Luke 11:1 – “Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” NKJV
I have made it somewhat a study to consider what the followers of Jesus asked of Him. This particular request is interesting, especially in contrast to much of today’s mentality even in the Church. They did not ask, “LORD, teach us to preach”. They did not ask, “LORD, teach us to sing.” They did not ask, “LORD, teach us to gain wealth.” They did not ask, “LORD, teach us marketing strategy so we can grow the local church.” They asked, “LORD, teach us to PRAY.”
I am fully persuaded that it would be far more beneficial to the Kingdom of God and the Body of Christ to be great prayers than great preachers or singers. I love both but if we have the power of prayer to move the powers of heaven we will see the hearts of men moved. Men can train other men to preach, sing, market and strategize but to become a truly great prayer is only learned at the feet of Jesus though the Holy Spirit. I am not talking about learning some man-made method of eloquence but that activity that wages spiritual warfare and breaks through the barriers bringing heaven to earth.
Prayer is the privilege and responsibility of all believers. We often need preparation and training to become efficient and effective preachers and personal workers but prayer is a gift that God offers to everyone. Not everyone is called to be a pastor, preacher, teacher, evangelist, exhorter or many other things but there are no such restrictions on prayer. EVERYONE can pray! In fact, our LORD said, “…men always ought to pray and not lose heart…” (Luke 18:1). I know people who lament they are unable to do great exploits for God and when challenged to pray, they are somewhat put off because that garners no public notice or acclaim. Powerful prayer is often done in secret and behind the closed door of the prayer closet. It is not an exercise designed to gain notice but results.
Jesus gave the disciples a pattern of prayer not a formula. In Matthew 6:5-8 we find some specific instructions from our Lord regarding pattern. In this passage Jesus gives us the DO NOT’s of prayer and in the Lord’s Prayer He gives us the DO’s. I am convinced that prayer is a science and by that I mean it is a study. How often have you just listened to the prayers of others and examined your own prayer life? How do our public prayers compare to our private prayers? How much vain repetition is in our prayers? How often do we pray for things which God’s wisdom forbids Him to answer?
Let me give you some things to consider through the LORD’s instructions.
- Don’t Pray Like a Hypocrite.
How does a hypocrite pray? The prayer of the hypocrite is “public” designed to gain notice, sympathy or status. Remember the Pharisee who stood in the Temple and lauded his own virtue comparing himself to the Publican nearby. The Publican simply prayed, “LORD, be merciful to me a sinner.” Which do you supposed moved the heart of God? Someone once said, “It is a pretty safe rule, the longer a person prays in public, the shorter they pray in private.”
Jesus was known as a man of prayer. He spent entire nights praying while others slept. How many long prayers do you find him praying in public? He said, “When you pray, enter your closet and when you have shut the door, PRAY…” (Matthew 6).
- Don’t Use Vain Repetition.
The specific command of Matthew 6:7. I have heard and offered public prayers that were so laced with “vain repetitions” I am ashamed. We used hackneyed phrases over and over again. Repetition rather than substance will not move the heart or hand of God. I wonder if one of the reasons so much prayer is filled with repetition is because we have failed to study scriptural prayer.
If God knows the need before we pray He does not need us to be overly repetitive. He desires us to be specific, focused and determined. I hope I have challenged you a little and want to say more on the matter in the next devotional.
God bless you as you commune with Him in prayer and go through this day in His strength. Blessings!