Have you ever felt that something is missing in your prayers—that somehow they are not as deep or as effective as they ought to be? After all, there is a great difference between prayer that is driven by human effort and prayer that is divine and truly lays hold of God. For example, consider the prayer of the famous Scottish reformer, John Knox, who stood on a mountaintop and cried, “God, give me Scotland or I die!” Before long, people began to come out into the streets under the conviction of God.
I want to pray that kind of prayer! I want something that goes beyond merely coming into God’s presence every day with a list: God, bless my home, bless my finances, bless my mother, bless my father, bless my children. I want to pray prayers that will move men toward God; prayers that will bring the Church of Jesus Christ back to life! I want the kind of prayer that God instructed Ezekiel to pray: “Call out to the breath of God to breathe upon these dry bones and raise the dead back to life” (Ezekiel 37:9). Those are the type of prayers I want to pray!
We see in the Scriptures that Jesus’ own disciples had a similar yearning. One day as Jesus was praying, their hearts were stirred. “And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples” (Luke 11:1).
Keep in mind that the disciples were no strangers to prayer. They had seen Jesus pray and miraculously multiply loaves and fishes. Some were even with Jesus as He prayed on a mountaintop and they saw His countenance completely transfigured. Without a doubt, the disciples themselves also prayed as they personally walked with Jesus. However, this time they saw Jesus go into a certain place to pray, and it caused them to conclude that there was still something they had to understand about prayer. I can picture the disciples getting together and nudging each other, “You ask Him!” “No, you ask Him!” There was something in Jesus’ prayer that made it evident that prayer was much deeper than they had experienced up to that point.
“Lord, teach us to pray!” one of His disciples finally implored Him. So Jesus began to teach them, saying “When ye pray, say, Our Father which are in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil” (Luke 11:2-4).
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon