One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him,
“Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
I planned my 7th-grade ski trip outfit very carefully. I wanted to look cute, but in a ‘hit the slopes’ way, and in 1989 that meant teasing out my hair so that the ear-muff headband fit perfectly around my forehead without messing up my perfectly stacked and hair-sprayed bangs. No, I don’t have a picture to share. #sorrynotsorry
All of this was important because I had a mad crush on a boy in my youth group and if things went just right, we would be romantically racing down the slopes all day and sipping hot chocolate in the lodge as the sun went down. I was QUITE the romantic in my jr. high years. Of course, he didn’t know about our soon-to-be romance (nor did he want to) but in my mind, the ski slopes were the perfect place for him to notice me.
We got there, unloaded the church van, put on those heavy (un-cute) boots and were ready to take our first hill when I realized I had a problem. I had no idea how to snow ski. The upperclassmen had been on this trip before and had the boisterous confidence that teenage boys do and I had a decision to make. Try to keep up the charade by taking the ski lift to the top or head to the bunny hill for a ski lesson. I was mortified and sure I had ruined all hope of ski slope romance, but I also didn’t want to die, so I headed towards the instructor and watched my crush ride into the distance on a chair swinging high in the air.
Asking for help or admitting we don’t know something can be hard as insecure teenagers, but it might possibly be even harder for adults. How often have you been in a situation where you didn’t know the answer, or how to do something, but felt like it just wouldn’t be ok to admit it? I’ve been there often.
I imagine the scene in Luke 11:1 to take place on a completely ordinary day. In my mind, it is probably Tuesday because Tuesdays are pretty mundane. The rush of the weekend has passed, the work-week has begun, and it’s not even close to the next Friday night supper club or Saturday sporting tournament. The writer, Luke, gives no indication of notable events like walking on water, healings, or casting out demons. Luke 11 begins “One day Jesus was praying…”
I wonder if the disciple mentioned here was nervous about admitting his inexperience like I was on the ski slopes. Was he afraid to ask for instruction, worried he would be the only one? I wonder if he was even a bit embarrassed and felt like he should already know how to pray. Or, perhaps he was frustrated that Jesus hadn’t given them a detailed formula to follow. It was common for a Rabbi to instruct his followers very specifically about how to pray and we get the impression here, that isn’t Jesus’ style.
And so the disciple says what, at times, we all wish we could, “Teach us.”
As we step into Lent and our focus on prayer, I hope we can be like the disciple who had the courage to ask Jesus for help. Every day, ordinary or not, we have the opportunity to posture ourselves as student rather than master. There is no need to “look good” or try to impress anyone. You can let go of self-imposed expectations and simply show up each day with an open heart saying, “Jesus, teach me.”
Jesus, I sometimes find it hard to admit when I don’t have all the answers. My pride wants to play the charade of going through the motions without real understanding. My prayer today is simple and yet I know it will change everything.
Teach me to pray like you. Show me and lead me each and every ordinary day as I humbly seek to know you more.
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