Teach Us to Pray

Luke 11:1-4 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.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say:

“Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread,
and forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.”

This prayer, and the longer version recorded in Matthew 6:9-13, is a model for how we should pray. We are to pray in like manner as this, but we don’t have to say these exact words.

In fact, before Jesus instructed his disciples in how to pray, he warned his disciples against praying like the hypocrites in their “vain repetitions” (Matt. 6:7). For, it would be in vain if all we do is just say the words, but we don’t really mean them, or if we are just reciting the prayer as a religious ritual or custom, just giving lip service to God, if our hearts are far from him.

I hear some people say, too, that we have to pray just to the Father, and we have to say “Father.” But, God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and Jesus is our mediator between us and the Father, i.e. he is our high priest. And, Jesus and the Holy Spirit both intercede for us in prayer to the Father. Other scriptures, too, say for us to pray to the Lord, and to God, and in the Spirit, and in Jesus’ name. So, we don’t have to say the word “Father.”

The most important thing is that we are praying to the one true God, and then that what we are praying comes from our hearts, in all sincerity, and that our prayers are in accord with God’s will and purposes for our lives, i.e. that what we are praying for is what is God’s good for us, and that our prayers are not selfish in nature seeking to fulfill our sinful pleasures.

So, when we pray, we are to do so in a way that honors God for the holy God that he is. He is not some genie in a bottle there to grant us our every desire. He is holy, righteous, just, pure, trustworthy and all powerful, all knowing, and present everywhere. And, he is completely sovereign over all that he has made. So, we are to give him our awe, our respect, our reverence and our obedience and submission to his will for our lives.

And, we should pray for things that would bring him honor and praise or for what can be used for his glory and honor, and for our ultimate good, as God defines good. And, we should pray for our basic needs to be met, and for us to not fall into temptation, but there we must cooperate with God. We can’t expect God to keep us from falling if we are willfully playing with sin and if we are giving the devil a foothold in our lives by tempting fate, basically.

And, we should pray for forgiveness of sins, but there we must repent of our sins as a prerequisite to forgiveness, and we must walk in the light that God gives us, and according to the Spirit of God, if we want to be forgiven and saved from our sins and have eternal life with God (Lu. 9:23-25; Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 6:7-8). And, we must forgive others who sin against us, too. This is imperative!

Luke 11:5-13 ESV

And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs.

And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Here we are taught, regarding prayer, that we need to be persistent, bold, and faithful in prayer. Also, we should not be superficial or half-hearted in our prayers to God or give up easily if our prayers are not immediately answered. For, some prayers may not be answered in the way we had hoped, perhaps even in our lifetime. But, we need to persist in prayer and not lose faith or hope of our prayers being answered, even if the answers are long in coming.

A second thing I noticed about this is that the prayers are for legitimate needs and what is for our good, as God defines good. Again, too many people have this false picture of God as some kind of genie in the sky who we go to with our “wish lists.” But, we are not to pray for what is going to satisfy our selfish desires or for our sinful pleasures to be fulfilled.

So, when we read “ask and it will be given to you,” we need to read this in context. It is not only talking about asking about legitimate needs, and asking for what is for our good, as God defines good, but it is talking about asking for the Holy Spirit of God, and he will give us his Spirit.

So, what does that mean? It will mean different things to different people, based on their theology, but let me share with you what I believe scripture teaches on this subject of receiving the Holy Spirit.

From the book of Romans forward, in the New Testament, what we are taught with regard to the Holy Spirit, is that when we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, we are then indwelt with the Holy Spirit. When we receive Jesus to be our Lord and Savior, via dying with him to sin that we might live with him to righteousness, we receive his Holy Spirit into our hearts/lives.

The Holy Spirit then empowers us to live godly and holy lives pleasing to God and to be bold in our witness for Jesus Christ and his gospel. He strengthens, encourages, comforts, instructs, counsels, and guides us in the way of the cross of Christ, and in the way of Jesus Christ and his gospel, and in the way of holiness. He gives us spiritual gifts, too, to be used for the glory of God within the body of Christ, God’s church, to encourage and help strengthen our brothers and sisters in the Lord.

Then, in our Christian walks, as we are putting sin to death daily, by the Spirit, and we are walking according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God, we are being filled with the Spirit of God in our lives and empowered in our walks of faith to do the kinds of things Jesus did when he walked the face of this earth (See: Eph. 4-5).

So, if we are asking God for the Holy Spirit, we are initially asking to be saved from our sins by God’s grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, and then we are indwelt with the Holy Spirit.

If, after we have received Christ as Savior and Lord, and we now have the Spirit of God living within us, we pray for the Holy Spirit, then we would be praying for the empowerment or guidance of the Spirit in our lives, or for some special filling to be bold in our witness for Christ or for his empowerment in ministry and in the usage of spiritual gifts. Or we might pray for strength or courage when up against the forces of evil coming against us, too. And, these would also be “good gifts.”

God is With Us

An Original Work / June 11, 2019
Based off Psalm 46

God’s our refuge. He is our strength,
A present help to us when in pain.
Therefore, we will not be afraid,
Although the earth beneath us gives way.

Though the mountains be moved to the sea,
Roaring waters abound so free,
And the mountains now tremble so,
We will not fear, God is near, we know.

God is with us and He makes glad
The hearts of all who to Christ have fled.
Christ is in us, so we’ll not fall
When on our Savior our hearts do call.

God will help us, as mornings arise,
To be faithful to His design.
Nations raging, and tempers flare.
Our God is with us. We know He cares.

Come and see the works of the Lord.
He’s armed for battle with His great sword.
He’s the Word, and He is the Life.
He gives us strength in all of our strife.

Be still and know that He is our God.
He’s exalted where’er He trods.
The Lord Almighty, with us still;
The God of Jacob, our citadel.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

6 thoughts on “Teach Us to Pray

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