Posts Tagged ‘Luke 11:1’

The Pattern and Practice of Prayer

February 26th, 2014

“Lord, teach us to pray.” Luke 11:1 NKJV.

Prayer can be your natural posture, priority, and practice, as it was for Jesus.

My thoughts and comments today are about “the pattern and practice of prayer.”

Communication is important. Mutual relationships and meaningful personal and social collaborations require effective communication. A few practical examples are: marriage demands considerate communication; parenting depends on clear communication; friendships rely upon frequent communication. Why would anyone presume that a growing relationship with God can successfully occur without frequent and meaningful interaction?

And how does such interaction with God occur? Let’s consider the practice of prayer as central to a healthy, growing spiritual life. There is no better example or place to begin than with Jesus. Prayer was Jesus’ posture, priority, and practice. The power of His prayers resulted from His practice of prayer. As His disciples observed the intimacy of His praying and were witnesses of the power of His prayers – speaking with indisputable authority, calming storms, healing all manner of sicknesses, casting out demons – they desired to pray as He did. “As Jesus was praying in a certain place, when He finished, one of His disciples said, ‘Lord, teach us to pray . .’” Luke 11:1 NIV.Like you, they wanted their prayers to make a difference in matters of concern to themselves and others. They wanted to be a force for God’s will, and believed their prayers could be that.

Prayer begins with a desire to be taught how to pray, accompanied with a devotion and discipline to actually pray. My friend, Rick, has given me a book of prayers drawn from the Puritan Movement, a religious phenomenon of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This morning, I read, “In prayer, I launch far out into the eternal world, and on that broad ocean my soul triumphs over all evils on the shores of mortality. In prayer, I find my heart going after Thee with intensity, and long with vehement thirst to live to Thee. In prayer, I am lifted above the frowns and flatteries of life, and taste heavenly joys; entering into the eternal world I can give myself to Thee with all my heart, to be Thine forever.”

Reading such a prayer exposes the short attention span, shallow thought, or superficial language, to which I can easily succumb in my prayers. Today’s culture encourages slang, inapt chatter, and extempore thoughts of undue brevity through text messages, Twitter, Snapchat, or Facebook. When in His presence, it seems to me that God deserves better. Your words can be simple, but must be sincere; your language can be plain, but must be from the heart. “When you pray, God hears more than you say, answers more than you ask, gives more than you imagine – in His own time and own way.”

To the disciples’ request, Jesus taught a pattern for the elements of prayer, “When you pray, say, ‘Our Father in heaven, may your name be honored. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done here on earth, just as it is in heaven. Give us our food for today, and forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. [For Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen]’” Matthew 6:9-13 NLT/KJV. We will look more specifically at these elements of “The Lord’s Prayer,” in upcoming devotionals. I recommend His prayer for your reading and reflection.

My prayer for you today is that you practice praying until it is natural communication.

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Handle with Prayer

September 26th, 2012

“Jesus . . spent the night praying.” Luke 6:12 NIV.

Every care and consideration about your life should be handled with prayer.

My thoughts and comments today are, “handle with prayer.”

For all that you do know there is so much that none of us can know completely. For all your capabilities, there is so much of life’s responsibilities and possibilities that you will not successfully handle without help. Everyone likes to think they can handle whatever comes their way; and that seems to work until there is a crisis that requires more than your personal resources or abilities. That seems to be when people are eager to pray for God’s help and willing to accept the prayers anyone is willing to offer on their behalf. So many situations need to be handled with care; every care and consideration about your life should be “handled with prayer.” “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests . .  and always keep on praying . .” See Ephesians 6:18 NIV.

Why should prayer be reserved only as a religious emergency exit from problems or as an emotional relief valve for occasional pressures? Prayer can and should be a suitable and valuable lifestyle. Jesus prayed frequently, often withdrawing from the crowds and relentless needs to simply talk with His Father. “Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.” Luke 6:12 NIV. For Jesus, time with His Father was typical, not an exception. For Him, prayer was neither occasional, casual, nor brief. Jesus modeled the Bible’s expectation, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Colossians 4:2 NIV.

There was something so appealing and desirable about His praying that the disciples requested of Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray!” See Luke 11:1 NKJV. The model that Jesus gave His disciples is as powerful and practical now as then. Read Matthew 6:9-13 NKJV. Recognize your relationship; reverence God at all times; acknowledge His sovereignty; pledge yourself to His will; receive daily needs gratefully; live in forgiveness; give forgiveness freely; avoid temptation; declare His “Kingdom and power and glory forever.”

I propose you consider this: if Jesus needed frequent times of prayer, why wouldn’t you and I require regular times of communion and communication with God even more? Prayer is not reserved for only the Biblically sophisticated or just those few who have the time or temperament; prayer is an essential lifestyle for all who recognize their need of spiritual resources beyond what they naturally possess. That description should encompass all who value their faith and prize their personal relationship with the Father and Savior.

Prayer should be sincere, serious, and specific. See James 5:16 NLT. Prayer deepens and sustains your growing relationship with God. Prayer focuses your heart and mind on what is eternal rather than momentarily pressing. See Philippians 4:6-8 NIV. Prayer aligns your spirit with God’s heart and will. See Romans 8:26-28 NLT. Prayer connects you with God’s purpose. See 1 John 5:14-15 NIV. The practice of prayer is simple enough for the youngest child to do. Listen to a child’s prayer. No wonder Jesus spoke of people who “receive the Kingdom of God as a little child.” See Luke 18:16-17 NKJV. Children pray with such innocence and faith, unspoiled by the complexities of doubt and circumstance. There is much to be learned from their example.

My prayer for you today is for you to enjoy rich fellowship with God in your daily practice of prayer.

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It’s a Good Thing

February 10th, 2010

“Lord, teach us to pray.” Luke 11:1 NLT

“When prayer is personal and practical, prayer is most powerful.”

My thoughts today are that “it’s a good thing.”

Martha Stewart built a billion dollar business showing ladies how to entertain, cook, decorate, and garden. She became famous for saying, “It’s a good thing.” Well, there are times that you need someone to show you how to do something. Today there are an endless number of books on “how-to” do about anything imaginable. Entire cable channels are devoted to satisfy every need to know “how-to,” from cooking to home repairs.

People seem to want to learn everything except how to pray. Well, along with many others of every generation, I can say this about prayer, “it’s a good thing!” Seeing the powerful result of Jesus’ prayers and feeling the intimacy of His conversations with the Father, the disciples asked Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Luke 11:1.

Do you think Jesus was pleased with their request? I think Jesus was thrilled! Listen to His response, “Jesus said to them, ‘When you pray, say, Father, hallowed be Your Name . .’“ and what followed is the most concise yet encompassing summary of what is found at the heart of every needy soul and whispered prayer. Could there be any better teacher?

There are those who minimize the importance or doubt the effectiveness of prayer, while others over complicate prayer, adorning it with awkward and unnatural, religious artificiality. For Jesus, prayer was personal and practical; therefore His prayer was powerful.

Praying with our grandchildren before bed each night, our son, Bruce, noticed that Chase seemed uncomfortable to pray as the others had. When asked about his reluctance, Chase answered that he just did not know what to say. Bruce assured him that prayer “is just talking to God like you would talk with me.” Chase was quiet for a moment before explaining to his Dad, “I don’t say much to you except, ‘okay and uh-huh.’“ That’s really the heart of prayer isn’t it? Prayer is just listening to God and simply responding “okay and yes.” I think that your “okay and yes” is what makes prayer work best.

The Bible teaches that prayer should be: without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:17.  With thanksgiving. Philippians 4: 6. Without doubt. Mark 11:23. Without hindrance. 1 Peter 3:7. In Jesus’ Name. Mark 16:7. With the Spirit. 1 Corinthians 14:15. Believing in your heart. Mark 11:23. When afflicted. James 5:13. With fasting. Acts 14:23. With forgiveness toward others. Mark 11:25. Fervently. James 5:16. Done in secret. See Matthew 6:1-13 NIV. Prayer is not best done in public; your prayer is really for an audience of just One. He will hear the prayer of any humble heart.

My prayer for you today is this: be an eager student and diligent practitioner of prayer.

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