Learning to pray through imitation
On Sunday we looked at how Jesus taught his disciples to pray.
He gave them information about prayer in Luke. The Lord's prayer is the foundation of that information and such a rich resource for us today.
However he continually gave them imitatable examples. This is important for parents teaching their children to pray - give them imitatable examples. Don't make your praying such a secret that your children never come across you praying (this isn't the sort of performance Jesus warned against in Matthew 6), and make sure you invite them to pray with you.
For those of us who are older and want to grow in prayer imitation is also important. Go to prayer meetings and other places where you can experience people praying and start to imitate them. And if you are unsure what to pray aloud, pick a sentence from someone else and copy that - it will help get you going.
Once the disciples had information and had been exposed to imitatable examples, they were then able to innovate. It is the same for us.
Scriptures that show this:
Luke 11:2-23 and other places
Imitatable examples that the disciples experienced or heard about:
Luke 10:21-24 (note how the conversational nature of Jesus' prayer naturally flowed into talking with his disciples)
John 17 (note how this prayer includes explicityly or implicity the six themes of the Lord's prayer - God's Character, Kingdom, Provision, Forgiveness, Guidance and Protection)
Innovation in the early church:
Acts 1:14 (a retreat but not in the wilderness as Jesus did before his public ministry)
Acts 4:23 (a prayer that picks up 3 of the themes of the Lord's prayer and uses Scripture as Jesus did on the cross)
Acts 10:9 (Peter going to a roof to pray by himself - we have records of Jesus going to solitary places, and up mountains but never up on a roof)