Scripture Union Resources

Powerless Prayer?

Monday, October 15, 2012
Almighty God, above time and yet with me in the passing of time, I want to do things on Your timing.
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.


"Our Lord knew that to learn how to pray, how to enter into the secret place of the Most High, was the most important lesson anyone could learn" (Donald Coggan).
Think Further: 

So much has been written about the Lord's Prayer, and certainly the words are among the best known and most repeated words in Scripture! Yet they are so few--fewer in Luke's version than the equivalent in Matthew (Matt. 6:9-13) and fewer in some newer translations. So why did Jesus provide such a brief prayer for his followers? Was this because he thought prayer was pointless; we don't really need to pray, because God already knows our needs, as some of his modern followers propose? Or is there no value in praying (perhaps it helps psychologically), because God does not intervene in his universe?

Neither of these suggestions fits the model of Jesus. It was seeing Jesus at prayer that prompted this unnamed disciple to ask him to "teach us to pray." If Jesus thought prayer was essentially a waste of time, it is unlikely that his engagement in prayer could have prompted this request! Clearly, Jesus was deeply committed to praying, and indeed Luke's Gospel is the one that emphasizes the praying Jesus most. So it was because Jesus was so deeply committed to prayer that we have this prayer at all.

The greatest challenge of this passage for us is that it requires us to reflect on and evaluate our own prayer life. Do we pray often like Jesus did? If someone saw us would they want to know how to pray like we do? Do our prayers have the depth and intimacy that Jesus' prayers did? Do we avoid, as Jesus did, the pitfalls of thinking that it is the length of our praying or the literary skills in our prayers that impress God enough to answer them?

Reflect on the disciple's request as he saw Jesus praying. How might "watching" Jesus rekindle your prayer life?
Father, I seek to live in Your presence continually, to think of You consistently, and trust You completely. Continue to teach me about prayer and give me a hunger to pray.
Through the Bible In One Year: 
Jeremiah 23,24 / John 8


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