And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.( Luke 11:1)
I really want to give you, my dear readers, the best possible teaching on the most practicable and usable subject…prayer.
How we need prayer! We need to develop a steady communion with God in these last days. There are so many soul deadening distractions, and so much to clutter and even to crowd out the inner life. There is so much more temporal gratification to reading articles, watching Youtube, and entertaining ourselves with out little computers and other modern implements of distraction.
Prayer is not carnally gratifying. Let’s face it. Prayer is death of self, and death to the World, it requires us to say no to ourselves, especially those impulses to entertain or amuse ourselves.
But prayer is to the Spiritual life, as breathing is to the physical. We need God. We need to know the sense of God, and to have the touch of God on our lives. We desperately need to know the secret joy of answered prayer.
Luke 11 is a priceless gift to us, from the LORD himself, because it is the basic teaching of Jesus on prayer. In it Jesus takes us through the basic teaching on communion with God, in response to a request from one of the disciples,”Lord, Teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples”.
There is a devotional author of the previous century, named Adolph Saphir who has written a wonderful book on prayer, called “The Lord’s Prayer”, by which I have benefitted greatly. I highly recommend it and will draw from it as necessary in this teaching.
Saphir starts the book out by explaining why it is that Jesus is uniquely qualified to teach us prayer.
Jesus has a perfect knowledge of God’s character, and purpose, (being God). Jesus is completely sympathetic with all that God the Father requires of men. At the same time, Jesus has a perfect knowledge of man; his condition, needs and wants. Jesus knows us, and in all of our weakness, ignorance and contradiction, Jesus is perfectly sympathetic with all of us.
To quote Saphir,
“ Who knows God the father, but the only begotten Son, the true and faithful witness, who is himself the brightness of his glory, the revelation of His name and will? He who was with the Father from all eternity, reveals unto us God, and possessing the full and perfect knowledge of the Father’s will and character, is able to teach us what petitions are according to God’s will and glory…” ( The Lord’s Prayer, Saphir, Adolph Keren Ahvah Meshihit. Jerusalem)
Jesus is also supremely qualified to teach us prayer. to quote Saphir again,
“In like manner, Jesus only knows us. To know man, all that is in man, is only possible to One who is the perfect man. He must be the true representative of man, the exponent of humanity, the embodiment of the divine ideal of man.None but Jesus can justly call himself the Son of man… Separate He was from sinners, and yet for that very reason His knowledge of our state, our heart, our wants, our difficulties, our sorrows, our temptations our, destiny, is perfect. And as his knowledge is perfect, his sympathy his perfect, his love infinite, his tenderness unspeakable.”( ibid)
God Himself appointed Jesus as the Mediator, the High Priest, as well as the teacher of Prayer. The specific petitions of the LORD’s prayer in Luke 11, come from the very one who left Heaven, became a man, and was sent by God to be the friend of sinners.
God knows what He wants, and He also knows what man needs. Thus we can have full confidence that the requests given us by Jesus in the Lord’s prayer are fully in the will of God.
On the other hand, we men are so estranged from God, and for the most part ignorant of the ways and desires of the LORD, due to the fall of man and the corruption of our nature. We need to be taught of God, to pray to him. This is what makes the LORD”s prayer such a precious gift of a teaching.
Jesus was not the first one in scripture to literally give us the Words to Prayer. Hosea 14 comes to mind, where the LORD in his longing for faithless Israel to return to him in humility and to receive forgiveness and restoration. The Prophet is told to give the people the very Words to say to God,
O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. Take with you words, and turn to the Lord: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips. Asshur shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses: neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods: for in thee the fatherless findeth mercy. I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him.( Hosea 14:1-4)
God so wants communion with man, He condescends to teach us the very Words, and petitions to make unto Him.
Jesus not only teaches us prayer, He is Prayer…. Think about that.
Psalm 109:4 are the Words and thoughts of the Messiah. Saphir, who was a Hebrew Speaking Messianic Jew, asserts that the words of the 109th Psalm literally say, “…I am prayer”.
The Messiah is prayer. His entire earthly life was communion with God. His mission was Mediation. Even now, his life is constant intercession. The cross is prayer. It is the only acceptable human offering to God. “If you make his Life an offering for sin…” says the 53rd chapter of Isaiah. How is it that christians have offered prayer for centuries? Always ,”In the name of Jesus…”.
The only way we can ever be acceptable to God is by the offering of Jesus. We sing the song, “Just as I am, without one plea, but that they blood was shed for me…”, if that isn’t prayer what is?
We will be looking in small chunks at Jesus’ teaching of prayer. I hope you will join us.