Praying to God
Posted July 2, 2023
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Our lesson this week is the first lesson in the second unit of lessons for the summer. The second unit of lessons is titled: Responding to God’s Kingdom. Our lesson is going to be a very familiar lesson, especially considering that I preached about the power of prayer just a few weeks ago. In our lesson this week, Jesus teaches the twelve how to pray like Him.
The Importance of Prayer
In the sermon that I recently preached, I touched on the importance of prayer. I always feel that it is very important to speak of the importance of prayer when either preaching or teaching about prayer.
Prayer, we should understand, is something that all sincere believers enjoy because Christ tore down the wall of separation between man and the Lord by becoming our propitiation. Yes, before Christ, the children of Israel could offer up offerings like burnt offerings and peace offerings, but prayer is truly special. Prayer is special because, through our fellowship with the Lord, we can make our supplications known to the Lord directly.
There are many that believe that prayer “doesn’t work”. For those that don’t believe in prayer, they are right, prayer will never work for them. The Lord does not listen to the doubter’s prayer; He does not move on the behalf of the doubter (Jas. 1:6-8). In His teaching of prayer, Jesus taught us that when we believe, we will receive (Matt. 7:7; 21:22; Mark 11:24).
You and I should always pray, in good and in bad. When we pray to the Lord, as we will see today, we should be full of faith when we pray. When you and I pray to the Lord, the Lord will listen to our prayer and move on our behalf.
Praying Like Christ
Our lesson opens up in scripture that, at first glance, looks similar to the prayer that Jesus taught on the mount as recorded in Matthew 6:5-15. However, when we look at both of the gospels, there are some very distinct differences shown to us. Again, in Matthew’s gospel, Jesus and the twelve were on the mount as Jesus taught them how to pray to the Father.
Teach us to pray
As shown here in Luke’s gospel, Jesus, as He had taught the disciples, went into a certain place to pray. We see throughout scripture in the gospels that Jesus would often pray in a secret place by Himself; a good example of this is when Jesus prayed in Gethsemane prior to His arrest. At this occasion, an unnamed disciple must have overhead His prayer and asked to be taught to pray as John the Baptist had taught his disciples to pray (v.1)
I love the mention of John the Baptist here because it gives a bit of insight into John’s faith. We certainly know that John the Baptist was a man of faith, and this scripture shows us that in his faith, he was a man of prayer. In his faith, John the Baptist taught others how to pray to the Lord as well. I feel that this should be a testimony for all believers: not that we are long-winded prayers but that we show others how to pray to the Lord.
Now, by Luke’s gospel, if we follow these events chronologically, this would have happened after the sermon on the mount; it would have happened after Jesus first taught the disciples how to pray. So, why was this disciple asking Jesus to teach him to pray again?
I don’t believe this disciple was looking for tricks of the trade when it came to prayer. After listening to Jesus’ prayer, I believe this disciples desired to pray just like Jesus. Personally, I have had people say to me that they wish they could pray like how I pray. My response is always that you can pray just like how I pray; we must remember that prayer is part of our personal fellowship with the Lord and we are communing with Him as a child does with a loving parent.
In teaching the disciples to pray like Him, Jesus shared a prayer that gets repeated so often that I feel like its meaning has been missed. Jesus, we will see, taught them that they should pray to the Father in a manner of honor (v.2); we are to acknowledge His authority, but at the same time, we are to pray trusting in His will (authority).
We will also see within this teaching of prayer, the supplication for the Lord to provide for us (v.3). Something I said we must learn a couple weeks ago is to depend on the Lord and His providence. Yes, there’s nothing wrong with leaning on each as we should lean on each other but we should also lean on the Lord as well.
A problem that many people have is that, rather than leaning on anybody, they put all of their trust in the world. What I mean by this is that there are many people that have put all of their trust in the power of the dollar more than anything else. Yes, there are many people that have put all of their trust in the power of gaining wealth more than put their trust in the Lord. The believer should depend on the Lord to supply their every need!
Let us also take note that in the teaching of prayer, Jesus includes praying for forgiveness and to be delivered from evil (v.4). Something that we as believers must understand is that nobody is perfect. There are so many so-called believers that believe they are perfect – they are without sin. This, of course, couldn’t be any further from the truth.
You see, all of us as believers, still sin – none of us are perfect. The difference between the sincere believer and the one that lives in the conviction of their sins is that we have been justified of our sins. We are justified through our faith in the death and the resurrection of Christ.
Does this mean we are perfect? Absolutely not. When you pray to the Lord, you must be humble in your prayers. You see, the person of pride will never pray to the Lord. Jesus, God the Son, shouldn’t have needed to pray but He did. Why? Because He was humble while living in the flesh. We need forgiveness from the Lord in order for us to become holy and righteous in His – let us never forget this.
Before I move on from this section, I want to point out to you the length of this prayer; it is a short and sweet prayer. For whatever reason, some folks got it in their head that every prayer must be long and filled with elegant words of speech. What within this prayer sounds like words of elegance? Prayers don’t have to be long, nor do they have to be filled with big words; just talk to the Lord about your needs and keep it simple.
Stay away from vain repetition
So, I touched on not doubting and trusting in the Lord when it comes to prayer before we jumped into the scripture of our lesson. Well, you can’t be taught about prayer without trust coming up.
When Jesus had finished teaching what we call the “model prayer”, He shared a very brief parable to teach about our thoughts when it comes to prayer. You see, many people are of the belief that they are to pray only at certain times to the Lord. Many people believe that they are to go pleading and begging to the Lord for what they need.
Now, before I jump into the parable, I do want to share with you that the Lord already knows our needs before we even go to Him in prayer (Matt. 6:8). As Jesus taught the disciples on the sermon on the mount, when we pray to the Father, we should not use vain repetitions as those who worship idols; again, just keep it simple – get to the point (Matt. 6:7).
The thought of vain repetitions puts me in mind of how the prophets of Baal repeatedly cried out to him with no answer when Elijah challenged them on Mount Carmel (1 Kgs. 18:26). They cried out for Baal to “hear them” from morning to evening and Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry louder .. either he is meditating, or he is busy, or he is on a journey, or perhaps [Baal] is sleeping and must be awakened (1 Kgs. 18:27).”
In the illustration of the unexpected friend, Jesus shared an example of one going to visit their friend at midnight for some food (vss.5-8). Of course, with it being at midnight, nobody will want to deal with an unexpected visitor, not even a friend! So, the one, Jesus said, will say to the other, ‘I can’t help right now, come back later.’ Eventually this friend would relent due to the other continuing to knock on the door in need of help because, at the end of the day, they’re a friend.
Again, with the thought of vain and repetitive prayer in mind, Jesus tells the disciples that God isn’t like that friend you have to beg to give you something. Jesus says, “ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you (v.9).” God, we should understand, is not busy, nor is He on a journey, nor is He asleep; God is always attentive to the prayer of faith and will always move on your behalf.
Believe and you will receive
Again, we must trust when it comes to prayer – we cannot doubt. As John said in his first epistle, we must be confident and know that God hears us and that in whatever we ask, we have the petitions (1 John 5:15).
In teaching about prayer, Jesus tells the disciples here, “everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened (v.10). Something that I believe we must also understand in this teaching is God’s answers to our prayers. When it comes to the prayer of faith, without doubting, the Lord is going to give us a few answers that will always end up being a yes.
God, I have learned, will either give us an outright yes or the Lord will tell us to wait. Understand this, when the Lord tells you to wait, that is not a no; just wait on Him to move. You see, the Lord often tells us to wait because of timing or because in His other answer, He has something better planned for us.
Again, I want to make it very clear to you, when you are sincere in your prayers, the Lord is not going to turn you down. Jesus explains this when He says, “If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone (v.11)?” Absolutely not. The father is going to give his son a piece of bread and not a stone.
Jesus said to the disciples, “if you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him (v.13)!” God is going to give you the desires of your heart if your desires are to glorify His name through holy and righteous fruit (John 15:7-8).
So, when it comes to praying like Christ, we must pray out of sincere faith; we must fully trust in the Lord without doubting Him and our prayers. When it comes to prayer, you do not have to beg and plead and make vain repetitions because God will hear your prayers. To be clear, there is nothing wrong with being diligent in prayers but don’t pray as if God is not listening to you – trust in the Lord!