Last week we asked this main question (in case you missed it). When 2030 rolls around, what will your decade look like? Will you have accomplished what you hoped for, impacted what you prayed for, changed what you were passionate about, become more of the person God designed you to be?
So much pressure??? Not sure I can handle it.
If any of the things you plan or dream for will ever happen, it will be because we decided on doing the daily, weekly, monthly, and even yearly things, regularly and routinely, to get us to those goals, dreams or hopes.
Some of us are afraid of routine – either because it’s hard to be disciplined or because it feels boring to not be spontaneous. But if we don’t do certain things all the time, over and over again, we will never see the progress, success, growth, or trajectory we are striving for. Sounds like self help stuff, but it’s not. Think about it in relation to these things…
– Craft (i.e. music, art, building)
– – – – – – –
When it comes to our faith journey, what is the one thing we must, and can do, to grow as a follower of Jesus?
It’s not an action like serving or loving others, which is of course very important.
instead, it’s a discipline, a practice, something beneath the surface that enables you to be who you are and act the way you do, above the surface.
What is prayer? (conversation/time with God)
Why do we pray? (develops our faith, heart, and life)
How do we pray? Hmmmmm
In Luke’s gospel, chapter 11, we read a number of things about prayer: The Lord’s prayer, a parable on prayer, the persistent nature of prayer, and God’s fatherly heart towards us through prayer.
Let’s walk through it so you can see what exactly it says…
“When you pray, say: “‘Father, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation.’”
– – – – – –
Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.
– – – – – –
“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
– – – – – –
“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
The Lord’s prayer is of course the guide, the manual if you will. It’s Jesus’ best example and our best model for prayer.
Jesus uses this prayer to give us structure, reliability, liturgy, together giving us words to use and a formula to emulate.
When you know what to say, use the Lord’s prayer as a guide.
When you don’t know what to say, use the Lord’s prayer as your content.
The parable is about a friend who comes to your house at night begging for food. As interesting and unique of a story as it is, Jesus uses it to tell us never to give up…to be persistent…he understands how much we desire the things that we pray for, especially when what we desire is what we actually need. Jesus gets it. God gets it.
Then Jesus reminds us that prayer is about asking, seeking, and knocking. God will give, you will find, the door will be open.
And finally, Jesus compares God’s answers and gifts to our earthly parent’s gifts. If we, who are flawed, broken, often selfish, manage to give good gifts to our kids, how much more will God, who we pray to, give good gifts to us?
That in a nutshell is Luke 11. So much there right?
But how does this chapter start? That’s what intrigues me today. Why does Jesus get into all the things we read in verses 2-13?
One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
Jesus taught by example. He didn’t just say ‘pray’. He showed us by words and actions.
Jesus was praying in a certain place. A location. A space he dedicated for prayer.
Jesus prayed for an allotted period of time. He started and finished.
His disciples are so intrigued by this, by him, and they ask him: Can you teach us how to pray? Can you help us figure this whole praying thing out?
From that short verse and short exchange, we get the rest of Luke 11. Amazing.
– – – – – –
A few things about figuring out prayer. Some inspired from what we read, and some from other observations.
To be human is to pray…
“Prayer is our humble answer to the inconceivable surprise of living.”
Life throws you surprises, and lemons, and difficulties. Prayer is us admitting that we need help to navigate through it all
One writer, while noting that the latin word for prayer, “precarius” concludes that we pray because life is precarious….risky, unstable, marvellous, yet uncertain.
Think about the many things that lead us to prayer?
Now…think about when we ask those going through some kind of difficulty, if they’re spiritual or not, following Jesus or not, will probably say, “absolutely…you can prayer for us” or maybe a little more subtle “sure, that would be nice”.
I’ve heard this many times, “I had no where else to go, so I prayed.”
David Grohl form the Foo Fighters, when his drummer overdosed at a festival in England admits to desperately praying for him. He said, “I’d talk to God out loud as I was walking…I’m not a religious person, but I was out of my mind, so confused, frightened, and heartbroken.”
Elisabeth Gilbert, in her famous book, Eat, Pray, Love, writes, “Hello, God. How are you? I’m Liz. It’s nice to meet you…I haven’t spoken directly to you before…Can you please help me? I am in desperate need of help. I don’t know what to do.”
There is something inside of us that just cries out when we have nowhere else to turn. And if we believe it fully or not, we feel like the person who is listening on the other end is God, or at least someone or something much more powerful for than us, and because of that we find ourselves praying. A Canadian Psychologist, David G. Benner, once said that prayer is our native language. I tend to agree.
Praying is more human than humans even realize.
It’s biblical to pray…
Moses prayed. King David Prayer. The prophets prayed. Paul Prayed. Jesus prayed. Over and over again, men and women in the narrative of scripture find them selves praying…on their knees, in a jail, on a hill, in a pit, at table full of food, in poverty when food is scarce. Prayer is everywhere in the scripture.
Too many verses to quote.
The Bible affirms in us our inner human desire to be heard by God, to hear God – to talk to God and to listen to God.
Prayer happens in two places: Everywhere & Somewhere.
Two words in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 tell us that prayer can happen everywhere. It’s there that Paul says, ‘Pray continually’ (pray with out ceasing). And if you actually do this, you know that you can’t continually pray in the same place…it’s impossible.
This should be both encouraging and challenging:
– Encouraging…because I literally pray anywhere.
– Challenging…because there’s actually no reason not to pray.
However, being able to pray everywhere is not an excuse to not pick a place or a space to pray.
Genesis 28:16 says, Surely the Lord is in this place and I knew it not…
Jesus says in Mark 1:35, Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.
And in Luke 11:1 we read, One day Jesus was praying in a certain place.
(Also check out Luke 6:12 & 9:28)
Think about all the things packed into Luke 11…
Where does it start?
Jesus praying in a ‘certain place’.
If anybody could’ve prayed anywhere and every where, it was Jesus, but even he went to ‘certain’ places to pray.
Richard Foster says, “…find a place of focus – a loft, a garden, a spare room, an attic, even a designated chair – somewhere away from the routine of life, out of the path of distractions. Allow this spot to become a sacred ‘tent of meeting’ for you and God’.
Think about this…For prayer to happen everywhere, it has to start happening somewhere.
Place matters. A sacred space. It’s not sacred in it’s own right, but becomes sacred because of what happens in that space.
Find your space, your ‘certain place’, and begin to build a pattern of prayer in your life. You won’t regret it. I can guarantee you that in 10 years you’ll back and know that prayer was one of the things, if not the main thing, for getting you were you are and where you will be, but more importantly, where and who God wants you to be.