If you could stand face to face with Jesus and ask one question, what would it be?
- When will the COVID crisis be over?
- What are the winning numbers for this week’s Lotto?
- How can I fix my marriage?
- How can I repair my relationship with my kids?
- How can I get that promotion at work?
After watching Jesus in action for a short time, His disciples had one question for Him, teach us to pray! Prayer, at its most basic definition, is communication with God.
Communication is critical to the health and longevity of any relationship. Without it, two people will drift apart.
Luke 11, we find Jesus answering “how to pray” by establishing a foundation for this multifaceted discipline.
Without question, Jesus modeled a life of prayer that was set apart from His peers. Jewish prayer, in the first century, was heavily liturgical. It was common for Rabbi’s to have a prayer ritual that they would pass on to their students.
It consisted of reciting a Psalm and/or some other Old Testament text and repeating a form prayers. These liturgical prayers were not wrong, but they lacked the intimacy God had intended in praying.
Jesus’ lesson on prayer deals with your approach. Your approach is critical.
As one pilot instructor stated, “it is possible to make a bad landing from a good approach, but it is almost impossible to make a good landing from a bad approach.”
Let’s unpack six approaches to prayer that Jesus gave to encourage and inspire prayer.
#1 He is a Father.
The title “father” reinforces that as believers, we are sons and daughters of God. You do not pray to a stranger or to someone who is relationally detached but your Heavenly Father.
This means He is not merely a manager of resources we plead with or a tyrant we beg, but a good father who loves to give good things to His children, Matthew 7:11.
Maybe you did not have a kind or generous father growing up, and relating to God as so is a challenge, based on your experience.
But, He is compassionate and a giver. There is no need to negotiate in prayer or barter with your past or future behavior to get Him to hear from you.
#2 Hallowed be your name.
Hallowed means holy. This statement reminds us that we are going to a Holy God.
In Judaism, the people had a holy fear of God. They knew how the prophets became weak as dead men when they would see God in a vision.
His holy name reminds us that we can pray with confidence because there is no one greater.
#3 Your kingdom come.
This is directed at our focus. How often do we pray about temporary things when we are called to live with eternity in view?
It is easy to get caught up in our desire, our plans, our wishes, even our comforts, that we forsake God’s perfect and pleasing will.
We are created for eternity, Ecclesiastes 3:11, yet we often pray as if we were made for this life alone. Heaven is forever. Life on earth is but a vapor, James 4:14. Pray with God’s kingdom in mind.
#4 Daily Bread
This phrase brings balance to our eternal mindset. The word bread illustrates our dependence on God to provide for our daily necessities. The word daily demonstrates how God wants to go with us throughout our day. He waits for us to invite Him along for our day. You are never alone.
This fifth approach Jesus taught may be the biggest obstacle to effective prayer. As a Pastor, I have counseled more people on this subject more than any other.
#5 Forgive as we forgive everyone.
Jesus died once and for all, Romans 6:10. He paid our sin, in full, on the cross. As a result, we must forgive others.
As one commentator put it, “The hand that reaches out to God for forgiveness cannot withhold forgiveness to others.”
Because we have been forgiven, we are to forgive others. Without forgiving others, you will remain stuck.
When we approach prayer, we must be willing to forgive others as God has forgiven us. Tied to the approach to forgiving others is our sixth and final approach.
#6 Keep us from temptation.
This is another critical approach to effective prayer. If we ask, He will guide us from temptation.
- Sin separates us from God.
- Secret sin will keep us from praying.
- Active sin will drive us away from His presence as conviction makes us feel uncomfortable.
God hears you when you pray. He has eliminated every obstacle that may prevent us from praying. Let these truths ignite a passion for prayer in your life!