Lesson 8: The Prayer-Filled Life (Part 2)
Written by: Biblical Studies Foundation Posted on: 04/09/2003
The Prayer-Filled Life
Principles of Prayer From Luke 11
It has been rightly said, ôthe secret of all failure is our failure in secret prayer.ö Not just our
failure to pray, but
our failure in prayer. In the story of the Pharisee and the publican the Pharisee is one who
prayed long and
often, but he was a miserable failure. His prayers were never heard by God because neither
he nor his prayers
were ever right with God.
I think it was Oswald Smith who said, ôwhen we work, we work, when we pray, God
history, the men and women that God has used mightily have been people who knew how to
pray and for
whom prayer was both a priority and a necessity. As we study the gospels and the training of
the disciples by
the Lord, we find that prayer is to be a vital part of a discipleÆs life. For a couple of
illustrations compare the
John 14:12-13 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do
shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to the
Father. 13 And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be
glorified in the Son.
John 15:7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish,
and it shall be done for you.
An electronic concordance quickly shows the importance of prayer in the Word of God.
Variations of the
word ôprayö such as ôprayerö and ôpraying,ö etc., occur 331 times in the NASB, 545 in the
KJV, and 375
times in the NIV. The difference in numbers is caused by the fact some Greek and Hebrew
translated differently in the different translations. For instance, the KJV might use the word
ôprayö while the
NASB or NIV might use ôask.ö
Most Bible believing Christians recognize and accept, at least intellectually, the need and
importance of prayer.
We read books on prayer, we talk about it, we ask for prayer from time to time, but
somehow, the church
today is anything but a praying church. We may have a few real prayer warriors, but the
DISCIPLINE of biblical praying as committed disciples of the Lord Jesus has somehow
escaped the body of
Christ. We talk of its necessity, but too often we fail to accomplish its reality.
The disciples had this same experience. They too fell short in their prayer life and they felt it
deeply. In this
lesson we want to look at Luke 11:1 and the request of the unnamed disciple who was
probably asking on
behalf of the entire group. Here is a very important passage for learning some of the key
issues of prayer that
are so crucial to our walk with the Lord and the fulfillment of His purposes.
Luke 11:1-4 and the parallel passage in Matthew 6:9-11 is sometimes called the LordÆs
Prayer, but in reality it
is the discipleÆs prayer, a model prayer teaching them important principles of prayer.
The Plea of the Disciple
Luke 11:1 it came about that while He was praying in a certain place, after He had
finished, one of His disciples said to Him, ôLord, teach us to pray just as John also
taught his disciples.ö
The Motivation for the Question
The disciples had obviously heard that John had taught His disciples on prayer and they too
(11:1). But was there not something more, something much deeper that provoked this
request? It was Howard
Hendricks who, several years ago in a message at a pastorÆs conference, called our attention
to the fact that if
we were to open our Bibles and read starting with Matthew and were to read through John
we would never
find an instance where the disciples asked, ôLord teach us how to witness,ö or ôteach us how
miracles,ö or ôteach us how to teach.ö But in this passage, we do find one of the disciples
asking, ôLord, teach
us to pray àö Wow! How significant!
This was a very wise question, a very needed question, and from these disciples who were
sometimes so slow
about spiritual values, this question becomes extremely significant. What was the motivation
question, and why is this so important?
Again, I am reminded of something Professor Howard Hendricks once said. Can you
imagine what life with
Jesus Christ was like during His ministry on earth? One amazing experience after another!
He was forever a
source of joy and bewilderment, and I am sure people were constantly trying to explain Him
to their own
satisfaction with their own kinds of answers. (Cf. Mark 4:41.)
For a long time I can imagine they tried to explain Christ with typical human
explanationsùtraining, IQ, natural
abilities, or whatever. At least at first. They regularly saw demonstrations of His power.
They both heard His
wise words and saw His wonderful works. They saw the lame walk, the blind see, the sick
healed, the deaf
hear, and the demon possessed dispossessed. Furthermore, they had all experienced the
emptiness of the
religion of their day and so, through all of this, you know they were watching the Lord and
seeking answers to
the miracle of His life.
As they studied His life one of their conclusions was that He was God incarnate (John 1:14).
But is that
conclusion what evoked this question? I donÆt believe so. It was something else they
constantly saw in the man
Jesus that they began to suspect was part of the answer to His life. What was it? Our
immediate response is of
course, ôIt was prayer.ö Right? Not exactly! It was not just prayer.
The Pharisees prayed and so did the disciples. It wasnÆt just prayer; it was the way He
prayed in relation to all
that He was and all that He did in His life on earth. It was His manner and attitude in prayer
that saturated His
total being and living, His every step and action, and that manifested the intimacy of His
relationship with and
dependence on the Father. Prayer was never just a religious responsibility nor exercise Christ
because He was obligated to do so.
Then what? Prayer for our Lord proceeded out of a basic attitude of deep dependence that
resulted in a very
intimate fellowship that He always had with the Father because, from the standpoint of His
humanity, He was
totally convinced He could do nothing of His own resources. It is this that undoubtedly
conviction and longing in the lives of the disciples. They came to recognize that, while they
could be believers in
the Lord, they could not be true disciples who became like their teacher (Luke 6:40) unless
they learned to
pray to the Father like the Lord Jesus in the intimacy and dependency that He constantly
ChristÆs Attitude in Prayer
This incorporates one of the basic principles that governed the life of the Savior. In John
5:19 Christ said, ôthe
Son can do nothing of Himself.ö Then, in John 8:28-29 and 14:10 He repeated the principle.
should be obvious for us. For Jesus Christ, prayer was a way of life, an absolute necessity: it
was a means of
communion with the Father and the means of bringing the power of God the Father to bear
on the humanity of
Jesus Christ moment by moment. We see this in Matthew 12:18 and 28.
Note that for the most part, it appears the Lord performed His works and spoke His words by
the power of
God the Father through the power of the Holy Spirit whom the Father had given Him.
Though God of very
God Himself, Jesus generally did not perform His works independently of the Father nor the
(Acts 2:22). It was the Father working through Jesus, the man.
As we study the life of Christ in the gospels, we note a consistent pattern:
(1) In the midst of a busy schedule, when men were clamoring in their need for His attention,
Christ retired to
pray and to draw upon the resources of God the Father for He knew that ôthe Son can do
nothing of Himselfö
(2) When it was time to choose the disciples we donÆt find Christ reviewing the
qualifications of each of the
disciples. Rather we find Him retiring to pray. This is clear in Mark 3:13 and Luke 6:12-13.
ôthe Son can do nothing of Himself.ö He needed the direction and provision of the Father.
(3) When Jesus stood at the tomb of Lazarus He raised His eyes heavenward in dependence
for what the Father was about to do (John 11:40-42). The actual prayer of Christ is not given,
only the fact of
His dependence, thanksgiving, and confidence that His prayer had been heard. The words of
verses 41 and 42
imply, however, that not only did He pray to the Father, but that He wanted all those
standing around to know
it as well that they might learn the secret of dependence. This teaches us that when
performing miracles, though
not always heard by men, Jesus the man was praying in dependence upon the Father from
the standpoint of
(4) When He fed the five thousand. The words ôand looking up toward heavenö demonstrate
prayerful dependence (Mark 6:41). Also, ôHe blessed the foodö which shows He thanked
God the Father for
it and for what He, the Father, was about to do through Jesus, the man, a God-dependent,
Think of Jesus Christ. He was the Son of God, God incarnate, the perfect man and the
absolute Creator God
who also as the God-man adequately and continuously fulfilled every expectation of God for
man. He was the
constant delight and joy of the FatherÆs heart. He always pleased the Father. Now, thinking
of Him as such,
ask yourself this question. How much did He personally, as man, contribute to His mighty
works, deeds, and
ministry? NOTHING! Christ Himself gives us the answer, ôà the father abiding in me does
His worksö (John
14:10). And how did that come about? Through prayerful dependence on the Father!
When we work, we work. When we pray, the Father works. So out of this conscious and
constant sense of
need, there arose a continuing attitude of prayer: a continual expectation in the Lord Jesus
that if anything was
to be done, the Father must do it both by way of initiative, and wisdom, and power. Now if
this was true of
Jesus Christ, how much more shouldnÆt this also be true for us? Indeed, prayer according to
the pattern of the
Lord Jesus is to be a vital goal of true disciples.
The disciples saw in ChristÆs life, not only prayer, but a prayer life which demonstrated a
and intimacy with the Father unlike anything else they had ever seen and they wanted to
know the secret of
What was the request posed by the unnamed disciple? It was, ôteach us to pray.ö Not just
how to pray, the
MECHANICS, but how in the sense of the MOTIVATION. The how aspect is included by
Christ in His
answer in Luke 11:2-13.
(1) Prayer should demonstrate a total consciousness of our need, a sense of our complete
with a sense of GodÆs complete adequacy and willingness.
2 Corinthians 2:16 to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma
from life to life. And who is adequate for these things?
2 Corinthians 3:5 Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as
coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God,
(2) Prayer is not overcoming GodÆs reluctance, but laying hold of GodÆs ever present
(3) Prayer is not for emergency use only, when we get in a pinch and need someone to bail
(4) Prayer is not an ôAladdinÆs Lampö or a trip to a wishing well for our wants.
(5) By contrast, prayer is a means of intimate communion, fellowship, and dependence upon
God the Father
who has promised to work in and through us through His Son, just as God worked through
(6) Prayer is for everyday living, moment by moment.
(7) Prayer is a means of claiming GodÆs promises and knowing and becoming abandoned
to GodÆs will.
In John 14:10-14, note the relationship to prayer mentioned in verses 13-14 and the works
we, as disciples,
are to do in verse 12.
John 14:10-14 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me?
The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father
abiding in Me does His works. 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the
Father in Me; otherwise believe on account of the works themselves. 12 Truly,
truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and
greater works than these shall he do; because I go to the Father. 13 And whatever
you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If
you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.
There is no activity in the life of a believer which does not require a prayerful attitudeùa
on and an expectation that God is at work and will work according to His purposes and
leading. In ourselves
we can do nothing. Christianity is living by faith in the Creator God who dwells in us, and
prayer is GodÆs
means for us to draw upon ChristÆs miraculous life. Christianity is as Paul expressed it in
Galatians 2:20, ôI
have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the
life which I now
live, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and delivered Himself up for me.ö Faith
for a committed
believer is expressed in intimate, prayerful living.
In practical terms what exactly does this means?
We canÆt really handle the phone call we are about to make, at least not in ChristÆs
power and life,
apart from prayer.
The lesson we are preparing to teach, we canÆt do effectively without prayerful
It means that while we usually recognize our need of GodÆs enablement in things like
nevertheless tend to take God for granted and operate in our own abilities in other areas
think a task doesnÆt seem too difficult or it is within our area expertise.
As an illustration letÆs look at the miraculous catch of fish in Luke 5:5-11. What was Peter
thinking in this
passage? Probably something like, ôLord, youÆre a great teacher, youÆre the Son of God
and Messiah, but we
can handle this ourselves; we are expert fishermen. We have been fishing these waters for
Lord, we fished these waters all night and we know the fish are simply not biting now.ö But
you see, biblical
Christianity is living by faith and prayerful dependence upon God and under the power and
authority of the
Lord Jesus Christ regardless of how things appear to us.
Biblical Christianity is never a matter of living by who and what we areùour insight, our
experience, our training, our giftedness, etc. Rather it is a matter of living by faith in GodÆs
insight, and by faith in Jesus Christ, the Creator God and His availability to work through us
as we are
available and submissive to Him. But such only happens when we live by intimate prayerful
the Father through a life of prayer, a life of praying without ceasing, and a life devoted to
special times of
prayer alone with the Father and His Son in the power of the Spirit.
The Pattern for Prayer (11:2-4)
Luke 11:2-4 And He said to them, ôWhen you pray, say: æFather, hallowed be
Your name. Your kingdom come. 3 Give us each day our daily bread. 4 And
forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.Æö
We have observed something of the prayer life of our Lord which undoubtedly was a large
part of the
motivation behind the request of the unnamed disciple in verse one, ôLord, teach us to
pray.ö For our Lord,
prayer was the most natural and necessary aspect of His existence. In answer to this request
of Luke 11:1, our
Lord gave what is popularly known as the LordÆs Prayer. In reality, it was the disciplesÆ
prayer and provides
us with a model or pattern for biblical and effective prayer.
This is an excellent passage in teaching new believers about prayer because it covers a
number of categories
which are important to prayer.
Two things this prayer is not:
(1) It is not and was never intended to be a ritual prayer to be formally and liturgically
recited. It was a model
designed by our Lord to show the nature of prayer and what prayer should consist of by way
There is nothing wrong, of course, with reading or reciting it together as we would any
passage of Scripture for
a certain focus or emphasis or as a reminder of truth. I am convinced, however, it was never
meant to be
simply recited as a prayer to God in place of personal prayer poured out to God from the
heart. Compare the
translation of the Living Bible: Luke 11:1b reads, ôLord, teach us a prayer to recite just as
John taught one of
his disciples.ö In a footnote to this verse the translator has added the word ôImplied.ö But is
it really implied, or
is this translation a product of religious tradition that does not have its roots in what this
passage was intended
(2) It was never intended to be used as an amulet or special words to protect someone when
Perhaps you have seen films where people were in some kind of danger and they prayed the
LordÆs Prayer in
The prayer divides into two sections marked out by the pronouns ôyourö and ôus.ö
The ôyourö section points us to God and concerns our relationship with Him regarding
character, being, purposes, and activity on earth.
The ôusö section deals with our needs as they are related to God and His activity and
purposes in our
lives here on earth.
This is no accident. First, we start with God and then we go to ourselves. Here is an
important principle in all
worship of which prayer is but one mode and means. In prayer, as in everything, our Lord
teaches us to put
God first. Why? Because this puts everything in the right perspective, it gives us the right
viewpoint about life,
one that sees beyond our own very limited scope. This is important so that we might
genuinely focus our hearts
and minds on the who and what of God, that we might seek first the rule and righteousness
of God, and that
we might walk with Him in obedience and under His enablement, direction, and protection.
As a tear magnifies sorrow and as laughter magnifies joy, so prayer (a form of worship
wherein we count on
the worth of God) must first magnify the Lord if our prayers are to have the proper result in
livesùconfidence, faith, and direction into the will of God.
Prayer is a means of entering into the joy and confidence of GodÆs love, provision,
direction, and presence. It
is a way to focus on the Who and What of GodùGodÆs person, plan, principles, promises,
purposes. This kind of praying glorifies the Lord and demonstrates our desire for
relationship with God, along
with obedience. It is comforting to our hearts because it brings God into our vision along
with His purposes.
This first emphasis by our Lord exposes what is often a fatal weakness in our own prayers.
We tend to begin
with ôusö rather than with ôYour.ö We rush into GodÆs presence pleading for ôourö
petitions, ôourö needs,
ôourö problems and, as a result, we become problem oriented and frantic rather than God
oriented and relaxed
in His sovereignty (cf. Ps. 46:10, ôBe still [cease striving] and know that I am Godö).
We need to focus on the Lord first to get the perspective of Jeremiah 32:27. Concerning the
GodÆs covenant promises to Israel and to keep the ProphetÆs eyes on the Lord, we find
this word to the
Prophet: ôthe Word of the LORD came to Jeremiah saying, æBehold, I am the LORD, the
God of all flesh: is
anything to difficult for Me?Æö (Jer. 32:27).
We need the praise and focus of God in Psalm 100 before the petitions of Psalm 102.
When We Pray: The Time Element (v. 2a)
ôWhen you pray say.ö
It is significant, I believe, that no commands are given as to time or how often. Why?
Because prayer is more
than a mere religious routine we go through as it is in some religions in which worshippers
recite certain words
and bow in a certain direction specified times of the day. Scheduled prayer is certainly
scriptural and a godly
pattern to have as with Daniel (Dan. 6:10), and David (Ps. 54:16-21), but, as with both
David and Daniel, it
should always be the response of a heart which desires communion with God and depends
on Him in the same
way man naturally takes in oxygen through the process of breathing. This is seen in the cry
of the Psalmist, ôAs
the deer pants (heavy breathing) for the water brooks, So my soul pants for Thee, O Godö
Two things about this cry of the Psalmist: First, his entreaty expresses our need. We need the
Lord and we
need to drink from His fountain of life through the Word and prayerùour means of hearing
responding to Him. But second, his entreaty also expresses what should be a recognized
reality in each of us.
As the Psalmist, we should long to communicate with our God. Prayer is to be an expression
of our longing for
intimacy with God and to enter into His strength and will.
Why We Pray: The Nature of Prayer (v. 2a)
ôWhen you pray say.ö
ôPrayö is the Greek word proseucomai from pros, stressing direction, closeness, and
eucomai, ôto ask,
request.ö The basic meaning of this word (along with its uses) looks at prayer as an avenue
of drawing near to
God in worship and dependence because we see Him as the all-sufficient one and ourselves
Prayer becomes one of the means by which we draw near to the Lord and His sufficiency
and submit to Him.
ôSayö is the Greek word, legw. It gives prominence to the thought processes in choosing the
because of their meaning. Originally, it meant ôto pick and chooseö and this is precisely
what we generally do
in speech unless we are talking gibberish. Legw reminds us of our need to carefully choose
our words as
opposed to praying as mere religious rote without careful thought. It should remind us of the
nature of our prayer or communication with God.
ôSayö is what we call in Greek grammar, a present iterative imperative. As an iterative
present it describes an
event which is, as a command, to occur repeatedly, over and over again. The idea is when
consistently pray in the following manner or example, but not repetitiously by rote, reciting
these words as a
mere repeated ritual, the problem Jesus addressed earlier in Matthew 6:7.
Reasons why it does not refer to a prayer to be merely recited.
(1) Matthew 6:5-7 is a specific warning against praying in a repetitious manner and the
warning there is
followed by this teaching which gives us a model for prayer. To view this as a prayer to be
repeated would be in conflict with the previous command.
(2) The parallel passage of Matthew 6:9 adds the words ôin this way.ö This is the Greek
$outws which could
very will be rendered, ôin this mannerö or ôafter this manner.ö In other words, what follows
is to be taken as a
model for prayer, not as a prayer to be memorized and merely recited.
(3) In the epistles of the New Testament, this prayer is never repeated though its pattern or
basically followed in one way or another.
(4) This understanding fits with the warning of Isaiah 29:13 which the Lord quoted against
externalism of the Israelites of His day.
Prayer is the thoughtful exercise of the heart and the mind through which we seek to draw
near to God in
worship and dependence on Him because of who He is as our sovereign God and support.
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