Sunday, May 22, 2011

Teach Us To Pray


Luke 11:1 ¶ Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples."

When we say “prayer”, we often roll several various and different utterances into one consideration and define it as prayer. However, prayer is a very distinct art which can be both taught and learned.

The voice we raise up to heaven is not always the voice of prayer. We have three defined voices with which we are told to lift our considerations heavenward.

The Voice of Prayer

The Voice of Confession

The Voice of Command

The Voice of Prayer is broken down into three basic categories depending on its intended purpose.

The Prayer of Thanksgiving

The Prayer of Petition

The Prayer of Intercession

Prayer is always directed to God and is never sent heavenward in tones of command for God resists the proud but gives grace to those who are of a humble heart.

In the book of Luke, chapter 11, Jesus and His disciples were last known to be staying in Judea, in the town of Bethany at the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus, which stood on the Mount of Olives just outside the city of Jerusalem.

Evidently this was at some point in time after Jesus had spent His third Passover in Jerusalem with His disciples. That morning the disciples accompanied Him to His chosen place of prayer and remained close enough to observe Him. After Jesus finished praying one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray …”

Continuing in:

Luke 11:2 So He said to them, "When you pray, say: …”

I find it interesting that Jesus was perfectly ready to immediately respond to this sincere request. Jesus not only knew how to pray but He also knew how to teach others to pray. In fact, perhaps a year earlier, on a hillside overlooking the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, now known as the Mount of Beatitudes, Jesus preached the “Sermon on the Mount” to a multitude of listeners.

Included in this sermon were clear instructions on how to pray. Now, many months later Jesus repeats this portion of His sermon directly to His disciples as instructions or directions for them to follow in prayer. Look with me as we read from that original sermon in:

Matthew 6

9 In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.

10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread.

12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.

13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

If you will allow me this morning, I want to pass on these instructions in hopes that they will “Teach Us To Pray”.

First of all let me say that this prayer is often called “The Lord’s Prayer” by many and it has almost accepted that title by continued use. However, the correct ascription for this passage is better known as: “The Model Prayer” – for in these scriptures Jesus, rather than praying at this point Himself, rather gave us instructions, or a model, of how we ought to pray ourselves.

If we were to read these few short verses we could easily conclude that the prayer Jesus is teaching His disciples and us is mostly about us and God. Follow along with me and let’s discover some of the perspectives of prayer.

According to the model prayer, when we pray we should begin with:

“Our Father in heaven”

This is nothing less than a recognition and verbal acknowledgement of the divine relationship we each one have directly and personally with God. We pray from a divine:

1. Position

Position is everything. Remember – “It’s not what you know but who you know that counts!” Who you know is important and without a personal relationship with God you are on shaky ground especially when it comes to prayer. The prayers of the wicked are an abomination to God … Again – Position is everything.

Next Jesus directs us to:

2. Praise

“Hallowed be Your name”

There is something very interesting and very consistent about God. He will not be number two on anyone’s list. There is only one God; Him only shall you serve, and all praise is due His name! When we come before God in prayer, before we make our petitions known to Him concerning what we want, we need to give Him what He wants … and … God wants to be praised.

Our most effective prayers will be made when we enter His courts with praise.

The third thing we note about this model prayer is the importance of:

3. Priority

Not our priority, but God’s priority. Notice:

“Your kingdom come; Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven”

God’s Kingdom before ours

God’s Will before ours

Heaven before earth – His Throne before our throne

In other words, we don’t bring our petitions, our desires, or our plans to God without consideration that He has petitions, desires and plans which supersede ours. It’s a “Not my will but thine be done” approach.

This is the classic tenet of “Submission before petition” both in our hearts and on our minds. We should agree with God before we know the answer.

Once we have recognized Who He Is, given due praise to His name and priority to His plans, then we should remember that he wants to hear our petition. And, which petition best describes the earthly needs of man better than:

“Give us this day our daily bread”

4. Provision

Surely God knows what you need even before you ask. However, the scriptures also tell us that we have not because we ask not and that we should ask and receive that our joy might be full. God wants to hear what we want. There is:

· No holiness in poverty

· No Godlikeness in defeat

· No redemption in sickness and

· No righteousness in self righteousness

God wants us to be blessed and to be a blessing to others. He wants us to be like Him and He is neither poor nor afraid.

Our fifth perspective in prayer is the recognition of our:

5. Pardon

“Forgive us our debt as we forgive our debtors”

There is no reason to go deeply into our need for forgiveness. We have been mercifully pardoned and are reminded over and again through the scriptures, as Jesus reminds those on the Mount of Beatitudes shortly, that if they do not forgive others their trespasses, it will only hold them bound to pay for their own. In order to receive mercy, we must also give mercy as we petition God to forgive our indebtedness to Him.

6. Protection

“Do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one”

We ought to always be mindful that the devil, “D-Evil”, is a master tempter who knows the hearts of the carnal man and from whom we need divine protection. Those who are led by the Spirit, they are the sons of God and if you be led by the Spirit you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.

If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God who gives to all men liberally … but let him ask in faith! Our daily prayer should every day include our need for divine deliverance from the ills and evils of this world and its designs for mankind. Guard your heart and mind with all diligence for the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about seeking whom he may devour … pray that God keeps us, leads us and delivers us away from all temptation.

And lastly, number seven, is recognition of God’s awesome, unmatched and eternal:

7. Power

“Yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever. Amen”

That settles it – and settles it forever!

I want to encourage you to hear the words of Jesus as He teaches you the art and the power of prayer. And, I want to challenge you use this model prayer each morning for the next seven days beginning in the morning when you first wake up.

I am going to ask the Holy Spirit to remind you to pray each morning and to help you use these seven points of perspective as a guide to developing a more effective habit of prayer. Surely you can afford the extra 3, 5, 10 or 15 minutes it will take you to talk with God each day.

If you will agree with me right now and ask the Holy Spirit to remind you to pray each morning, all that will be needed to put you on the right track is your simple obedience. When it comes to your mind, stop right there and use this model prayer, the Lord’s prayer if you will, as your prayer guide.

1. Acknowledge your relationship with God and position yourself for His favor.

2. Praise His Holy Name!

3. Get your mind set on the importance of His priority for your life and day.

4. Ask God to meet your daily needs.

5. Thank God for His forgiveness and forgive others where they have trespassed against you.

6. Petition God to protect, deliver, guide and guard your life from temptation and evil.

7. And let Him know that He is awesome, unmatched and eternal and that it all belongs to Him.

Won’t you stand and let’s pray …