Prayer 101: Introduction
(Excerpt from 12-Week Study)
“Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray…” (Luke 11:1)
In the first sentence of Tim Keller’s book, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God, he says the following: “In the second half of my adult life, I discovered prayer.” This statement gave me great pause in my attempts to write a study on prayer. But Keller goes on, and this time quotes the great D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones:
Prayer is nonetheless an exceedingly difficult subject to write about. That is not primarily because it is so indefinable but because, before it, we feel so small and helpless. Lloyd-Jones once said that he has never written on prayer because of a sense of personal inadequacy in this area.
Let me just say that I already felt inadequate to write on prayer simply based on my own personal struggles – I’m inconsistent, I’m easily distracted, I’m undisciplined. Then I read of theological greats like Keller and Lloyd-Jones feeling ill-equipped and almost gave up. I’m humbled and intimidated at the task ahead, but then it occurred to me – isn’t that a good place to be when thinking or writing about prayer?
I say all of that – not simply because it’s true – but because I’m fairly certain most of you teaching this material feel intimidated by the subject. Maybe you share the inconsistencies and distracted mindset I so often have? And if you aren’t intimidated by teaching on prayer…you should be. But remember, that’s a good place to be.
In many ways, prayer is a difficult thing to define. If we’ve grown up in the church, we’ve heard people pray, we’ve prayed, and many of us have been taught about prayer, but it’s a mysterious thing. In one sense, we don’t know what’s going on. That is, we cannot fully grasp what it means for a wretched sinner to come into the presence of a holy and just God who spoke all things into being. Our finite minds simply cannot grasp that.
In another sense, we do know what’s taking place. We know that a holy and just God welcomes sinners into his presence because he looks on us through the righteousness Christ accomplished and the Holy Spirit is interceding for us with “groanings too deep for words” (Romans 8:26b). However, even knowing this truth from Scripture, we are talking about something that’s beyond our finite capacity. We are talking about something that is too deep for words.
Yet, the Scriptures are not silent on teaching us to pray, and God expects his children to pray; therefore, it is our job to teach it to the next generation. However inadequate you feel in your own life, remember that teaching from a point of weakness and humility is a great starting point.
Like our other study, Bible 101, this study is aimed at middle schoolers but could be easily adjusted for high schoolers. The lessons are designed to be taught in a thirty to forty-five-minute time slot, but they also could be modified to fit into your schedule.
As is the case with our other studies, this is available for free. RYM seeks to serve the local church, and offering resources for free is one way we do that. We also hope to periodically revise our resources in order to improve upon them, and offering them for free guards you from a need to continually make additional purchases.
With that said, RYM is a certified 501c3 organization. We are sustained by God’s grace alone, and his grace is made manifest in various ways. One of those ways is financial support from churches and individuals donating to this ministry. If you feel led, please give financially to support this work and others we are involved in.
One last word about the study. Be encouraged by the great privilege it is to teach students truths from God’s Word. Prayer and Scripture reading are a Christian’s daily sustenance – we simply cannot live without them. God has chosen you to teach on prayer to these students. By his grace, you can be passing on biblical truths about this great gift that can impact students, families, and churches in years to come. Pray that this would indeed be the case. Remember, you are praying to a God who does more than we can ask or imagine.
[CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE 12 WEEK STUDY]
Timothy Keller, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God (Dutton, 2014), 9.