Luke 11:1 Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”
John the Baptist was the greatest man ever naturally born of woman. He was a hero in the eyes of Jesus, and greatly used to bring revival to the hearts of many. Without a church budget, formal credentials, impressive buildings, and cutting-edge teaching techniques, he changed the hearts of many and built a mega-church. And what were the tools of his trade? John’s ministry was centered around preaching, the sacraments, and prayer. He was a man who loved to commune with God, and those who would be his disciples and follow his leadership were taught how to be zealots in prayer.
Jesus Christ was the greatest man ever supernaturally born of woman. He was greater than John, and through his ministry millions found themselves reconciled to the Heavenly Father. And what were the tools of Jesus’ trade? He was a teacher like none other. He made much of baptism and ceremonial meals. And he was passionate about communing with God in prayer. Jesus, in his earthly ministry was consistently found on his knees in private prayer, small group prayer, and corporate prayer in the Temple and various synagogues. His public ministry began with baptism and a forty-day season of prayer. His earthly ministry ended with prayers in Gethsemane and Golgotha. And still today he intercedes for his friends from Paradise. And Jesus, the perfect man who prayed without ceasing, faithfully taught his disciples how to commune with the Father in daily prayer.
And from this foundation, the early church learned the precious power and privilege of prayer.
Acts 1:12–14 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.
Acts 2:42–47 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
It was in a prayer meeting that fearful disciples found strength. It was in a prayer meeting that fellowship was most sweet. It was in a prayer meeting that needy disciples were overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit. And it was from a prayer meeting that the church of Jesus Christ exploded and expanded — thousands were brought into the fold of God.
Therefore, let us follow the models put forth by Enoch, David, Daniel, Nehemiah, Anna, John, John’s disciples, Jesus, the Twelve, and the early church. Let us recognize the privilege of prayer; we can commune and walk with God daily. Let us recognize the power of prayer; along with the Word and sacraments God radically changes neighborhoods, cities, and countries. And let us recognize the duty we have to teach others to pray. John taught his followers; so too did Jesus. The Apostles were consistently teaching their parishioners to “pray without ceasing” and “pray in all circumstances”. Therefore, let us follow after their ministry model. Let us pray, and let us teach our disciples to pray. Let us do this at home and in public worship. Let us also bring back into vogue the weekly meeting for prayer.