“Lord, [would you] teach us to pray?" – Luke 11:1
I believe there are two kinds of men: Those who ask for directions, and those who don’t. I know which group I fall into, and I suspect it’s the case with 90 percent of the men out there: We just don’t like to ask for help. That holds true whether we’re driving somewhere we haven’t been before … or putting something together that has these three fateful words on the box: “Some Assembly Required.”
Pastor Chuck Swindoll tells the story of one Christmas Eve when his kids were little. After they were all in bed, he dragged out a box from its hiding place and proceeded to put it together on the living room floor. He didn’t bother to look at the instructions because the picture of the finished toy was right there on the box. Easy smeezy! Well, as Christmas morning approached, the toy didn’t look anything like the picture. So, he dug through the trash for the instructions, and at the top of the page were these words in small print: “Now that you’ve made a mess of things, please start over and follow these instructions.”
When it comes to finding our way to a new place or assembling one of our kids’ new toys, our families should cut us some slack when we make a mess of things. But when it comes to our relationship with Jesus Christ, there’s really no excuse for us to refuse to ask for instructions. That’s especially true when it comes to prayer.
Luke chapter 11 begins with Jesus doing what he did so often: He was spending time in personal prayer with God the Father. After he finished praying, one of Jesus’ apostles asked, “Lord, [would you] teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples?” (v. 1). And since prayer was such a high priority for Jesus, he was happy to oblige. He taught them a prayer which is usually called “The Lord’s Prayer.” This prayer is very short, but Jesus says more in these 34 words than most men could say in 340 words. And as you pray, here are some questions you should ask yourself:
#1: Is God your Father? Notice how Jesus addresses God in verse 2, at the start of the Lord’s Prayer. He simply calls Him “Father.” Maybe Jesus wanted us to understand that God is interested in a personal relationship with us. The Bible teaches that we are outside of God’s family, even enemies of God. And it’s only through Jesus Christ that we can be adopted into His family. If you have not chosen to put your faith in Jesus Christ and accept him as your Savior and Lord, God isn’t your “Father.” But if you are a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, you DO have this amazing honor and privilege: to call God your Father.
#2: If God’s name revered in your words and in your home? The first thing Jesus teaches us to pray after addressing God as “Father” is “hallowed be Your name” (v. 2). This word, “hallowed,” comes from the word “holy.” It means revered, honored and held up high. God’s name should be set apart and held up higher than any name, any word, in the English language. So, we should never throw around God’s name as a curse word. We need to guard our own mouths against dishonoring God’s name. It seems a little old fashioned, but it’s really a timeless principle: Always, always, always revere God’s name.
#3: Do you submit to God’s agenda for the world? When Jesus teaches us to pray, “your kingdom come” (v. 2), he is reminding us that God’s agenda is so much more important than our agenda; God’s plans are so much better than our plans. When we pray “Your kingdom come,” we are saying, “Father, if my plans don’t line up with Yours, then please scrap all my plans. My life is not about building my kingdom; it’s about building Your kingdom. My life isn’t about bringing me glory; it’s about bringing You glory.” The purpose of prayer is not to get our will done in heaven. The purpose of prayer is to get God’s will done on earth and to say to God loud and clear: “I am ready and willing to be Ground Zero of Your will being carried out on earth.”
#4: Do you take your daily needs to the Father? Some Christians think it’s selfish to ever ask God for health or a job or a car or food. But Jesus teaches us to go to our Father with our daily needs by praying, “Give us each day our daily bread” (v. 3). He doesn’t teach us to ask for next month’s food or even tomorrow’s food, but to go to God each and every day asking Him to meet our needs for the day. One of God’s characteristics is generosity. He loves to meet needs. So, if you have a need, take it to your Father in heaven. He delights in meeting the needs of His sons and daughters who love Him, trust Him and obey His word.
This prayer can teach us so much. And really, prayer provides the ultimate instructions. When we have needs, we should go to God first. When we need answers, we should go to God first for advice. When we need forgiveness, we should go to God first. When we know temptation is coming, we should go to God first to ask for protection against that temptation. I wonder if there is a room in heaven filled with strength and peace and material blessings that were never claimed here on earth by Christ’s followers because we never asked God to give them to us. We have not because we ask not.
Dane Davis is the Lead Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville and the author of "Holy Huldah: Lessons You Should Never Forget from Bible Characters You've Never Heard Of." For more information, visit www.YourVictorvilleChurch.com, and join us for our Worship Celebration Sundays at 10 a.m.