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Lord, Teach Us To Pray pt1
(Luke 11:1-2)

By Delbert Young
(video audiio page)

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE Lord, Teach Us To Pray pt1 (Luke 11:1-2)

Scriptures: Luke 11:1; Luke 11:2-4

Prayer is one of the greatest gifts given us by God, yet it is one of the most unused, misused, abused, and misunderstood gifts given us by God. Most Christians simply don't pray. We just don't take time to pray. We don't put it into our schedule and we certainly don't schedule our lives around prayer as did Jesus. My not praying is sort of like telling my wife I love her so she would marry me, but after married I never talk to her. We will pray when some horrific situation happens. Suddenly we not only find time to pray, but want those we know pray to pray. One would think, with the promise prayer brings into our lives, we would pray constantly, but we don't. How many of us feel we could and should pray more? How many feel when we do pray, life goes better?

Correct prayer requires learning. I don't know if we think this way. Most people think you should "just pray." That would be like instructing someone who has never driven an automobile to "just drive." We wouldn't do that. "Just cook." "Just read." No. Learning is required. We need some guidance with important issues of life and no issue is more important than prayer.

Luke 11:1 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."

One of the life lessons Jesus displayed to his disciples was praying. He allowed them to see and observe him pray. Certain people should see us pray. I don't mean standing on the corner as a Pharisaical hypocrite (Mat 6:5), but your children should see you pray. Your parents should see you pray. One of the inspirations of my life was and is watching my children pray teaching their children to pray. Watching and listening people you admire and respect pray is an inspiration as it was to this disciple. It's a life lesson.

Interestingly, while observing Jesus, a disciple decided he wasn't praying correctly. Think about this. These were Jewish people raised in an extremely religious society and very familiar with prayer. Certainly he had scrutinized many Rabbis, Pharisees, and experts in praying. Certainly he prayed himself, but obviously there was something unique about the way Jesus prayed this disciple desired to learn. How about us? Do you want to learn?

It stuns me how we read this with Jesus only having a few months remaining to live. It seems teaching his disciples to pray would be something already covered and taught. We see a truth. Jesus waited until they wanted to learn to pray. He waited until they asked. I've learned you can't make people pray. I can't even make myself pray. We must want to pray. We need to ask, "Lord teach me to pray"

There are a lot of assumptions and rituals and rotes associated with prayer. Every religion seems to have its own way to pray be it Christian, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc. There is the shaking back and forward of the Jew, the "genuflect" of the Roman Catholic, the meditation of the Buddhist, the chanting of the Hindu, the prayer mat of the Muslim facing Mecca, the sign of the cross of the Catholic, the tongues of the Charismatic and Pentecostals, the need to kneel at an altar by the Baptist, etc. We Christians attempt to pray just right so it will work, always ending in the magic words, "...in Jesus' name." Notice as we progress through the study, none of the above are in the instructions Jesus gives. Jesus doesn't even tell us to say, "Amen."

In the verse we see John the Baptist obviously had a form of prayer different from the norm he taught his disciples in their attempt to reach God. Apparently, Jesus' prayer was different from John's, or anyone they'd seen pray prior. So, in this text we see how and what Jesus, the Son of God, prayed.

Prayer usually becomes totally a "wish list." We confuse "Santa" (and you know how I feel about Santa) and Father God (There's a lot of similarities with the white beard, my being naught and nice, bringing me gifts, etc.) We are to make our request (Phi 4:6), but as we will see, there is much more we should pray.

Another thing prayer can become is a religious show. People use prayer to show their spirituality and "godliness." They suddenly begin speaking in King James English. I've seen time when rather than prayer being a bowl of sweet incense brought by the angels before the Father (Rev 5:8), it becomes a religious "passing of gas" with the smell driving every angel of God and Father away.

So, how should we speak to the one who made us? That's what the disciple asked. This is what we need to know and be confident in? What makes for effective sweet smelling prayer God loves and listens? What was unique about the prayer of Jesus? Jesus laid it out for us and gave us a guide.

Luke 11:2-4 He said to them, "When you pray, say: "'Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.'"

One disciple asked to be taught, but Jesus said to them all. This prayer teaching is similar to the prayer teaching of Matthew 6:9-13 we've all recited and call the Lord's Prayer. In Matthew 6, the background was Jesus teaching what we call the Sermon on the Mount. Here, the background was answering a question. Jesus streamlined here. He cut prayer down to the very essence. If you look at this passage in the King James Version, you will see words added not found in the original manuscript to make this more similar to Matthew (so much for the accuracy of the KJV).

This is not a prayer to recite. We should memorize it and be able to recite it, but its purpose is not to be a prayer. Its purpose is what we should pray about. The disciple didn't ask, "teach us a prayer." Jesus didn't say, "Here is a prayer you should pray." He gave us "Seven Big Ideas" about prayer. (1) Say something. Talk to God. (2) Say, or talk to, Father. (3) Say, or talk about how you honor him. Hallowed be your name; (4) Say, or talk about, his kingdom coming; (5) Say, or talk about, giving us our needs - daily bread; (6) Say, talk about, forgiveness - yours and people who sinned against you. (7) Say, or talk about, leading us away from temptation. This is what God wants to talk about. We're not done praying until we talk to Father about these 7 things.

 (1) Luke 11:2 He said to them, "When you pray, SAY:

First, Jesus said "say…" Someone said, "I don't like to pray out loud. Isn't it ok to pray inwardly?" Jesus said, "When you pray, SAY!" I know my wife loves me, but it's way better when she tells me. I love her to "say" it. I don't like having to suspect she's saying in inwardly. It's big to Jesus we, say.

 (2) Luke 11:2 ...say: FATHER

How do we speak to the one who made us? It should be the way we speak to our father. How radical and novel! The Greeks had a host of gods - Zeus, Atlas, Aphrodite, on and on. The basic concept of the Greek gods was these gods amused themselves by playing with humans like pieces on a chess board. You could pray to the gods, but it was always with the attitude of bargaining with a sacrifice. To the Jewish people, the thinking of God was not much different. There was little interaction between mortals and God who would only speak to people through priests and prophets. Offerings and sacrifices were given to appease him so God would leave them alone.

Into this environment Jesus came with a totally radical approach to prayer. Jesus said, "say Father…" Matthew says "Our Father which art in heaven..." Here Jesus made it way more personal. It's "my Father." Prayer is about a relationship with Father God. Here, Jesus does not project a distant unapproachable God way out in heaven someplace. He's where you live. There are no formalities (Heb 4:16 - boldly), no killing an animal, no washings prior to prayer, no rituals, no rhetoric, no pleading, just "Father, you are awesome."

The Greek word for Father is pater {pat-ayr'} - the nearest ancestor, the authors of a family, a title of honor. In the Aramaic it's Abba {ab-bah'} - the native language of Jesus - Abba is the family word. To us it's "Dad," or "Daddy." Jesus projects prayer similar to a child coming to their honorable dad - a good, loving, protective, caring father. My children did, and still do, come to me knowing I love them and a major portion of my life revolved around caring for them. I understand some here had abusive and neglecting fathers, but you recognize the ideal and that is what Jesus is projecting. It's big to Jesus we say Father.

 (3) Luke 11:2 ...say: "...HALLOWED BE YOUR NAME

Hallowed is not a word we use today - unless were reciting the prayer. It's the Greek word hagiazo {hag-ee-ad'-zo}- to separate from profane things, to purify, free from the guilt of sin. He's the purest of Father. He's special. He's the ideal Father, The perfect Father. This is used in both Luke and Matthew. We approach Father with the dignity he deserves. We are speaking to our perfect Father deserving the greatest respect we can summon.

It's in prayer we honor Father God this way. Nothing else we do honors God as "hallowed." Some people project they don't want to "bother" God with their prayer. This is so wrong. It dishonors God to not pray. It honors him as the perfect Father when we come to him in prayer. When my children were young, much of their coming to me concerned things they wanted. Today, it's much different. Today it's for advice and the worth of my wisdom. This honors me. A short time ago, I was spending the Sunday with my son. As we stood talking, he asked me, "Dad, in hindsight what would you do different leading our family." Of course, a myriad of thoughts came. He clarified saying he was attempting to emulate our home and wanted to know if there was anything he should do differently than I did it. He honored me bringing me into his life this way. We honor God when we pray bringing him into our lives. It's big to Jesus for us to say, Father, hallowed be your name.

I will stop here today. We will pick it up next time. I don't want to feel rushed to finish our prayer study. It is simply too important. It's big to the Lord we "say" and converse with Father when we pray. We create our lives through prayer when we pray. We have a Father who loves us, who will take care of us, and who will protect us. He's not going to use us to play with. He desires to be involved in our lives. He's Father.


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