“Lord, Teach Us to Pray”

Ever wondered why the disciple asked this question? Why did this disciple think they needed Jesus to teach them to pray?

t3mIMG_2611How about you?

Do you think you know how to pray?
Do you feel you know how to pray?

Please take a quick moment. What’s your immediate response to these questions?


.5IMG_4667When you think about your prayer practice, are you confident in your practice? Do you think you even have a “prayer practice”?

Do you wonder …
Am I praying about the right things?
Would it be better to use this prayer practice or that one or that other one I heard about?
Am I using the right words?
Am I praying at the right time?
Am I praying the right amount of time?
Do you wonder about how to address God, should it be Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit, Ultimate Mystery, Mother, or …?

When you pray, are you confident that you feel the way Jesus intends you to feel?
Do you wonder whether Jesus intends you to feel …

.5IMG_4676more peaceful?
more confident?
more humble?
more hopeful?
more or less bold?
more of God’s Presence?
less anxious?
Do you wonder if how you feel is even relevant?

Based on Luke 11:1-13 and the teaching of Jesus, I’ll be offering thoughts on these and other questions in soon coming posts. But for now, let’s engage Luke 11:1-13. As you do, please be mindful of how you actually think and feel about your prayer practice. This is a time when journaling can be especially helpful. The above questions are merely suggestive to get you going. Please don’t let them limit you.

[If you are new to our blog, a description of our method of “engaging,” which is a method for reading and praying with the Bible, other literature, and life itself, can be found here.].

11:1 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.’ 2He said to them, ‘When you pray, say:

Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
3   Our bread for living in the kingdom, give us each day.
4   And forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.
And do not lead us into temptation.’

5 And he said to them, ‘Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, “Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.”7And he answers from within, “Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.” 8I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.

9 ‘So I say to you, keep asking, and it will be given to you; keep searching, and you will find; keep knocking, and the door will be opened for you. 10For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 11Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? 12Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? 13If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!’

IMG_2757Grace and Peace,


More to come …

About jclark

The Rev. Jim Clark is the Rector of the Episcopal Parish of St. Barnabas on the Desert in Scottsdale, Arizona.


  1. Daily prayer and meditation and muse while driving or day dreaming for me brings all those questions to mind. The Cloud of Unknowing has helped greatly in letting go of having to know. The freedom of unknowing for me is similar to the relief gained with the ability to love unceasing.(not always successful at that). Kindness is a good starting point for me. And a good ending point. – Tish

  2. Alice MacArthur says:

    I am reading this at a most appropriate time as I sit down to prepare our Holy Spirit prayer list, where we pray for the needs of specific people. When I go down the prayer list and we do this out loud, my hope is that it does not matter how we feel. But we do this following our Contemplative Prayer on purpose because we do feel more immersed in the Holy Spirit at that time.

  3. I am reminded of prayer through mindfulness every moment — something reinforced through monastic living for a few weeks that carries over into the a ‘monastery without walls’.

  4. So glad the topic is prayer….I’m so open to it yet it’s been the one thing that has been so hard for me through the years. Lately I’ve been just speaking out loud at times while alone as in conversation to God rather than quiet prayer. Seems to be easier and more natural. Im anxious to hear and learn more about prayer………thanks for sharing.

  5. My practice of Centering prayer has freed me of the need to KNOW how to pray … and even the need to FEEL that I know how to pray.
    What I know is that I ache to BE with God; so I show up again and again, plain and simple, broken and blessed.  I keep seeking, and asking and knocking and the door is ALWAYS open ( but am I aware that it is open?)
         Prayer is more like an awakening for me; and to be ‘awakened’  is to desire to be MORE awakened. If every minute of every day I was awakened to Gods presence within me I would be awake to the truth that the Kingdom of Heaven is right here right now. To pray without ceasing is just that to me. Whether I am sitting with intentional silence, or shopping at Safeway, or in a hospital waiting room; I want to be aware that God is right there in the middle of it. I ‘know’  I cant comprehend this, but I can choose to assume a stance that offers the least resistance, to ‘notice’ the miracle of the ‘eternal now’ (God in real time in my real and messy life right before my eyes…right now).
    Thanks for the ponderings!

  6. nickroosevelt says:

    For a long time, I brought expectations to my practices of prayer. These were expectations about what it should look like, when it should happen, and what it should do for my life. After falling short of my projected prescriptions for prayer many times, I found through spiritual direction an enormous grace that Jesus was ready for whatever I had or needed to offer. This was a big shift for me that happened over the course of a couple of years. The idea that we are free to pray, not burdened by it. That the freedom to pray really begets a greater freedom to love. “Open your heart, and respond to my love,” Jesus says to me.

  7. Elizabeth Garas says:

    (As I engaged Luke11: 1-13, the words “persistence” and “Holy Spirit” attracted me).

    In Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, Christians are exhorted to pray “without ceasing”. Luke is stressing “persistence” as well in Chap. 11: verses 5-8. Jesus promises that like our earthly fathers, God longs to give us what is good in response to the asking, seeking, and knocking of prayer. “Praying without ceasing” for me is simply “abiding in Christ”.

    According to Jesus, the goal of prayer is the Holy Spirit at work in our lives and in the world. The Holy Spirit is the ultimate “good gift” that God gives to our asking, seeking, and knocking. God promises to give us more of the Holy Spirit–in and through all the circumstances of life–as the deep answer and the good gift in response to prayer.

    In God’s promise to be present with us through the power of the Holy Spirit, God suggests that God’s presence with us IS the deepest answer to prayer. It is God’s “yes”, even if God answers our specific requests with “no”. This teaching brings comfort to me as I recall praying for and walking through the valley of the shadow of death with several loved ones over the years, sometimes witnessing miraculous healing and sometimes witnessing the ultimate healing as they passed on.

    While I am blessed and grateful for the Corporate worship in our church services and believe they are effective, my personal prayer practice at this stage of my journey is mostly (but not entirely) a silent listening communion/walk with the Holy Spirit. Sometimes I whisper to Him, and sometimes He whispers back. Other times He deeply impresses me with something or someone that He wants to bring to my attention. I wonder how often He speaks to me and I’m preoccupied……

  8. Susan Shaw Harris says:

    Yes, I have wondered for years about the correct address for God…since His name is supposedly unpronounceable. I tried I AM, which was the suggested one, but it’s not helpful for personal prayer! I have finally settled on “You”…I simply substitute the second person pronoun in all places where I need to address God directly, I.,e., You are my shepherd. It also removes the traces of gender bias in the traditional wording.
    Works for me!

  9. Craig Weatherup says:

    How to pray has been a question for me since I was a very young adult, and it remains. I feel good about my prayer life, but I have yet to get to a “classic”[whatever that is] meditative practice. I actually enjoy trying different ways to think/feel about prayer. To Liza’s point my focus is on “being” with Jesus-in the woods, on the deck with a cup of coffee, in the canoe, just sitting by the fire, etc. Lot’s to think about as to prayer.

  10. Susie Parker says:

    This is probably one of the biggest challenges for me; “how to pray”. Really it comes to being quiet, asking to be present with God and listening as much as praying with my own words. Can’t wait for part 2!

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