Have you noticed how many people talk about prayer. It is common in some circles when one of your relatives or friends is in the hospital to ask you to pray for them. Ministers are always talking about the importance of praying. Little children are often taught to say their prayers at bedtime.
There are other friends who never mention prayer. These friends do not attend church, or make any mention of religious affiliation. Are we to assume these friends never think about God, or church?
There is an old saying that people seem to honor that says, "Avoid talk about politics and religion." These matters are so personal that people are shy about discussing or broaching the subject.
This little post is to say a word about prayer for any who might be interested. Jesus certainly prayed. He prayed a lot. His disciples were so inspired by observing Him in prayer that they asked Him to teach them how to pray.
The fact that they asked this of Him makes me know that there must be a formula or some set of rules to successful prayer. This thought was confirmed when I see that Jesus responded to their request by giving them the words to a simple, but powerful prayer. Here is the prayer Jesus taught His disciples. Since these words are found in our Bible we must assume He intended all of us could benefit from the instruction. One of the disciples is speaking and asks Jesus about prayer. Let's listen in on this conversation found in Luke's Gospel, Chapter 11.
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.
Apparently John had spent quality time with his disciples and actually taught them the best way to pray. John the Baptist was very popular in certain Jewish circles. He certainly was a crowd drawing celebrity. People from miles around would follow him out into the wilderness to hear him preach and watch him baptize his converts. Perhaps his disciples were observed praying. This impressed the disciples of Jesus and they now are seeking His advice on prayer.
Jesus did not seem to hesitate and immediately shared the following little prayer with them. This prayer seems to be a formula that He would have them use and it was recorded in the Bible for us to use.
"And he (Jesus) said unto them (His disciples), When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. They kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day our daily bread. 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." Luke 11:2-4
We learn from this lesson that you are to pray to a person. In this case Jesus is telling His disciples to pray to Jesus' Father who was in Heaven. "Our Father" is the way He instructed them to address God. He is letting all of us know that prayer is a "say" matter. You are to speak the words or form the words in your mind. "When ye pray, say." Jesus let's His followers know that His Father has a wonderful and powerful Name, therefore it should be "Hallowed." We are not to be careless or flippant by using God's Name in vain. We are to treat the heavenly Father with reverence and respect and love.
We should learn to ask for specific things. In this example Jesus is teaching them to call on God, the Father for His kingdom to come to earth. It was not then on the earth, but the prayer implies it would be coming. "Thy kingdom come."
The Old Testament teaches that the kingdom of David would one day be rebuilt or return to the earth. That kingdom has been missing for a long, long time. Jesus was on the earth with a mission to reestablish that long, lost kingdom of David. So He was right to have His disciples to pray for the return of the kingdom.
Then Jesus infuses His prayer with a remarkable request. "Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth." Remember Jesus came from Heaven to earth. So He knows how things operate in Heaven. He is letting His disciples in on a powerful truth. That truth was this. In Heaven God's will was always done. Heaven is an orderly place. Jesus calls for the same kind of order down here. He is saying, "Just as your will is always done in Heaven, we want the same here." Earth will be one more great place to live when this takes place. Jesus had every intention of ushering in that Heavenly Order and He would be the King. The only problem, the Jews would have to agree to it. They would have to recognize Him as their King and surrender their will to His.
His prayer teaching continues when He says, "Give us day by day our daily bread." Verse 3. Now Jesus is teaching His disciples that it is appropriate to ask God to provide us things. Things that we need. Things that we might want. In this case He uses the term, "daily bread." In other words He is saying ask for your daily needs or wants.
If Christians would get in the habit of praying this prayer every day before they start their day, then God could be given the credit for providing our food, our clothes, our fun and every thing we obtain. After all, we could not do one thing without His help. He gives us the very air we breath. It would be a wonderful thing to give God credit for it all. Honor Him with our requests and acknowledge that it is He that provides everything we have.
Then Jesus says, "Forgive our sins." There is no question that God forgave our sins when we became a Christian. That's a given. But what about our daily sins? Those things we do that detract from our testimony. Those things we fail to do that we know should be done. Sins of omission and sins of commission. Jesus is saying we should daily ask God to cleanse us from whatever contaminates us in our walk and in our practice. He also wants us to forgive those who sin against us. In fact if we are not willing to forgive them, we should not expect Him to forgive us. We should also pray for God to guide us away from temptation. Help us avoid those situations that would make us confront temptation to do wrong. If we avoid trouble, that's a whole lot better than trying to get ourselves out of trouble. God can and wants to help us avoid such sins. He can actually deliver you from evil.
I encourage you to read this simple prayer that Jesus taught His disciples. You will become a better Christian when you learn to pray like His disciples were taught. May God grant you His wisdom to study this prayer and to incorporate it into your daily practice.
Visit my blog, Salvation Links for additional material on prayer, the Christian life and all kinds of spiritual resources to help you grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord. The Bible teaches that salvation is of the Lord. http://www.salvationlinks.com