Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Daily Reading: Luke 11v1-13 'The Disciples Prayer'

Here are some things people have said about prayer, I wonder if you identify with them:

  • I pray but it doesn’t seem to go beyond the ceiling.
  • I try to pray but I can’t stop my mind from wandering.
  • My prayers are just a shopping list of things I want, it shouldn’t be like that should it?
  • Why pray if everything has been determined beforehand?
  • I’m not sure God answers my prayers – am I doing something wrong?
  • Does it matter which person of the Trinity I pray to?
Do you relate to some of those? We know that prayer is a privilege but we have so many questions about it, we have struggles with it. I wonder how you felt as we read the passage this morning? Did you mentally think about the time set aside or not this week to pray and feel either a twinge of pride or guilt?

Luke 11:1-13 is not the equivalent of the verbal slipper. Apparently it was a previous generation’s correctional implement of choice – when the slipper came out you knew you had done something very wrong. Luke doesn’t include this to discipline or make Christians feel guilty about their struggles with prayer. Why does Luke write? So Theophilus knows beyond a shadow of a doubt and lives in the light of it. He writes to encourage disciples to make the most of their privilege.  It is not here to guilt us into praying but to remind and inspire us to make the most of the privilege that is ours.

(1)As Luke describes the scene what do we see? Jesus is in a certain place, praying. It’s a pattern you see in Luke. His disciples ask him to teach them how to pray.  But there is a danger with this opening verse of oversimplifying application, sometimes we hear or think something like this. Luke 11 shows Jesus praying therefore we should pray. The danger is it becomes a legalistic thing, part of the religious rigmarole – we pray because he did. But as Jesus explains prayer to his disciples he gives 3 reasons which motivate us to pray.

We pray because… God is our Father.

One of the big questions is what prompts the disciples to ask Jesus for a prayer lesson, after all they were Jews, they would all have been familiar with prayer. If you just take one feast Passover which they celebrated every year they would have prayed a number of times as part of that meal, in Luke 18 Jesus tells the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector in which both pray. So what prompts the disciples to ask ‘Lord, teach us how to pray..?’  Because there is something different about the way Jesus prays. And he teaches a pattern of prayer to them, this is the disciples prayer, and it is relational, based on grace.

The wonder of this prayer is in its opening line; “Father” – sinners, rebels, imperfect disciples are taught to call God Father. It is a sign of the new access to God, the new relationship that Jesus comes to bring as he goes up to Jerusalem(10v22). A relationship where barriers are demolished, sin is dealt with and disciples can come to God by grace calling him Father.  We don’t earn salvation as we pray we respond to salvation as we pray.

But notice that the relationship we are given continues in the substance of the Disciples Prayer. Jesus teaches disciples are to share the Father’s concerns – his glory, fame, reputation and his holiness. And secondly disciples are concerned for God’s kingdom, his rule, reign and recognition both now on earth but also its full realisation when Jesus comes again.  Our praying doesn’t depend on what we do, but on what Christ has done. Our praying and concerns in prayer flow from our salvation and the relationship we have with God.

Isn't that liberating.  I am not barred from praying today because I did not pray yesterday or because I did this or that.  Neither am I able to come to God today full of the bravado of my good record.  We neither come crawling or crowing when we come to pray because we always come to God our Father based on what Jesus has done for us.  I am accepted when I pray because of Jesus!  That frees my to always pray, no matter what.  Why not make the most of that right now and pray?  Why not begin by praising God and thanking him that you can pray because of Jesus?

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