Day 143: May 23, 2013

Today's Reading(s)

Luke 11:1-13 Read Online


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Today's Reflection

Key Verse(s)

He was praying in a certain place, and when He finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John also taught his disciples.”

—Luke 11:1

Lord, Teach Us to Pray
by Sally Cressman, Member of Brentwood Baptist Campus

Two mice fell into a bucket of cream. One mouse quickly gave up swimming and drowned, but the other mouse kept swimming and churned the cream into butter and climbed out. Amen.

You movie buffs may recall this unorthodox “prayer” from the movie Catch Me If You Can. It depicts the true life of con man, check forger, and imposter Frank Abagnale, played by Leonardo DiCaprio.

While visiting his girlfriend’s family, the father invited Frank to pray before the meal. Drawing from the fond memories of his father, he said the only prayer that came to mind. This young man had obviously never prayed before. He could’ve taken a cue from the disciples when they implored Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray.”

Let’s unpack Jesus’ prayer so we, too, can be better pray-ers.

Jesus prayer life was intentional. He prayed in a certain place (verse 1). The similar thread weaving through Jesus’ recorded prayers is that He paused from His day, walked away, and went straight to His Father. He didn’t ignore or delay this time.

Prayer is based on relationship. Jesus addresses God as “Father.” Christianity revolves around relationship: the Son to the Father, the Father to the Son, and us to the Father through Jesus Christ.

David Platt confirms this idea in his book, Follow Me: “But this is where Christianity stands alone…He [Jesus] did not say: ‘Follow certain rules. Observe specific regulations. Perform ritual duties. Pursue a particular path.’ Instead He said, ‘Follow Me.’”

When we go to our certain place to pray, we’re meeting with a Person, the living God.

The disciples were instructed to recognize God the Father as hallowed. The word hallowed in Greek means to “honor as holy.” We start our prayers by honoring the Creator of the heavens and the earth—the Most High God, the Lord God Almighty.

Each week, my College Moms in Prayer Group starts our prayer time using a different name or attribute of God. This helps us take our eyes off ourselves and onto our Father.

The phrase “thy kingdom come” pointed the disciples to God’s view of things, His order of events, and His will in our life. The disciples could show their longing for God’s will to be done by praying to Him, “Thy kingdom come.”

God provides what we need. God’s providence comes through dependence on Him for daily bread, forgiveness of sins, and resisting temptation. Years earlier, God taught the Israelites this dependence by giving them enough manna for a day. Day after day (except on the Sabbath) for 40 years they collected their “daily bread.”

Receiving and extending forgiveness is essential to the relationship of others and God, and thus is an essential component of the prayer life.

The apostle John writes, “If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). In regard to temptation, Jesus’ instructed His followers to pray they be delivered from situationsthat would cause them to sin.

Jesus concludes this lesson on prayer with two parables that teach us to persist in asking God for what we need. The Message translates verse 10 this way: “Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This is not a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in.”

Maybe the con man, Abagnale, was on to something in his prayer. Remember the second mouse who churned the cream into butter? His persistence paid off. And so Jesus says to us too; “Ask, and it is shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you.”

Ask, seek, and knock until your cream turns to butter.

 

Reflection Questions

  1. Do you have a certain place where you meet Jesus each day? Why did you choose this place and time? If not, when and where could you meet Jesus?
  2. Jesus started His prayers with praise. Mentally go through the alphabet and think of names or attributes of God for each letter. This month start your prayers with praise using one name or attribute of God each day.
  3. How can you include the integral components of Jesus’ prayer in your prayers: praise, forgiveness, praying for your needs, praying God’s will be done and resisting temptation?
  4. Is there a prayer group you could join at church to improve your prayer life? Ask around, there are many groups already meeting that may need you.

About the Author

Sally Cressman

Since 2004, Sally and her family have been members of Brentwood Baptist. On Sunday mornings, you’ll find her in the Children’s Ministry area teaching kindergartners. She’s married to Drew and they have three children: Kendall, Derek, and Hannah. Her hobbies include biking on the trails in Crockett Park, reading fiction and non-fiction, and writing. Some day, she’d like to attend a Packers game at Lambeau Field in December or January.