Teach Us to Pray
A Nebraska pastor by the name of Walt Winger had a little revelation into his prayer life one Sunday morning. One of his children's Sunday School teachers found him before church started and showed him a picture in the quarterly of Jesus in agonizing prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, while his disciples slept in the background. "I showed this picture to my class today," she announced, "and one of the students said, "'that reminds me of our pastor.' "
Well, Pastor Walt was overwhelmed. To be compared to Jesus, and Jesus in prayer no less, well, what do you say? While he stuttered and stammered, searching for words that were sufficiently humble, the teacher asked, "Wanna know why he said that?"
"Yes, of course," he said, trying not to sound to proud. "Little Ronnie Harris pointed to all the disciples sleeping and said, "Hey look. Jesus must have prayed one of them long prayers like pastor Walt does!"
Like many of you, I have found prayer to be the hardest work I ever do. Praying effectively, with concentration and purpose, is harder than preparing a sermon. It's harder than sharing my faith with someone. It's harder than planting a church was. So that's why I turn again and again to the instructions given to us by Jesus himself for help and encouragement. Would you find Matthew 6: 5-18 in your Bible and follow along while I read these instructions?
Over in Luke's gospel, we find Jesus teaching this same prayer to his disciples. I think they must have been having a little trouble with the idea of prayer as well. Maybe it was just the result of fatigue and stress. They had been traveling quite a bit. The strife and strain of constant togetherness was taking its toll. Every time they thought they had the answers, someone changed the questions.
Yet they noticed that Jesus wasn't eaten up with stress. He had the strength to do what needed to be done. He found joy in every circumstance. Can't you ...
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