Praying is a learned skill. The disciples of Jesus had tried it on their own, but once they heard Jesus pray, they saw where it could go and they pleaded, “Lord, teach us to pray, too.” On the one hand, it’s as simple as talking to a friend. But to press the parallel, the tighter our relationship with a friend becomes, the more the conversation changes.
Let me tell you about a member of one of our churches whom I’ll call Renae. She was born in the Caribbean to a family of great wealth. As a young adult her parents sent her to Paris where she became a skilled fashion designer and also became fluent in several European languages.
She signed on as a nominal member of her parents’ denomination. Like many in her social circle it was tied to a church, but not to Jesus. After a few years she moved to the US, and because of family connections landed a job on the staff of a raw television series being produced in New York. Her life began to follow the values of the program and it took a heavy toll on both her happiness and her health.
The purpose of this brief bio is not to describe Renae’s profligate choices, but rather to rejoice over the next chapter of her story. When we met her she had just recently fallen in love with Jesus. Deeply. It changed her habits, her vocabulary, her relationships, and her heart. We rejoiced to be able to watch this part of her journey.
Praying is a learned skill. We rejoiced to see it develop in Renae. Early on, her prayers were short, generic, predictable. Mostly about her needs; her wants. Her struggles. She prayed often for forgiveness from the sinful life she had led – sins for which, she would learn, God had long-since forgiven her. But as she grew, so did the breadth of her praying. Maybe you can relate.
She soon began to pray for others. Those she had known through her troubled, growing-up years. Those in whose lives she had not been a positive influence. And her neighbors. Renae developed a servant’s heart. She spent long hours caring for a sick lady in her neighborhood. She took a homeless lady temporarily into her home. As an accomplished cook she was constantly giving away some delectable treat that had come from her kitchen. And each gift was accompanied by much prayer.
Then the Lord brought her a prayer partner. They prayed for each other every day, and prayed together at least once each week. They began to notice others in need and to pray specifically over those needs, both in the church and out. Renae’s desire to live a life of love for Jesus has made her a formidable force for the kingdom. I think that’s what the disciples had seen in the life of their Master and they wanted it for themselves. I think I’m going to make it my prayer, too. Join me?
By Don Jacobsen