Most of us learn to pray from hearing prayers of our family and in our church. But some prayers in church are a lesson in how not to pray.
A deacon from north Georgia told me that he once had to separate two elderly men who were arguing in a Sunday school class. One man was upset with the other because of a decision to move the class to a different room. The deacon took the two men to a room by themselves and said, “Now let’s pray about this.” So the one who was upset began to pray, “Lord, you know that old fool, Jim ...”
A Christian lady from Liberia, Africa, told me that her church once had an all-night prayer meeting. The pastor fell on his face before the Lord to pray, and soon fell asleep. After a time of prayer, everybody got up, but the pastor was still on his face, snoring. The church members stood around the pastor, wondering what to do. Finally, somebody punched the pastor to wake him up. The pastor jumped to his feet and said, “Praise the Lord!” They asked him what he had been doing, and he said, “I was getting a revelation.” The lady said, “I think he was really getting some rest.”
Despite our best efforts, our prayers can go wrong. No wonder Jesus’ disciples once asked Him, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1).
Jesus responded to the request of the disciples by giving them the Lord’s Prayer as a model to follow. The prayer has the right balance of focus on God and requests for our needs, and it is short enough that we can pray it without falling asleep. It’s still a good example of prayer for us today.
(Copyright 2013 by Bob Rogers. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Read this column each Friday in the Herald. Visit my blog at www.bobrogers.me.)