Many, if not most, people would think that this must have been one of those “delayed disciples.” One who sat “in the back of the class.” Surely this was not one of those who had spent the most time and had learned the most from our Lord. Indeed, I think that it must have been. In my heart I hear John the Beloved Disciple asking, “Lord, teach us to pray.”
You see, it is easy to pray, but it can be very difficult to pray for the right thing. It would be very easy for us to ask, “Lord, teach me to pray” because we tend to look out for ourselves and our interests. But it is those who sit in the front of the class, who have spent the most time listening to and learning from the Lord, who ask for Him to “teach us to pray.”
What is in this request? It is the acknowledgment that in order to pray in His will there must be the abandonment of our normal nature. John is asking for Jesus to teach him how to pray unselfishly – to pray in concert with others. He’s asking Jesus to show him how to weigh what he is requesting before he makes the request; to make sure that he’s not asking something that will better him but hurt another.
There’s a thought – what if my prayer helps me but actually harms those around me? What if by forcing the one note of my heart to be heard above all others I cause the world’s harmony to be distorted? What if my prayer distorts the proportions of the house that is not made by hands? It is a thought too terrible and horrible to consider.
That’s why I must not ask anything until I have learned what it means to ask in unison. I must learn not to hit my note until my brother first gives me the key. That’s why I haven’t learned what it means to pray until I have learned what it means to really love.
Prayer isn’t a lesson for the Freshman, but rather for the Senior. It can not be fully reached until we have: looked for His coming kingdom, hallowed His holy name, accepted His perfect will, and received our daily bread. We can, in truth, not know what it means to really pray until we have first forgiven the debt and debtor.
Prayers are wishes on wings, and truthfully, the wish is the wing. That’s why the Father doesn’t prize the eagle’s wing but his eye – He is not so caught up in how we rise but in what we see in Him. You see, it is easy to fly, but it is not easy to fly together. Therefore, wait to fly in summer. Don’t make your flight in the winter of a selfish soul. Wait to see what is good for those around you – the love of the loveless, sigh of the sighing, and pity for the pitiless. Wait until you have entered the joy, and even the pain, of your Lord. For in the summer of your spirit you will be taught to pray.