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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Learning to pray

Two-way conversation with God is the model Jesus taught

One of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray ...’ ” (Luke 11:1). Soon the others were nodding in agreement. All had observed how differently Jesus prayed from other rabbis. They weren’t from prescribed prayer scrolls or temple liturgies.

Jesus’ prayers were intimate conversations with God, which came from the depths of both his soul and his relationship with God. Deeply impressed and deeply curious, the disciples decided they wanted to be able to pray like he did.

“Lord, teach us to pray.” We don’t know which of the disciples asked this. Perhaps it was Matthew? His is the other Gospel in which the prayer is recorded (6:9-13).

Consider what it might have meant for Matthew who now, some three years later, is with a small gathering in the place that had come to be known as the House of the Holy Spirit, in the same upper room where Jesus had shared Passover with the disciples. Matthew is telling of his own journey—from feeling too guilty to pray, to feeling too glad to pray.


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