Lord, Teach Us to Pray, Part 2
As I mentioned last week, I want to examine Jesus’ prayer life and what He taught the disciples about prayer over the next couple of weeks. A confident prayer life gets answers to prayer! It is vital you and I learn the prayer principles Jesus taught. By the way, you can find more on this subject in my book, Our Eyes are On You: Principles to Prevail in Faith & Prayer.
Foremost, prayer is our pathway to commune with God, to dwell in the secret place with Him. My prayer is not to manipulate God. Rather, I pray as a son in right relationship to the Father, believing what He has said about me through Christ and what He has promised us as His disciples. Plainly stated, God tells us to pray, to ask of Him. But it flows out of ongoing relationship with the One we love and adore!
Consider that as you give yourself completely to God, confident faith develops. Faith is by His grace, but your participation with God allows the Spirit to strengthen your faith. As you faithfully follow Jesus, your faith grows, and your prayer becomes more confident. Faith and prayer are linked. God’s faith causes confident prayer.
Just as grace and faith are connected, so are faith and prayer. God extends grace that we can believe in Christ, the Spirit then empowers us to be people of faith who become people of prayer.
You have been given God’s faith, God’s Spirit, God’s promises, and God’s authority! Expect impossible situations to change as you prevail in prayer. When you have God’s faith on a matter, you begin to pray and speak with a confidence that the promise is received now and is on its way.
God does not want His people to succumb to fear, defeat, and failure!
God wants us to see results in prayer, just like we see people get answers to prayer in the Bible. God continues to answer the prayers of His people in every unimaginable circumstance!
Whether it is for family, guidance, wisdom, provision, healing, or freedom from oppression—whatever your situation, God answers and supplies in response to believing prayer.
Lord, teach us to pray!
Let’s begin with what Jesus taught in the “Lord’s Prayer”
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.” So, He said to them, “When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.” Luke 11:1-4 NKJV
“Praying in a certain place”
Jesus had entered a favorite location, Bethany. Mary, Martha, and Lazarus lived there. Jesus was probably in the garden behind Martha’s house. Jesus felt at home and relaxed here. For example, He spent the night in Bethany before His triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
We all have places like this. We refer to them as “prayer closets.” It’s important to establish a place, or places, where it is conducive to you establishing a consistent prayer life. It may be a room in your home, or perhaps you enjoy praying outside, maybe on the porch or taking a walk.
“Lord, teach us to pray.”
Disciples had witnessed Jesus’ supernatural lifestyle. But, teach us to pray, not teach us to heal or deliver oppressed? Why?
The disciples had watched Jesus as he healed the sick. They witnessed his miracle power to open the eyes of the blind and deaf. They observed him cleanse a leper with the touch of his hand. His words calmed a stormy sea and raised the dead to life. How did he do these healings and miracles? What was the secret to such miracle power?
It was mysterious to them at first, but eventually, the disciples learned His secret. Jesus had this power because He was a man of prayer!
The disciples watched Jesus pray and realized His prayer life was a component of His miracle-working power. Jesus was willing that they should learn how to pray and operate in greater works (John 14:12).
At the very onset of Jesus’ ministry, He spent 40 days in the wilderness fasting and praying and left the wilderness in power. Luke records:
Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness… Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region.” Luke 4:1, 14 NKJV
We often want the answer without the discipline. Prayer can be relaxed, free-flowing, and intimate with God. But prayer is also times of disciplined communion with God. Through prayer, we enter a deeper understanding of the heart and will of God. Our prayer becomes empowered through our communion with God.
There are no shortcuts to spiritual vitality—it’s about abiding in Christ daily! Not out of duty, but from a place of love and desire to be with Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith! Prayer is essential to living a victorious Christian walk.
Three Top Priorities for Jesus and Why He Prayed
Why did Jesus even need to pray? After all, He was God, right?
Yes, God! But Jesus, came to earth in human flesh, and lived dependent upon the Father, led and empowered by the Spirit (see Phil. 2:5-11). He became our example of how to live dependent upon God and empowered by the Spirit. He daily spent time with the Father to know God’s will, receive direction and fresh anointing for His ministry.
Jesus only did what He saw the Father do. From His prayer life, he lived out of relationship, which allowed God to reveal, direct, and empower him for ministry.
If we are to be like Jesus, we too need to be a people of prayer!
I want to look at three of Jesus’ priorities demonstrating that time spent with His Father through fellowship and prayer were His top priorities.
#1 Jesus Prioritized Prayer over Public Ministry
Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed. And Simon and those who were with Him searched for Him. When they found Him, they said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.” But He said to them, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth.” And He was preaching in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and casting out demons.” Mark 1:35-39 NKJV
Every day was busy for Jesus, well into the evening. Many of you know that weariness. Every day and week are busy, sometimes a good night’s sleep is our highest desire!
“…having risen a long while before daylight,” Notice it was early morning and solitary. Was He interceding? Yes, but He was primarily spending time with the Father, dialoguing with Him.
From that place of fellowship with the Father, Jesus received direction (vs. 38 “next towns”) and power to preach and minister (vs. 39 preaching and casting out demons).
Petitionary prayer is important, Jesus expects us to ask of Him. But don’t make the mistake of reducing prayer to just petition. Prayer is also worship, devotion, and relational dialogue. Make the start of each day a time of fellowship and prayer with God.
“Everyone is looking for you.” The pressures of daily life tend to crowd time out with God; don’t allow the tyranny of the urgent to rob you of your vitality in God!
When I was in my 20’s and working as an electrical engineer, I would drive an hour in central Florida to the Kennedy Space Center where I worked. I used that early morning hour commute to worship and listen to teachings. But I also discovered, I needed to get up a little earlier, to give myself about 30 minutes, just to have quiet time with God in prayer and the Word before I left for my job. It’s still something I value today and would recommend to everyone, even if your schedule is busy.
#2 Jesus Prayed in Moments of Decision
Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles:” Luke 6:12-13 NKJV
Mountain—almost always a picture of time with God. The conversation perhaps went something like this, “Father, what is your direction, which of these should I choose?”
We all face major decisions and crossroads in life. Learn to value quality time with God in prayer to hear from Him, get His perspective and direction.
By the way, sometimes the direction God gives is a sense of wisdom and peace. Proverbs tells us:
Happy is the man who finds wisdom, And the man who gains understanding; … Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.” Prov. 3:13, 17 NKJV
Prior to moving to Arizona in 2001, we prayed and sought God’s will and direction earnestly. He gave us no clear word. We had some wise counsel from others, including my father-in-law, and God gave us His peace about the decision. It seemed like the right decision and direction for us, and God’s wisdom and peace pervaded us. After I accepted a job offer here, the very next morning God gave me a “clear word,” confirming that this was by His will and direction for us. In fact, He said, “You will excel in the job, your family will flourish, and your ministry will prosper. Can I not make streams in the desert?!” First came His wisdom and peace, but prayer allowed us to enter a place with God where He could guide us with His eye!
#3 Jesus Prayed to Stay Focused on His Assignment
Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there.” Matt. 14:22-23 NKJV
Jesus had multiplied the loaves and fishes for the multitude, and then sends the disciples in a boat to the other side of the lake before him. He sends the crowd away and goes to the top of the mountain to pray. He was there alone, in prayer, focusing on his purpose. Why?
John’s account of the same miracle in chapter six of His gospel gives us the answer, the people wanted to make Jesus king after they saw He was the “bread maker!” But Jesus knew that there were unreached people groups they needed to impact. He knew they needed to get to the other side of the lake to Gennesaret to reach many. (Matt. 14:34-36) Jesus stayed focused on His purpose and assignments through prayer!
Do you have a place to get alone with God, to stay focused on your assignment? Every believer has a purpose, beginning with following Christ. Beyond that, He empowers us to represent Him.
Next week, I will continue the series by examining the Lord’s prayer and how we can use it as a model for prayer principles.