The journey to Jerusalem was well underway. Jesus is engaging his disciples with whole new levels of mission and responsibility. The disciples sense, perhaps for the first time, the need for a whole different level of empowerment. They see Jesus finding solitude from time to time in order to pray, and notice the difference it makes in his ministry. They remember the holy fire of John the Baptist, and the confident assurance of the Baptist’s disciples, and they want more.
“Teach us how to pray like you, as John taught his disciples.”
The words Jesus gave at that moment were not new…they were words his disciples might have heard every day on the lips of everyday citizens. Jesus wants them to know that prayer is more than repeating “magic words” or tricking God into fulfilling our requests by adopting the “correct” religious stance. Prayer is instead a window into the heart of God…a way of connecting to God. Through prayer we begin to know and understand firsthand that God’s nature is love, and that God’s desire to see our lives made whole. There is a deep, deep power in knowing the constancy of God’s presence which can guide us through every circumstance.
The discipline of prayer—prayer the way Jesus would have his disciples experience it—is the powerful expression of grace that raises us from the busy routine of church work into the powerful Work of the Church.