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Jesus’ Prayer Lesson – Part One

August 3, 2010

Have you ever asked God to teach you how to pray? I have. The disciples also asked Jesus how to pray. Jesus’ response, which we refer to as “The Lord’s Prayer” is recorded in Luke 11 and Matthew 6. Over the next three days we will examine these two passages.

Today, we will consider the general principles Jesus gave about how to pray and how not to pray that are found in the passages immediately surrounding this model prayer. Then tomorrow and the next day we will break down the prayer itself as a guide for our own prayer life.

“Lord, teach us to pray.”

The timing of the disciples’ request is not insignificant. Luke 11:1 tells us that Jesus Himself had been praying. When He finished, one disciple, acting as spokesman for the group, asked Jesus to teach them to pray like He prayed. Jesus’ example and His relationship with the Father had fostered a desire for the same within the disciples. (This truth made me ask myself: “Does my prayer life foster a desire in my children, friends, and family to pray?”)

Motivation

Jesus’ teaching on the proper attitude regarding prayer is similar to His teaching about giving to those in need, which is found in Matthew 6:1-4. In a nutshell, He tells us to examine our motives. Are we praying to bring glory and honor to ourselves or to God? Spiritual “hypocrites” pray to gain respect for themselves and admiration from others. They want others to know how “righteous” they are.

Jesus also told the disciples not to “keep babbling” when they pray. I love the KJV’s translation of “vain repetitions” in Matthew 6:7. Jesus did not mean we shouldn’t ever repeat requests or specific prayers to God. Instead, He wanted us to understand that reciting prayers without meaning or using flowery speech to call attention to ourselves does not bring glory to God.

Prayer done with the right motives is all about God. This kind of praying is sincere and heartfelt. We will not attempt to hide anything from God because we realize He knows it all anyway. We will be focused on God alone and not distracted by other people or things around us.

Boldness & Persistence

Jesus told a parable immediately following His model prayer. (See Luke 11:5-8.) While we should not equate God with the irritated neighbor we can learn principles for prayer from Jesus’ story. First, we can approach God with boldness in prayer. We do not have to hang back or fear His reaction. Jesus’ work on the cross makes it possible for us to “approach the throne of grace with confidence” (Heb 5:16). Second, we should be persistent in our prayers. Not voicing “vain repetitions” without meaning, but faithfully sharing your heart and needs with your heavenly Father, knowing He has the power and resources to answer.

Trust in the character of God

Finally, in Luke 11:11-13, Jesus reminds us of the character of the One to whom we pray. If earthly fathers give good gifts to their children, how much more will our heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him? Brothers and sisters, we can fully trust that our heavenly Father has our best interests at heart. He does not hesitate to give us what we need and pour out His blessings on those who ask. Let’s ask!

Do you trust Him? Does your prayer life reflect that trust?

Come back tomorrow for Part Two of The Lord’s Prayer.

Blessings,  Kathy

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13 Comments leave one →
  1. August 3, 2010 9:06 am

    Great insights, Kathy! I recently read The Lord’s Prayer by R.T. Kendall, and I have heard a number of sermons recently on the topic. I love how God uses multiple sources to hit home with a topic He wants us to understand better. I love the emphasis on trust that you pointed out – we can trust God to provide whatever we need, knowing that He already knows we need it! I’m teaching on prayer this fall, so I look forward to reading more of your insights over the next few days!

    • August 3, 2010 9:22 am

      Thanks Ashley! The Lord does seem to repeatedly throw things at me He wants me to get. He knows that sometimes I’m not a fast learner and I need it reinforced again and again. But when that starts happening I know I’d better listen up.

  2. August 3, 2010 12:00 pm

    Great Post! Lots of thoughts to ponder. I long for a prayer life that is ALL GOD. I get really frustrated with myself sometimes, when I finish praying and realize I wasn’t even engaged in the conversation.

    I’m like Ashley, as of late. I’ve been seeing a theme in what pops up for me to read. This is a very timely thread of posts this week. Thanks again Kathy!

    ~Blessings~
    Marita

    • August 3, 2010 1:58 pm

      Marita, I certainly struggle with the same thing – staying engaged in the conversation with God! I’m praying we can all be encouraged by each other!

  3. August 3, 2010 1:05 pm

    “Vain repetitions” … that phrase has stood out in my mind for years. I think sometimes it’s so easy to get caught up in the “current” prayer jargon and lose sight of the hunger for God that transcends words.

    Those moments, when all words have vanished and all that is left is pure longing, when the Holy Spirit has freedom in my heart and my mind to make my groanings into fragrant offerings … those are the moments I long for.

  4. August 3, 2010 1:59 pm

    Thanks Teri Lynne. I think we all long for that. You put it beautifully!

  5. August 3, 2010 4:25 pm

    That moment when the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray is one of their shining moments. I love it that they had been with Him for 3 years and still asked Him to help them know how to pray. And I love the example that Jesus was in prayer.

    Such great insights we will never “finish” understanding as we learn to communicate with our Lord. Thanks for getting this theme off to a great start Kathy.

  6. stephanieshott permalink
    August 3, 2010 5:36 pm

    Kathy,
    This is a great post. I loved how you brought up our motivation. Sometimes we find ourselves praying because it’s something we’re ‘supposed’ to do or perhaps because we want to check it off our good-little-Christian to-do list. But seeing our Heavenly Father as our Father…the One who delights in spending time with us, helps us to want to pray…just for the sake of spending time with Him.

  7. August 3, 2010 7:47 pm

    I love this post… I’ve been asking God frequently lately to teach me to really pray, to be a woman of prayer, not just a woman who prays!! Looking forward to learning from all of you!

  8. August 4, 2010 1:13 am

    I so needed to read this tonight. I especially like what you said about our Heavenly Father giving us good gifts…maybe that is why some of my prayers are not answered…

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    • August 4, 2010 8:43 am

      Iris, I have loved studying this. I’m so glad our Father wants what is best for His children because I would mess it up every time!

Trackbacks

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