The Holy Spirit will help us in our weaknesses. For example, we don’t always know the Lord’s will and what to pray for, but the Spirit prays through us with groaning that English words cannot express. — Romans 8:26
Jesus often withdrew himself from the crowd to pray (Luke 5:16), just one-on-one with the Father. Afterward, he found the disciples. Either that or they came looking and found him.
One day, the disciples saw Jesus praying and heard a level of communication with God that they didn’t know was possible. “Sir,” they said, “teach us to pray just as John the Baptizer taught his followers” (Luke 11:1). Given their knowledge of prayer, this was an amazing request.
Many of Jesus’ disciples had been followers of John, so they obviously were not asking Jesus to teach them something they had already learned.
From childhood, they knew the liturgy of prayer.
Every Sabbath in the synagogue, Jews recited a long list of prayers that could take up to thirty minutes. This included many lines from Scripture. Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One. Blessed be the Name of his glorious Kingdom forever. Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and might.
From John, they learned the liberty of prayer.
Scripture doesn’t say what John taught, but we know enough about his ministry to be sure he wasn’t teaching a religious form. His baptism message called for inner cleansing that allowed his disciples to speak freely in their own words whatever came to mind.
From Jesus, they learned the language of spiritual prayer.
From deep within their hearts, people hungered for the spiritual connection they were created for, but they didn’t know how to surrender their self-serving wills for something much better. For that, Jesus gave them the attitudes of the heart in what we call The Lord’s Prayer.
Jesus’ model prayer should be more than a liturgy of words.
The value of prayer is what comes from the heart, not the words. If we revert to synagogue practices of reciting words, we can miss the attitudes of heart that we desperately need before we can worship God in spirit and in truth.
For the next twelve weeks, we’ll delve into the meaning of the familiar phrases of The Lord’s Prayer and see what our hearts should be saying to make a better connection with our Father.