"Lord, teach us to pray." The disciples of Christ asked of him in Luke 11:1.
I believe that the human spirit longs to connect to God, to something outside oneself. I believe even when a person doesn't know what to call it, they long to pray. May it be in the car alone after a long day or in a time of grief, a person might find themselves talking into the air with a small hope that they are heard. By fate. By the universe. By God. I know that there is something inside that calls out.
So, "Lord, teach us to pray" asked the disciples. Jesus then teaches his followers how to pray in what is now repeated as "The Lord's Prayer." In that same passage of scripture, Jesus teaches the disciples to pray and ask like little children in Luke 11:11-13. "Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirt to those who ask Him?"
My foster daughter, who I will call Anna in this post, teaches me of prayer. She is a sweet little elementary age child who as resilent and joyful as she can be, but who carries a deep sadness that sharply contrasts her vibrancy.
Her prayers are pure, ardent, and fervent. Her prayers are filled with sorrow and petition. She prays for her family to be together again and laments against the hurts wraught upon her. "The sacrifices of God are a broken and contrite heart. O God, you will not despise" Psalm 51:17.
The bible reassures us that God hears her in this.
"The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit" Psalm 34:18.
God promises us that our prayers are precious and holy to Him. "Record my lament; list my tears on your scroll- are they not in your record?" Psalm 56:8
Anna has shown me in the moments, in the stillness of her grief, the humanity of a person. A person has a spirit that cries out in longing to connect to something. It grasps for a bit of something higher. It pleads to be heard.
Now, this is a small person I speak of. A child that knows naught of church-speak and doctrine. Not of "Our Father, Who art in heaven." Since she is my foster daughter who I have known for a matter of weeks, I am not even sure if she has been taught anything of who God or who Jesus is. And yet, she longs to pray.
Lord, teach us to pray.
This small, precious person has shown me raw humanity. As a child, she hasn't yet been caught up in the world's soul-suppressing ways. The world seems to want to believe that people are only flesh and bone, born today to perish tomorrow, in meaninglessness and toil all the days of this life.
A child has shown me the existence of a human spirit that cries, "Lord, teach us to pray!"
This reminds me of the scripture in Romans 8:26. "The Spirit helps us on our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express."
Anna prays with groans that words cannot express. I believe in the ground-shaking and immense power of her words!
Anna, teach me to pray.
Teach me to to pray like a child, throwing aside my church-speak and my doubt. Teach me to plead before the Father in brokenness, knowing that there HAS TO BE something in me that can connect to something higher, because I can't do this on my own. This child who has no strength of her own to pull her family back together. This child has no will but that imposed upon her and she has naturally reached out in the spirit and clung to prayer as a life raft.
Teach me to pray. Uninhibited. With faith without borders. Desperate and with my whole heart. In a place where my God absolutely has to come through for me.
This is why Jesus loved the children.
Matthew 9:14 reads, "Let the little children come to me."
Matthew 18:2 commands of us, "Unless you change and become like the little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."
Beloved. --- To humble yourself like a child is to receive the kingdom of God.
I don't know about you, but I want to see more of Him.
First, teach your children to pray. Then, they will teach you.
"How then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news?'" Romans 10:14-15.
Special Education Teacher (Snyder, TX)