Jesus Teaches His Disciples to Pray
1One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
2 He said to them, “When you pray, say:
“‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come.
3 Give us each day our daily bread.
4 Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation.’”
5 Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6 a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ 7 And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.
9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
There are many things about prayer that are difficult. The hardest thing is that we don’t hear back from God as easily as we do in other conversation. And we do not see the nonverbal cues that make up so much of what we are telling each other.
It was Albert Mehrabian, a researcher of body language, who first broke down the components of a face-to-face conversation. He found that communication is 55% nonverbal, 38% vocal, and 7% words only.
Since this is true for the way that we communicate with people face to face, prayer is even more complicated. It is also why God has given us His Word to read and understand. As long as we read, understand and rightly apply God’s Word to our lives, then we are communicating with Him.
God is real, God is personal. I have a friend who emphasizes prophecy as a part of his ministry who regularly wants to remind me that God still speaks to people. I completely agree, but that does not make the process less complicated. It’s not as easy as every impression we have being God speaking. And my goal is not to cloud the water. God is able to communicate. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice.”
We may question why He is not easier to know and communicate with but our questions will not change the facts. We have prayer as an avenue to communicate with God and it can be hard. Because of this, it is of incredible worth that Jesus has given us His teaching on prayer!
Such a simple request: “Teach us to pray.”
And in Jesus’ response to this request we see several instructions and examples that should help us tremendously in our efforts to connect with God through prayer.
Most of what I say this morning will come from this passage, but I think we should also remember that there is already a well-developed culture of prayer in the Jewish community. The Psalms are examples. And there are other examples in Scripture of prayer.
In Scripture, when you come across a personal prayer or when you find teaching on prayer, (for instance in Paul’s letters there are both of these), those are also fertile ground to understand prayer and apply what we understand to our prayer life.
Ok, so in response to the Apostle’s request for a teaching on prayer this is what Jesus says:
- Jesus Gives A Model Prayer
- Prayer is centered around what God wants
This may seem odd since typically we come to God praying for what we want. That is not wrong. But, keep in mind the nature and character of God. God is omniscient. He knows everything. In Matthew 6 Jesus tells us that God knows what we need before we ask. And God is omnipotent. He is able to do whatever He chooses to do. And God is good. So, if you combine these three things, and you are praying for what you consider to be good, then your confidence in God and His character can be shaken. This is one primary reason that we must approach God by faith. Faith is the conviction of what we do not see!
And so Jesus says our prayer is to be focused around God.
Your name. Your kingdom. Your will. Your provision for my life. Your way of managing relationships (forgiveness), and Your way of managing my weaknesses.
- This prayer is between you and God
Go into your room and close the door. God sees in secret. We are not forbidden from praying with others, and it is often helpful. But if we are to connect personally to God, we need to pray alone. We need to meditate. Then when we connect with God we will have the wisdom to move in the direction that we need to go.
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
The story of the boy the Apostles could not heal.
17 A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. 18 Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”
19 “You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”
20 So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.
21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”
“From childhood,” he answered. 22 “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”
24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
25 When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”
26 The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.
28 After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”
29 He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.”
My question for you is where is the prayer in this passage? They need to be directed by God in their prayer! They need to have already prayed and applied the wisdom and direction of God to the deaf and mute spirit.
- Prayer done right creates connection to God
There are periods of time when Jesus gets away to Himself and spends considerable effort and time in prayer: Examples:
The choosing of the Twelve:
Luke 6: 12 One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. 13 When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles:
Jesus recharged for ministry through prayer.
Luke 5: 15 Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. 16 But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
Jesus goes by Himself to pray and then changes direction in ministry in
Mark 1: 35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”
38 Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.”
After the death of John the Baptist Jesus goes off to pray deep into the night until his prayer time is interrupted by the trials of the Apostles.
22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
And finally, in the Garden of Gethsemane. And we know the content of that prayer session and how it turned out!
- Jesus Insists that We Be Persistent in Prayer
- Metaphorical stories
Verses 5-8 here. An invitation to harassment? Ok, if you want to see it that way. I’m not sure God is harassable.
The parable of the Unjust Judge:
Luke 18: 1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”
6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
Will Jesus find people convinced that what God says is true even though they do not see it right now?!
What a question! Consider the book of Revelation 5: 8 And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.
Revelation 8: 3 Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all God’s people, on the golden altar in front of the throne. 4 The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God from the angel’s hand.
- Keep asking and you shall receive
This is not like with your kids! God wants us to continue to ask. God wants us to continue to seek. God wants us to continue to knock.
Those who ask and keep asking receive.
Those who seek and keep seeking find.
Those who knock and keep knocking
- This implies waiting for God’s timing
God’s provision. (Manna means literally “What is it?!”)
III. Jesus Emphasizes God’s Character in Prayer
- Earthly fathers provide for their children
You, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children.
This is a lovely analogy because earthly parents do not give their children what they want. Why is that?
- Provision is reasonable
If you ask for a fish, you don’t get a snake.
If you ask for an egg, you don’t get a scorpion.
If you ask for bread, you don’t get a stone.
- God is much better than your earthly fathers
You being evil know how to give good gifts to your children!
But not every request a child makes is good!!
God is good in every sense of the word. All that He does is good. And He is sovereign in the lives of His children.
We are “in Christ” if we are believing and following Jesus. And Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth! This is why Paul says His sufferings are making up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ. We may share in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings.
So be bold and confident! Jesus shares this information to move us to confidence in prayer.
What is it that shakes our confidence in prayer? Don’t know what to ask for? Keep asking and seeking and knocking.
Struggling with sin? Hebrews 4:12 The Word of God is living, active and sharper than any two edged sword. It is able to judge the thoughts and intents of the heart. But, we have a great high priest who intercedes for us! Hebrews 4::16 So, come to the throne of grace boldly that you may receive mercy and grace to help you in your time of need!
Earthly fathers do not hate or cut off their kids because they are struggling with issues in their lives. They dig in and help!