Summary: Two part sermon on some of Jesus’ teaching on prayer
Jesus on Prayer – 1 Luke 11 1-13.
Gladstone Baptist Church – 24/9/06 am
S1 - I have read so many books on prayer, it is not funny, but still my prayer life is pretty hopeless. I find praying difficult. Can anyone relate to me?
Over the next 2 weeks I want to look at some of Jesus’ teaching on prayer. As I began to prepare this last week for my sermon, I went to my book shelf and found that I have a heap of books on prayer and as I flicked through them, I found that I had read most of them – some good brownie points there.
I then went to the library and I found about 70 books there on prayer. There was “Power through Prayer”, “Pray in the Spirit”, “Bible based praying”, “Too busy not to pray” “The necessity of prayer”, - So many incredibly inspirational titles - “Miracles happen when you prayer”, “The Secret power of prayer”. As I read them, do you know what happened? I started to feel really guilty.
Why was that? I don’t know about you, but I’ve read heaps on prayer. I’ve heard a lot of sermons on it. I know a lot about how prayer works and why we should pray and how we can pray and different methods of prayer, but when it comes down to it, my prayer life really stinks. I am really slack at praying.
When I try to pray on my own, I get distracted – by the smallest of things. My mind wanders and before long, I can be thinking of something so far removed from what I began praying about.
When I do manage to pray regularly, I find that often they are just trite little formulas that rolls off the tongue. They are just words with no meaning – almost like a magic spell I pronounce. A bit like the graces we say or the songs we sometimes sing at church - meaningless.
When I attend prayer meetings, I sometimes resent them – not because I don’t think they are worth it, but because very few others seem to think they are important enough to come to and I resent the fact that I have to try to inject life into them, when my prayer life is bad at the best of times. At this point – I must confess that I did not attend last week’s prayer breakfast. I could give you 101 reasons why it slipped my mind, but the fact remained it wasn’t foremost in my mind to be there and I wasn’t there – And I need to apologise to you the church family for that. I do believe that praying about our new Senior Pastor is probably the most important step in this process – but unfortunately sometimes my actions don’t live up to my words.
The truth is, I do find that my prayer life is best when I am praying in groups. Maybe it is not wanting to look like a raving lunatic, but I actually find that I can concentrate and think about what I am praying for when there are others present.
Can anyone else here relate to me? Is there anyone here that struggles with prayer or would like to have a better prayer life? Let me see you – I need some encouragement that I’m not the only one that struggles with this.
S2 - The disciples didn’t find prayer easy either – They were taught prayer, but they still didn’t really understand its importance – they slept as Jesus prayed for his life in the Garden.
As I read my bible, I find some great prayers. Some people had incredible faith and spent hours in prayer. King David was a man who met God in prayer regularly. His Psalms are records of his prayers. Daniel was a man of prayer. He spent time with God every day and this is what resulted in him thrown into the fiery furnace. Paul was a man who spent time with God in prayer and praise – even when in prison.
The apostles were also men of prayer, the bible records them going to the temple to pray. But as I look into it, I don’t think that they were always prayer warriors. While Jesus was here on earth, I don’t see the disciples as great giants of prayer. I see them as people struggling with the concept of prayer.
I know that as good Jews they would be familiar with prayer - they would have learnt to pray from a young age. But often this was just ritualistic prayer. Going through the motions of the ceremony. They didn’t have the living breathing prayer life that Jesus obviously had.
Even at the end of their 3 year apprenticeship, when Jesus asked them to pray with him, they promptly fell asleep. Prayer just wasn’t a priority for them. They were like us, struggling to pray.