November 1, 2023

November 1, 2023

Author: Pastor Gordon Cook
November 01, 2023

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say, ‘Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.’”

Luke 11:1-4

If I ask you what is the most important private spiritual discipline? I think most people would answer the question, prayer. In the Sermon on the Mount you see that our Lord, in terms of the spiritual disciplines, fasting, alms giving, gives the greater focus of attention upon prayer and he assumes that we will pray. In Matthew 6, “When you pray,” I think three times, “When you pray,” “When you pray.” Then in Matthew 7 he gives three commands, Ask, Seek and Knock, and then three promises. So there's a great stress in the Sermon on the Mount upon prayer. And here in Luke 11 Jesus sets the beautiful example. It's interesting, when the disciples come to Jesus, what do they do? Well they ask him, “Teach us how to pray.” They could have asked him a lot of questions, couldn't they? They could have said, “Teach us how to preach.” They didn't do that. They could have said, “Teach us how to perform miracles.” They didn't do that. But they ask him, “Teach us how to pray.” So again, there's this time lapse between chapter 6 of Matthew where he taught them the Lord's Prayer, and now you come to chapter 11 in Luke, there's a time frame, maybe a year, a year and a half, that they have been praying, they've learned how to pray. But it's obvious they want to learn more. They don't believe they've arrived. So they're coming to Jesus and say, “Teach us how to pray.” They understood the importance of prayer and they wanted to pray better.

I trust we all want to learn more. We all want to pray more and grow when it comes to our prayer life. Let me just give you a few practical suggestions as to how we can pray better.

1. Follow the disciples’ example. What does that mean? Well, they want to learn how to pray so they go to Jesus. Make that your prayer, “Teach us how to pray.” And look at Christ's response, he gives them The Lord's Prayer. The Lord's Prayer is a didactic prayer, it has a teaching purpose. So when you and I find ourselves struggling when it comes to praying, it’s not a bad idea to go back to the Lord's Prayer just to get your bearings when you get off track. When you find that your prayers are shrinking, they get a little too self-focused, go back to the Lord's Prayer. “Our Father, which are in heaven, hallowed be your name.” If you’re like the disciples, you want to pray better, you want to become more proficient, teach us how to pray, that's a prayer request you can make and use the Lord's Prayer. You can use that quite regularly.

2. Make good use of your Bible in general. You have a lot of prayers in your Bible. You go to the Psalms, they're full of prayers. You can go to the prayers of the apostle Paul and you can study those prayers, you can learn those prayers by making good use of your Bible. How can we pray better? Well, pray that you would make good use of your Bible in general, study the prayers in your Bible.

3. Take advantage of the corporate prayer meetings. We learn by example. If you feel you’re diffident when it comes to prayer, a lot of us are, you can listen to the men who pray and learn. You begin to emulate them. You don't even realize you're doing it, but you're learning to pray by listing to the men who pray.

4. Read, study the best of the best. And who are the best of the best? Well, I think an argument could be made the Puritans. The Puritans were the best of the best. And there's three books you can purchase. I'm sure most of you are familiar with the Valley of Vision that can be bought in the leather bound format, you can even get it on a CD and you can listen to those prayers. The Valley of Vision, those are prayers by the Puritans. A more recent book on the Puritan prayers is titled Piercing Heaven, the editor is Robert Elmer. And then the third book on the Puritan prayers is titled In His Presence and the man who put it together is Tim Chester. It's the Puritan prayers and just read those prayers. I read some of them today and if you look at the prayers they're often Trinitarian prayers. They go to God the Father, but they go to Jesus; they also go to the Holy Spirit. They make good use of the doctrine of the Trinity. Something else you'll notice about the Puritan prayers, they covered everything: prayers of confession, prayers of thanksgiving, prayers of praise, prayers during times of sickness, prayers to face temptation, prayers for God's Word, prayers for the lost, prayers for the church. They prayed in the morning, they prayed in the evening and you even have prayers for help. Even prayers like this prayer, “Teach us how to pray.”

So Brethren that's just a reminder of the fact that we can learn to pray better and we should all have a desire to pray.