He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”
Reflection from Paula Pasterski:
Setting the stage in my mind for this verse, I imagine that the actions described in Luke 11:1 happened early on in Jesus relationship with his disciples.
Up to this moment, they had listened with awe to the parables in which Jesus used stories to illustrate the ethereal nature of The Kingdom of Heaven. With wonder, they had witnessed his very public miracles as he moved from village to village healing the sick and ministering to the people.
They no doubt came across those with “holier than thou” attitudes……not only Pharisees, but laymen who fancied themselves one of the chosen. They watched and listened and like we do today, heard those who were looked upon by people as holy and revered, pray loudly and long as if the fanciest and wordiest of prayers would receive The Father’s favor better than a simpler prayer.
They also likely witnessed prayer as a petition for The Father to grant riches and favor for themselves or those in their circle of family and friends.
The disciples were likely confused in the private and simple way Jesus communed with The Father, watching him pray “in a certain place”.
Knowing that Jesus prayed “in a certain place” reminds me that we need to schedule time for prayer, as Jesus must have done. In a busy world, we often squeeze prayer in and only if we want or need something. Scheduling requires a time, a place and commitment.
After watching Jesus private, simple and humble act of prayer as opposed to the grandiose style of holy people, the disciples likely discussed this amongst themselves, bringing them to the conclusion that they did not know how to pray……one disciple, speaking no doubt for the whole group, asked Jesus to teach them how.
I am reminded through this verse and the one that follows that we are all equipped to pray in the manner that Jesus teaches us to pray in The Lord’s Prayer. No special credentials needed.
In my spiritual journey, I have often been afraid to lead prayer, thinking that the eloquence in which I speak or the length of the prayer my simple mind can devise falls way short of people who are “good prayers”.
I am a bit intimidated and frustrated by prayers that go on and on and on….prayers in which my short attention span has my mind wandering into what I am going cook for dinner that night, how I’m going to get my house cleaned in time for the expected company, or other distractions
In the recent past my faith had been fractured by those I’ve followed as spiritual leaders whose prayers sound more like petitions to a wish genie…..prayers for a certain outcome as if the proof of our faith lies in whether God answers those prayers or not. I remember one service in particular where a pastor claimed to have a back ache during the prayer, prayed for the backache to be relieved and then claimed that he was promptly and miraculously healed in front of an “audience” of the spiritually hungry. My eyes to the validity of this kind of pompous example of prayer were painfully opened as I watched my baby grand daughter pass away despite thousands of prayers that I know were offered up for her healing.
I am grateful for this opportunity to reflect on how Jesus told us to pray and in knowing that the ways of Our Heavenly Father are not for me to try to control…..only to accept, knowing that his perfect will is in effect even though my imperfect will is not.
Heavenly Father, you who are the grand engineer of our marvelous universe…..the creator and perpetuator of our lives and the reasons for them, let me accept your perfect will and in doing so walk with you in your kingdom every moment of every day.
Please give me the knowledge of your will for me and the power to carry it out. You have given me many wonderful gifts yet I ignore what I have to whine for what I don’t.
I blame you when life follows a sorrowful path but forget to trust that you have a plan and that your plan includes me and those that I love.
I live in needless fear.
Please accept my humble admission of the frailties of my humanity, and provide me with the peace of knowing that you forgive me.