Teach Us to Pray – Part 1

Teach Us to Pray – Part 1

Prayer is essential to your daily life.

Let me invite all of us to turn to Luke Chapter 11. Luke Chapter 11 verses one through four this morning.  We’re going to begin a series of sermons the next four weeks, looking at what I think is a very important topic, and looking at a very important passage of Scripture in Luke and that is prayer. Specifically, when I look at the Lord’s prayer that’s found in Luke Chapter 11 or what some has begun to call the disciples’ prayer, as it’s really a prayer teaching the disciples how to pray.  And that’s what I want us to do in the next four weeks is to learn about prayer. Learn how to pray.  And how Jesus modeled prayer and how Jesus teaches us to pray.

I’ll start with a very important question this morning.  One that I’ve asked myself a good bit this week. And it’s, it’s this. How is your prayer-life?  On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your time with the Father? How would you rate your prayer life?  I think if all of us would honestly reflect upon that question, we would say it’s not really where we want it to be.  It’s not where God wants it to be. It’s not where it should be.  On a scale of 1 to 10, today it might be an 8, tomorrow it might be a 1.  Some days it might be a 0.

Prayer is one of those things that we know as Christians is important.  We know it is foundational, but we don’t always do it like we know we should, and I think there’s a lot of reasons for that.  One is that some of us just don’t have time. I mean, I’m sure we’re all busy. We live in a busy culture, sometimes it’s hard for us to make time just to sit and talk or sit and listen to the Father.

Other reasons are we may not know how to pray. We may have been taught to say prayers.  We may have been taught how to recite prayers, but nobody ever taught us how to pray. Nobody has sit down and discipled us and taught us that.  I think that’s what we see in the verses we’re looking at today is that there’s a desire to know how to pray.

Some people think prayer doesn’t work.  Some people may think that if prayer works, then I would do it.  I understand where that’s coming from, ’cause there’s probably someone who, or all of us here, have experienced a time where we prayed earnestly for something.  Then we prayed desperately for something and it didn’t work out the way we wanted and that maybe gave us a bad flavor about prayer.  I prayed through this, I wanted this and God didn’t hear me or God didn’t answer me.  I want to say this.  God does answer your prayers, but He answered it in the way He knew was best, and that’s hard for us to realize and hard for us to accept.

Some of us may not know what prayer even is.  We hear that word and It’s kind of become a churchy word where Christians talk about prayer, but not everybody knows what prayer really is.  I hope that as we go through these next four weeks that we’re going to answer some of these questions.  We’re going to see why prayer is important. We’re going to see why we need to make time to pray.  We going to understand what prayer is and we’re gonna learn how to pray.

Today as we look at the opening verses of the Scripture, we see that Jesus models for us the importance of prayer.  As we start I want to give us a working definition or a definition of prayer.  The definition of prayer that we’re going to work with for the next 4 weeks is this; prayer is communication with God, it is communication with God because of our dependence on God.  It is communication with God because of our dependence on God.

I want you to think about this.  Communication is an essential aspect of our life, right? Being able to talk to each other, being able to communicate is how we grow relationships. It’s how we come close to each other.  I thought of a story this week that I thought would relate the importance of communication and I like telling stories about myself, including when it’s funny.  In middle school I dated a girl, shocking.  I had a girlfriend in middle school. In fact, I actually have two in this particular instance because the one I didn’t know, she was my girlfriend, and you’re like how do you not know?  Well, apparently, we became boyfriend and girlfriend in like 6th grade and this is happening in 8th grade.   We had not been in the same class since 6th grade.  We had not been on the same team, so to speak. We haven’t talked to each other in two years, at all.  On Valentine’s Day in the 8th grade year, she shows up with a Valentine’s gift For me.  She found me in the hallway and walked up to me and said “Happy Valentine’s Day”.  I had a gift for my other girlfriend.  At that moment, I didn’t know what we do.   So, I said, “ok, here you go.”  You see, communication’s important. I didn’t know I had two girlfriends and I felt really bad about it.  I didn’t know I had two girlfriends.  I just didn’t know.  That’s in the importance of communication.  If we’d been able to talk to each other, then I would have been prepared to have two girlfriends, we shouldn’t do that.  Communication is vitally important.

Think about this. If you’re married, we’re glad to have Aaron and Bethany back from their honeymoon,  if they would have said their vows and then went mute for the rest of their lives.  Some women might be thinking “I wish my husband would go mute for a while,” but if he said his vows and then went mute for an extended period of time, how strong with the marriage being?  Not strong at all is because you gotta have communication. Communication is vitally important.  You gotta have pillow talk, right?  For marriages to get strong and to grow, you gotta have communication.  For relationships to succeed, you gotta talk to each other, not just in marriage. For friendships to succeed, you gotta talk to each other.  Here’s my point with this prayer is communication which is bad and it’s about a relationship with God. There is no substitute for spending time talking to the Father.  Don’t miss that.  There is no substitute for spending time talking and listening to God, not just once a week, not just once a day.  Although there’s something important about having that once a day, seclusion where you’re allowing spending time at the Father.  It’s not just our life is going bad, things aren’t working out the way I thought, I gotta go pray.  Prayer is a constant communication with the Father.  That’s what we see when we get to our verses today and Jesus models for us that prayer is essential to the Christian life. It is essential with our relationship with God The Father.

We’re going to read all of it this morning but we’ll be focusing on verse 1.  “He (Jesus) was praying in a certain place, and when He finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John also taught his disciples.”  He said to them, “Whenever you pray, say, Father, Your Name be honored as holy.  Your kingdom come.  Give us each day our daily bread.  And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone in debt to us.  And do not bring us into temptation.”

Let’s pray together.

Father as we open Your Book and study on how to communicate with You, I pray that Your Spirit would move in our hearts, that we would see the importance of it, that we would develop consistent and courageous prayer life each and every day.  That you have a desire to commune and communicate with You as our Heavenly Father. We ask all this in Jesus’ Name Amen, Amen.

When we open these verses up in Luke 11, we see that Jesus is praying.  Now, the Gospel of Luke and Luke’s telling of the Gospel has an emphasis on the prayer life of Jesus throughout the Gospel of Luke and throughout Acts we see an emphasis on having a consistent and courageous prayer life.   In Luke 3:21, Jesus is praying at His baptism as He was preparing to commit Himself to the ministry that God has called Him to.

Luke 4:42, Jesus starts each and every day with that day with prayer.  Luke 6:12, Jesus is praying before He calls the 12 disciples.  Luke 9:16, Jesus is giving thanks for the food that God has blessed them with as He’s preparing to feed the multitudes.  In Luke 9:18, Jesus was by Himself and He’s praying.  In Luke 9:28, He’s praying on the mount of Transfiguration preparing to be transfigured in that moment.  In Luke 22, Jesus is praying for those who are coming under the spiritual attacks of the enemy.  In Luke 22:42, Jesus cries out to God in His grief.  In Luke 22:42, Jesus prays, in His grief, that the will of God would be done in His life as He prepares for the cross.  In Luke 23, Jesus, don’t miss this one, in Luke 23 Jesus prays for His enemies.  I want to just stop there for a second. Have you prayed for your enemies? Do we take time to pray for those who disagree with, those who are against us?  Jesus prays for those who hang Him on the cross, He prays for His enemies.  Luke 23:36, Jesus prays while He’s facing death.  In Luke 24:50 Jesus prays blessings over His followers.

You’ve seen time and time again, that Jesus puts a high priority on His prayer life.  He makes a commitment to spend time with his Heavenly Father each and every though day.  He prays before significant events in His life.  He prays before major decisions. He prays when He has great sorrow, and He prays when He has great joy. He prays before eating meals. He prays intercessory prayers for others as He is asking God to bless His followers.  And listen, He does this while He’s an extremely busy fellow.

Another verse we see is in chapter 5 where there are great crowds gathered to hear Him.  He withdrew to a desolate place to pray.  That is such a huge lesson for us today.  With all the people demanding Jesus’ time. With all the things that He had to do each and every day, He took time to pray.  Think about all these people came to hear Him. He could have delivered a great sermon and I’m sure He did, but the first thing He did was He secluded Himself and He time with the Father.

There are a lot of things that demand our time and attention every day, a lot of things.  Work.  There’s so much work to do every day.  I know it’s summertime, but there’s always assignments that students have to do, books that have to be read. Sports are kicking up for the summer training.  Coaches are demanding our time.  We all have favorite TV shows that we want to watch and that demands our time. We have friends who want to time with us.  Family wants to spend time with us. Or coworkers may need to spend time with us.  We are busy and people are demanding our time.  Jesus is no different and yet He still made time for the Father.

I’ve said over and over again in our Sunday night studies.  Context is king when trying to interpret the Bible.  It is no mistake that Luke writes this lesson on prayer immediately following the story of Mary and Martha.  You remember that story.  Martha’s up running around, talking, working.   She’s busy.  She’s got to prepare and host the gathering.  Mary is sitting at the feet of Jesus worshipping.  Martha’s working, Mary worshipping, and Martha’s pretty salty about it.  She gets mad.  She went to Jesus.  Tell her to get up and work and Jesus says “No, no, no, no.  She’s doing the necessary thing.  Martha, the necessary thing and to spend time with Me.  Sit at my feet and worship me.”  Jesus isn’t talking about being lazy.  He said that we’ve got to make time to be with Jesus, it’s no mistake that that story is told and then it goes right into about spending time with the Father in prayer.

The great reformer Martin Luther, great guy, love reading his books in seminary, he said this, “I have so much to do today.”  Anybody relate?  You wake up tomorrow morning, you got so much to do today?  Martin Luther woke up he said “I got so much to do today.  I need to spend 3 hours in prayer to get it all done.”  Three hours in prayer to get it all done. That is so counter to our culture, is it not?  Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve got a to do list and when I wake up, the first thing on my mind is do do do do.  I gotta start checking off my tasks for the day.  Martin Luther says, instead of starting by checking off the ‘To Do” List, go to the Father and let Him help you get through the task of the day.  When life is the most hectic, when life is the most stressful, that is, when we need to spend time with our Father.  When we don’t have time, that is when we need to make time for Jesus. Or it’s said another way, when we run out of time, find time for the Father, ‘cause it’s important to talk to Him.  To rely on His strength to get us through the work day and to get us through the stresses.

Many of us have our phones now and we’ve got calendars.  I calendar almost every minute of every day.  I just type it in. I gotta do this then. I gotta do this, this, this. this. Let’s make it a habit of calendaring time with our Father.  Find that time where you can spend with Jesus reading His Word and talking to Him, pouring your heart out to Him.  Put it on your calendar and guard that time each and every day. Now here’s what’s gonna happen.  We’re gonna do it and we would immediately start being distracted while you pray.

I used to be one who prayed at night. And this is how it would go for several years.  I would lay down and I would start to pray. That’s a mistake when you’re tired.  That’s a good reason to get on your knees instead of lying flat in the bed trying to pray because what’s gonna happen?  You’re gonna start praying. Next thing you know, your alarm clocks’ going off the next morning.  That’s how it happens.  Or, now I’m all for the holy mobiles and I’ve got my Bible app and I use it, but if we don’t turn our notifications off on our phones, when we go to spend time with God, it’s going to be ding after ding after ding.  We’re going to be distracted because we’re gonna want to want that email is about.  We’re gonna want to know what’s trending on Facebook.  We’re gonna want to know those things.  So the best practice is to take you a hard copy, go into a closet, leave your phone somewhere that you can’t hear it, and focus on the Father.  Because if we don’t, it will be distraction after distraction. Here’s what’s going to happen to you. Your “To Do” list will come flooding into your brain the moment you sit down to pray because we see prayer, whether we mean to or not, we see prayer as kind of a waste of time.  We look at our “to do” list like I’m just sitting here. I’m not doing anything, it seems we see it as a waste of time, but it’s not.  Jesus didn’t see it as a waste of time. He saw it as an essential part of His life because He knew he was dependent upon God for everything.  He was dependent upon God for the ministry that He had been called to do.  He was dependent upon God’s strength to go to the cross.  And so Jesus made prayer a priority in His life because it’s essential.  You and I have to make it a priority every single day of our life.

And the disciples kind of modeled the attitude that we should have because they see Jesus.  They hear Jesus praying so they go to Jesus and say, “Lord, teach us to pray.”  That is fascinating to me, because this is the only time they request Jesus teach them something.  In all the Gospels, it’s the only request you see, is “Jesus, teach us to pray.”  They had saw Him study.  They had saw Him preach.  They had saw Him heal people.  But that’s not what they asked for.  They didn’t say “Father, how do I become a better preacher?”  They didn’t say “Jesus, how do I become a better healer?  Jesus, how do I study the Scripture?”  No, the only request they made was “teach me to pray” because they desire to have the closeness with God that Jesus had, but they also knew that in order to be good preachers, they needed to be good prayer warriors.

If they were to spread the Gospel, they’re going to have to spend time praying for the lost. If they were gonna heal, they’re going to need God’s help.  If they were gonna need wisdom, the Bible says ask for it.  If they were gonna need strength, they have to pray for it and seek God for it.  For comfort, they have to pray. They knew that prayer was the foundational aspect of the ministry, because they will dependent upon God.

Are you depending upon God enough to pray every day?  Are you dependent on our Father to spend time with Him?  The disciples, they just want to know how to pray.  Now that’s what they say.  Lord, teach us how to pray.  These are good Jewish men.  They would have known prayers.  Their parents would have taught them prayers. They would have known how to recite the Psalms and the Proverbs, they would have known that.  So they’re not saying to teach us how to pray.  Just teach us to pray. Teach us to do it.  You see, prayer is about your heart.

Any of us can just read prayers. I’ve got prayer books and I use the common book of prayer a lot, and we can recite those prayers, but prayer and communicating with the Father comes from our heart.  The disciples just want to know how to commune with the Father.  We’re gonna dig into it the next two weeks, but Jesus is not necessarily going to give them something to recite.  He’s going to give them a model to follow. It’s going to be a focus on the Father and a focus on the family, which is all Christians, the Christian family.  What you see in the Lord’s Prayer is the heart of God. Because Jesus has a heart for this the Father, He loves the and He’s got a heart for people, love others.

So when we pray, our heart has to be like the heart of Jesus where we’re in love with God and we love people enough to pray for them.  So my challenge kind of to you is spend time in prayer because it’s essential to the Christian life.  But listen.  Prayer comes at a great cost.  I don’t want you to miss this part.  Prayer cost Jesus His life.  Prayer, the fact that we can talk to God ourself is a miracle.  It’s a miracle that we can approach God’s throne.  You know for years and years leading up to the death of Jesus, God was supposedly in the Holy of Holies and it was separated with a curtain.  Only the High Prince could enter that Holy of Holies and you only do it once a year after a ritualistic cleansing so that he could be made pure.  So the only access to the Father then was through the priest who had to go through this ritual to be clean, to be able to go into the Holy of Holies.  When Jesus died, that curtain ripped right in half and the throne of God was accessible to all people through the blood of Jesus.

We see the priest had to cleanse himself, but you and I today Jesus’ blood cleanses us from all unrighteousness and all of our impurities.  It is but blood Christ that forgives us of sins, and there’s nothing that we can do to achieve it, because Christ has already done the work.  So the fact that we can approach God is a miracle.  It’s a miracle that we sinful humans can come to a holy, perfect God and it happens through the blood of Christ.

Hebrews 4:14-16.  “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens—Jesus the Son of God—let us hold fast to our confession.  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin.  Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need.”

Jesus is not some distant deity. He is the Son of God who experienced life that you and I have experienced ’cause He was fully human.  He didn’t sin though.  He did what Adam could not do and lived a perfect and holy life because He was fully God.  And so when He dies on the cross, He was paying the penalty for our sins so that we can be forgiven so that we can approach God’s throne through the grace offered to us, through faith in Christ Jesus.

Hebrews 10:19-24.  “19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have boldness to enter the sanctuary through the blood of Jesus— He has inaugurated for us a new and living way through the curtain (that is, through his flesh)— and since we have a great High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water.  Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, since He who promised is faithful.”

Listen, our sin separates us from God. It is our sin that stops us from entering into the presence of holy God.  But God, in His great love us sent His Son to die for us. So if we want to be able to approach God’s throne, we have to first accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior.  We have to make the decision to follow Him and repent from following this world.

Have you made that decision?  Have you said yes to the invitation to come to Jesus?  Have you made the decision to turn away from this world and to follow the Lord?  Is we’re eternity secured in heaven?  Are you able to approach God’s throne with confidence?  If not today, your invitation is to come as we prepare to sing this last song. Your invitation is a come and give your life to Jesus.  To say yes, to following Him, to surrendering it all to Him.

Maybe you’ve done that and you’re ready to take the next steps in following Jesus into the waters of baptism.  If you’ve never been baptized that encourage you to come in and make that decision to go public with their faith.  To let the world, know that you are dead in your sins and you are raised to life with Christ.

Take the next steps that God is calling you to take.  If it’s to follow Him, take that step today.  I’ll be down here. We can pray together. If it’s baptism, take the next step. I’ll be down here to pray with you too.  Make the decision that God is calling you to make today ’cause you’re not guaranteed to leave here and live a second longer.

Let’s pray together.

Father, thank You for Your Word.  Thank You for teaching us how to talk to You. Thank You for making a way to talk to You through Your Son Jesus. As we study these next few weeks, the Lord’s Prayer, put in our hearts to have a desire to talk to You and spend time with You, to hear from You through Your Word.  Help us to communicate with You and help us to know that we are dependent upon You for everything we have.  Father, don’t let us just go through the days without spending time with You.  And Father, if there’s anybody here who needs to make a decision, I pray that You would just pick them up out of their seats and bring them down here so that their lives will be changed forever.  We ask all this in Jesus’ Name Amen.