“Lord, teach us to pray”

By Khoo Tze Wei

Introduction
Communication is key in keeping a relationship growing and going, especially if it is a
long-distance relationship. When you are not able to see or do things with the other
party, it becomes especially important to communicate.
Such is our relationship with God. While we do not physically see Him, yet we want our
relationship with Him to grow; to have God involved in our daily life. Communing with
God in prayer then is one avenue that helps us develop a closer relationship with Him.
King David understood the importance of reliance on God and prayed to Him regularly in
his time of trouble.
“ 16 As for me, I will call upon God, And the Lord shall save me. 17  Evening and morning
and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, And He shall hear my voice.” Ps 55:16-17
In spite of knowing the importance of prayer, many of us don’t pray to God regularly;
perhaps other than giving Him thanks before meals! What lessons can we learn from the
scriptures to help us draw closer to God through prayer?
This piece will explore lessons on prayer we can learn from the life of our master Jesus.

  1. Find time to pray, regardless of our ‘busy’ schedule
    How often have you used the phrase, ‘I’m busy’ or ‘I don’t have time’? These phrases
    seem to be our default response when we’ve been asked to do something, go
    somewhere, or even as a reply to the question, ‘How are you?’.
    Are we really starved of time? Or are we offering a convenient excuse for not allocating
    time?
    During His ministry, Jesus was constantly engaged in teaching and healing. His disciples
    and the multitudes required His time and attention. When His cousin John the Baptist
    was executed, Jesus withdrew to a desolate place to be alone, possibly to mourn the
    loss. However, the crowds followed Him and Jesus had compassion on them, healed
    their sick, and fed them with 5 loaves and 2 fishes After the eventful day, He sent His

disciples away by boat, dismissed the crowd and went up to the mountain alone to pray.
(Feeding of the 5,000: Matt 14:10-23).
Consider how Jesus would have felt by the end of the day. How physically, mentally and
emotionally drained would He be? He just found out John the Baptist was executed,
spent the day with thousands of people, healing the sick and feeding them. We can only
imagine how busy and tired He was! Yet He made time to pray. If Jesus, in spite of His
busy schedule purposefully devoted time to prayer, so we also ought to find time
in our busy lives to pray.

  1. Pray with a humble attitude, not showing off nor being self-righteous
    What is our mindset/attitude when we pray to God? In order to warn those who were self-
    righteous, Jesus spoke a parable about the prayer of a Pharisee and tax collector (Luke 18:9-14).
    In this account we learn that the remorseful, humble prayer of the tax collector was justified rather
    than the egoistic prayer of the Pharisee.
    Furthermore, when Jesus gave instructions on prayer, He warned against being ‘like a hypocrite
    who loves to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be
    seen by men.’ Instead, when we pray, “go into your room, and when you have shut your door,
    pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you
    openly.”’ (Matt 6:5-6).
    Likewise, we as Jesus’ disciples need to follow His instructions and take heed of His warning.
    When we approach God in prayer, we need to do so with a humble attitude, not boasting
    and without ego.
  2. Pray in private; without distractions
    Further to the point discussed on Matt 6:5-6, Jesus gave instructions to find privacy when praying
    by ‘going to your room, shutting the door’. Jesus Himself sought solitude, removing Himself from
    distractions when He prayed.
    The world is filled with distractions. Many of us are guilty (myself included!) of reaching out to our
    smartphones the moment we open our eyes; checking social media, emails, surfing the net.
    These devices, along with our work, school, friends, family occupy our mind from the moment we
    rise up till we lay in our beds. When and how do we remove ourselves from these distractions to
    pray?
    Jesus rose up early in the morning while it was still dark, and went to a desolate place to pray
    (Mark 1:35).
    Great crowds gathered to hear Jesus and to be healed by Him, and He would withdraw Himself to
    the wilderness to pray (Luke 5:16).
    We observe here that Jesus was able to find solitude to pray by picking the right time and
    location. He woke up before everyone else and went to desolate places. While it is difficult to find
    a wilderness in the city, we can find solitude within our home. We should start and end our day
    with prayer in the privacy of our homes; going to God in prayer before we get caught up
    with life’s activities, and ending the day by setting all distractions aside and communing
    with God in prayer.
  3. Pray when making important decisions or when faced with difficult occasions
    There will always be key decisions we need to make and difficult occasions in our lives. In

moments like this, do we only rely on our own knowledge and strength? Jesus Himself prayed in
situations like this, relying on God’s power.
Before He chose 12 apostles out of His disciples, Jesus spent the whole night praying on a
mountain (Luke 6:12-13).
Before His betrayal and arrest, Jesus who knew that His time had come to die on the cross to
save mankind went to God in prayer thrice – an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened
Him (Matt 26:36-46, Mark 14:32-42, Luke 22:39-46).
Notice that Jesus relied on prayer when faced with an important decision of selecting apostles
and when He was sorrowful and distressed knowing He was about to die. So also we should
pray, seeking God’s wisdom in making decisions and finding strength to carry us through
difficult situations.
Conclusion
Jesus’ life teaches us great lessons on prayer. Let us learn from His example and draw closer to
God by making prayer part of our daily life.

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