I grew up around computers. When I was a kid we had a Commodore 64, and almost every Christmas we would get a computer game as a gift. As we grew up so did our computers and our needs. We eventually got one that was “IBM-Compatible”, then we got one with a modem so dad could log in to work from home, and we could get online. In high school I saved up my money and bought my own (used) laptop, which made it most of the way through college. Then with advice from my brother, I built my own computer from the ground up. Finally in seminary after getting locked out of some of my programs because after various upgrades I learned to install a whole new operating system.
Did that paragraph above sound like a foreign language? Does the idea of tearing apart a computer in both hardware (physical stuff) and software (the programming stuff) sound intimidating to you? Here is a confession, every time I did any of those things for the first time, it was terrifying, but also often times thrilling as well. I was always afraid I would mess something up so spectacularly that the computer would no longer work. Now that I have worked on them a few times, it isn’t that scary.
In Luke 11:1 after seeing and hearing Jesus pray, one of the disciples asks, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” Prayer is one of those things that, like computers over the last few decades, we have lived around a good portion of our lives. However, it remains one of the practices of discipleship that continues to intimidate Christians because we haven’t just tinkered with it. In the following verses in Luke, Jesus goes on to teach his disciples what we call “The Lord’s Prayer”. Notice, he doesn’t reprimand the disciples for their little faith, nor rebuke them for being grown men who don’t know how to pray. He doesn’t consider it a dumb question or a sign of weak faith. He teaches them this prayer first. In some sense this makes it a “primer prayer”, one to get you started. There are many more ways to pray, there are many things to pray about, there is still only one God to which we pray though. Prayers can be about seeking God, asking for healing or needs to be met, questioning God, or giving thanks, or simply conversing with God.
Luther’s Small Catechism contains some additional prayers that can help improve your prayer practice if you have trouble finding the words. The small catechism is in the back of our new hymnals, and the Morning, Evening, and Table Blessings start on page 1166. These will give you a solid foundation in prayer, as well as create a natural rhythm for you to build upon.
Our learning committee met a while back and selected a few video courses from Luther Seminary for us to use as a congregation. This fall we will begin having classes to watch, discuss, and start practicing prayer in our lives. Next year Bishop Beaudoin has called a year of prayer, so this will help us get prepared for participating in this larger pull towards discipleship in our synod.