**Luke 11:1 – Once Jesus was in a certain place praying.
As he finished, one of his disciples came to him and said,
“Lord, teach us to pray…”
I have decided to make a detour in my scheduled preaching calendar this week at Center City Church. For the past week, I’ve been fascinated by this request that one of the unnamed disciples made of Jesus: “Lord, teach us to pray…”
This is a topic that is probably assumed more than it is taught in our current church culture. Just like this disciple asked of Jesus, I believe that there are many people that long to talk to God, but for a variety of reasons, never seem to fully engage in conversation with the creator of their souls.
I DON’T KNOW WHERE TO START.
I remember seeing my wife, Dara, at an event in 1999 at her church in Concord, NC. I thought she was absolutely beautiful, but I was intimidated to even begin the conversation. I didn’t have a good opening line to spark compelling interaction with her, so I didn’t say anything at all. That turned out to be my loss, because it was another year before we saw each other again and I missed out on chatting with the most intriguing woman in the world.
I think, for similar reasons, many people do not even engage God in conversation because they feel like there are some sort of unspoken or unwritten rules (or spoken and written rules they they have yet to encounter) that would give them appropriate conversation starters with the creator of the universe. There are no such rules, but God does give us a great conversation starter in Luke 11:1-4:
Jesus said, “This is how you should pray:
“Father, may your name be kept holy.
May your Kingdom come soon.
Give us each day the food we need,
and forgive us our sins,
as we forgive those who sin against us.
And don’t let us yield to temptation.”
I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO SAY.
I will never forget meeting Hulk Hogan and Brutus the Barber Beefcake when I was six years old. They were World Wrestling Federation megastars in 1985 and I was completely in awe. Their action figures were probably packed in my carry on bag that day. I had to say something to them, but what? I finally got up enough courage to speak and out came, “Are you Hulk Hogan?” He looked straight into my terrified soul and simply said, “Yes.” All of my childhood dreams were confirmed at gate 8C as we awaited our shared flight to Detroit, MI.
I had no clue what to do next, so I looked down into my hands and proceeded to say, “Do you want my Snickers bar?” It was a huge offer from a six year old. Mr. Hulk laughed politely and said, “I’m trying to watch my figure.” Of COURSE he was trying to watch his figure! He’s a superstar that rips his shirt off and exposes his bulging muscles as a part of his profession. Even as a six year old, I felt so silly. He proceeded to sign my boarding pass (which I kept on my mirror at home for many years) and I was thrilled. I spent the next two and a half hours on that flight quietly staring at my hero that was seated two rows behind me on the plane.
God does not care if you come to him with silly requests or ill-prepared conversation starters. He just wants to talk to you. He longs to hear your voice. And he longs for you to grow more and more comfortable in conversation with him.
WHAT DO WE DO WITH THE SILENCE?
I knew that I had a keeper when Dara and I spent an entire meal without talking. You read that right. It was one of our first dates at the Cheesecake Factory in Orlando, FL and we had a delicious meal in front of us that evening. We both are huge fans of great food, and that evening we laughed as we chatted before and after the meal. But during the meal, we both just appreciated the delectable entrees prepared for us. The best part was that both of us were totally comfortable in the silence. I knew I had found someone I could spend my life with because I didn’t feel pressure to always talk.
Many times, the things that we want to bring to the conversation are focused on things that we can address. Things that we can see, feel or hear that have caught our attention. When we are comfortable with God in silence, we allow him to bring things to our attention. Many times this leads to a time of repentance for areas in our life that need to be addressed. Other times he will bring up people or situations that we would normally be too busy or cluttered to think of ourselves.
I am excited to dig into this topic a bit more on Sunday at Center City Church. I am praying that God will spark passion in our hearts to communicate with the creator of our souls with comfort and regularity.