Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Non-series Sermons by Year 2020 Sermons . Lord, teach us to pray

. Lord, teach us to pray

LORD, TEACH US TO PRAY

Look at Luke 11:1 (ESV) 1 Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”

During the last devotions we saw something of what prayer is from a Biblical standpoint, and we recognised that prayer can be difficult. Today we turn to verse 1 and we will look at the prayer life of Jesus and the request of His disciples.

Four things I want to point out from this one statement.

 

Firstly, He was engaged in private prayer.

I know on the basis of what prayer means, that Jesus was not limited to these events of prayer that are recorded, but that His prayer relationship with the Father was 24/7 365 days a year, whether He called on the Father while walking on the roads, or whether He went aside to wrestle with the Father in prayer.

He is praying in a certain place and when He has finished, His disciples say something to Him. So, they are waiting for Him to finish. So, Jesus prayed with His disciples at times, He prayed alone at times, and as I mentioned, I believe He was in constant fellowship with His Father, just as we are to do today. Prayer is not always, with your mouth moving, and by the way it does not have to be with your eyes closed.

We have prayer in the congregation, we have prayer with our families, we have prayer in small groups or between two individuals, we have prayer all day as we engage God as we go about our daily life, but we also have private prayer where I go aside and focus on God alone without any distractions, just me and the Lord. The duration of such prayer will be different depending on the circumstances.

Jesus taught about this private prayer time with God and said in Matthew 6:6 (ESV) “6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” He contrasted this with the prayers of the Pharisees who wanted to be seen.

2. He was engaged in concentrated prayer.

1 Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”

There is a beginning place and there is an ending place. This is a good reminder that even though Christ lived His life in constant union with His father, that He saw the need to go aside for whatever specific reason. We cannot make a case that this was like an early morning quiet time every morning, in spite of Mark 1:35-38 (ESV) 35 And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. 36 And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, 37 and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” 38 And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.”

If Jesus did it every morning, they would not be searching for Him, they would be waiting for Him. Jesus had constant communion with the Father, constant fellowship, constantly seeking to do the will of the Father, constantly in prayer, but then He took times to go aside for consecrated prayer. This should be the pattern in our lives as well. 24/7 365 days a year, but then times where you get alone with God. We even see these examples in the Old Testament. Let me give you one. Daniel 6:10 (ESV) 10 When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.” Daniel had a pattern, a discipline. We are not commanded that anywhere, but we see the importance of consentrated prayer.

3. He was engaged in strategic prayer.

I do not have time to unpack this. We just saw it in Mark 1:38: 38 And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” There are many examples where you will see strategic events and Jesus was praying just prior to those events. Before He appointed His apostles, He spent the night alone in prayer. I have found this in my own life, I have decisions to make that impacts on my life, and I just get quiet before the Lord. One of the places I love to pray, is when driving alone. I promise you that I do not close my eyes, I watch and pray. There are times when my simple 24/7 communication with God is not going to work, but I need to chat with God, ask Him for His blessing, rely on His guidance, wrestle with Him with sin I struggle with, just a deep desire to know the will of God, and that requires strategic prayer.

4. He was engaged in regular prayer.

You can have private prayer, consecrated prayer and strategic prayer, but it is so sporadic that you cannot claim a prayer life, where you are in constant awareness of God in your life, and the desire to know His will and provision.

This was true of Jesus. Matthew 14:23 (ESV) 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,” Luke 6:12 (ESV) 12 In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.” This is just the lifestyle of Jesus of Nazareth.

 

Now, notice the request of the disciples.

Luke 11:1 (ESV) 1 Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”

One comes, obviously speaking for the rest of them, as he says: “Lord, teach us..”

What does it evidence?

Firstly, it evidences a desire on their part.

They wanted to learn how to pray. They have heard many prayers in their lifetime. They have heard the traditional prayers of the scribes and the pharisees in the synagogues, but there is no doubt, that what they were exposed to in the prayer life of Jesus was radically different. I cannot even begin to imagine. Sometimes I listen to the prayer of a dear old saint of God and I feel so inadequate in my own talking to the Lord. Just think if I had to hear Jesus Christ, the perfect man in human flesh pray. One thing I can guarantee is that the prayer life of Jesus would not have been ritualistic or cold. It would not have been filled with pride like the prayers of the Pharisees. Matthew 6:5 (ESV) 5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.” That is not what characterized Jesus. His prayers were not empty, ritualistic, vain and mystical.

Matthew 6:7 (ESV) 7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.” So, not this meaningless repetition of words and phrases. The disciples have heard this cold, formal, ritualistic prayers, but not from Jesus. They realise in the prayer of Jesus that there is something that they want. There is something they want to learn. “Lord teach us to pray.”

Secondly, it evidences their understanding that prayer is important.

Do you see prayer as important? Do you see prayer as something you want to learn, or do you understand that you need to learn it? They do not just want information about prayer. There is a deep understanding to know how to pray. “Teach us to pray.” They want to learn how to engage God in prayer, they want to learn how to do this.

This is our need as well. We can give a lot of lessons about prayer, but we must realise that we need lessons in prayer. “Lord, teach us to pray.” Personally, I have done so many courses on prayer. I can spend a few minutes and tell you about them, but they all had one inherent problem. They were nothing but programs. Sure, the motives were good, it was really about prayer, but the fad died down. The model prayer of Christ will never die down.  I remember the one called “Change the world school of prayer” by Dick Eastman. The challenge here is that you pray an hour every day, according to a diagram designed by him. The hour is divided into 12 sections of 5 minutes each. You start at the same place daily and end at the same place. As valuable as it can be, I do not think this is the Lord’s intention for us. It is a choice, but not a choice that I find helpful. Prayer is not a programme; it is based on a living relationship with a living God. Just think if you did this on the level of human relationship.

Third, this request demonstrates humility.

They are admitting their need. They do not see their position as disciples as having arrived. Did you know that it is not a sin to be transparent about how we struggle, and not in just the matter of prayer, but in everything? You do not have to be a Christian that pretends that you have everything together. I am so grateful that I do not have it all together, and do not misunderstand me. If I had everything together, I do not need a Saviour, then I stand complete in my own righteousness. Am I sad that I do not have everything together? Of course, I am. I hate it when I sin, I hate it when I struggle in prayer, yet I rejoice that I have a Saviour who understands where I am at, as He was tempted in every way as we are, yet He did not sin, and therefore He could pay for mine. He is amazingly more gracious with us than we are with one another.

The church must be a place where I can struggle with my walk with God, this is where I need to grow. This is where I am equipped for a purpose? Ephesians 4:12-16 (ESV) “12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”

It is amongst God’s people that we feel our weakness, that we feel we are stumbling. This is where I need help.

So, we need it in every area, but just as much in the area of prayer. The disciples of Jesus were willing to acknowledge that they needed teaching in this regard. “Teach us to pray?” So, many times people say to me that they do not want to pray in public. Why, because they feel inadequate and maybe do not know how. To that we say. “Lord, teach us to pray”.

Fourth, in this request there is a belief in Christ’s willingness to help them.

They have to believe that there is a willingness on His side to help them with this, hence the request. John taught his disciples, so Lord, can you please teach us?

Fifth, this request evidences a teachable heart. A heart that is willing to learn.

How does Jesus respond. He gives them a model prayer. He gives them a template. Luke 11:2 (ESV) 2 And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come.”

Matthew’s account of the same event says in verse 9: “pray like this”.

The goal is not a prayer that you recite. But this prayer serves as a model, something that can me memorised, but with a much deeper understanding of what all the elements mean. It is something that we can memorise, and use, but we need to expand beyond it. We do not have any record of the apostles or the early church in Scripture praying it as is, but man, they had a good understanding of the deeper meaning of all those statements as recorded here and in Matthew. I pray that when we are through it, that we will do the same.

As we unfold it in the devotions to come you are going to see that it is rich and deep and pregnant with the glory of God, ready to spring forth life into your prayer life. So, it is simply a guide for our prayer life, and it informs our prayer life. Let, me just say this with regards to the extent of Christ’s teaching to them on the topic. We do not know just how much more Christ taught them on this. Remember the words of John in John 20:30-31 (ESV) 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” Not only signs, but words as well. If what is recorded in Scripture is all Christ said, wow, then He said very little.

So, it is not so much to be recited as understood. Luke 11:2-4 (ESV) 2 And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. 3 Give us each day our daily bread, 4 and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.”

I want to encourage you to memorise this. I think more of us have memorised Matthew 6 where we see Matthew’s version. But, memorise this, so that we can capture the thoughts together.

I want to wrap up with 2 questions, and three practical words of advice.

Question 1. Are you in a position where you know how to pray? Can you pray? Are you a genuine believer in the Lord Jesus Christ? If you are, this prayer is for you as it is the disciple’s prayer. Do you have a relationship with the true and living God? Then this prayer is for you. Do you have fellowship with God, are you in communion with God, but yet struggling to speak to Him? Then this prayer is for you. If you know God, you want to pray, but you cannot pray if you do not know God.

Sure, there is a prayer of a sinner coming to Christ, a prayer of repentance that is heard by God. The reason this happens is because the Holy Spirit births us from above, but until that has happened, we do not stand on praying ground as far as this prayer is concerned. There is no real fellowship, there is no real communion that can occur.

If you are not a child of God, then I can say to you on the authority of God’s Word. Be reconciled to God. God has done everything for you to be saved. He has given His only Son. Jesus is the Saviour who lives for us and who died for sinners like you and me. He was raised from the dead, bodily, He lives forever more. He is present with us in this building, and if you cry out with an honest heart, you will be saved. Be reconciled to God.

Now for everybody who says you are a believer. Here is my second question.

Question 2. Do you want to grow in your prayer life?

Do you identify with this heart cry? Do you have that desire? Be honest with yourself this morning. Do you have that desire, and is it a need in your life? Do you see the importance of it? Can you identify with the difficulties I mentioned? Do you believe that Christ is willing to help you? Are you ready for learning?

Let me give you three practical thoughts this morning.

  1. If you want to grow in prayer, have that desire, you see the need, and all the rest, here is a prayer you can pray. Ask Christ to teach you just as His disciples did. “Lord, teach me.”
  2. Make every effort to learn. Tune in to the daily devotions. Friends, it is a 15 minute a day investment into you walk with Christ. It is critical discipleship. This is what we are going to be wrapped up in for many devotions. All of them will just take you step by step deeper into understanding. Sure, I can preach this whole section in one sermon, and how much have you learnt? Simply one sermon’s worth which is inefficient. It will be sermonettes for Christianettes. It will be counterproductive to pray: “Lord teach me to pray”, and then not to take advantage of the opportunities to learn.

Tomorrow we are going to dig into this and have a corporate opportunity to learn, one of the greatest privileges of the Christian walk and that is communion with God.

  1. This is maybe the most important of all. Practice what you see in Christ and practice what you hear from Christ.

 

The disciple’s hearts were first touched by what they saw Christ doing. Practice what you see in Him. What is your 24/7 365 prayer life like? What are you concentrated prayer times like? Those times when you just need to go aside with the Lord to wrestle with an issue, where you are devoted to prayer? What are your strategic prayer times like? That time when you face major decisions and you need to discuss it with the Lord, that you can rest in wisdom from above, instead of wisdom from below. So, practice what you see in Christ. And then practice what you hear from Christ.

 

Tomorrow morning, we will start digging into what we hear in the Word of God about the prayer life of Jesus.

 

Amen!

Soli Deo Gloria

Logos Community Church – 18 October 2020