Teach Us to Pray

Teach Us to Pray

What we can learn from the leading and prayer of Jesus

Note: The following article has been excerpted from Mentor Like Jesus, by Regi Campbell.

Jesus must have been a fantastic pray-er. Imagine the intimacy, the love, the shared experiences, the common ground with the Father. He prayed often, going off by himself away from his followers and his mentorees.

On one key occasion, documented in Luke 11:1, Jesus had been praying. It seems that this time he had been praying with the disciples nearby because when he finished, one of his disciples (we don't know which one) asked him, "Teach us to pray." I believe this disciple heard something, maybe saw something, that he wanted in on. Hearing Jesus pray, talking with his Dad, something incredibly compelling was going on.

Jesus responded by praying what we call the Lord's Prayer, giving us a model for how to approach the Father—with gratitude and humility. We don't know if Jesus was kneeling, sitting, or face down. But because he was a devoted God follower and a student of the law, we can guess that he was in a position of reverence and submission.

Peter walked with Jesus throughout his ministry. He saw Jesus pray many times, and when he wrote his books of the Bible, he reflected the attitude that he must have seen in Jesus: "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time" (1 Peter 5:6).

He saw Jesus humbled and bowed down. But then he saw him lifted up, first on the cross and then as he ascended into heaven. What a picture! What a contrast.

It's good for me to kneel when I pray. It reminds me that he's God and I'm not. It reminds me that I'm lower than God, that this isn't a conversation between buddies or equals. This is humbling myself, acknowledging his superiority, putting myself below him spiritually but also physically.

Many of the guys that I've mentored have never knelt to pray in a small group. Most have done the "kneeling bench" drill in a church sometime, but few have actually gotten down on their knees and prayed out loud with other guys.

That's what I'm trying to do—to break the ice, to use my influence as a mentor, and to use the peer pressure (and safety) of a group context to open them up to new dimensions of their faith.

One other key point: much has been written about the importance of how we see God. Do we see him as King, as Judge, Healer, or in other ways. There's not a question to be answered here—2 Corinthians 6:18 is clear: "I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons."

God is my heavenly Father. That's the way I address him; that's the way I view him; that's the framework of our relationship; and that's the way Scripture describes him to me. Underlying my entire approach to mentoring younger people is this truth: he's your Father, a perfect Father. Talk to him that way. Think of him that way.

Jesus Was a Praying Man

You would think that a God-man wouldn't need to pray. After all, he's been with the Father from the beginning, participated in the creation, seen and experienced it all. But Jesus prayed often and for extended periods of time.

Scripture tells us that one of his longest prayer times came when he was picking his mentorees, his disciples. We know he would go off by himself to pray and often. "As was his practice," he would go to remote places early in the morning to be with the Father and pray.

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