This Week's Devotional
Putting the "P" in Prayer
Prayer has become very special to me over the last couple of years. There are several reasons for this, but two stand out: my health and stage of life. I have thought prayer was important for many years but recently God has drawn me closer to Himself through communion in prayer. I see the disciples interest in prayer heightened in Luke 11:1, “And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” The disciples had recognized that prayer should be a priority. They knew that John the Baptist had taught his disciples to prayer and they wanted Jesus to teach them. They also had observed the Savior praying but this was just one of many times they would see him pray. There are 15 times in the Gospels that we see Jesus praying and though some of these might be duplicates, it tells us prayer was a priority to the Lord.
Luke 11:2-4 says, “And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. (3) Give us day by day our daily bread. (4) And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.” In these verses Jesus gives his disciples in the 1st Century and I believe in the 21st Century a pattern for praying. Prayer expresses one’s belief about God better than any other spiritual discipline and here Jesus gives us a model prayer that has some key components. Jesus makes a point to start with “Our Father,” he wants us to know that the very heart of prayer is our relationship with God as His children. The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 8:14-16, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:” Throughout the New Testament, we see many references made that define the Christian’s relationship with God as His children. What a blessed thought to meditate on! Jesus instructs his disciples to pray to God as “Father” it is probable that Jesus always addressed God as Father, this is the New Testament witness except in one place in Mark 15:34, “my God, my God why hast thou forsaken me?” Isn’t that amazing the one place Jesus did not address God as Father was when he was atoning for our sins so we could call him “Father”! Jesus continues with the pattern of prayer in verses 2-4 by highlighting adoration for God in praise, agreement with God in confession and asking of God in our petitions. In this short pattern prayer Jesus covers the material and physical needs, moral and spiritual needs, and God’s protection and guidance. This is still a wonderful model for us to pray today.
Though the model prayer ends in verse 4, Jesus continues to teach on prayer through the following verse to help us in the right perspective of prayer. In verses 5-8 He continues,
“And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; (6) For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? (7) And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. (8) I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.” Here Jesus gives us the parable of the persistent friend. I believe it presents us with a contrast. Unlike the persistent friend God is ever-willing to answer our pleas for help according to His will. Phillip Brooks said, “Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance, it is laying hold of His highest willingness.” We will never bother, interrupt our heavenly Father, He loves us and is always open to our cries. The writer of Hebrews says in 13:4-5, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” We can go to God with persistence and boldness. Praise the Lord!
In Luke 11:9-10 Jesus says, “And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. (10) For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” I like to call this the present tense of prayer. All three verbs are in the present tense in the Greek language indicating we are to keep on asking, keep on seeking and keep on knocking! The context is our relationship with God as our Father and it should be constant ongoing prayer reflecting our ongoing communion and fellowship with God, as the Bible says, “pray without ceasing” 1 Thess. 5:17.
The last thing I want to point out in this passage is in verses 11-13, “If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? (12) Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? (13) If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” Here we see the wonderful promise of prayer. If sinful and imperfect fathers give good gifts, how much more will God our Father give us the best gift. And that best gift is the Holy Spirit of God! He redeems us, seals us, and lives within us. God has not just given us good gifts but the best gift, His indwelling Spirit! Prayer is a privilege for God’s children. May we take advantage of it to commune and draw closer to our heavenly Father.