Let’s construct a short list of some of the dumb things the disciples said that were recorded for us in the gospels:
In response to some people not willing to receive Jesus, James and John said “Do you want us to call down fire from heaven and consume them?” (Luke 9) Jesus was not happy.
Or how about at the last supper while they are arguing about who will be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven Jesus rises to wash their feet . Awkward. (Luke 22)
Or how about when the disciples “rebuked” people for bringing their children to Jesus (Mark 10) Yeah, you guessed it, Jesus was “indignant.”
But, among all the dumb things they said here is their greatest request ever recorded,
“Lord, teach us to pray.” (Luke 11:1)
And He did. He taught by example. He gave them structure (like the Lord’s prayer). He gave them illustrations and stories. And He prayed with them often.
There are many kinds of learning styles and teaching methods. Some people are more visual, some more auditory, some more hands on, etc. Some things are learned better through lessons, some by trying it for yourself.
Let’s take swimming. It’s probably not the best idea to throw a person who does not know how to swim and is afraid of water into the deep end of the pool. If dying is the goal…..check. But if learning is the goal we should find another method. The same could be said about riding a motorcycle or defusing a bomb.
But some things are learned best by just doing it, trying it. I really believe prayer is that way. Sure, there are better prayers than others. Sure, there are lessons and structure and discipline, but prayer is simply talking to God.
How do we talk to eachother? Is there structure? A right and wrong way? Can we get better at communication? Yes, but when we are learning how to talk to people we just talk.
How do we learn how to pray? Start talking to God. About everything!
do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:6)
Even after the lessons and instructions and some very important details you gotta jump in the pool, head toward the bomb and get on the motorcycle.
Here is the secret of this simple verse. “Lord, teach us TO pray.” not, “Lord, teach us HOW to pray.” If you know how to talk you know, right now, how to pray. The issue is doing it! As with any other discipline, hobby or task we will get better with time, but may the Lord teach us TO pray!