“Teach us to pray.” This is one of the few times, if not the only time the disciples directly ask Jesus to do something for them.
It was a number of weeks ago now, when I heard a sermon on those lines. The preacher imagined what the disciples might have seen when they saw Jesus praying. The disciples must have seen heart felt love and that Jesus gave and received from his Father. The disciples must have seen the deep compassion as Jesus prayed for the needs that he encountered. The disciples must have seen his face light up with thanksgiving as loaves and fishes multiplied before the eyes of the 5000. The disciples must have seen the bitter anguish as Jesus wrestled with his future and pleaded, “not my will, but thine.”
The preacher, whose name I cannot recall, said, When the disciples saw Jesus pray, they must have thought, I want to pray like that! Teach me to pray. And with those simple words Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come… Jesus taught them and teaches us to pray.
And some of us learn the lesson better than others. Through this, God gives the rest of us leaders and teachers who teach us to pray merely because they are following closely the greatest Prayer Teacher there ever was.
Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to go home and to preach at my home church. The pastor, who has been there since before my family began attending was gracious enough to share the pulpit with me. He lead the service, and I preached the sermon.
He was praying for the needs of the world and the needs of the congregation and I was listening. I began to think, “hey! he says what I say!”or more profoundly, I say in my congregational prayers what my home church pastor says.
Rev. Jim Settles taught me to pray.
He never sat me down and said, “Now when you become a preacher, this is how you pray.” He never said in passing, “How do you pray for your flock? Let me tell you what I say.”
No, Pastor Settles just prayed, he prayed humbly and consistently, he prayed reverently with a deep faith that God would move mountains if God saw fit. He prays out of the deep conviction that we are God’s children and that God hears us because God loves us. He prays with those who come forward to pray and he prays with the whole congregation and there is no doubt that he prays alone, in the upper room where his Father can hear him.
And without knowing it, I learned from him how to pray. Thank you Pastor Settles for being faithful.