1 Title Slide: Teach us to Pray
Super short two week sermon series called “Teach us to Pray” based on how Jesus responded when asked to teach his disciples to how to pray.
This is going to be far from exhaustive on the topic of prayer, but I do want us to ask and answer the question as we begin this year.
The Bible teaches us to end our prayers with ‘In Jesus’ name,’ so who better to answer this question than Jesus himself.
If you brought a Bible along, open it to Luke 11, we’re just going to do the first four verses today. Or follow along on the screen.
Grab a paperback Bible.
Way back in the book of Genesis when Adam and Eve had a son by the name of Seth, who would be the second male lineage of the family of God, people began to call on the name of the Lord for the first time.
It was Genesis 4, the world’s second generation over 6000 years ago, and prayer had entered the scene. Prayer had become a part of the daily life of some people.
Since that day prayer has been part of the world’s story. To my knowledge every culture and people group in the world has some semblance of prayer in their life.
But prayer takes on an odd life in culture too.
The PC police are not happy when prayer is present in affairs of the state, they aren’t happy when prayer is present at sporting events, they aren’t happy when the Robertson’s pray on Duck Dynasty after every episode… all these are okay, of course, if you don’t end with ‘in Jesus’ name.’
But when there is a tragedy like the one in Ft. Lauderdale this past week, our news networks and social media light up with #’s like #prayforfortlauderdale.
Why? Because everyone knows whether they recognize it yet or not, in their God-given DNA, that there is a higher power and when our hearts break we desperately want him to intervene.
In pop culture on TV we see prayer often. Sometimes prayer is portrayed as a joke that from the believer’s perspective offers a glimpse into the true struggles of people who are searching.
Sometimes TV prayers present an honesty that we can all relate to. People wondering if God hears our prayers. Beginning a prayer with an apology for not praying enough, like, “God, I know it’s been a while since we talked…sorry about that.”
I’ve been there. It almost always then leads to rushing into a series of requests where I pour out my problems, needs, irritations to God.
Essentially we tell God everything in our life that needs fixed and if he doesn’t take care of it in the 60 seconds we give him then we give up and move on with our day.
We’ve inadvertently been taught that prayer has to be reverent, and lofty, and use special holy language, church lingo, Christianese, and if it doesn’t then we’re doing it wrong and God will smite you.
Truth is, yeah, you need to have a healthy fear and reverence for God, but he loves you and he just wants you to talk to him like a friend as a child would.
Do you know how to pray? Would you like to be taught to pray?
Let’s look at how Jesus taught prayer to his 12 best friends and students.
Here’s what’s happening in Luke when we get to chapter 11.
It’s right around midway through Jesus’ three year ministry. The disciples had been following him and learning from him and being completely dumbfounded by some of the things he was doing.
It’s been probably a year, year and half of this and they’re still confused by a lot of what he’s been doing.
It actually took them till after he had resurrected and ascended and sent the Holy Spirit. That’s why the joke is they’re not the Di-sciples, they’re the Duh-sciples. Although I’m sure I’d have been in the same boat.
But after all that time learning from him and doing life with him and watching him sneak off to pray alone, one of the disciples finally decided to ask him. Oh, hey, I wonder if we should be praying this much too…?
So one of these times Jesus had just returned from praying this happened:
1 Title Slide: Luke 11:1
Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”
1 Title Slide: Teach us to Pray
Jesus kept slipping off to a quiet place by himself and it wasn’t to practice the rubrics cube or even writing his next sermon. He was calling on the name of his father.
What the disciples had been witnessing was that at every major point in Jesus’ life prayer occurred. Prayer was happening.
It’s always part of his story.
When Jesus selected his 12 disciples – Prayer.
When John the Baptist baptizes him – Prayer.
When Peter proclaims Jesus is the Christ – Prayer.
Before Peter denies he knows Jesus – Prayer.
And here in this scene, at the teaching of what we know as the Lord’s Prayer – Prayer.
It happened frequently enough that after a while the disciples finally began to take notice.
If every time Jesus did something major in his life and ministry, it involved prayer, it makes sense that the disciples would start to think…
’hhhmmm…there may be something to this prayer thing. There may be something to slipping a way to a quiet place to talk to God. There may be a connection to how impactful his ministry is to how committed his prayer life is.’
I bet there is a benefit to this. Maybe its blessing, maybe its strength to stand firm in his faith and mission. Maybe it’s both. Maybe it’s more than that.
We see that prayer is first taught through showing the discipline.
This unnamed disciple asked to be taught, because he had seen.
He was witnessing the practice in the life of Jesus.
Jesus demonstrated the action, and he demonstrated the commitment, and he demonstrated the impact on his life and ministry.
Jesus’ life clearly had power and impact and the disciple wanted that.
So if Jesus needed prayer for his life and the disciples needed prayer for their life I need prayer for my life.
I can’t do anything of any supernatural value without God’s work.
Lord, teach us to pray…
Here’s how Jesus answers the question first:
1 Title Slide: Luke 11:2-4
And he said to them, “When you pray, say:
“Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. 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.”
Jesus said first, “When you pray.” He is assuming right up front that his follower are going to pray. Why would he assume that?
Well, first of all, because he did it, and as his followers we should seek to be more like him and do more like him and if he sees the importance of prayer so should we.
You can’t study the life of Jesus or read through the gospels without noticing Jesus praying a lot.
But, quite simply, for the follower of Jesus Christ prayer is the best way to communicate with God.
It’s the vehicle for a daily and day-long dialog with the one who created us and its importance can’t be overstated.
The Lord’s Prayer as we see here is an often misunderstood and misused prayer.
Some people think it’s a magic formula, as if the words themselves have power or influence with God.
Many people think we’re supposed to recite it word for word.
Effective prayer isn’t measured how loud you pray or how long you pray or how often you repeat the same thing over and over again, effective prayer is measured in the sincerity of your heart.
I’m not a very flowery prayer. Not upfront or by myself. Some people are. Story of Mr. Carmichael’s Bible Club President failing.
The Lord’s Prayer is not given for recitation or ritual, it’s given as a blueprint.
Let’s take a few minutes and walk through this prayer, but I want you to remember the most important thing is to start. Start praying.
Notice the order and content of this prayer:
The first thing Jesus does is praise God, then he made his requests.
He doesn’t start with his shopping list, ‘hey God, my back hurts, my foot hurts, my kids are sick, please help the Steelers win, I either need a new job or a new boss (kill the job kill the boss) up to you,…oh and thanks for being God.’
No, he starts by praising God. Your name is holy and may it remain holy for all generations and eternity. You’re God! You’re the great I Am. You’re not a bunch of little gods you’re The God.
That’s something you’ll hear me doing a lot when we pray in church. Thank you Lord for your love, enduring faithfulness, salvation, sending Jesus, thank you for your kindness and goodness.
It puts us in the right frame of mind to then tell God about his needs.
Which is a great place to start because ultimately prayers not about us anyway. We pray to God because we have faith he is there and has the power and interest in answering our prayers.
It lifts him higher in praise, not us.
Next we see, may your kingdom come.
In Matthew when Jesus teaches on prayer he expands on this to say, ‘your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.’
Heaven is a place where God reigns and God’s will is done – his plans, thoughts, purposes, goals.
Earth is a place of sin and disobedience ruled by Satan and his will is done – his plans, thoughts, purposes, goals.
This prayer is about asking for God’s will, plans, thoughts, purposes, goals to come to earth like they are in heaven.
Lord, bring heaven to earth! Don’t leave us, stay with us, guide our lives, and keep saving our people from Satan, the evil prince of this world.
We are to seek God’s will for our world and our lives.
Next is give us each day our daily bread.
On the surface this is about the daily sustenance that God provides for us and asking him to keep on doing that. Trusting God will take care of our daily needs.
On the spiritual level this is about asking God for daily spiritual nourishment and recognizing a spirit of humble dependence on him.
Your relationship with Jesus is your daily sustenance. It’s what keeps you going. In fact, Jesus called himself the bread of life. Meaning he is your source of spiritual nourishment.
If you are running low on faith and strength, ask yourself, how long have you been away from the source? If you feel spiritually dry and empty go back to the source! Jesus wants you to call on his name and ask him for your daily dose of nourishment.
Next is asking for forgiveness with an asterisks.
‘Forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.’
When Jesus taught his disciples to pray he made forgiveness the cornerstone of their relationship with God.
God has forgiven our sins, we must now forgive those who have wronged us.
To remain unforgiving toward others shows we have not understood how severe our own need was to be forgiven.
Think of some people who have wronged you. Have you forgiven them? Sometimes these people are obvious and come to your mind quickly (Uncle Marc).
Sometimes it’s not until a certain situation pops up and you realize you’re still harboring bitterness (Andy and Steph)
Would you like it if God dealt forgiveness to you the way you deal it to others?
And the last one is lead us not into temptation.
This final petition addresses the battles with sin and evil that every believer will face.
Here we’re asking God to spare us from the difficult circumstances that would tempt us to sin and the pain and trials that would cause us to doubt our faith.
God doesn’t directly tempt believers, but he does lead us into situations that ‘test’ us.
Trials and hardships are inevitable and we should count it joy when they come because God strengthens us and grows us as we overcome.
If you’ve never been tempted, you will.
But a believer shouldn’t pray for such situations.
I knew of a girl at my college that prayed for an addiction so she could overcome it and have a testimony. That’s not a Biblical request.
Lord, don’t lead us into temptation, but when temptations and trials comes deliver us from it. Pull us out of it. Drag us away from it. Set us free from it.
It’s like admitting to God that this day could get ugly and there are some sin paths that you might be tempted to go down, and when the desires of my sin nature meet an opportunity – instead of hooking up please give me the power to turn point face and run.
Have you prayed for that and wanted it?
And that’s Jesus’ blueprint for prayer. Some older manuscripts end with ‘For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever, Amen.’
Praise God. Ask for his will on earth. Ask and thank him for daily spiritual nourishment. Ask for forgiveness, assuming you’re forgiving too. Ask for protection in temptation. It’s all yours, for your fame, and up to you how you respond, but I trust you. Amen.
1 Title Slide: Teach us to Pray
This is a blueprint, but even bigger than this blueprint is the practice. Just do it. Jesus practiced and when the disciples noticed they wanted to be taught. It takes practice.
Oftentimes when I start to pray I have trouble finding the words. So I start where Jesus said to start, by praising God. Maybe resting in his presence asking him to speak to me. It doesn’t have to be all you talking.
Prayer is a conversation and if you’ve ever met someone who doesn’t stop talking long enough to breathe, let alone listen, that’s a hard conversation. God wants us to spend time with him.
After a while, you’ll get better at it. You’ll be more in tune with God in prayer.
No need to over-complicate it.
If you want to learn to pray, just start. You can follow this template as closely as you want or as rigidly as your personality requires. But it’s a blueprint. It’s not the ritual you have to follow.