March 24, 2019 • Life for Leaders
One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said unto him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.
Prayer is vital to every follower of Jesus Christ. It is the lifeline that we use to connect and commune with God. Do we pray as often as we should? Not likely. In fact, there will always be room for improvement, which we strive to achieve day by day in our walk with Christ. We know that prayer is critical because Jesus once encouraged his disciples to “always pray and not give up” (Luke 18:1 NIV). In that passage, using the parable of a widow seeking justice from a judge, he illustrates that persistence and perseverance are necessary qualities to a successful prayer life. It was the widow’s determination that prevailed over the judge’s obstinance.
In this same parable, Jesus seems to also give a warning through subtext: praying is hard. When the widow petitioned the judge, she was met with a series of rejections that likely spanned a few months. Even the disciples, after being trained by Christ to pray, struggled to keep watch in prayer with Messiah during his hour of greatest need in the garden. Praying is hard—not impossible, but not easy either. Perhaps this is why it was prudent for one disciple to declare to Jesus “Lord teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1 NIV).
Metaphorically, I think of prayer like volleyball—theoretically easy to comprehend, but very hard to practically master. Before Jesus could teach the disciples how to pray, there had to be an acknowledgment that they were willing to be students. And when Jesus began to teach them his prayer template, it was unlike anything they had ever understood about prayer. He had opened their eyes to a whole new system. He took a familiar concept, turned it on its head and encouraged them to look at it with fresh eyes in a new way.
If Jesus were teaching a cooking class on how to bake up successful prayer it might look like this:
- 2 cups of intimacy (Our Father)
- ½ Tbsp of perspective (in heaven)
- ¾ Tbsp of reverence (hallowed be your name)
- 2 cups of kingdom-sifted petitions (your kingdom come)
- 2 cups of heaven’s intentions (your will be done on earth as it is in heaven)
- ¼ cup provision (give us today our daily bread)
- 250 ml forgiveness (and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.)
- ½ cup of grace (and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one).
Jesus prompted his disciples to reassess their understanding of prayer, and this template warrants our reevaluation of the purpose and power of prayer. I hope that this iPray series has been helpful in understanding the template Jesus laid out for effective and successful prayer. Successful prayer takes a solid understanding of how God views prayer, mixed with intentionality and perseverance. This type of prayer is promising and fruitful. Lord, teach us how to pray.
God, we approach you from a place of intimacy by acknowledging you as our Father. We also acknowledge that you reside in the place of preeminence—heaven. Before we ask anything of you, we come to you humbly, determined to respect your final decisions on all of our requests and petitions. Help us to fulfill the intentions of your heart in the earth, as you have already accomplished it in heaven. We ask for your provision for all the necessary resources for today. Grant us a spirit of contentment as you give us what we need day by day. Today I freely forgive others and I freely receive your forgiveness for my shortcomings. Be my guardrail in my hour of testing and deliver me from the intentions of the evil one. The Kingdom, the power, and the glory belong to you. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.