Summary: Jesus teaches us to be good spiritual conversationalists.
I don’t know if any of you here have noticed, but I’m a talker. I enjoy sitting down and having conversations with people. Now a good conversationalist (not saying that I am) is able to maintain a balance between talking and listening. It’s a two way street.
The life of a Christian is one big spiritual conversation, our conversation with God. Last week we talked about spiritual priorities and how important it is to sit down at our Savior’s feet to listen to him speak. That is by far the most important part of our spiritual conversation. What we have to say never is quite as important as what our Savior has to tell us in his Word. But it is a conversation. God also wants us to speak to him. We do that through prayer.
Prayer is the language of a Christian. Dogs bark. Cats meow. Christians pray. In our text for this morning, Jesus is going to teach us about prayer. And I want you to pay close attention as we listen to Jesus’ words. He is going to give us a model of what to ask for in our prayers and then through the use of two illustrations he will show us how we can pray to him boldly and with confidence. So we read from Luke chapter 11...
I. Lord, teach us to pray for the right things
Our text begins with the words, “One day Jesus was praying in a certain place.” The time and place aren’t that important. The fact that Jesus was praying, however, is. Jesus sets a great example for us. Throughout his ministry, he would often go off to the wilderness, to a mountain, to a solitary place to pray. Jesus was in a constant conversation with his Father in heaven.
Last week we talked about priorities. We saw that what we do during the day reflects the priorities that we have in our life. And if that is true, where does it leave God? How much time every day do we spend in prayer?
Well, Martin Luther, the Reformer, was a full time seminary professor, a prolific author, a full time pastor of the church in Wittenberg, as well as helping many churches in Germany find the truth of the Gospel. He was a man that worked 24/7. Now, Martin Luther once remarked that if he didn’t spend at least three hours a day in prayer, he wouldn’t have time for anything.
Sounds illogical, doesn’t it? But God promises us that whatever we dedicate to him – be it our time, our talents, our treasure – he promises to bless us and give us much more. There really is no excuse for our lack of prayer. How much time does it take to say, “Thank you Lord.” “Help me Lord. “Forgive me Lord.”
So, anyway, Jesus gets done praying and one of his disciples says to him, “Lord teach us to pray.” And so Jesus gave them and us the model prayer which we call today the Lord’s Prayer. As you can see here in the text, the whole prayer isn’t even included in Luke’s account. For the entire prayer, take a look at Matthew chapter six.
Sadly it would be impossible to cover in detail each part of the Lord’s Prayer this morning. The truth is that we could spend a bunch of Sundays talking about Jesus’ model prayer. So this morning we are going to make just a couple of observations.
First of all a footnote about the Lord’s Prayer. As we see here, this was an example, a model, a teaching tool for the disciples. The Lord’s Prayer is not more powerful than any other prayer spoken by a Christian. It does not have magical powers to fend off ghosts and vampires. The simple repetition of it’s words does not bring us special blessings from God.
But how often don’t we just repeat the words of the Lord’s Prayer without even thinking about what we are saying? If I’m having a conversation with you and it appears that I’m not even paying attention to what I’m saying or what you’re saying, how would that make you feel? How do you think it makes God feel?
The Lord’s Prayer, however, is a very special prayer, because it teaches us what God wants us to ask for. The Lord’s Prayer in it’s entirety is made up of seven petitions, i.e., seven requests, seven parts. And out of those seven petitions, six are for spiritual things: asking God to forgive us; to protect us from temptation; to help us keep his name holy, and so on. Only one of the petitions deals with our physical needs. “Give us today our daily bread.”
Now, what are the things we normally pray for? When we are sick we ask that God heal us. We ask him for a good job, a new car, the money to make it through the week. But how often do we ask for more faith? How often do we ask for forgiveness? How often do we ask for help to forgive others? How often do we ask that God use us to spread his Word?