“Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples”, Luke 11:1
When I was the preacher in Seagraves, Texas, back in the 60’s, I met a remarkable man named Luther Savage. He was an old man who suffered from macular degeneration. Because of his affliction he could barely see. Yet Luther faithfully came to worship and always displayed a cheerful disposition. I will never forget the first time I heard this brother lead us in prayer. He had carefully thought out what he wanted to say and he did so with amazing eloquence. When Luther led prayer it usually took extra time, however, it was certainly time well spent. I always stand in amazement when I am in the presence of one of God’s prayer warriors!
A great number of the people who followed Jesus throughout his ministry were remarkable servants of God. Twelve of them were chosen to be the Lord’s apostles, Luke 6:12-16. Some of the women in His group financially supported the Lord and his disciples, Luke 8:3. Most importantly, the people who regularly followed Jesus were people who had a great faith in God. They were disciples of the Lord and they served as examples of godly living to others. Actually, they are also examples to those of us who are alive today. Most certainly they were people who prayed often. It is remarkable to me that these giants of the faith once asked Jesus to teach them to pray. It makes me wonder if we should be asking the same question.
Why would people of such strong faith, people who were sacrificing in order to follow Jesus, ask to be taught to pray? One would think, at the very least, the apostles would not need instruction on the topic. It seems to me they asked for this assistance because they had often heard the Master pray and they saw a difference in his prayer life and their own. They wanted to become more like Jesus when they prayed. So do I. How about you?
New converts learn quickly that offering meaningful prayers is a learned habit. Just because a person comes to faith in Jesus does not mean he knows how to pray. We should be grateful to Luke for recording the fact that John the Baptist taught his disciples how to pray. Thus, even for disciples, prayer is a learned ability. The goal for this series of lessons on prayer is to help us, each and every one, to improve our prayer life. I fully expect to find my own prayer life improved and I pray you will experience the same. Therefore, for the next few weeks, we will be looking at prayer. I know for certain that I need to do a better job of praying to our Heavenly Father. How about you?
We will begin by looking at Jesus’ response to the disciples on the question of prayer. The Lord replied, “When you pray, say “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom comes. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us, and lead us not into temptation,” Luke 11:1-4. Contained in this slightly abbreviated form of what is often called the “Lord’s prayer” we can discover some rudimentary elements of prayer. Isn’t it wonderful to realize that when we pray we are actually talking to God? In like manner, when we read the Bible, God is talking to us. This vital two-way communication is needed if we are to experience a healthy spiritual life.
The rudiments of prayer found in Luke chapter eleven are:
- Address your prayer to our heavenly Father.
- Say words that honor (hallow) the name of God.
- Pray for the progress of the Kingdom of God, the church.
- Ask the Lord for the daily necessities of life. Specifically mentioned is our daily food.
- Ask for forgiveness of our sins. Matthew chapter six adds the request that we not be led into temptation. We will discuss this in a later lesson.
- Acknowledge the fact that, we ourselves, must forgive those who are indebted to us. In Matthew 6:14-15 amplified this idea by clearly stating that we are to forgive those who trespass against us. Otherwise, God will not forgive us our trespasses against Him.
- Later in His ministry, Jesus informed the disciples they were to pray in the name of Jesus, John 16:23-24.
Next week we will follow-up with the teaching Jesus offered His disciples in response to the question on prayer found in Luke 11:5-13. Would you join me right now and offer a prayer of thanksgiving to God for all the blessings He has given us through Jesus Christ our Lord? You will be glad you did!