It was after watching Jesus pray that his disciples approached and requested, “Lord, please teach us to pray.” (Luke 11.1)
He did so. A lot. With many, many parables.
There are not many parables (any?) that were aimed at helping the disciples preach better. They did not ask Jesus how to do miracles or how to cast out demons. They didn't ask him to lay out his systematic theology. They wanted to know how to pray. What do we want from God?
Jesus did not spend a lot of time teaching his gang how to be persuasive with men. He spent time teaching them how to be powerful with God. To speak to people about God is good. To speak to God about people is greater. There are many Bible colleges that will teach you homiletics (the art of preaching) and there are many theology departments which will teach you hermeneutics (interpreting a text). Where, however, can one go to learn about the power for ministry which Jesus spent so much time time trying to impart to his followers? Who wants to learn to pray? And in our day of highly busy, tightly organised and sleekly professional ministers an even greater question may be, who is qualified to teach prayer?
This is where we start: confessing the fact we suck at prayer. This is where God begins to give us a spirit of prayer. We pray for a life of prayer until we get one and we don’t take “no” for an answer. God likes it when we get stubborn in prayer.
Are you ready to enroll in Prayer University? There are things you will learn about God there that you cannot learn anywhere else. You can have more degrees than celsius and still have a frozen spirit. You cannot be an ardent student at Prayer University however and avoid catching some of the divine flame. There are many pulpits being filled by people with enlarged heads and shrunken hearts. Learning theology is of some importance. There are, however, some things about God that are not just taught; they are caught. They are caught in prayer as his Spirit imparts things to our spirit.
The devil is a great theologian and he is the devil still. His head is large, but he does not bow the knee.
The classes are quite small: one student per teacher. Jesus teaches us in the lonely places, away from the distractions that keep us from seeing the true poverty of our own lives and our incredible need for more of Him. Are you in a lonely season of Life? It could be that God is trying to get you to enroll.
Advanced formal education can be good and useful for certain people with certain callings. Stupidity is not synonymous with spirituality. I have had thousands of books on my shelves and probably have a couple hundred on my Kindle at the moment. To my knowledge, most of these authors have a decent education, have above average intelligence and none of them are Jonas Brothers' fans. The problem is our lack humility of heart and power of spirit. A university education can be of use - if pursued for the right reasons.
But, for some people all the letters behind the name can be nothing more than a man impoverished in spirit and conviction trying to successorize himself. The critics - upon seeing the early disciples - "perceived that they were uneducated, common men... and recognized that they had been with Jesus". Is it that people can no longer perceive the power of Jesus on us that we try and compensate with over education?
Whether you have been able to advance in education or not, when it comes to the place of prayer we are all at the same starting line. It is the one place where all men and women are really equal. You may not have had as many financial or educational opportunities as others have, but here is one place where you are free to go as far as you want. Hunger and humility are the only tuition fees that are due upon entry. Ask the teacher and he will begin to lead you.
For more, check out our book Forbidden Friendships available on Amazon in Paperback and Kindle in the USA and the UK