Daily D – Luke 11:1
He was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John also taught his disciples.”
LUKE 11:1 (CSB)
Jewish people in Jesus’ day who were serious about their relationship with God had many prayers to pray. The most well-known is called the Eighteen Benedictions. There were prayers aplenty for every circumstance. There were ritual prayers morning, noon, and night. There were ritual prayers for meals. There were ritual prayers for all kinds of ceremonies.
This unidentified disciple asks Jesus to teach them to pray. Why would he ask Jesus to do this? Just as “No man ever spoke like this!” (John 7:46), no man ever prayed like Jesus with results like Jesus. A quick tour of Jesus’ prayers and what happened next in Luke’s Gospel is instructive.
3:21: When all the people were baptized, Jesus also was baptized. **As he was praying**, heaven opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in a physical appearance like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well-pleased.”
How often do your prayers open heaven and demonstrate the reality and presence of the Trinity?
What happened next?
4:1, 2: Then Jesus left the Jordan, **full of the Holy Spirit**, and was **led by the Spirit** in the wilderness for forty days to be tempted by the devil.
4:14, 15: Then Jesus returned to Galilee **in the power of the Spirit**, and news about him spread throughout the entire vicinity. He was teaching in their synagogues, being praised by everyone.
Jesus overcame extreme hunger and temptation.
5:16: Yet he often withdrew to deserted places and prayed.
What happened next? Jesus healed a man lowered through the roof and placed in front of him.
6:12: During those days he went out to the mountain to pray and spent all night in prayer to God.
What happened next? Jesus chose his twelve disciples “whom he also named apostles,” (verses 13-16).
9:18: While he was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?”
What happened next? Peter made his great confession (verse 20). Jesus told them about his coming death and resurrection (verse 22).
9:28: About eight days after this conversation, he took along Peter, John, and James and went up on the mountain to pray.
What happened next? “As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly, two men were talking with him—Moses and Elijah,” (verses 29, 30).
Jesus apparently knew some things about prayer no one else shared. The results of his prayers were unparalleled. When Jesus prayed, things happened. That’s why this unnamed disciple asked Jesus to teach them to pray. Who would not want to learn to pray from the greatest pray-er ever?
Notice the prayer Jesus teaches in 11:2-4 is essentially the same as what he taught in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:9-13. Each of these prayers can be spoken in less than a minute. Each of them contains five petitions:
Honor God’s name
Seek his kingdom
Trust for daily bread
Deliverance from temptation
These are not magic words to memorize and recite. These are words that provide a daily checkup regarding what is most essential in our lives.
We are to know and experience God for who he is.
We are to help others do the same.
We are to trust God to provide wherever he should guide.
We are to be as generous in forgiving others as God has been in forgiving us.
We are to flee from temptation.
Which one of those ideas requires your focus right now?
Simple prayers prayed in faith believing that God hears and answers are powerful. Jesus’ brother James has some things to say along these lines in James 5:13-18.
It is not how many words you say
It is now how pretty you pray
To pray with full effect today
Ask Jesus to teach you the way
I will enroll in Jesus’ school of prayer.
Our Father, teach us to pray. Teach us to pray in faith believing that you hear and answer our prayers. Teach us to pray the kind of prayers that do not attempt to persuade you or impress others. Teach us instead to pray from a deep and abiding relationship with you that does not require magnificent demonstrations on our part. Teach us to pray simply, directly, and without ceasing. Remind us as often as necessary that prayer is not powerful, you are. Remind us that when we want what you want for us, your answer is always Yes. Yes, our Father in heaven, teach us to pray. Amen.
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Jonah 4:2, 3 So he complained to the Lord about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. Just kill me now, Lord! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.”
Joel 2:12, 13 That is why the Lord says, “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.”
Hosea 14:8, 9 “O Israel, stay away from idols! I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you. I am like a tree that is always green; all your fruit comes from me.” Let those who are wise understand these things. Let those with discernment listen carefully. The paths of the Lord are true and right, and righteous people live by walking in them. But in those paths sinners stumble and fall.”