BAHOP: "Lord, teach us to pray."

Cheryl Barker

Several years ago, I was plunged into a life of prayer, almost against my will.  I had poured out my heart to a woman I barely knew, and her response was, “I don’t have answers, but we can pray.”  She invited me to pray together with her once a week.  I thought that sounded a little often but agreed.  When I showed up for our first meeting she asked how much time I had, said we wouldn’t be talking much or eating, only praying, and I nearly panicked searching my mind for a reason I couldn’t stay long.
It wasn’t that I didn’t pray.  I had l met and loved Jesus for nearly fifty years and would do “anything” for Him.   Why was I finding it so hard to pray for a couple of hours as my friend was suggesting?  This suddenly reminds of the disciples when Jesus said after finding them sleeping, “Could you not keep watch with me for one hour?  Watch and pray so that you will not enter into temptation.  The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak”. Matthew 26:40  I had prayed over the years about many things, but it was like many of us, me doing all the talking and a lot of asking God for what I needed to keep my life manageable.
That day with my new friend changed my prayer life and all of my life forever.  I began to find a new intimacy with my Heavenly Father that I did not know was attainable for me. Prayer became an exciting time with my best friend and perfect Father.  I discovered skills that could literally be practiced.  Why had I never realized that prayer was like anything else, practicing would make me “good” at it.  What sport do we play and expect to be proficient without practicing?  Who picks up a violin and is instantly ready to join the orchestra?  I somehow had never picked up on the words of the disciples, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Luke 11:1
I was amazed and overjoyed at how prayer was drawing me closer and closer to God’s own heart.  I was able to hear His voice more easily as I began to know the shepherd in a deeper way.  I experienced many more answers to my prayers as I learned to pray about “everything”!
Prayer is a simple conversation with God, and even/especially a child can do it.  But as we grow, we learn new and better ways of communication.  What marriage doesn’t require good communication to be healthy and happy, and who couldn’t use help with that?  Some people even get a college degree in communication. I wonder where we ever got the idea that we don’t need training to be a good communicator with God?  We go to marriage retreats, summer sports intensives, art classes, voice lessons but never think to go to prayer school. I believe our enemy, the devil, goes to great lengths to keep us from praying.  He knows it is where the real power is. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16
After my initial time of prayer with my new praying friend, I knew I had much to learn and decided to “go to prayer school”!  I put myself into prayer school with Jesus on a daily basis and also have taken advantage of some special opportunities to be taught and coached by others who are better at prayer than I am.  I have gotten some answers to common questions like, “Why pray when God already knows what I need?” Or “Why pray when God knows what He’s going to do anyway?” And what about when we are disappointed by unanswered prayer?
I am beyond excited to attend the BAHOP prayer initiative at MBC in September. I believe that we will not plumb the depths of the riches of Christ in this life but knowing there is always more motivates me to keep on. I plan to be there for every minute of it!
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