Repetition Aids Learning, or Does It?

   How often have you repeated the Lord’s Prayer? You can’t even take a wild guess, can you? Neither can I.  People around the world have memorized and paid homage to these words countless times. To what end?  Let’s be honest with ourselves. When we recite this familiar prayer, what do we expect?  A lasting impact? Probably not. At least, this has been true for me, until recently.

The disciples had watched and heard Jesus pray many times. Yet, prayer must have been an enigma to them. So what did they do? They asked the Rabbi to teach them to pray. (Luke 11:1)  However, I don’t think Jesus intended His teaching model to become a mere ritual, do you?

Over the past number of weeks, I’ve been studying what is commonly called The Lord’s Prayer. (Matthew 6:5-15) I’d love for you to join me as we examine the significance of Jesus’ teaching on how to pray.

First, prayer is relational, not a performance. Jesus had just warned the disciples not to pray like the hypocrites. It seems to me He is saying the difference between praying relationally, and performing is:

  • praying to an audience of One vs. “playing” to an audience of many,
  • hypocrisy vs. sincerity,
  • praying from the heart vs. the head,
  • babbling nonsense vs. connecting with God
  • seeking self-gratification vs. pleasing our Heavenly Father.

The Lord’s Prayer is the ultimate example of relational praying. Why? Because it focuses on the persona of the One to whom we pray. The timing of Jesus’ teaching in relation to Gethsemane can not go unnoticed. Surely, He was preparing His disciples for their greatest test ever concerning prayer.  

Jesus didn’t take all the disciples into the “bowels” of Gethsemane. Instead, He chose Peter, James, and John to support Him in His darkest hour. It proved to be their Gethsemane, as well as His. Sadly enough, the disciples failed their Gethsemane test.

As believers, we’ve been called to live the “crucified” life. (Galatians 2:20) Do you suppose we may also be called to face our own Gethsemanes? This is why it’s so important for us to learn from the Master Teacher. In Matthew 11:29, He says, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me.” Learn what? how to turn a burden into a blessing.

In My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers says, “The burden that God places on us squeezes the grapes in our lives and produces the wine . . . .”

With this in mind, our goal is two-fold for the next few weeks. First, for God to transform our understanding of the Lord’s Prayer. Second, that it will no longer be a rote exercise. Instead, we will embrace the profound teaching Jesus intended it to be. 

Perhaps our study time will prepare us to face our own Gethsemanes, not somehow but triumphantly!


2 Responses to “Repetition Aids Learning, or Does It?”
  1. claire says:

    Liz, I was starting my own mediation on the Lord’s prayer this week – so I’m grateful for your article.

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