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Sunday, April 18, 2010

[Matt's Messages] "Jesus Teaches Us to Pray"

“Jesus Teaches Us To Pray”
Certain of Jesus:  The Gospel of Luke
April 18, 2010
Luke 11:1-13

The Lord Jesus was a man of prayer.

The Gospels tell us again and again that Jesus withdrew from the crowds to pray.

He stole away and prioritized time with His heavenly Father.

The Lord Jesus was a man of prayer.

And His disciples could see it.  They knew that Jesus was a man of prayer, a man with a hotline to God, a man with a special relationship with God.

The Lord Jesus was a man of prayer, and His disciples wanted to know how to pray like Him.   V.1 again.

“One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.’”

“John the Baptist taught his disciples to pray.

We are your disciples.  Teach us to pray.”

And Jesus agrees.  Jesus would like nothing better than for His followers to know how to pray.

“Jesus Teaches Us to Pray”

Notice that this instruction in prayer immediately follows Jesus’ gentle rebuke of Martha saying that she was upset and worried about many things. But only one thing is needed–sitting at Jesus’ feet. Spending unhurried, uninterrupted, priority-time, lingering with Jesus.  And that’s the kind of time that Jesus spent with His Father in prayer.

And now Jesus teaches His disciples (and us) to pray.

Jesus Teaches Us to Pray

And there are three lessons in this class.

Jesus Teaches Us to Pray:

#1. BY GIVING US A MODEL TO USE.

What do we normally call verses 2, 3, and 4?

We normally call that “the Lord’s Prayer.”

And by that, we mean that the Lord gave it to us.

But it wasn’t the Lord’s Prayer in the sense that He prayed it.  It’s the prayer that He gave His disciples.  Us.

So, it might be better to call it the Disciples’ Prayer.

Our prayer.  Because it’s a model for all of us to use.

Notice that it’s good for anyone to pray.  It’s not just for new Christians or old Christians.  Or just for adults or just for kids.

It’s a prayer that any Christ-follower can (and should) use to pray.

You probably noticed when I read it to you that it sounds different in Luke than it does in Matthew.  That’s probably because Jesus taught about prayer at different times and in slightly different ways.

Good teachers repeat themselves often and make changes in their presentations to really get their points across.

And I think that’s another good reason not to just use this prayer as a liturgical prayer where you pray it word for word.  Praying the exact words, “Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come...” etc.

We can do that.

But more importantly, we should use this prayer as a MODEL.  As an example. As a template to fit our prayers into.

Jesus is a master teacher.  And He doesn’t just give us a prayer to repeat, but a template prayer to fit our particular heart-prayers into.

Jesus teaches us to pray by giving us a model to use.

And the question is: Do we use it as a model?  Do you use it as a model for your prayers?

Do you pray, “Father,” when you talk to God?

Not that you can’t use other words to address God, but do you use that word, “Father” and all that it means?

It means that we, who belong to God, are His children.  And God is, in a special way, our Father!

He is both authoritative (FATHER!) and personal (Daddy!) in our lives.

This word “Father” suggests authority and intimacy at the very same time!

Do you call God “Father” when you pray?

Do you pray “hallowed be your name?”   You might not use that word, “hallowed.”  We don’t use that word in normal English these days.

But we do say, “Holy.”

Do you pray to God as holy and ask that His name be holy?

My kids and I have been learning about this prayer at breakfast each day for the last few weeks.

And we have a catechism question that goes like this, “Why do we pray, ‘Hallowed by thy name?’” And the answer is, “We pray ‘Hallowed by thy name’ because we want God to be loved and His name to be special.”

Yes!  That is what we want.  Is that what we want?

Do we pray it?

Sometimes, I just dive right into my grocery list of prayers.

“Lord, I need help.  Lord, please heal my mother-in-law.  Lord, help me with this sermon.”

Those are all good things to say to God.

But do I call him more than just “Lord?”

Do I call Him “Father?”

And do I say, “I want your name to be special.  I want you to be loved.  May your name be Holy!”

Do we use this prayer as a model?

Do we pray, “Your kingdom come?”

I told you last week about this book, A Praying Life by Paul Miller.

It is easily the best book I’ve ever read on prayer.

Chapter 17 is titled, “What we don’t ask for: ‘Your Kingdom Come.’”

Paul Miller says that we’re afraid to ask for the Lord’s Kingdom to Come because it means change:

“Change in others (too controlling, too hopeless), change in me (too scarey), and change in things I don’t like in our culture (too impossible).”

But Jesus invites us, challenges us, teaches us to pray for God’s Kingdom to come.

For things to change here to be like they are in heaven.

Here now in part and, someday, in whole!

Do you pray, “Your kingdom come?”

Don’t be afraid to ask for it!

Jesus gave this prayer as a model for us to learn how to pray.

And that includes verse 3.

“Give us each day our daily bread.”

This is a prayer of dependence.  Of neediness.

It declares to God that we need things–physical things. Daily bread.

Food on table.
Manna for today.
A job.
Shelter.
Help with my homework.
One good night’s sleep.

Real, physical, needy things.  And it’s looking God for those.

We depend on God each day for everything.

God is inviting us to ask Him for our daily bread.

What do you need right now?

What do you need right now?

Are you asking God for it?

Have you mentioned it to the King of the Universe?

Or have you thought that you wouldn’t bother him with your little need?

And you’d take care of it on your own.  Or hope that someone might notice.

Jesus teaches us to pray by using this model.

“Give us each day our daily bread.”

Ask Him!

One of the reasons why He likes to give daily bread is to keep in touch with us daily.

If we need bread each day, then we’re more likely to seek Him each day.

But our needs are deeper than just physical.  We also have very spiritual needs. V.4

“Forgive us our sins, for we forgive everyone who sins against us.  And lead us not into temptation.”

Here’s the biggest battle of our lives.  Not with being fed, but being holy ourselves.

The fight with sin.

We need both God’s forgiveness and His power to resist temptation.

This is a prayer foo our hearts.

For forgiveness, because we cannot pay cost our sins deserve.

Only Jesus could pay that cost. And He did on the Cross.

And because of that payment, God can say, “I forgive you.”

And forgiven people are forgiving. That’s why we tell God that we will forgive those who against us.  Forgiven people are forgiving.

And “lead us not into temptation.”

Do you pray that?  Do I?

Asking God to guide us around temptation and keep us out of harm’s way?

This is a prayer that God would give me the power to say, “No!” to the temptations that want to come my way.

What are your besetting temptations?

Anxiety?
Lust?
Rage?
Gossip?
Worry?
Bitterness?

Have you asked God recently to keep you from your temptations?

I don’t know about you, but I pray, “Forgive me my sins” much more often than I pray, “lead me not into temptation.”

We need to use this prayer as a model!

Not just sing it in worship services!  That can almost lose the force of what kind of a prayer this is.

This is a prayer about my heart’s desire being for a Holy Father and His Kingdom to Come and my neediness for both daily needs and eternal needs, physical needs and spiritual needs.

And I need to use this prayer as a model for all of my prayer.

And not just me alone.

Did you ever notice the personal pronouns in this prayer are plural?

It’s not “my” daily bread, ‘my sins,” lead “me” not into temptation.

What is it?

It’s “our” daily bread, “our sins,” lead “us” not into temptation.

This is a community prayer.  This is a prayer for the church together.

That’s why we don’t just pray alone.  We pray as families.  As Link Groups.  As Sunday School Classes.  As a Prayer Meeting.

We pray for each other.  And we pray together.

Jesus teaches US together to pray using this model prayer.

And then in verse 5, Jesus tells a story to encourage us to keep praying.  Not pray once and then just give up, but to persevere in prayer.

Jesus Teaches Us to Pray:

#2. BY ENCOURAGING US TO KEEP ASKING.

Listen to His story in verses 5-8.

“Then he said to them, ‘Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.' [That’s a huge problem in the middle East because of their emphasis on hospitality.  This man is in trouble if he can’t locate some food for his guest.]   ‘Then the one inside answers, 'Don't bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can't get up and give you anything.'  I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man's boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs.”

Who are we in this story?

We’re the needy neighbor, right?

Who is the one who is like God in this story?

It’s the bother neighbor, isn’t it?

Because the bothered neighbor has what the needy neighbor is asking for.

And, Jesus says, that in the end, that bothered neighbor is going to get up in the middle night and supply the need.

Why?  Because they are friends?  No, verse 8 says it’s not because they are friends.

But because (v.8) because of the needy neighbor’s “boldness” he will get up and give him as much as he needs.

Now, catch this.

Is Jesus saying that God is bothered by our prayers?  That God sometimes answers like a grumpy sleepy old man?

No.  Jesus is arguing from the lesser to the greater.

God is not like this man. God never sleeps.  God is never bothered.

God is doesn’t complain when He gives good gifts to His children.

He’s only like this man in one way–He will give the needy neighbor what He needs when He comes knocking.

He answers prayer.

So, what’s the point?  Let me put it this way – just try to bother God.

Go ahead!  He wants to be bothered.

Knock!  That’s what Jesus says as the punchline in verse 9.

“‘So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”

All three of those verbs are present, active, indicative.  That’s just a Greek way of saying that they are all continuous.

Keep asking.  Keep seeking.  Keep knocking.

Be bold.

Just try to bother God!  That’s what He wants.

Jesus is encouraging us to keep asking.

Do you ever feel, I do, like you’re always asking God for things?

Paul Miller says in A Praying Life, “All of Jesus’ teaching on prayer in the Gospels can be summarized with one word: ask.”

Ask.  Don’t be afraid.  Don’t give up. 

Be bold.

Now, does that mean that Jesus will always give us what we ask no matter what?

No, I don’t think the Bible teaches that.

Sometimes we ask with the wrong motives.

And sometimes we’re asking for something that wouldn’t be best.

But all too often the mistake I make is not asking enough.

Keep asking. Keep seeking. Keep knocking.


“For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Jesus Teaches Us to Pray:

#3. BY ASSURING US OF GOOD ANSWERS.

Verse 11.

“‘Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?  Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?”

None of them!

If he asks for a Happy Meal, will you give him a cup of Draino?

No, we love our children, and we want to give them good things.

Well, that’s why we know God as Father.  Heavenly father.  V.13

“If you then, though you are evil [sinners], know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your [holy] Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!’”

He says “the Holy Spirit” because the power of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives is the greatest of great gifts purchased by the blood of Christ and generously poured out upon us by our loving holy heavenly Father.

And again, if He gives that gift, what good gift would He withhold?

Is God like an evil Father?

No, He’s the best of Fathers.  He is the Father of Fathers.

He is where all good Fatherhood gets its name.

So, yes, sometimes He will say, “No.  I’m your Dad. I know what’s best for you.”

But He loves to say, “Yes.  Here you go.  Here’s that thing you asked for.”

Why wouldn’t we ask?

I want my kids to ask me for good things.

Sometimes, I wear down with all of the asking.

But our Heavenly Father never does.

He never tires of us asking.
And He love to give good gifts to those who ask Him.

Especially the greatest gift–the Holy Spirit Gift Himself.

Ask!

Ask!

God loves to answer.

If were to open up a mic right now, and take half an hour, everyone here could come up to the microphone and tell us a story of a time when God answered your prayer.

Everyone of the Christ-followers here has at least one story to tell.

Why don’t we give God opportunity for us to have a lot more stories to tell?

Jesus is teaching us right now to pray.

Why don’t we? 

Let’s pray together!

_________________________
Messages So Far In this Series:

Certain of Jesus
The Back-Story of Jesus
The Birth of Jesus
Jesus - A Very Special Child
Preparing the Way for Jesus
Jesus Is the Son of God
Jesus in Galilee
Jesus and the Sinners
Jesus Brings Real Joy and Rest
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part One
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Two
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Three
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Four
Amazing Jesus
Disappointed with Jesus
Loving Jesus Much
Jesus' Real Family
Jesus Is Lord
Who Is Jesus?
Following Jesus
Sent By Jesus
Q&A With Jesus
Sitting at Jesus' Feet
Jesus Teaches Us to Pray

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