07/08/W – How to Pray

Deuteronomy 27:1-26; Luke 11:1-13; Psalms 77:1-14; Proverbs 18:20-21

NT: “He was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John also taught his disciples.” He said to them, “Whenever you pray, say, Our Father in heaven, your name be honored as holy. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us each day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone in debt to us. And do not bring us into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.” He also said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend and goes to him at midnight and says to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I don’t have anything to offer him.’ Then he will answer from inside and say, ‘Don’t bother me! The door is already locked, and my children and I have gone to bed. I can’t get up to give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he won’t get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his friend’s shameless boldness, he will get up and give him as much as he needs. So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”” (‭‭Luke‬ ‭11:1-13‬ ‭CSB‬‬)

Throughout the Gospel of Luke, we see that Jesus often took the time to pray – and His times of prayer were always effective. Again, on the way to Jerusalem, Jesus took the time to pray. This time, one of His disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray the way He prayed. I imagine they wanted to have the same effective prayer life that He had. In answer to the request, He gave them a pattern to follow and a position to take as they prayed. First, Jesus gave them a template for prayer. It was the same pattern that He taught during His sermon on the mount (Matthew 6). We know it as the Lord’s Prayer, but it is actually the disciples prayer – meaning this is the way that disciples of Jesus are taught to pray. He then told them a story to illustrate the position to take in prayer. For clarity, the man who doesn’t want to open his door in the middle of the night is not representative of Our Heavenly Father. Jesus point was that boldness and confidence can move even the most reluctant person. If boldness and confidence will move a reluctant neighbor, how much more will our Father be willing to hear and answer our prayers when we come to Him in faith. We ask (we don’t demand). We seek (we don’t assume that we know what is best for us). We knock (we don’t disrespectfully barge in). We ask, seek, and knock in faith knowing that our Father is a good and generous Father who is always willing to supply what  is needed… and for prayer to be effective, what is needed beyond faith is the leading of the Holy Spirit… and God will give Him to us as well, if we ask.

Psalms: “I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me. I sought the Lord in my day of trouble. My hands were continually lifted up all night long; I refused to be comforted… Will the Lord reject forever and never again show favor? Has his faithful love ceased forever? Is his promise at an end for all generations? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?” Selah …I will remember the Lord’s works; yes, I will remember your ancient wonders. I will reflect on all you have done and meditate on your actions. God, your way is holy. What god is great like God? You are the God who works wonders; you revealed your strength among the peoples.” (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭77:1-2, 7-9, 11-14‬ ‭CSB‬‬)

Like many of us, Asaph was troubled at the state of his nation, and it was causing Him to lose sleep. So instead of tossing and turning all night and getting wrought up in anxiety, he lifted his voice to God in prayer. As he began to pray, he asked himself some rhetorical questions about the character and faithfulness of God. Of course, the answer to each of his questions was and is always, “No.” In remembering God’s unchanging faithfulness, his faith was built – and he was able pray with boldness and confidence to the God who hears and is able to work wonders. This is a good example of how we move from despair to faith. This is a good example of how to pray.

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