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.