How Jesus Prayed
This morning I want us to just look at the first verse in Luke 11. Then in the few weeks we will look at some of the ways Jesus prayed and what He taught His disciples.
Luke 11:1 (NIV)
1 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."
- Prayer can be strenuous and frustrating, mentally and physically demanding.
- I think the disciples may have been struggling with the art of prayer. They didn’t ask Jesus how to preach or teach, but they recognized how they needed help with prayer.
I believe that prayer is a spiritual discipline that needs to be developed in our lives. It is something that we can learn to do even though it appears to be something that comes naturally to all of us. Just because it comes naturally to us does not mean that we shouldn’t learn how to pray.
Let me give you a simple analogy. There are some individuals that things just come naturally to. There are some people that have natural talents – maybe in music or drawing. When I was in college there was a guy who was phenomenal on the piano. He could play a hymn on one hand and another hymn on the other hand at the same time. Don was a natural he could hear a song once and then could play it. With all that natural talent and ability he could have sat back and rested in his giftedness but instead he was a music major who wanted to learn more than what just came naturally to him.
Our son Josh is a natural athlete – he could play anything and excel at it. I on the other hand was not a natural athlete – I had to learn the fundamentals and had to practice. I served in a town that was a bedroom community to Erie, PA and there was a guy who was playing basketball for the University of Pennsylvania. Jed Ryan was an awesome basketball player and his mother was the choir director of our church. Now I am big college fan and try to watch March Madness – basketball tournament. I watched Jed Ryan hit five 3 point shots and score 22 points and almost upset beat Florida. His mother said he had the height and natural talent. But he didn’t make it on just the natural talent. He made it on practicing the fundamentals every morning and every night. They even built an outside court which was heated so he could practice in the winter. His sisters, mother and father would feed him the ball so he became an accomplished shooter. For Jed it was learning the correct fundamentals and then practicing. It was all about learning and practicing and you know what that is true when it comes to prayer also.
Whether you are a mechanic, a doctor, a musician or a disciple of Christ we have to be learners. A synonym of disciple is student or learner. To be like Christ in our prayers takes a hunger to learn and a passion to practice.
Luke mentions that Jesus was "praying in a certain place" (11:1), when the disciples approached Him concerning prayer. It may be that our Lord’s example of prayer brought into contrast their lack of an effective prayer-life. Seeing the deficiency of their prayers, they asked for help. Although the need to pray is natural for believers, human weakness calls for Jesus to teach us to pray.
- In our passage for today (Luke 11:1) the disciples saw Jesus praying, as was His habit, and they asked Him to teach them how to pray. Why?
- Could it be that they put two-and-two together? After all, they had seen him do many miracles like feeding the 5000; walking on the water; calming the raging sea.
- They had heard Him teach incredible truths about the Kingdom of Heaven, and had even seen Him raise Jairus’ dead daughter.
- They were looking at Jesus and wondering how He did those miraculous things and how did the masses stick around to hear Him preach for hours.
They may have been saying to themselves, “Wow! I want to do what He’s doing and I want to know what He knows…
- And it seems He spends a lot of time in prayer before doing these things. Hmm! I wonder if there might be a connection here. Let’s ask Him!”
- How effective is our ministry compared with Jesus’ ministry? Maybe we aren’t as effective as the disciples became because we need to know how to pray also? Do you sense a need to learn how to pray the way our Master prayed? I do!
- Are Our Typical Prayers like a:
- Genie in the Bottle Prayers: “Our wish is God’s command.” “God, I want this and that and these and those!”
- Fire Extinguisher Prayers: Use only in the case of emergencies.
- Sales Pitch Prayers: trying to sell God on what is best to give us. We negotiate with God in an effort to get what we want!
- Religious Duty Prayers: “I have to pray. I ought to pray! It’s my duty!” These are boring, routine, empty, meaningless, guilt-trip prayers.
- Let me make it clear that as natural as communing with God seems we need to learn a few things about prayer. First, we are POWERLESS WITHOUT PRAYER. The first purpose of prayer is to help us to realize our DEPENDENCE ON GOD.
- In John 15:5 He tells us we are powerless on our own, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
- Jesus knew that His own strength and miraculous powers came from the Father that is why He spent so much time in prayer. Let me give you a couple of examples:
- In the gospel of Mark 9 we have the story of Jesus’ Transfiguration on a high mountain. He took Peter, James and John with Him but He left the others behind.
- When He came down from the mountain He found them surrounded by a large crowd arguing with them. When He gets them all calmed down Jesus discovers that the disciples weren’t able to cast out a demon in a man’s son. Jesus had the power they needed, but they were finding out that the disciple didn’t.
- So Jesus casts out the demon. And then after everyone is gone and the disciples have a moment with Christ alone they want to know why they were unable to cast out the demon and Jesus tells them ministry takes a lot of prayer. He says that “this kind can only come out by prayer.”
- Another example is when Jesus raised Lazarus from the grave. He prayed before calling Lazarus from the grave.
- We might have all the talent in the world but if it isn’t under-girded by prayer it is not going to accomplish God’s ministry the way God wants it without prayer.
- And, if He needed to pray, if He was dependent upon God through Prayer, we certainly should be as well!
- We need to be totally dependent on God and when we pray we admit our dependence and we access His Power. WE ARE POWERLESS WITHOUT HIM!
- Our RELATIONSHIPS With God Requires Prayer.
The Second Purpose of prayer is EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION WITH GOD.
- I heard someone make a comment about God and prayer saying that “Wouldn’t it be great if God would leave us a text message or better yet a voicemail? Then we might take notice of it.” But I believe God deserves more respect than that.
- God doesn’t need us to pray to give us what we need; He already knows our needs. He calls us to pray because He knows that if He just gave us what we needed without praying, we would never develop deep relationships with Him. We are designed to be in relationship with Him.
- God wants an intimate relationship with each one of us. And, in order to have intimacy in a relationship, Communication is Essential!
- “The three most important words for a successful relationship are Communication, Communication, and Communication.” (Empowering Couples)
- In order to know someone, we must communicate with them and that takes both talking and listening. We can’t get to know a person, how they think, and what they like and dislike, without communicating with them and that is true with God also.
- I try to touch base with my dad every day by phone – it is important for me to know that he is okay. And when I don’t get hold of him I become a little disturbed because I haven’t heard his voice. Just think how God feels when He doesn’t here from us. Do you enjoy being with Him? He enjoys being with us.
Harvie Neatherlin (Ten Principles Of Prayer) tells the story about an empty chair. A man’s daughter asked the pastor to come and pray with her father one day. When he arrived, he found the man lying in bed with an empty chair beside his bed. The pastor assumed the fellow had been informed of his visit. "I guess you were expecting me," he said. "No, who are you? I’m the new pastor," he replied. "When I saw the empty chair, I figured you knew I was going to show up. Oh yeah, the chair," said the man. "Would you mind closing the door? I’ve never told anyone this, not even my daughter," said the man. "But all of my life I have never known how to pray. At church I used to hear the pastor talk about prayer, but it always went right over my head. I abandoned any attempt at prayer," the old man continued, "until one day about four years ago my best friend said to me, "Joe, prayer is just a simple matter of having a conversation with Jesus. Here’s what I suggest.
Place an empty chair in front of you, and in faith see Jesus in the chair. It’s not spooky because he promised, "I’ll be with you always." Then just speak to him and listen in the same way you’re doing with me right now." "So, I tried it and I’ve liked it so much that I do it a couple of hours every day. I’m careful, though. If my daughter saw me talking to an empty chair, she’d either have a nervous breakdown or send me off to the funny farm." The pastor was deeply moved by the story and encouraged him to continue praying. Two nights later the daughter called to say that her daddy had died that afternoon. "Did he seem to die in peace?" he asked. "Yes, when I left the house he called me over to his bedside, told me one of his corny jokes, and kissed me on the cheek. When I got back from the store an hour later, I found him dead. But there was something strange, apparently, just before Daddy died, he leaned over and rested his head on a chair beside the bed." Joe became intimate with God through prayer, so he wanted to pray. We can have this same intimacy too. If you are having a difficult time with prayer maybe try the chair approach.
- Thirdly, God wants us to PETITION Him in Prayer - The Third Purpose of prayer is to MAKE OUR REQUESTS KNOWN TO GOD.
- In John 15:7 Jesus says, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.” This is a Blank Check drawn on the bank of Heaven and it is signed by Jesus Himself. God wants us to ask Him for what we want and need from Him.
- Philippians 4:6, “Make your requests known to God.” And James 4:2, ”You do not have because you do not ask.” God wants us to ask.
- And it says in John 16:24, “Ask and you will receive.” In Luke 11:9 Jesus says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” And James 4:2, ”You do not have because you do not ask.” God wants us to ask.
- Talking about my dad earlier – sometime in our conversation he always asks – Is everything okay? Do you need anything? And I find myself doing that with our Josh and Miriam too.
- God is doing that with us “anything you need son or daughter?”
- God has treasures He wants to pour out upon us; but they remain hidden from us simply because we won’t ask for them.
- Rick Warren tells the story of a guy who died and went to heaven. All over heaven were these warehouses. Inside there were these tremendous gifts, fantastic things, spiritual situations, homes, jobs, happy families, all kinds of neat gifts. The guy said, "Lord, what are all these gifts?" Jesus said, "There is a tag on every one of these gifts. And the tag says the same thing." So he goes over to look and reads, "Never asked for."
- Will you take the blank check from your bulletin today and fill it out right now? What do you want from God today? What do you need from Him? What treasure of His would you just like to have? Ask God for it today. He wants you to ask so He can supply it.
- Some of you might be thinking, “I’ve asked before and I didn’t get what I asked for.” Well, first of all, nobody wants to be presumed upon or taken for granted. Imagine if a friend just asked for stuff all the time but didn’t ever want to spend any time with you. They are just being a selfish brat! James 4:3 says, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” Be sure that your motives are right.
- God answers every prayer, but only in a way that will be a blessing to us. In his book, “Too Busy Not To Pray,” Bill Hybels explains what’s going on. He says,
- "If the request is wrong, God says, ’No.’
- If the timing is wrong, God says, ’Slow.’
- If you are wrong, God says, ’Grow.’
- But if the request is right, the timing is right, and you are right, God says, ’Go!’
- God can’t make these corrections to our requests until we make the selfish or wrong requests in the first place. God can’t make the changes He wants to make in us until we come to Him. We are often in need of changes that we can only become aware of when we come to God for something else. Prayer is how God makes these necessary changes.”
- “YOU ALL Work Together in Prayer - The Fourth Purpose of PRAYER IS TO COOPERATE WITH GOD.
- Jesus wants us to pray together, “Our Father. . .” This is our prayer to be prayed with one another. In teaching us how to pray He says to pray with one another for as we do we will care more for and about one another, which will unite us.
- I want to be a part of a Praying church; one that is:
- POWERFUL BECAUSE ITS DEPENDING UPON GOD;
- ONE THAT HAS AN INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD BECAUSE IT STAYS IN COMMUNICATION WITH HIM;
- ONE THAT APPEALS TO GOD IN PRAYER MAKING ITS REQUESTS KNOWN TO HIM;
- AND ONE WHERE EVERYONE IS COOPERATING WITH GOD AND WHERE GOD IS DOING SOME GREAT THINGS
- Will we be a praying church? One that is dedicated to praying with power for God’s will? Let’s start now.
(Sources: Rick Warren Sermon Series, Prayer Can Change Your Life – Sermon #1, The Four Purposes of Prayer; The NIV Application Commentary on Luke; Too Busy Not To Pray, Bill Hybels, PRAYING LIKE JESUS/Ten Principles Of Prayer by Harvie Neatherlin, Luke 11:1-11:13; Introductory message on Lord’s Prayer by Robert Leroe - Lord’s Prayer for His Disciples, "Lord, teach us to pray."; Preaching Now Internet Newsletter; Empowering Couples by David Olson)
Please click here for attached slides for the sermon.