In the book, Prayer Principles for Beginners, the author made what some might consider a controversial statement. She said,
“The truth is no one can actually teach another person exactly how to pray because it is personal dialog with God.”
Knowing that it may be controversial, she explained by giving Jesus’ example. She wrote:
We can only give a pattern to follow, principles and guidelines from God’s Word to prepare and equip you for a life of prayer. In Luke 11:1, the disciples asked Jesus, ‘Lord, teach us to pray…’ Jesus gave them a model or pattern to follow. He established principles and guidelines to help them gain a new perspective on the Kingdom of Heaven and their approach to a relational God who desires to have a parent-child relationship with those who belong to Christ. These same principles are applicable for us today. It is about relationship.
If the concept of prayer is based on parent-child relationship to the Father, learning to pray should be different because the process of personal growth and development changes. In essence, we have the principles and patterns of prayer, but how we learn to pray is synonymous with our spiritual growth and relationship to God. For example, our parents taught us a prayer that we learned and recited as a child before going to bed every night. It became a nightly routine sometimes with a parent kneeling with us or leading us until we memorized it:
Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. May God guard me through the night And wake me with the morning light. Amen.
Hopefully, no adult that has accepted Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord is still praying the above prayer. The idea is as we grow in age and spirituality, being in relationship with Christ, our prayers change as our level of understanding increases. Basically, as we become spiritually mature Christians, our conversation with the Father (prayer) should reflect our maturity as well as our level of commitment to Christ. Moreover, when our personal faith in God increases, and we grow in the knowledge of God through experiences, we learn how to pray through the power of the Holy Spirit–the Spirit of Truth. Yet, we must follow the pattern, apply the principles and become habitual in the practice of prayer in order to be consistent in our learning experience.
Sure, no one can actually teach another person exactly how to pray because it is personal dialog with God. However, we learn to pray as we grow in our relationship to the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ through the practice of prayer.