13th Mar 2016
WHY DID THEY ASK 'LORD, TEACH US TO PRAY'?
By Steve Bones
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SUNDAY 13 MARCH 2016
WHY DID THEY ASK 'LORD, TEACH US TO PRAY'?
We are continuing with our theme this month of prayer, and this week are looking at the passage in Luke 11:1-13:
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." 2 He said to them, "When you pray, say:
"'Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come.
3 Give us each day our daily bread.
4 Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation.'"
5 Then he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, 6 because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.' 7 "Then the one inside answers, 'Don't bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can't get up and give you anything.' 8 I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man's boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs.
9 "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. 10 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. 11 "Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" (NIV)
Why did the disciples ask this question in verse 1? They were Jews, brought up on the Old Testament, knew much of it by heart (at least the Pentateuch!), including all the prayers in Psalms. Surely if any people knew how to pray it was the Jews!
But note that Jesus had just finished praying, and then they asked him. Clearly they had seen something in Jesus that they had not seen in their religious leaders, the rabbi's, scribes and Pharisees.
Jesus does not seem to be offended by the question, so perhaps agreed they needed teaching?!!
Let us therefore go through the Lord's Prayer, which I am sure we all know very well, and be open to learn something new.
Wow, this would have been a shock for the Jews! God's name was so holy that they would not even say it. The idea that he is 'Our Father', that we are in relationship with God, must have been an awesome thought for the disciples. But He is our father!
Hallowed be your name
What does 'hallowed' mean? In English, holy or sacred. It is the Greek word 'hagiazo', and Jesus used it here and in Matthew 6:9 on the same topic. It means to set apart, sanctify, and is also often translated 'sanctify'.
John 17:16-19 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. (NIV)
1 Thess 5:23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. (NIV))
As part of our praying, we are to set apart God's name - this would have resonated with the Jews! How do we do that? By honouring Him, worshipping Him, submitting to Him, offering sacrifices to Him, kneeling before Him, fasting, all of which was done in the OT.
A prayer meeting does not have to be quiet! We can sing, worship Him, play CDs and sing along. We should not rush past this important step, but honour God by giving Him the praise He is due.
Your kingdom come
Some scrolls also record here 'and thy will be done', as indeed is recorded in Matthew 6:10:
10 your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. (NIV)
What is the difference? If God's kingdom is here, then surely His will is also being done?
When Julie and I were at Ashburnham a couple of weeks ago, the Lord really impressed on me the importance of this step. Indeed, I believe it should be the centre piece of our prayers! After all, later on in Mathew 6, after teaching his disciples how to pray, He said:
Matt 6:33-34 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (NIV)
What things was Jesus talking about? Food, clothes, our material needs, our 'daily bread'!
Perhaps the issue here is whether we believe this?
In 2002, in USA 84% identify themselves as Christians and nearly 70% attended church every week. However, only 7% of adults aged 18 to 35 make moral choices based on the Bible, for older people it was higher, 18%! What then do they base their choices on? Answer, their 'feelings' and 'beneficial outcomes' for themselves. In 2001, in England only 11% attend church as often as once a month.
How do we make our choices? I don't feel like going to House Group/Church? I won't give now as I can then afford to buy ……..', despite the Bible stating we should not neglect the assembling of ourselves together and that we should give regularly.
Perhaps this is what our prayers should be about - building God's kingdom in this country, and indeed worldwide. There are some big issues coming up that we all need to pray about - the EU Referendum, the refugee crisis, the increasing persecution of Christians, the level of unbelief in the Church (I think one of the biggest problems we in the western church face today).
As I shared briefly last week, we may all give mental assent to the truth of the Bible, but do we all live by it, or are we often hearers but not doers? If we truly believed it, we would put it into practice and let it change the way we live and make decisions!
Give us each day our daily bread
God is gracious, and is happy for us then to go on and ask for our 'daily bread'. But note only our 'daily bread', not a week's bread, or month. We like security, why? Because we don't trust God to meet our needs?
What is the difference between 'knowing about someone' and 'knowing someone'? I can know a lot about David Cameron but I don't what he thinks and feels, other than what the media tells me. However, I know my wife and so can respond 'she would love that' or 'I think Julie's view would be …..' How can God know us (consider Matthew 7:23, spoken to his disciples 'I never knew you, depart from me')? I believe part of the way is to pray and share our hearts with God, to pray and 'be anxious about nothing' (Phil 4:6).
Some may think I am being hard saying this. But I am also challenging myself. Indeed, God has challenged me recently on my level of unbelief which, after all, is only a choice:
John 20:24-25 Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he said to them, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it ." (NIV)
Hence Jesus told him 'stop doubting and believe'. God has been really challenging me on this, to believe the Bible and put it into practice!
Heb 3:12 See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. (NIV)
If I say things about myself that does not align with the Bible, are my lips are speaking lies?
Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
Another big problem in the church - unforgiveness, holding grudges! I remember in one of my last churches that when the elders put house groups together, they had to take account of who got on with whom and keep some people apart! That was even in the church! What about our relationships with people outside the church - our family, relatives, close friends (or we thought they were)? We must forgive them or The Father will not forgive us ( Matthew 6:15).
But there is a positive reason:
Ps 133 How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! …..For there the LORD bestows his blessing, even life forevermore. (NIV)
I want the Lord's blessing. Do you? Do you think we currently have the Lord's blessing? Perhaps first we need to think what God's blessing would look like.
- Are we always joyful? Rom 14:17For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, (NIV) 1 Peter 1:8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, (NIV)
- Are there no needs? He shall supply all your needs….. (Phil 4:19)
- Are people being healed? James 5:16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. (NIV)
- Are we seeing our prayers answered? See Luke 11:9 above!
And lead us not into temptation
Why pray this? Does God lead us into temptation? Yes! Consider Jesus:
Matt 4:1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil . (NIV)
Heb 5:8-9 Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him (NIV)
Heb 5:14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. (NIV)
If Jesus had to go through this process to learn obedience and become perfect, why should we expect otherwise? But once we have, we become mature, which isn't knowing the Bible well, going to church regularly, preaching often, leading worship, being an elder, etc., but being able to distinguish good from evil. What is the fear of the Lord? Is it to respect Him? Respect Him highly?
Prov 8:13 The fear of the LORD is to hate evil ; NKJV
Now on to the rest of the passage (v5-13)…..
What is Jesus trying to teach us from verses 5 to 8:
Then he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.' "Then the one inside answers, 'Don't bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can't get up and give you anything.' I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man's boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs.
We need to be bold in prayer, and ask in faith, expecting! In this example, who would you go to at midnight and ask for something? We'd wait until morning! Only exception may be if it was a life or death situation or one of the children is sick and you ring parents for advice! We need to come boldly to the throne of grace.
Jesus then reiterates this point in the next two verses:
"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; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
The Greek tense for ask, seek, knock is the present active i.e. ask, and keep on asking, seek, and keep on seeking…we need to be bold and persistent in our prayers.
What about the final passage in Luke 11:11-13:
"Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"
The implication of this statement is that the Holy Spirit is a 'good gift'! Indeed, I would say He is the best gift Jesus could give! After all He said:
John 16:7 But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counsellor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. (NIV)
What can be better that have Jesus with us? Answer, the Holy Spirit!
However, note we need to ask! But surely we get the deposit of the Holy Spirit when we are saved, so no need to ask:
Eph 1:13-14 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession-to the praise of his glory. (NIV)
So no need to ask. But we do! Answer - there must be more!!!
Consider one of your children in financial need, struggling to make ends meet and sometimes having to skip meals to save money. We then consider how we can help and conclude the best course of action is to give him a large financial gift, though it will cost us. But then your child says 'no thanks, I'll carry on struggling'. How would you feel?
Let us re-focus our pray life from ourselves to His Kingdom, and include a healthy element of worshipping Him as part of that! With that thought, Jesus is encouraging us to ask for more of the Holy Spirit, why? Because we need Him, His power, to be witnesses, and to teach us.
Are you regularly asking for the 'good gift' of the Holy Spirit? If not, why not? Is it because of unbelief, fear?
1 Cor 2:4-5 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power. (NIV)
If we are not moving in the power of the Holy Spirit, are we not just like other religions, a lot of rules and regulations and good morals that we all try and follow to the best of our ability?
I would like to pray for anyone today who would like to ask for a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit. However, it will not be easy! I would like to follow the Bible's example and pray and lay hands on people (Acts 8:8, 2 Tim 1:6). The laying on of hands is one of the elementary teachings (Hebrews 6:2)! Or you can come for prayer for something else from God. The key issue is to ask!