with God is the greatest of romances, to seek Him the greatest adventure, to find Him the greatest human adventure.”