Friday, September 25, 2015

"LORD, TEACH US TO ____."

Do you want to know Christ's daily routine when He was here on earth? "Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives," (Luke 21:27). It is no wonder Scripture records - "Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written." (John 21:25)

His teaching astonished the people (Matthew 22:33). His teaching amazed the peopled so much because He taught with authority (Mark 1:22). His teaching was "hard" at times and difficult to "accept"After Christ spoke about Himself as The Bread of Life, "many of His disciples said, 'This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?'" (John 6:60) 

However, from all the astonishment, from all the amazement, from all the difficulty the Disciples encountered with the teachings of Jesus - there was one thing they asked to be taught. Daniel Kolenda says it like this - 
  • "They never asked, 'Teach us how to do miracles, or to be dynamic communicators, or to be highly effective and successful. The one thing about His life that was so compelling and appealing that they wanted to imitate was His prayer life." (Unlocking the Miraculous Through Faith and Prayer)
Luke 11:1 records that one of the Disciples inquired about this subject of prayer. 
  • "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.'” (Luke 11:1)
Why is prayer so important? I am sure there are a myriad of answers, but consider my three (35,000-foot-level) observations.
  1. Prayer is so important because it keeps our Focus On God. Questions can go to God alone. Answers can come from God alone. Direction/counsel can come from God alone.
  2. Prayer is so important because it is The Most Healthy Way to Vent. God understands. He knows all things to begin with. However, He became flesh in Christ Jesus and was tempted in every way, but did not sin (Hebrews 4:15). “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
  3. Prayer is so important because it is a powerful way to Continually, Intimately and Respectfully Commune with God. Prayer is not only a set time during a day. Ephesians 6:18 and 1 Thessalonians 5:17 encourage believers to be connected to God in prayer - continually. During these times of connection with The Lord, prayer and supplication are naturally a part. However, do not neglect The Lord's track record of faithfulness and worship Him for that.
I have found that from this continual quality time with God will come answers from Him, a changed heart/attitude, and the right things to pray about. Mr. Kolenda emphasizes my third outcome  - "God loves it when we pray the things that are on His heart more than our own. One of the highest purposes of prayer and intercession is to help bring His Kingdom into the earth so that He will be glorified."

Prayer is respectful communication with God. Prayer is motive-driven. Is your motive going into prayer - what can I get from God in this session? Consider Luke 6:38 - "Give and it will be given to you, pressed down, shaken together and running over will be poured into your lap." Wow! What do you think would happen if we gave to God a willing heart to pray what He desires. I believe God would then bless you according to His will, knowing your desires (Psalm 37:4). 

James and John chime in on this point. James says - "When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures." (James 4:3) John says - "Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him." (1 John 5:14-15) 

"With God, the supernatural is natural and the impossible is possible. Christianity is intended to be a supernatural existence from beginning to end, and the demonstration of God's power should be the norm." (Kolenda) Likening your effective prayer walk with God to the job of an ax-man/lumberjack, Daniel says,
"the sharpness of your ax is as important as the strength of your swing. My friend, it is possible to live FOR the Lord and work FOR the Lord and yet make very little eternal impact. It is possible to spend your days vigorously spinning your wheels without ever bearing 'fruit that remains'. If you want to live a powerful and effective Christian life, you need to spend time with Jesus. It is in intimacy with the Lord that your 'ax' will be sharpened, your faith will increase, and you will begin to move on the supernatural plane."

So, I speak to myself as well as encourage you - of all things that could have been requested, request of God what the Disciple requested of Jesus - "Lord, teach us to pray."