Teach us to pray.

In Lent 24 by Bruce LogueLeave a Comment

“Jesus was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.'”

Luke 11:1-13

The disciples of John the Baptist must have had some contact with Jesus’ disciples. I say this because the disciples of Jesus were curious about their prayer habits. “Teach us to pray like John’s disciples,” they said to Jesus.

They, no doubt, had also seen Jesus’ prayer practice. Taken together, Jesus and John had an impact on the Twelve so that the Twelve wanted to imitate their prayer-life. “Is there something we’re missing,” they might have asked.

What Jesus had to say to them was basic and simple. It was not a laundry list of possible wants or petitions. At its heart the prayer acknowledges God’s holiness and supremacy, and it seeks the kingdom of God. The remainder of the prayer concerns daily bread, forgiveness from sins, and delivery or protection from evil. That’s it.

In additional teaching about prayer, Jesus tells about a person who had a friend show up at a late hour. It was his duty to care for the needs of that guest, even though he didn’t have food to serve him. Since he had nothing to offer his guest, the man went next door and knocked on his neighbor’s door.

His neighbor replied, “Go away; we’re all bedded down for the night and don’t want to awaken the children.” Unwilling to take no for an answer, the man continued to knock until the man got out of bed and baked his friend some bread for his guest.

In the name-it-and-claim it religious world, people are taught to demand what they want, and if they have enough faith, they will receive it. Such is not the instruction Jesus gives his disciples. The prayer itself is simple and puts the person and mission of God at its center. It is also clear that God places value on the commitment and perseverance of the one praying, like the man who needed his neighbor’s help.

Something to think about: How much attention do you think Jesus wants his disciples to give to the work of God? What do you think the attitude of one praying to God should be?

Something to pray about: Our Father in heaven, holy and revered is your name. May your kingdom come, and may your will be done on earth, just as it is in heaven. Give us what we need today. Forgive us for the sins we commit. And do not lead us into the time of trial. Amen.

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