The Priority of Prayer
One of the most awesome passages of Scripture, in my estimation is the following:
And it came about that while He was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples.”
And He said to them, “When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.'”
The thing that I find most awesome about this passage is the question the disciples ask. They could have asked anything. I’m sure that they would have like to know how to walk on water, they were fishermen after all, imagine what they could save by not needing boats. What about being able feed thousands with just a few fish and loaves of bread, that would really cut down on the grocery bills. Or being able to heal the sick and bring sight back to the blind. I think that there were so many things that they could have asked Jesus to teach them. Why prayer?
I believe there are a couple things that brought them to that ask that specific thing.
Jesus shows us that Prayer is a Priority
There are several times in the Bible that tell us that Jesus went off to pray. The disciples saw Him doing that. They recognized that this time away in prayer was important to Jesus.
In your Bible look up these verses and fill in the blanks.
(Remember that these are from the New American Standard Bible and may read slightly different than the version you are reading from. Don’t be confused by that.)
And after He had sent the multitudes away, He went up to the mountain ____________ to pray; and when it was evening, He was there ____________________.
And in the ____________________________, while it was still dark, He arose and went out and ____________________________, and was ______________________ there.
And after bidding them farewell, ___________________________________________.
But He Himself _________________________________________________________.
And it was at this time that He went off to the mountain ______________, and He spent ___________________________________.
And it came about that while _______________________________, the disciples were with Him, and He questioned them, saying, “Who do the multitudes say that I am?”
And some eight days after these sayings, it came about that He took along Peter and John and James, and went ________________________________________.
And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and _________________________
Now, look up John chapter 17 in your Bible and have your highlighter handy.
Click this link to go to the Online Bible:
John 17 is what I consider to be the actual “Lord’s Prayer” because here is the prayer that Jesus prayed for his disciples and for us. Here’s how I want you to read this prayer passage. First, just read through it slowly from start to finish. Then, tell Jesus thank you for praying for you as His follower. Then read through it a second time and using your highlighter mark any parts of the passage that mean something special to you. You may not have the same marks as other group members, and that is ok. You focus on what you see and hear as you read.
Below make some notes based on what you have read and what you have gleaned from this Scripture reading.
Isn’t it awesome to think that Jesus prayed for those who would one day follow Him. (see verse 20) That means us. We are believers because of the word of God that has been passed along through the generations. That also reminds us of our responsibility to continue to pass on Jesus’ words and teaching to the generations that follow ours.
Jesus Taught us to Pray
Not only did Jesus model for us that prayer was a priority, but he also taught us many lessons about prayer. Again, in your Bible, look up the following verses and fill in the blanks.
Now He was telling them a parable to show that _______________________________ they ought to ___________________________________________, saying, “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God, and did not respect man. “And there was a widow in that city, and ___________________________________________, saying, ‘Give me legal protection from my opponent.’ And for a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, lest by continually coming she wear me out.'”
And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge said; now shall not God bring about justice for His elect, who ____________________________________________, and will He delay long over them? I tell you that He will bring about justice for them speedily. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”
“And when you pray, you are not to be _____________________________________; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners, in order _____________________________________________________. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.
“But you, when you pray, go into _______________________________, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will repay you. And when you are praying, do not use _____________________
________________________________________, as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them; for
“Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father…(write out the rest of the prayer here) __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Prayer was important to Jesus. It was important enough that he modeled it for the disciples, and taught His followers how to pray. It was also important enough that He did another really significant thing for us.
Jesus Gave us His Spirit to help us Pray
One of the greatest promises for us as we are praying, regardless of whether you are just learning to pray or have been praying for years, is to know that when we don’t know what to pray the Spirit of the Lord is there with us to help us and to take the things we cannot seem to put into words and lift them before the Lord. Read this passage from the book of Romans.
And in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; FOR WE DO NOT KNOW HOW TO PRAY AS WE SHOULD, BUT THE SPIRIT HIMSELF INTERCEDES FOR US WITH GROANINGS TOO DEEP FOR WORDS; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:26-27emphasis added)
There will be times that you won’t really know what to pray. This isn’t just because it is something that is new to you. Sometimes you will just have a deep burden for someone, a circumstance, or your own life, and you just won’t be able to find the words. The Spirit of the Lord knows where you are and what you need. He knows what you are feeling. That’s a great comfort.
With Prayer We Have a 24/7 Link to the Lord
1 Thessalonians 5:17 – pray without ceasing;
I remember the days of dial up internet. When I first hooked up with America Online years ago I couldn’t believe how fast I could get things done. It amazed me the vast amount of information that was at my finger-tips as I logged on to the world wide web. Now I chuckle to think of how naïve I was, and how far we have come in such a short time. Now we use a cable modem at my house. We have access to the internet 24/7 because of the connection we have.
This is what our connection to the Lord is when you stop to think about it. Praying without ceasing means that we have that kind of connection—a 24/7 availability. We can pray anywhere, anytime. Most significantly, it reminds us that we are invited to take a moment out of our day and spend time with the Lord. He wants us to get connected with Him.
This acrostic might help you get started as you are beginning to pray.
A – Adoration – Praise God for who He is.
C – Confession – Know that you have done wrong, and it means daily cleansing
T – Thanksgiving – Give Him thanks for whatever comes to mind
S – Supplication – Ask for specific things for you, your family, whoever
Prayer will be a great part of the adventure of the journey you are on. It will help you get your bearings, and keep you on course. In prayer God will hear you and will speak to you. It’s getting connected with the GPS of your soul. Connect with God right now.
(to be continued)