Life of Christ 109
Jesus and His Apostles are traveling through Judea in a last ditch effort to convince the Jews to accept Him as their Christ. Such a spiritual effort must include prayer, as all spiritual work must, and after Jesus finished one such prayer session His Apostles asked Him to teach them how to pray like He prayed. Our story today is His response (Luke 11.1-13). Much more is here taught about prayer than I can cover in one blog post, but I can at least give you the broad strokes of what Jesus meant to convey.
Before I go any further let me just openly say that most people do not like to read about prayer. In fact, I suspect that very few people will choose to read this post. It isn't about anything controversial, and it is about something that is convicting to all of us. And since we don’t like being convicted we usually skip anything that has to do with prayer. But the simple truth is that you and I desperately need the truths taught by Christ about prayer. If we are breathing we need God, and we need to know how to get a hold of God, and we need to know how to get things from God.
We find here, firstly, an example of prayer (Luke 11.2-4). This section is familiar to most people. It is very similar to the section in the Sermon on the Mount known as the Lord's Prayer. When Jesus repeated Himself He did so, I believe, not because He had run out of things to say, but because He desired to emphasize the importance of a particular truth. The Lord's Prayer, then, must be very important.
I do not believe He meant it simply to be repeated mindlessly, a la the Catholics, and their chanted Hail Mary's and Our Father's. In fact, Jesus specifically said otherwise. 'When ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think they shall be heard for their much speaking' (Matthew 6.7). No, He meant it as an outline of how to pray, and that is how I've used it for years.
I begin by praying 'Our Father'. I take a few minutes and enter into the privilege and the sweetness of this relationship. I tell Him of how this encourages me, and motivates me to ask boldly, as only a child can ask.
I then pray 'which art in Heaven'. Robert Browning, that great Victorian poet, once said so eloquently, 'God's in His Heaven – All's right with the world.' The omnipotence and sovereignty of God bring me great peace, and as I look at the troubles in the world around me I find that they vanish like fog on a summer day as I contemplate 'Our Father which art in Heaven.'
I then pray 'hallowed be Thy name'. I tell God that His names are very important to me, and I bring my heart into a respectful and worshipful view of them. I pray for those around me who so often carelessly take His names in vain.
I then pray 'Thy kingdom come'. I believe this speaks primarily of the Second Coming, and I, like John in Revelation 22, urge Him to come quickly. At the same time I also realize that while I am awaiting His imminent physical arrival He is supposed to be sitting on the throne of my heart at this very moment. I yield to Him the kingship of my life, and I ask Him to be the unreserved King of my marriage, my family, my church, and those I love so much.
I then pray 'Thy will be done'. I seek to rest in what He wants for me rather than in what I want for myself, and I seek to yield my will for His.
I then pray 'as in Heaven, so in earth'. I think of how the angels obey God in Heaven, and I ask Him to help me and mine to obey with the same delight, the same alacrity, and the same thoroughness.
I then pray 'give us this day our daily bread'. I ask Him for provision.
I pray 'And forgive us our sins'. I ask Him for forgiveness.
I pray 'for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us'. I ask Him for a store of forgiveness that I will need to give away to those around me who, like me, are plagued with the curse of their humanity.
I then pray 'lead us not into temptation'. I ask Him to guide me and mine in the way of holiness, protecting us, not just from sin, but from the snares and traps of temptation planned by the Evil One.
I pray 'deliver us from evil'. I ask Him for His hand of protection.
When I am done with this, and I get up off my knees, I find myself centered in Him and what He wants for my life, dependent upon Him, and seeking to glorify Him. I have not repeated the Lord's Prayer, but I have prayed it as He meant it to be prayed, as an example prayer.
Secondly, we find here a call to perseverance on prayer (Luke 11.5-8). Perhaps the greatest mistake that God's people make in relation to prayer is not to. And perhaps the second greatest mistake we make in prayer is to give up. We ask once, or twice, or thrice, and then we cease. Or perhaps we continue to ask for a lengthy period, but, discouraged when we see no movement, we quit in frustration. Is your prayer scriptural? Is your prayer yielded to His will? Then keep on asking.
Lastly, we see here an illustration of prayer (Luke 11.11-13). It has been my privilege to be a father for 13 years now. Something happens in a man when he looks down, for the very first time, on his own flesh and blood. A maturing happens. A knowledge that he is now responsible to care for someone besides himself happens, someone who is tiny and helpless, and he resolves to do it.
Such a father, a good father, when he sees a need in his child, will he torment that child by providing something different than is needed? Will he needlessly refuse, or force a lengthy wait for provision without good reason? Of course not, and God is a much better father than we are.
Jesus ends with this thought lest we feel, after the admonition to perseverance, that the Father is reluctant to help us. Such is not the case at all. What we see as reluctance is often simply God preparing the answer for us, or God preparing us for the answer. I am convinced that He desires to give us even more than we ask. I am convinced that He desires to give to us even more than we desire to get. He is the ultimate example of a loving, providing father.
In conclusion, then, we come around to the basic point: ask. 'Ask, and it shall be given you' (Luke 11.9). Ask because you can. Ask because He asked you to. Ask because He wants you to. Ask because He is all powerful. Ask because that is God's ordained method of getting it to you. But, for crying out loud, just ask.