One of the most common themes of preachers is that of prayer. Why is the preaching on prayer so abundant? Jesus, the Son of God and Son of Man, prayed throughout his life, giving us an example to live by. The Gospel of Luke keeps a great record of Jesus praying.
· He prayed at the time of His baptism (Luke 3:21)
· He prayed when he chose his disciples (Luke 6:12)
· He often prayed alone (Luke 5:16; 9:18)
· He also prayed with others around (Luke 9:28–29)
· He prayed for Simon (Luke 22:32)
· He prayed in the garden before his betrayal (Luke 22:40–44)
· He even prayed on the cross (Luke 23:46).
Jesus was led by the Spirit of God and one of his points of connection with his Father was prayer. We know that Jesus was introducing a new and spiritual Kingdom. We preached and demonstrated the Kingdom of God and people were amazed that he taught as one who had authority. This is because his teaching was accompanied with signs and wonders. If Jesus the Son of God prayed, how much more should we take to heart our need to pray. This leads us to today’s message on prayer.
Jesus’ Teaching on Prayer
We saw that last week as Jesus taught on humility and then shared a parable about the Lost Sheep, and, he taught on forgiveness and then again shared his parables relating to forgiveness (Matt 18:1-35). The same is true in today’s passage of Scripture; one of Jesus’ methods of instruction was to combine teaching with parables. One may ask why the Lord’s Prayer is different between Matthews Gospel (Matt 6:5-8) and Luke’s Gospel (Luke 11:2-4). In essence, these are two different passages or teachings about prayer. Matthew records Jesus teaching on prayer in the context of the Sermon on the Mount, whereas Luke records Jesus teaching on prayer in response to a question by one of the disciples - Luke 11:1-13. One 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” (Luke 11:1). In this passage, Jesus was leading by example when one of the disciples asked to be taught how to pray.
In Luke 11:2-4, Jesus speaks to five prayer points for his disciples to follow; most likely this is how Jesus prayed. The first two points relate to being focused and concerned about God.
1. “‘Father, hallowed be your name
There is something wonderful about names. Your name identifies you. What you are called influences who you are. This is definitely seen in the names of God. Adonai – our God who rules; Elohim – our strong creator; El Elyon – our most high God; El Shaddai – our Lord God Almighty; Immanuel – our God with us; Jehovah – our relational God; Jehovah Jireh – our provider; Jehovah Tsaba – our warrior; Jehovah Shalom – our peace; Jehovah Rohi – our shepherd; Jehovah Nissi – our victory; Jehovah Mekoddishkim – our sanctifier; Jehovah Rapha – our healer; Jehovah Tsidkenu – our righteousness. Jesus instructs his disciples to worship and pray these names back to his Father in heaven. By focusing on his Names we become like what we worship.
2. Your kingdom come
When a person prays for the coming of the kingdom, he is identifying with the message of Jesus and His followers. In other words, we are asking for the kingdom of God to rule supreme in our lives and circumstances.
3. Give us this day our daily bread
The third request was for daily bread. Bread is a general term denoting nourishment and provision for the day. Thus, this request is for food that is necessary to sustain life for the day. Jesus also called himself the Bread of Life (John 6:35) which brings new meaning to our daily bread; we are to spiritually feed on Jesus daily.
4. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us
Jesus fourth point is concerned man’s relationship to God and to each other, the forgiveness of sins. In asking for forgiveness of sins a person expresses his faith in God’s love and mercy and that God will forgive him. This kind of true and experienced forgiveness is evidenced by our faith by forgiving others. Forgiveness is essential and required in the Kingdom of God.
5. And lead us not into temptation
The fifth request speaks to Jesus’ followers praying that they be delivered from situations that would cause them to sin. His disciples, contrary to the religious elites realized that they were easily drawn into sin. Therefore, Jesus’ followers need to ask God for help to live righteous lives.
Prayer and persistence
Initially Jesus answers the disciple’s question with a short teaching on prayer. Now he moves into story mode once again. “Then he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, 6 because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.’ 7 “Then the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs. 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; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened” (Luke 11:5-10).
Jesus’ teaching on prayer simplifies our approach to God and emphasizes that we are to not babble on with meaningless words, but to simply trust God. Now in the parable we are assured that God welcomes prayer and urged them to come to him continuously and persistently. “So I say to you” – this is Jesus kicking back into teaching mode - ask, seek and knock. With the emphasis on persistence, we are to “keep on asking”, “keep on seeking”, “keep on knocking”. Why? For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened…
It can be easy to become discouraged when we don’t see a response to prayer in the timeframe we had in mind. But God is not required to work in our timeframes! How often do you find yourself giving up after praying for something one time and not seeing an answer? Jesus uses this parable to encourage the disciples to persist in prayer. Even though your friend won’t get up because it is abnormally late, if you stand your ground, knocking, making a scene, and waking all the neighbors, he’ll finally get up and get you whatever you need. In other words, our prayers need to be determined and bold…
Prayer and our Father in heaven
The second illustration begins with a rhetorical question making the disciples listen more intently. Jesus began his teaching about our Father in heaven, now he explains God’s excitement to meet our needs. “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!” (Luke 11:11-13).
The main point to Jesus’ statement here is simple - our heavenly Father gives his children what is good for them, not what harms them. Jesus encouraged the people of God to be direct with their Father. The Message Translation says, “Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This is not a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. If your little boy asks for a serving of fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? If your little girl asks for an egg, do you trick her with a spider? As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing—you’re at least decent to your own children”. Jesus ends this passage by saying that our Father will give us a good gift - the Holy Spirit.
We all know the importance of healthy prayer in the life. Jesus himself modeled a lifestyle of prayer for his disciples and us. The Lord’s prayer is one of the most important teachings of genuine Christianity. It involves worship of God, intercession on behalf of God’s Kingdom, supplication for our personal needs, and spiritual warfare over sin and satan.
In today’s message, Jesus’ then shares a parable of persistence and bold prayer. Sometimes life is challenging, and we find ourselves growing weary. At times the same can be said of our prayer life. What are some of the prayers you've been praying for a while, and feel like giving up on? What are some of the prayers you've given up on because you didn't get an answer quickly? These questions and others challenge us in life, but nonetheless Jesus exhorts us to pray and not give up. We are to keep on asking, seeking and knocking on heaven’s doors, so to speak. Why? This question is answered in the next story.
The second illustration explains God’s eagerness to meet our every need, and to grant our requests. God is our Father and he is good. This is key to understanding our relationship with the Lord and his attitude toward us and is foundational to a healthy and powerful prayer life. As followers of Christ we learn to pray as we put the Lord’s prayer into action. We ask and seek and knock not out of performing for God but because we are his children. Our Father is eager to see us grow and deepen as his sons and daughters. Every step of obedience and prayer deepens his work in our lives, forming our identities and discovering our destiny.
God has promised to answer our prayers and provide for our needs, but he is also a wise parent who will not give his child everything he or she wants. Similarly, prayer is not a Genie in a bottle granting us our three wishes, no matter what they are. Prayer is not a magical trick for a quick fix for problems that we should be solving ourselves. God answers prayer requests in his own way and in his own time. God answers prayer requests that agree with his Holy Bible. God answers prayer requests that are persistent and not selfish in nature. We may need a new attitude or a different way of looking at things, or we may need to make amends with somebody.
Jesus ends this passage of Scripture with this statement – “how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” This should make of grow in desire to draw near to God and fully engage in prayer and communication with him.
There are several thoughts that I am having this morning in applying God’s Word.
Firstly, we have been given a clear pattern for prayer, therefore we should pray… The Lord’s Prayer is simple and yet divinely powerful to change our lives and those around us.
Secondly, are there any prayer requests that you have given up on?
Thirdly, your Father in heaven wants to give good gifts to his children, especially the Holy Spirit, because he is good.