Part VI of our series on Making Disciples
Few of us have been intentionally discipled in the area of prayer; fewer still equipped to disciple others in the same.
That’s a problem.
That’s why today, I’d like to do a little discipleship-via-blog so that you may go on to disciple others in this area. We’ll use a process called guided prayers.
The goal of guided prayers is this: for a more mature Christian to be able to teach a less mature Christian how to pray.
By showing them how to collect and form their spontaneous thoughts into prayer that’s comprehensive.
Laurence Hull Stookey is the professor emeritus of preaching and worship at the Wesley Theological Seminary. Let me share with you how he teaches parents to guide their children in how to pray. Whether you’re guiding children or adults, the process works the same way. This is what he writes in the purchase-worthy book, This Day: A Wesleyan Way of Prayer:
In moving from prayers children overhear adults say to prayers that even children utter on their own behalf, there is a crucial intermediate step that can be called “guided prayer.” It may best occur as the closing event of family prayer just before the child’s bedtime, and it can arise out of a simple review of the child’s activities that day:
Adult: What happened today that made you happy?
Child: We had fun playing outside this afternoon.
Adult: Then let’s thank God in this way: “God, thank you for the warm weather, for the green grass, for times of laughing and having fun. Thank you for the friends and playmates you give.”
[Once the child becomes familiar with the procedure, the child may be encouraged to speak the prayer phrase-by-phrase after an adult.]
Stookey suggests the adult also ask the child, “What happened today that made you unhappy?” “Did you do anything today for which you are sorry?” and, “Whom do you love and care about, who needs God’s help?”
In the course of this brief activity see how the child has been introduced to thanksgiving, petition, confession, and intercession. Over time children will learn to form their own short prayers, with the adult asking only the leading questions, followed perhaps by.
“Now how will you talk to God about this?”
Regrettably, the only time most Evangelical Christians experience this kind of guided discipleship in prayer is at the very inception of their faith when they are led to repeat “the Sinner’s Prayer” phrase by phrase. For all the problems we’ve covered on this blog about using that kind of an approach to evangelism, one of the good things about it is the way it models for the new Christian something of how to pray.
Sadly, however, it is likely the last guided prayer that most new Christians will have the benefit of praying.
Well, except for one other one. You may recall how Jesus responded when his disciples asked him, “Will you guide us through the process of learning how to pray?” And he said, “Imitate me as I pray: ‘Our Father, who art in heaven…’”
In so doing, he poured out a little bit more of his relationship with the Father into his disciples, and that has been poured faithfully and carefully through every generation in Christian history right on up to you.
So, steward it well. Don’t spill it! Use the Lord’s Prayer and guided processes of prayer to teach others how to pray.
When you do, you will be faithfully carrying out part of the Great Commission of teaching those whom the Lord gives to you everything he commanded you.
How often have you prayed, or trained others in praying, using guided prayers? What were the results?