Luke 11 is about overcoming the suffering and discouragement of our present world… In the beginning of Luke Jesus enters the world as a baby, then is introduced to the world as a man. In Luke 5, Jesus invites disciples to learn from him and to be trained to carry on the ministry of Jesus Christ in the world. As Jesus spends time with his disciples and teaching them, a turning point comes in Luke 9…He sends out the disciples: “He gave them power and authority to drive out demons and to cure diseases and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick” (Luke 9:1-2). Jesus is preparing the disciples for the time when Jesus will ascend to heaven and leave the disciples to carry on the work of God. In the last chapter we studied several months ago, Luke 10, Jesus sends out even more disciples into the villages. We now come to Luke 11.
After all this time with Jesus, he teaches his disciples about prayer. Why now? There must be a reason Jesus’ teaching on prayer does not come until late in the game.
1. Thank goodness God can use dunderheads like me and the disciples who aren’t always as spiritual as we could be. Even my feeble prayers, even my forgetfulness, even a person like me who sometimes just wants to go out and do the best I can in the name of God, often not spending a lot of time in prayer, can be used by God.
2. Jesus teaches the disciples about prayer when they ask. Until they ask, they aren’t ready. Jesus patiently waits for our questions. People will not change until they ask. Listen for other people’s questions, and be a person that asks genuine questions of faith. Only the uncurious and the arrogant don’t ask questions.
3. The disciples are ready to add prayer to their arsenal of ministry when they discover serving Jesus Christ is not problem free. A theme emerges in Luke 11: overcoming problems in ministry. The Lord sends the disciples out in Luke 10; it does not go like clockwork. It still doesn’t. As the old saying goes, “ministry would be easy if it wasn’t for people.” We are driven to pray when we immerse ourselves in ministry and problems slap us. The theme of this chapter: Overcome Evil with Good. Prayer is the first arrow in the quiver of finding the strength to carry on ministry in the name of Jesus Christ when overwhelmed.
If I were perfectly in tune with God I would pray at all times, I would delight in prayer, many wonderfully amazing people are awesome prayer warriors, but for me, I find myself praying more when confronted with stress, tension, problems, needs, evil. So I am a dunderhead like the disciples. Anyone else want to help form a dunderhead club with me?
The Disciples ASK to be taught how to pray in Luke 11:1; Jesus gives this model prayer. Great to memorize, but what is most important are the principles. This prayer is called the “Lord’s Prayer.” Luke’s version is shorter than the more famous Matthew version (Matt. 6:9-13).
Next week we’ll talk about the purpose of prayer as expressed in the next few verses, but for today, the principles of prayer. I borrow an outline from Bruce Larson, a man that was Sally’s Pastor at University Presb. when I first met her in early 80’s…. C-H-R-I-S-T.
One more observation about this model prayer before we look at the C-H-R-I-S-T outline: The Lord’s Prayer is short. I am appreciative for those who can pray for long periods of time (unless I am in a hurry), but God hears short prayers too. Amen! I often think of sitting down at a meal at a restaurant years ago with Pastor Alan Shore. He prayed for the meal by lifting his meal heavenward, along with his gaze towards God, set the plate down; that was it. He blessed the food with no words. A short prayer indeed.
CONCENTRATE “When you pray, say, ‘Father’...” Prayer is talking with God. A personal time with the Lord. Do not take for granted the invitation to address God as Father. The person you are praying to is more important than the words themselves. Concentrate/ focus on God. You don’t need to be an experienced prayer to pray. By referring to God as Father you are invited to think of conversations with the people you know and love in your daily world, the people you care about, your family. “Father” is a most remarkable expression. Esther and Wesley are with us for a few months. How often I am working in the office and Esther will say “Dad, I have a question….” The survey taker who calls me on the phone does not have that privilege. But Esther does. That is the way it is with God. God is eager to talk with you. He loves you. Concentrate on the loving God who delights in hearing from you.
HALLELUJAH ~ “Hallowed be your name.” God is like family, but prayer also involves a measure of respect, “Holy is your name.” Today we have lost a measure of respect for anyone. Respect is not entirely gone, but it sure is eroded. The young for the elders, the national political positions are so disrespected…. When you pray spend time being amazed by God. Prayer is far more about changing the person who prays and less about trying to convince God of something. Maybe you have a real problem that you desperately want God to do something about. Great. Pray. And remind yourself in the prayer about God’s holiness. God knows the sickness, he knows the need, he knows the confusion of heart ~ so simply pray How Great and Awesome are You Lord, and somehow your heart is changed as you are reminded of God’s amazing character. The Halleljah of prayer puts the world into a true perspective and that’s all we really need. When the world is falling apart, when oppression seems to be winning, go to prayer with a Hallelujah that there is no one like God.
RULER ~ “Your Kingdom Come.” With each line the Lord’s Prayer build a Godly perspective on life. The problems that plague us in this world are not the problems themselves, but the loss of perspective. When you know in your heart God is in control, nothing ought to cause us to worry and doubt. Like a child that can sleep away a storm in the security of parents. Problems are never problems, it’s always loss of perspective that causes us problems. God is God no matter what happens, he is the ruler even when bad things happen on this earth. Not only does Jesus model prayer invite us to remind ourselves that God reigns on earth, but his Kingdom is growing. Your Kingdom COME is a promise of an even greater future. There is nothing that can ultimately shake us because God’s Kingdom is coming in power. “Your Kingdom Come” is an invitation to find out more and more about the coming Kingdom, to believe in miracles, to believe in God’s Kingdom, to be optimistic, to be expectant, to be joyful, to look beyond the present world of discouragement. The World is full of suffering. But it is also full of overcoming.
God is in the overcoming business because his Kingdom is Coming.
I NEED, I FEED ~ “Give us this Day our Daily Bread” i.e. God give me what I need, feed me. Prayer means taking nothing for granted. It is humbling to recognize our dependence on God. Our pride gets us into more trouble than anything else. And guess what! Prayer for others is important, but so is prayer for yourself. They say there is no “I” in TEAM, but there sure is in CHRIST. The Lord Jesus Christ says it is important to pray for yourself. To include your own needs, focusing on the basics of life… not the greed but the need… to pray right is to prioritize your needs.
I love the “just enough” prayer: A mother was having a stressful day. As she scurried about the house juggling too many balls, her children overheard her saying under her breath: “Just enough. Just enough. Just enough.” She kept saying “just enough” as she zoomed through the house multi tasking, cleaning stuff the kids left on the floor, fixing things, hurrying to get out of the house to go on an appointment. The “just enough’s” were coming fast and furious. Finally the youngest child got enough courage to ask: “Mom, what do you mean saying over and over “just enough.” She paused, mid stride, and in a harried voice said – “Oh that. That is shorthand for the prayer that I am praying. The full prayer is this: Dear God, give me JUST ENOUGH patience so that I don’t strangle my kids today.”
We all need a Just Enough prayer to make it through the day:
Lord, give me JUST ENOUGH….wisdom to keep my mouth shut when facing the crazy neighbor.
courage to say what I need to say in this stressful situation.
understanding to know how to listen with my ears & heart and not my judgments & prejudices.
time to get these tasks out of the way so I can go on to other responsibilities
patience to listen to my parent with Alzheimer’s repeat the same story for the 10th time
energy to stay awake and listen to my hurting friend even though I am exhausted
Lord give me this day, my daily bread. Just enough is all we need. The Lord’s prayer is not about attaining luxury, gaining power, more recognition, but just enough to make it through the day. It’s a prayer the Lord will answer.
Earlier we sang, “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah.” It is a Welsh song written in 1745. I read one line has been mistranslated from the original: “Feed me till I want no more” is more accurately translated, “Feed me now and forevermore.” We can never be filled up! We are in constant need for God to feed us and sustain us with just enough to meet our daily needs.
SAVIOR ~ “Forgive us our sins” ~ that is salvation. And as we receive forgiveness, daily forgiveness, may forgiveness become a part of my character as we treat others the same way you treat me. The person who is forgiven and forgives others is a changed person. That is salvation from the Savior. What an amazing promise for God to forgive us our sins. We are forgiven by the blood of Christ. We are in constant need of forgiveness because everyday we sin by what we do or what we don’t do.
I read a story of a man that ran a feed and grain store during the depression. He gave away so much credit to people who never did repay him that he eventually filed for bankruptcy. It took him years to earn enough to repay all the liens against his business. But on the day when the last creditor was paid, the old gentleman took his books, including all the records of people who owed him money, and burned them in a large bonfire. The amount totaled $40,000, a large amount in those depression years. With that $40k bonfire, the man forgave his debtors as he had been forgiven. Remarkable.
The Savior Jesus Christ forgives sins.
TRIUMPH. “And lead us not into Temptation.” This is the pre-emptive part of prayer ~ Just enough God, be my Savior, and keep me from falling again ~ Living the Christian life is not about living a perfect life on earth, it is about being pointed in the direction of perfection, asking the Lord’s help to overcome the sins of the flesh as well as the sins of spirit. To say no to the destructive patterns and habbits and to say yes to the godly opportunities, for temptation works both ways, getting away from bad decisions, but with boldness walking through the open doors of opportunity the Lord puts in our path.
This is the Christ Prayer: Concentration on God, Hallelujah to our amazing God, Ruler of all, I need just enough, Savior who forgives, Triumph over Temptation. Pray is at the heart of following Christ. We are driven to prayer because evil and destructive forces are real and powerful on earth. But God is more powerful still. My prayer is that you are at a place where you are desiring prayer, where you are asking how to pray, where you are wanting to commune with God daily. Think C-H-R-I-S-T. Overcome evil with prayer.