Scripture Union Resources

Prayer Power

Monday, July 23, 2012
Ask God to give you a deeper understanding of what prayer is. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you pray.
LUKE 11:1-13

[1] One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples." [2] He said to them, "When you pray, say: "'Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. [3] Give us each day our daily bread. [4] Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.'" [5] Then Jesus said to them, "Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; [6] a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.' [7] And suppose the one inside answers, 'Don't bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can't get up and give you anything.' [8] I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need. [9] "So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. [10] For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. [11] "Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? [12] Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? [13] If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.

What lesson is Jesus teaching about God in this story?

Observing Jesus at prayer, the disciples probably realize that he's got something they haven't! So they ask: "Lord, teach us to pray" (1). Jesus responds with a theologically packed pattern for prayer (2-4).

The efficacy of prayer does not depend on the one who prays, but on the One prayed to: the Father (2). So Jesus focuses on the nature and character of God: his holiness, his kingdom (2), his provision for human need—both material (3) and spiritual (4), his constant availability and readiness to help (5-8), his willingness to respond to all who turn to him (9,10), his unfailing goodness (11,12).

We don't need formulas or techniques, only to be in a relationship that entitles and enables us to call God "Father," and then express to him our praise, thanks, repentance and needs. Yet such is human frailty that we cannot even do this on our own. So the Father has given us his Spirit (13b). It is the Spirit who teaches us to pray as we ought and who, when we fumble for words, "intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express" (Rom. 8:26).

Pray the Lord's Prayer conversationally now, reflecting on and talking through each phrase with the Lord.
Lord, I want to know how to really pray in a way that pleases You and is powerful, too. Please teach me.
Through the Bible In One Year: 
Job 9,10 / Luke 15


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