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.