Teach Us To Pray
Think back into your school experience. For some of us that might require thinking WAY BACK. From among your teachers which ones do you remember and who made a real impact on your life? What made their influence in your life so significant?
As I look back I remember a number of teachers, but among those who really impacted my life…now even twenty five plus years removed…is Mrs. Johnson. She taught English when I was in high school. She has long since retired. She impacted my life in part because she didn’t give up. I know that I probably gave her fits at times, but she was understanding, and she knew how to work with teenagers. Now I’m returning to college to get my Masters in Teaching English. I wonder what she would say.
Jesus was a great teacher, the greatest in history. His lessons have changed the course of lives and nations. This is one reason that it’s truly significant that the only recorded request of His disciples asking Him to teach them something is when they requested that He teach them to pray. In response Jesus gave them a model to follow in what we commonly refer to as “The Lord’s Prayer.”
Two Promises Concerning Prayer
God Hears our Prayers!
1 John 5:13-15
13 I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.
14 Now this is the confidence we have before Him: whenever we ask anything according to His will, HE HEARS US.
15 And if we know that He hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked Him for.
Consider that this means that the Sovereign King of Creation hears us as we pray in accord with His will!
Have you ever spoken to someone and received no response or reply? Perhaps your husband is seated in his recliner and you mention something to him about your plans for the coming weekend, but he simply sits there silently. No reply…no response…nothing. (Note: wives are not immune to this either.) How do you feel when you speak but are not heard? Now, how does it feel to know that God—the King—hears you when you pray?
Do you ever try to make a call on your cell only to find you have no service? Maybe you are in the middle of a call and the signal drops and you lose the call. With prayer there are no dropped calls. God always has service and you always have signal. There is great comfort and strength that comes from knowing we can trust God to hear us.
God Answers prayers
Four Possible Answers
He May Say “Yes.” (Neh 2:1‑6)
1 During the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was set before him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had never been sad in his presence,
2 so the king said to me, “Why are you sad, when you aren’t sick? This is nothing but sadness of heart.” I was overwhelmed with fear
3 and replied to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should I not be sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins and its gates have been destroyed by fire?”
4 Then the king asked me, “What is your request?” So I prayed to the God of heaven
5 and answered the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor with you, send me to Judah and to the city where my ancestors are buried, so that I may rebuild it.”
6 The king, with the queen seated beside him, asked me, “How long will your journey take, and when will you return?” So I gave him a definite time, and it pleased the king to send me.
Nehemiah prayed, and he made a request—actually two requests—as he approached the king, Artaxerxes, and THE KING, Jehovah. Nehemiah’s requests were met with affirmative replies and he was able to set out and begin repairing the wall around Jerusalem.
He May Say “No.” (2 Cor. 12:7‑10)
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (HCSB)
7 especially because of the extraordinary revelations. Therefore, so that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to torment me so I would not exalt myself.
8 Concerning this, I pleaded with the Lord three times to take it away from me.
9 But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me.
10 So because of Christ, I am pleased in weaknesses, in insults, in catastrophes, in persecutions, and in pressures. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Wouldn’t you think that if God was going to say yes to anyone it would be Paul. Yet Paul’s own experience here tells us that God doesn’t always do what His people want Him to. No one likes to hear “no” from anyone, but loving parents understand that “no” is often a necessary response to the requests of our children. God, who loves us more than any parent ever could loves us enough to tell us no when He needs to. Do we trust God enough to accept that answer?
He May Say “Yes, but not yet, wait.”
If you have ever had the chance to see a huge orchestra play a concert you know that the dozens (perhaps hundreds) of instruments combine together to produce amazing sounds. However, who controls all of that? One person, the conductor. With a wave of his baton and a gesture of his hands, even a glance from his eyes, he coordinates and orchestrates the instrumentalists and together they make the music.
God is our conductor, he’s orchestrating our lives and putting things in order. At times He replies to our requests by telling us to wait on Him. Wouldn’t it be silly for the trumpet section of the orchestra to say to the conductor in the middle of a concert, “We just got this new music, let’s play it right now.” The conductor would wisely tell them to wait until everyone had a chance to practice it and get it ready to perform. God, also must wisely (and remember that God’s answers are wiser than our prayers) tell us to wait.
He May Say “Yes and here’s even more.”
2 Chronicles 1.7-12
7 That night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”
8 Solomon answered God, “You have shown great kindness to David my father and have made me king in his place.9 Now, Lord God, let your promise to my father David be confirmed, for you have made me king over a people who are as numerous as the dust of the earth. 10 Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?”
11 God said to Solomon, “Since this is your heart’s desire and you have not asked for wealth, possessions or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king, 12 therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, possessions and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have. ”
Solomon was given a “blank check” by God. He could ask anything, and unlike some of our shallow promises, God could really deliver on the anything. I have often wondered what I would ask for if God offered me the same option. I would like to hope I could be noble, like Solomon, but I don’t know for certain. When Solomon asked God to grant him wisdom God’s answer was “Yes.” But He didn’t just say “Yes.” In addition to that which Solomon asked for, God bestowed on him the things that he didn’t ask for as well. “Yes, and here’s even more.” God can answer and in His answer to our prayers blow away our expectations.
· God Hears
· God Answers
But, are we not having our prayers heard and answered because we aren’t praying? The hearing and answering is promised, but our part is that we are engaged in praying. We need to do more than talk about it…learn about it…think about it…
we have to DO IT.
Prayer, we talk about it, teach about it, sing about it, think about it… but are we doing it? We say that it is important, but are we doing it? We ask for it from others, but are we doing it? We promise it to friends and family, but are we doing it? Perhaps it’s time for us to return to the basics of prayer for a bit and be reminded about what it is and why we should…no, must engage in prayer.
A while back I asked someone to pray and they quietly told me that they weren’t comfortable doing it because they really didn’t know how to pray. Fact is that we all know how to pray, we just don’t call it praying. We use words like communicating or interacting, even dialoguing, but not prayer.
Fact is, prayer is essentially the same thing we do with each other but our audience is God instead of another person. All the elements of communication are present, but the person is our Lord instead of our friend, spouse, co-worker…etc.
The disciples took notice of something they saw Jesus doing. They saw Him doing it a lot. He prayed. What they saw in Him prompted them to ask Him to teach them how to do what He was doing.
1 He was praying in a certain place, and when He finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John also taught his disciples.”
2 He said to them, “Whenever you pray, say: Father, Your name be honored as holy. Your kingdom come.
3 Give us each day our daily bread.
4 And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone in debt to us. And do not bring us into temptation.”
A Quick Definition: What is Prayer?
- Webster – Words of worship or request
- Communication with God
- Communication is:
- Sharing ideas
- Requires talking & LISTENING
The Request: “Lord, teach us to pray…” (Luke 11:1)
With all that Jesus could have taught His disciples, the only recorded request we have for Him to teach something is to teach them how to pray.
It was common for religious leaders to teach their followers how to pray. Being taught how to pray meant that the followers had a certain solidarity with their teacher and that their prayers were expressing the teacher’s basic teachings. The disciples had been learning from and experiencing so much with Jesus. To be able to pray as their Master prayed would give them assurance of expressing themselves correctly to God.
– Life Application Bible Commentary
What would YOU ask Jesus to teach you today?
How Can Jesus teach US to pray?
- We can’t sit at his feet and learn like the disciples could.
- We have two precious gifts the disciples didn’t have:
- The complete Scriptures
- Full of examples of prayers
- Full of teachings on prayer
- The Psalms are virtually a prayer journal
- The Holy Spirit
- John 14:15-17 Jesus sent him to teach us
- Rom. 8:26-27 He intercedes for us
A LOOK AT THE MODEL PRAYER
From as far back as I can remember I have been able to recite “The Lord’s Prayer.” We learned it and could repeat it, and we used it every Sunday as part of our worship experience in church. The pastor almost always introduced it with words like this: “Let us pray as our Lord taught us saying: Our Father…”
However, why did Jesus give this to His disciples in response to their query? It wasn’t the exact words, but rather the design of the prayer that He wanted them to learn and us to discover. I could probably spend several weeks on just picking apart and dissecting the lessons Jesus gave in this prayer, but let’s just give it a survey today and get a start looking at what the Lord wants us to know about the gift He has given us in prayer.
Prayer Begins with God
God provided prayer
I have a cell phone in my pocket. It is really only useful if other people have phones. Consider what it would be like if I were the only one on the planet who had a phone. It would be cool, but totally useless. God gave us prayer because in creating us He desired to have connection and communication with us. From way back in the book of Genesis we see the picture of God’s connection with His creation. He walked with and talked with them. People called upon the name of Yahweh. He spoke and listened and provided us with the opportunity to engage in the same.
God made prayer possible
We are “made in His image.” This reveals that as we are able to speak, listen, communicate, and share information, so is He. We get those attributes from the creator.
God made prayer profitable
Sin had broken the lines of connection with God like a downed limb severs phone lines. Through faith God has reconnected the lines and made prayer not only possible, but profitable. That means that we do not pray in vain, but rather our prayers can accomplish things. God listens and answers prayers.
Prayer Focuses on God (Luke 11:2-4)
Going back to my memorized prayer from the King James it says:
OUR FATHER who art in Heaven, hallowed be THY NAME THY KINGDOM come, THY WILL be done On earth as it is in Heaven Give us this day our daily bread And forgive us our trespasses As we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation But deliver us from evil For THINE is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever.
Look at the number of times and ways that the prayer focuses on God.
- His Name
- His Kingdom
- His Will
- His provision
- His forgiveness
- His Leading
- His deliverance
- His power and glory (added from the parallel in Matt. 6:13)
So, to Summarize this Teaching on Prayer:
- Prayer is communication; requires talking and listening
- We can learn to pray
- +Study Scriptures – Read it
- +Prayer practice – Just Do it
- +Read the prayers of others
- +Write out your prayers
Prayer begins with God
- His idea
- He made it possible
- He made it profitable
Prayer focuses on God
A Closing thought:
Have you ever been going through the buffet line and come to the mashed potatoes and discovered that there are only enough left for two servings and there are four people behind you. What do you do? Most likely you pass them over so that those behind you can have some. After all, that’s the polite thing to do.
Someone mentioned on Sunday that she finds it hard sometimes to pray for her own needs. She, like many of us, lift up the needs of friends, family, and others. We pray for healing where healing is needed, strength for those who need strength. We bring all these needs before the Lord, but when we think about our own needs we stop short of praying for ourselves. Our thought is that we don’t want to burden the Lord, He has enough other things to take care of. It’s sort of like those depleted mashed potatoes. We see God’s resources as limited like that plate on the buffet table instead of by faith accepting that God’s resources are unlimited.