As 2008 approached and commenced, I wondered to God what He would have for my spiritual growth this year. At the same time, I was prayerfully considering the same question for our congregation. The four areas I have been steadily praying about since then are (1) more outreach, (2) more holiness, (3) more generosity and (4) more prayer.
Two weeks ago our sermon series came to Luke 11, where Jesus teaches His disciples to pray. At the same time in our congregation, we are beginning a new class on basic spiritual disciplines and an evening sermon discussion time. All this amounts to a lot of time this month at Immanuel RPC talking about prayer. It occurs to me that perhaps God is answering my prayer for more prayer.
In this light, I thought I might take a few blog posts to share some Biblical points and personal thoughts on prayer. For those at Immanuel, this will be review...but review makes the soil of our hearts and minds able to sustain growth.
First, prayer must be learned. The disciples grew up in a praying culture, but yet realized how much they had to learn. Thus they asked Jesus, "teach us to pray."
Second, prayer is not natural. Certainly there is an impulse in humanity to cry out to a conceived deity. Only a very few succeed in stifling this impulse entirely. But even though we all pray, Biblical prayer, Christ-centered and Spirit-powered prayer are not natural. We are all born breathing and breathe all our lives - but as opera singers must relearn the right breathing for their art, so Christians must relearn prayer.
Third, a desire from prayer comes from keeping our eyes on Jesus. Luke the historian brings a great gift to the church in constantly revealing to us the ongoing, infinite and eternal love that exists in our Triune God. In the gospels, the Father is always pointing out the Son and providing for Him; at the same time the Son is always seeking the Father's glory and purpose. As we watch this, we are to be more than instructed: we are to be inspired. Like the disciples whose desire for prayer came from watching Jesus, so we should meditate on the majestic, Trinitarian love of Jesus for the Father.