One day the twelve disciples came to Jesus with the request, “Lord, teach us how to pray. They never asked for instructions on how to teach, or how to preach. They seemed to feel that if they only knew how to pray as Jesus prayed, everything else would take care of itself.
One of the big failings of us ministers is that we don’t teach our people how to pray. We tell them they ought to pray, exhort them to pray, but never teach them how to pray.
Somewhere I read about a young nurse who felt she needed a plan of prayer for her life. She was up early and worked a full day. It seemed that by the time she reached home and took care of the chores there was no time left for private devotions.
She came up with this plan: Since she was constantly busy with her hands—giving medications, fluffing pillows, raising and lowering patients’ beds—she would use her hands as an aid to prayer.
First, there was the thumb. It was closest to her. It would be a reminder to pray for those nearest and dearest to her—her family and friends.
The index finger was used for pointing. It would remind her to pray for those who teach, those who give instruction and guidance. A teacher truly affects eternity. The middle finger is the most prominent. It would remind her to pray for those in authority, the leaders of our nation—the president, the congress, the leaders of the other nations, law enforcement officers, that God lead them in paths of peace.
She remembered from her typing class that the third finger is the weakest of all. It would remind her to pray for the helpless and downtrodden people of the world. For the sick, the suffering, those in need—for the least, the last, the lowest and the lost.
The little finger is the smallest and least important. It would remind her to pray for herself, to ask day by day for God to bless her life and make it a blessing.
O Thou, by whom we come to God,
The Life, the Truth, the Way,
The path of prayer thyself hast trod,
Lord, teach us how to pray.
Rev. Clyde Nichols is Minister Emeritus of First Christian Church in Temple where he served as senior minister for 23 years before retiring. He writes a religious column for several Central Texas newspapers.