Editorial: Lord, Teach Us to Pray

We made it. The year that shattered nearly all personal misery index records is behind us. As vaccines are being administered, it may not be too long until we’re able to see the bottom half of people’s faces again. But for some, that bottom half still bears no smile, and the beginning of 2021 is perhaps even darker than the middle of 2020. The physical toll of the virus is something that statisticians can instantly measure, but the spiritual toll on individuals and assemblies is slowly coming to light. As deep and varied needs are being exposed, so is our own inability to meet them. We desperately need God’s help and wisdom, which is available to those who ask – “But if anyone is deficient in wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without reprimand, and it will be given to him” (Jas 1:5 NET). We need to pray.

If you’re anything like me, you may try to pray, but sometimes you don’t know where to start or what to say when surrounded by such overwhelming need. Every so often, the language of our hearts is the same as that of Christ’s disciples: “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luk 11:1). Such teaching is desperately needed just now. In fact, the Greek verb rendered “teach us” implies urgency and could be translated “teach us now.”[1] We need to pray now, so we need teaching now on how to pray.

Interestingly, the disciples’ request was not “Lord, teach us to preach,” nor was it “Lord, teach us to perform great miracles.” They wanted to learn how to pray. It was not that the Lord’s teaching and powerful signs didn’t impress them, but His prayer life impressed them all the more so as to ask, “Lord, teach us to pray.” The need of the hour is prayer. Teaching on prayer may not be as exciting or intriguing as seminars and conferences on Bible prophecy, spiritual gifts or the age of the earth, but prayer is the only pathway to call down spiritual wisdom from above to address the challenges of a post-pandemic world.

Notice that the Lord immediately answered His disciples’ “prayer” to be taught how to pray. He did not hesitate, but promptly gave them a pattern to follow, a parable to instruct and a promise to encourage (11:2-13). So too, we can be confident that the Lord will hear our cries for wisdom and answer our sincere desires for instruction on how to pray.

As much as we anticipate seeing the whole of people’s faces again, may we presently seek the Lord’s face, and may He use this issue of Truth & Tidings, devoted to the vital subject of prayer, to be at least a part of His answer to our plea, “Lord, teach us to pray.”

[1] Darrell L. Bock, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: Luke (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1996), 1050.