Lord, Teach Us To Pray
The past month, I have sensed the Lord challenge me in my prayer life. To pray more, longer, with greater sensitivity to his Spirit and increasing expectancy. The more I pray and the more I investigate the Scriptures, the more I realize how much I have to learn.
Here are 6 thoughts from Christ’s teaching on prayer in Luke 11:1-13
1) We must learn to pray.
Luke 10 ends with the story of Mary & Martha where Jesus commended Mary for choosing the “better portion” in sitting at his feet while her sister Martha anxiously ran around trying to get everything done . Luke 11 then begins with Jesus praying and one of his disciples asking him, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Despite the fact that the disciples had most likely been praying their wholes lives as good Jewish men, there was something about Jesus’ prayer life that warranted the request. We must learn to pray. At its simplest, prayer is speaking with the God of the universe. And yet it is a discipline to grow in, to experience greater intimacy, awe, and power in relationship with the one who made us, sustains us, and redeems us.
2) We come as children.
Whenever my son or daughter call out, “Dada,” they have my attention. I love hearing their thoughts, half-formed sentences, and new words with wonderfully emerging personalities. Despite prayer’s complexities and challenges, we are first and foremost children coming to our Father in heaven. Always and forever, despite age and maturity, we remain kids. The prophet Zephaniah says God “rejoices over us with gladness.” He sings over us, adores us, and longs to hear from us. He beckons us to come to him as we are, not ashamed or fearful, but bold and confident before his throne because of what Jesus has accomplished on our behalf. When we say, “Dada,” we have God’s attention.
3) His name, his glory, his kingdom.
Prayer is humbling. It is the continual acknowledgment that he is God and we are not. Prayer reminds us that this life and world are not about us but about him and his fame. Isaiah 43:7 says we were formed and made by God, called by his name, and created for his glory. We exist to spread the knowledge of his glory throughout the earth. We long to see his reign and rule increase in our hearts and the hearts of every tribe, tongue, and nation. When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, he began with “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come.” (Luke 11:2) God’s name being praised and his kingdom in our midst should remain the primary lens through which we pray.
4) Bring your neediness.
God “knows our frame. He remembers that we are but dust.” (Psalm 103:14) He knows our limitations, our fragility, that we are creatures who need the most perfect of conditions to even exist in this universe. Every day - food, water, sleep, warmth. We need protection, provision, forgiveness, encouragement, community. We need “our daily bread.” (Luke 11:3) We are needy creatures. He created us as such that we might depend on him. Jesus says in Matthew 6, “Your heavenly Father knows what you need.” He’s not afraid of it. And he’s faithful to provide in his wisdom and timing all that is best for his glory and our good.
5) Prayer is power.
I love inviting my son to help me build or take apart furniture. I teach him to hold the right tool and he does his best to screw in or unscrew the right things. I could do it much faster myself, but I enjoy his help. And I know he relishes in helping me. It’s astounding that God invites us to co-labor with him in his mission to reconcile a broken world to himself. In his wisdom, God has chosen to operate based on our prayers. What we ask for, how we ask, and how much we ask changes the nature of events. Prayer brings about his kingdom. And as he answers, denies, delays, or remains seemingly silent, God is always using prayer to sculpt, shape, and form our hearts to be more like his, to pray in line with his will. So that as we learn to “ask, seek, and knock,” God promises that we will “receive, find, and the door will be opened.” (Luke 11:9-10)
6) God wants to give you more of himself.
Jesus told his disciples, “This is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3) God is a relational being who created us for relationship with him and others. At the end of our text, Jesus says, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13) Compared to a holy and perfect God I fall infinitely short, yet even I know how to give a good gift to my kids. In Jesus’ eyes, the greatest gift we could ever receive is beyond any material possession. It is the Holy Spirit. The very presence and power of God himself, at work in us, empowering us, bearing fruit, guiding us into truth, uniting, convicting, sanctifying, and bringing us into greater fellowship with the Triune God. All we must do is ask.