I’m sure you would agree that prayer is not just an important but rather an essential part of having a relationship with God. So, it is important to have a clear understanding of how we can model, teach and partner with those we disciple, as they learn to pray.
Do you know why the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray (Luke 11:1)?
It wasn’t because Jesus had previously taught them some hard to grasp, abstract ideas on prayer, rather it was a natural reaction to watching Him pray!
Jesus showed them what type of prayerful disciples they could be. He illustrated to them who they could become! It moved them. It aroused their desires to be like Him.
A vital aspect of teaching prayer to those we disciple involves modelling a possibility. To put it simply, to model a possibility means to show those you disciple WHO they are, through the lens of Jesus, before they see themselves as such. For example, disciples may not yet see themselves as those who can enjoy intimate time with God in prayer. They just don’t see how they could develop in this area.
In your role as their discipler, you can model to them that they have the very DNA of Jesus inside of them and therefore, they are capable of communicating and hearing from God. You may model to those you disciple their possibility of being able to relate to God as their real and ideal Father. They realise that He delights in their company, so they embrace their identity as loved children who are intimate with their Heavenly Father.
As they project themselves forward as loved children of God, they will joyfully embark on spending time with Him daily.
I encourage you to think of other ways that you could model to those you are discipling who they could become in the area of prayer. This could occur through 1) direct communication, expressing their possibility, or 2) setting an example of the way in which you relate to God and spend intimate time with Him.
Jesus has shown us how to teach those we disciple to pray (Mathew 6:5-13).
If we were to systematically unpack these verses, we can gather profound hints on prayer:
In verse 5, Jesus teaches: ‘WHEN you pray…’.
This implies that prayer is something that we regularly take part in as disciples of Jesus. So, the first thing we would teach those we disciple is to pray regularly.
In verse 6, Jesus instructs us to go to a private place, close the door and pray.
This denotes the importance of not just spending time in prayer when others are present or during a formal ceremony, but spending time with God one-on-one, getting to know Him personally. So, we would teach those we disciple that while we can pray at anytime, anywhere, it is also important to allocate times where they can regularly commit to praying to their Father in a private place.
In verse 6, Jesus teaches on praying to God as our Father, a common theme throughout the next few verses. Similar to the way that a child would relate to their earthly dad in spending quality time with him, telling him when they have problems or just simply about their day, we too can go to God about anything and everything.
So, we teach those we disciple that they can pray about anything and everything, both at random times throughout our day as well as at designated times where they can pour their hearts out to God.
In verse 7, Jesus speaks of the importance of praying sincere prayers unlike the pagans who would babble on with their shallow talk.
This places emphasis on teaching those we disciple to spend genuine time with God in prayer, not just reading off a ‘grocery list’ of requests to God but delighting in His presence.
In verse 9, Jesus teaches to begin prayer with praise: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name....”
This highlights the importance of teaching those we disciple to first spend time honouring, thanking and worshipping God in prayer before presenting our requests.
Verse 10 Jesus highlights the importance of praying for God’s will to be done.
So, we teach those we disciple the significance of praying with a surrendered and open heart, coming to God in humility and asking for His will regardless of our desires.
Jesus elaborates in the rest of this passage that we can go to God in prayer for our daily bread and spiritual nourishment as well as forgiveness, temptation and protection.
Therefore, we teach those we disciple that they can come to God for assistance in each area of their lives.
One of the most important aspects of teaching those we disciple to pray is engaging in authentic partnerships, praying with them and for them.
This way we can effectively model their possibility and practically teach the pattern of prayer.
When we look to the life of Jesus, we can see many times where He set an example for His disciples of how they should engage in prayer. Jesus withdrew from his disciples to go pray and spend intimate time with His Father, He also told them that He prayed for them as well as other times where He would regularly engage in prayer with them.
This demonstrates the importance of establishing authentic partnerships with those we disciple where we can set regular times to pray for them and pray with them.
Are there any additional ideas that you could use to help others learn to pray?
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