Samuel Chadwick was a prominent evangelical pastor of the late 1800’s in Scotland. He had some time-tested quotes. One of them was, “The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. Satan fears nothing from prayer-less Bible studies, prayer-less work, and prayer-less religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray.”
Take it to heart. All of us know the importance of prayer. But like the disciples, who I’m sure had seen Jesus countless times praying, we want to be led by the hand to see the pattern of prayer modeled by no other than Jesus Himself.
Everyone who has attended college knows about introductory courses usually meant for freshman. These courses are the basic “101” series. They are important fundamentals for future courses in the same knowledge area. They are basic prep classes and rudimentary. English lit 101, Chemistry 101, Economics 101, Political Science 101, or whatever. Here, we have “How To Pray 101”.
Nobody has ever mastered prayer. Most of us would probably cringe to actually see the amount of time we pray every day compared to other things we do that are important to us. I am convinced that we spend much more time on our physical and mental health, then we do our spiritual health, through which prayer is a conduit. Jesus knew and knows that about our present fragility. As I said last week, Jesus never had to teach his followers how to preach or evangelize, but fundamentally how to pray.
In Luke 11:1-13, Jesus teaches us that prayer is a basic priority. Jesus had been praying “in a certain place”. You can just see the disciples “wowed” by Jesus’ prayer life. When Jesus stopped praying, only then did they interrupt the great I AM.
Jesus taught the disciples the basic prayer (The Lord’s Prayer) in Luke 11:2-4. He repeats it in Matthew 6:9-13, so it is IMPORTANT. It is not the exact same, so that is a hint to us that there is no ritual in prayer. Rituals always start out “well meaning”, no doubt. But ritual loses steam after a while. The mind goes on auto-pilot mode, and the words can lose sustenance. Be careful about this point.
That’s why I love Psalm 33:3a, where it says, “Sing to Him a new song..”, and I emphasize NEW. Same in prayer. Freshness and Renewal. Key. Jesus said, “Do it like this”:
Our Father– “Our” shows that prayer belongs among the people of God. Jesus assumed that people would not only prayer in solitude, but also that they would be praying together.
In Heaven– He is a God of power and might. Psalm 115:3 says “that He does whatever pleases Him.” The power to change people and redeem them is where God’s power is really unleashed. Paul emphasizes this point in his doxology at the end of the first part of Ephesians. (3:20) “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
Bill Hybels says, in his book Descending into Greatness, “We must act on the promise that God can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13). It sounds impossible. Scary. But God promises power along the way.” Incredible attribute of our Creator God. And the power to resurrect us from the dead! (1 Corinthians 6:14)
Hallowed by Your Name– Jesus points to the absolute holiness (Hallowedness) of the Father. Name means that God’s entire character is set apart. That’s why God hates sin. And He demands the same of us. “Be holy, because I am holy,” Peter quotes this verse from Leviticus 11:44 in his own book in 1 Peter 1:16.
Model for Pray 101….. to be continued next week