Prayer is a powerful, wonderful thing. When God’s people speak to Him through prayer, He takes the time to truly listen to every care and concern that we have. However, what if prayer was about more than simply telling God everything that we want? What if prayer wasn’t just an opportunity to tell God about everything going wrong in our lives? What if prayer was an opportunity to communicate with God the same way that you speak to your friend? Lord, teach us to pray.
Luke 11:1 (ESV)
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.”
Can you imagine this scene? Jesus had just finished praying, and the disciples came to Him with an odd request. They wanted Him to teach them to pray in the same way that John the Baptist had taught His disciples to pray. Unfortunately, many people make fun of the disciples for this conversation. However, it truly took a lot of self-awareness and courage to ask Christ the question that they asked Him. What if He was angry at them for not knowing how to pray? What if He told them that they should have already figured out how to pray? After all, by the time that we read Luke 11:1, the disciples had been spending all day every day with Jesus for several years. By this point, we assume that the disciple should know everything about prayer.
Do you really know how to pray? If not, allow the Holy Spirit to teach you today. There is nothing shameful about not fully understanding prayer. Jesus didn’t reprimand the disciples for their question. He didn’t give them a stern admonishment about how they should already know the answer to what they were asking. Instead, Christ was happy to teach them. In the same way, He will happily help you understand how to pray the way that He wants you to.
Opening With Praise
Luke 11:2 (ESV)
And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name.”
According to Christ, when we pray, we should open with praise. We’re often tempted to use prayer as a means of telling God everything that we want Him to do or to recap everything going wrong in our lives. Most our prayers begin with something along the lines of, “God, I need you to [insert need here].” There’s nothing wrong with telling God about the needs that you have in your life. In fact, He encourages us to do that multiple times in His Word.
When we open our prayer with praise, it signifies to God that there are things in our life more important than what we want or need Him to do. Opening with prayer helps you to put things into the proper perspective. It’s a mutually beneficial concept. God loves when we tell Him how much we love Him. Additionally, when we place our focus on the goodness of God and the things that we’ve already seen Him do in our lives, the things that we need fall into their proper place.
Acknowledging Our Dependence
Luke 11:3 (ESV)
Give us each day our daily bread.
The second phase of praying in the same way that Christ told His disciples to pray comes a bit more naturally to us. However, it’s still about more than rattling off everything that we want God to do. We will get to the concept in a moment. First, Christ’s model prayer focuses on our complete reliance on God. “Give us this day our daily bread” is an example of how we are completely reliant on God. We have a natural tendency to take things for granted. When you woke up this morning and went to fix a cup of coffee, you turned on the faucet and assumed that water was going to come out. When you got out of bed, you flipped the light switch assuming that the lights would come on. When you went to your refrigerator, you knew what food would be in it. Those are all things we take for granted, but none of that is possible without God.
In Deuteronomy 8:18, Moses told the people of Israel that God gave them the power to get wealth. It’s important to note that when Moses referenced wealth, he wasn’t talking about having millions of dollars in investments and cash. Instead, he meant the ability to pay for the things that they need. If you have electricity, running water, food, and the ability to read this study, you have more wealth than most people in the world. Even if you don’t feel wealthy, you’re doing better than many, and that’s because God has blessed you.
In addition to being completely dependent on God for everything that we have, this portion of Christ’s model prayer is also an opportunity to tell Him about the things that we need. While prayer isn’t only about telling God the things that we need Him to do, He still wants us to do that. In 1 Peter 5:7, Peter said that we can cast all of our cares onto the Lord because He cares for us.
As humans, we crave independence. We boast about the ability to do things on our own. However, that’s not God’s design for us. Instead, He wants us to both acknowledge and embrace our complete dependence on Him.
I Think It’s About Forgiveness
Luke 11:4 (ESV)
And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
While you’re praying, it’s a good idea to ask God for forgiveness. No matter how hard we may try, we all miss the mark of God’s holiness from time to time. When that happens, the best thing that we can do is to repent and ask for His forgiveness that He freely offers to us.
However, while we’re asking for God’s forgiveness, we should also ask Him for the help that we need to forgive others. Forgiving isn’t always easy, which is why we need God’s help with the process. However, if we want to truly enjoy the forgiveness of God, we have to be eager to forgive other people (Matthew 6:15).
The Strength to Avoid Temptation
Luke 11:4 (ESV)
And lead us not into temptation.
This verse is often misunderstood, because God does not lead us into temptation. In fact, the Bible says that God will never tempt His people or put us in a position to sin (James 1:13). Instead, this final portion of Christ’s model prayer is about asking God for the strength necessary to resist the temptation that we all face.
We all have weaknesses. Perhaps you’re prone to lose your temper when someone does something that annoys you. Maybe you struggle with addiction to something. Whatever your temptation is, understand that you are not alone. The Bible promises us that we will not face any temptation that is not common to our position in humanity (1 Corinthians 10:13).
However, we can ask God for the strength that we need to resist those temptations. The presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer is the most powerful tool that we have against temptation. When we’re faced with a temptation, the Holy Spirit can warn us. He reminds us about the truths found in God’s Word while also reminding us that we do not have to give into the temptations.
According to this portion of Scripture, prayer is a four-step process. We can open with praise to God for all the good things in our lives before addressing our dependence on Him and verbalizing our needs. Then, we can ask for His forgiveness while also asking if there are people that we need to forgive. Finally, we can acknowledge our reliance on the Holy Spirit to resist the temptation of sins.
A Closing Prayer:
Heavenly Father, teach me to pray in the same way that John taught His disciples and Christ taught His. I know that prayer is a vital part of our relationship, and I want my prayer life to be stronger. In Christ’s name, Amen.