Friday, June 12, 2015

Prayer is oxygen to the lungs of discipleship

Luke 11:1a "It happened that while Jesus was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray....."

What would you had asked Jesus to teach you?
As you read through the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, you are exposed to over 140 episodes in the life, death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ.  The Master and His disciples traveled all over the regions of Israel for 3 1/2 years.  If you had been one of those disciples, what would you had asked the Master to teach you?  Perhaps how to teach?  Christ was certainly the Master at teaching - He preached sermons, taught over 60 parables and lived out or referenced nearly 600 Bible verses.  Or maybe you would have asked Him about four easy steps to doing miracles?  Christ did over 30 recorded miracles, cast out demons on almost 10 occassions and demonstrated His identity and power.

The only thing the disciples ever asked Jesus to teach them
How about this one - prayer?  In Israel, there were other teachers living during that time who not only taught on prayer and wrote on prayer but who were known for prayer.  So as a disciple of Jesus Christ, would prayer had been on your radar screen?  No doubt it was for the disciples.  They saw many examples of beautiful prayer, dramatic prayer and well worded prayer.  But from the request for Jesus to teach them how to pray - they evidently had never seen prayer with power (except John the Baptist).  Prayer to the faith-life of the disciple is as oxygen to the lungs. 

What is included in an effective prayer-life?
As Jesus goes down through His most famous prayer - "The Lord's Prayer", He lays out the key elements involved in an effective prayer life:

1. You begin and end with an exalted view of God the Father.
Jesus begins this prayer with "Our Father" and He then ends the prayer in the parallel passageof Matthew 6:13 with a declaration of the Eternal dominion of the Father.  How you begin your prayer-life will determine where you end. 

2. You Proceed through the promises of God through God the Son
As Christ continues to teach His disciples, He invokes several key promises and truths straight from the scripture.  He first of all prays about the Kingdom of God or the reign of God to allign  God's purposes in Heaven and on earth.  Next He prays for God to supply every need.  Then thirdly He prays for protection from the Evil One.  All of these promises find their completion in the Son Himself.  Christ will soon return. He is the Mediator between God and believers and is the source of every spiritual and physical provision.  2 Corinthians 1:20 reminds us that all the promises and truths of God are confirmed in Christ. 

3. Your prayer-life's connection to practical life is done through God the Holy Spirit
As Jesus concludes His teaching on prayer in Luke 11, we see Him speak about the Person and work of the Holy Spirit in Luke 11:13.  Why the Holy Spirit?  Because it is through the work of the indwelling Spirit that my prayer-life and practical-life are connected.  It is the Spirit who leads me and guides me whether I am in prayer about my life or living prayerfully between prayer-times.  (Romans 8:26)  We read in Galatians 5:25 - "If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit." 

Breath-in the Oxygen of discipleship
I find it no accident that Christ's teaching on prayer is purposefully centered around the Trinity.  It is to God the Father that the disciple directs their prayers; it is through the Son that they can proceed confidently in prayer and it is by the strength of the Holy Spirit that they can continue to pray. (Ephesians 2:18) May you and I breath deep into the lungs of Christian faith the oxygen of prayer. 

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