Let’s face it – 2020 has been a strange year.
But God was not surprised by all the events that have happened.
Would you join me in a four-week countdown to Thanksgiving?
When we stop for a moment, we realize we have much to be thankful for.
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.”(Luke 11:1, English Standard Version)
I am thankful for the opportunity to pray.
So what does it mean to pray? The Oxford Dictionary generically defines prayer as “a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship.”
As good as that definition might be, it still feels very transactional, cold, impersonal, and lacking life.
So what would I offer as a better definition?
Prayer, in my mind, is simply talking with God.
Yes, we can ask God for help, and express our thanks to God. But God invites us to do these things in relationship to Him and with Him, not just as an arms-length, impersonal transaction with Him.
And prayer in a context of relationship with God feels like life.
This definition also opens the possibility of God talking with us. Often we can hear God through His Word, as we read His book, the Bible. Other times, we sense God’s leading deep in our souls, as He prompts us to take a particular action such as pray for someone else, or to help someone in need, or take a step of faith in our family or work or community.
One of the great things about prayer is that we can talk with God anywhere we are. Luke is careful to not call out where Jesus was when the disciples approached Him after he had finished praying. He may have been at the local church (synagogue), or in the Mount of Olives (where He often went to pray). Or Jesus may have been walking from one town to another, or in His room where they were staying. Frankly, the place does not matter.
So what did Jesus’ disciples see in Jesus that prompted one of them to approach Jesus and ask Him to teach them to pray? They saw a vibrant relationship between Jesus and His Father that they did not have, and they longed for that same thing.
And Jesus gladly taught them what we commonly call “The Lord’s Prayer” as His model for prayer:
2 Jesus said, “This is how you should pray:(Luke 11:2-4, New Living Translation)
“Father, may your name be kept holy.
May your Kingdom come soon.
3 Give us each day the food we need,
4 and forgive us our sins,
as we forgive those who sin against us.
And don’t let us yield to temptation.”
What a great model for Jesus’ disciples, and for us!
Here is another paraphrase of today’s passage that may encourage you:
One day Jesus was in a place talking with God. When he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, `Lord, teach us to talk with God as John taught his disciples.’(Luke 11:1, Worldwide English New Testament)
Lord, thank You for the privilege of approaching You in prayer. You are the ruler of the universe, and yet, You know us by name, and desire to be in relationship with us.
Lord, thank You that You long to hear us express what is on our hearts. You already know our thoughts, but You love to hear us say them. Thank You that nothing is too big or too small for You to hear about.
And Lord, thank You that You answer our prayers. And thank You, Lord, that You don’t always answer according to what we ask, because sometimes I am selfish or don’t know what is good for me. Thank You for always desiring the best for me, and protecting me from myself when needed.
Jesus, thank You for the example prayer that You taught Your disciples, and us. May we live into our relationship with You more fully.
Learning to walk with God more deeply through prayer,