By Kirk Roberts, Elder
Jesus taught us, and showed us, how to pray
Whether in the garden or in a desert, in the upper room, in a garden, or everywhere in between. We can’t get around it. Everywhere we turn in studying the character of Jesus, we see Him on His knees before the Father – publicly and privately – in fellowship with Him. Even considering the reaction of the disciples, we get an insight to what was truly important. He did a lot of stuff: they were there for most of Jesus’ miracles: water into wine, walking on the water, healing the sick, casting out demons, calming the storms, raising the dead. Even to the last words of the gospel of John leave us with: “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I supposed that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”
They recorded amazing signs from heaven, and parables/lessons Jesus taught. And yet with all those amazing things they witnessed, what was the one thing they asked Jesus to show/teach them? In maybe one of the purest, most insightful scenes of their lives they asked this: Luke 11:1 One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray…” Teach us to pray: we realize by watching and listening to you that if we are to be like you, to truly be your disciples, we must learn how to be in prayer like you.
We’ve all found ourselves at times in life when we know we need to pray, but sometimes we don’t know where to start – much like the disciples. Jesus, not only through His spoken word, but also His living words showed us much about prayer, many, many examples of how to get ready, and this morning I offer you 5:
We must prepare our hearts in reverence and obedience. Remember when the blind man was healed? In being questioned by the Pharisees after his healing, the blind man testifies to the character he witnessed in Jesus changing his life forever. Even those already touched by Christ realize that we must put our heart right, follow His instructions and put God in His proper place
We must pray in Christ’s name. When the disciple Phillip asked Jesus to show them the Father, Jesus responded that our way to the Father is through Him. We must pray in accordance with Christ’s name, with His character, for character does matter!
Mutual communion with God: Jesus was illustrating to the disciples the vine and the branches – how if healthy we are staying attached to Him and growing from His nourishment. We need to spend time with Him to know Him, His words and His will for our lives.
Obedience: John, later in his letters to the young church remembers the personal example Jesus gave him while he was still with him and passes that on to us: “Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him.” (1 John 3:21-22). What we do in obeying his words builds our character that prepares us to ask from the right perspective
In God’s will. In perhaps the most difficult, yet easy-to-relate to prayer of petition in scripture, Jesus shows us exactly how we should ask…“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42). Jesus knew this – praying in accordance with the will of the Father – was more important than the answer!
When you think about the answer to the disciples’ question – “teach us how to pray” – yes, He gave us the Lord’s Prayer as a model. But more than that he lived it out, in a life of prayerfulness, and through His character continued to show us why to pray and how to pray. So that we will not be asking for anything, or placing demands on the Father that are out of His will!
So there I sat, on our Lanai in Hawaii (a different trip). Looking over the same beautiful creation, listening to the same beautiful sounds, having processed and pondered these, and other examples from Jesus on what a prayerful relationship with the Father could look like. Hoping these new challenges truly would change my prayer focus, thinking: maybe the desert isn’t such a bad place.
I do believe now that God draws us periodically into the desert to meet Him: where our worldly provisions run out or don’t seem to mean as much, when our crutches no longer hold us up, when our isolation from “man’s world” is complete, when all things of daily life we rely on and distract us are removed. It is there He meets us with only Himself for nourishment and replenishment
And that is why Christ’s life of prayer is so critical for us to follow. Jesus knew that only the Father could fill Him and sustain Him, so who am I to think anything different?
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