A Helpful Lesson From Luke 11 On Prayer
By David J. Stewart | September 2014
Luke 11:1, “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.”
The disciples struggled with prayer. They walked with the Lord, yet they struggled on how to pray. It's interesting that the disciples didn't ask Jesus to teach them how to preach, minister or do miracles; but rather, they asked to learn how to pray. Many Christians do not know how to pray. Thankfully, the Bible tells us.
A wonderful way of remembering Luke 11 is with the acronym, “ACTS”:
A = Adoration
C = Confession
T = Thanksgiving
S = Supplication
The first word is “adoration.” Don't start your prayers with “Lord, I need _____.” God deserves better. The Lord wants to know that we appreciate Him. God is a person, with feelings. The Bible says that God created man in His own image. When I write an article and publish it on the internet, I review it, see if it is good or needs improvement. God made men like that. I am created in God's very image, and so are you. When God created the world, He rested on the seventh day and looked over the work He had done. God looked at what He had created, to see if it was good, and the Bible says in Genesis 1:24... “IT WAS VERY GOOD”!
We ought to tell the Lord what He means to us. Praise is bragging on God for what He does. Worship is bragging on God for Who He is. Psalms 48:1, “Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness.” We should always brag on God and praise Him at all times. There are 86,400 seconds in a day. Have we thanked God with even one of them? There are 10,080 minutes in a week. Have we prayed for even one person during the past week? Life is short. Most people stuff their face with food, enjoy God's creation, but never thank God for anything. Most people use prayer as a spare tire, that is, they only use it in an emergency when they need it. Prayer was not meant by God to be our spare tire!
Then there is “confession,” which is being honest with God. The Lord knows that we are prone to sin. We cannot prosper in the Lord by hiding from our sins. Don't play games with God. It is good for you to be honest with God. That means being honest with yourself. Tell God, “Lord, I am struggling!” Our prayers do not go unheard. God understands even when people don't. Notice that we are taught to pray in Luke 11:4 for God to “deliver us from evil,” not from sin. No one can be delivered from sin, because all men are sinners (Romans 3:10,23). Evil is premeditated sin. We can prevent evil.
Although no one can live above committing sin, we can live above committing evil. We don't have to plan to sin, but we will still sin at times because we are human. We ought to pray continually for God to deliver us from evil. Jesus told His disciples to pray that they enter not into temptation. Mark 14:38, “Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.”
Then there is “thankfulness.” It is improper to ask God for things without thanking Him for the blessings you already have. We are all blessed of God. If you're deaf, thank God you can see. If you're in a wheelchair, thank God that you're not rotting in prison for the rest of your natural life. If you're poor, thank God that you don't have all the worries that rich people have. There's always something to be thankful for.
“Supplication” is asking God for our needs. Luke 11:5-7 teaches importunity in prayer for others. Prayer is exciting. God works behind the scenes when we pray. That is the usual way that God works. If God answered everyone's prayers in visible and immediate ways, then we'd all pray for the wrong reasons. We are supposed to pray because God commands it in 1st Thessalonians 5:17, Philippians 4:6-7, Luke 18:1 and other Scriptures, not because we receive things from God. If we only pray because we receive answers, then we are walking by sight and not by faith as Christians. We must pray even when it appears that God is not answering and keep praying. That is the Biblical definition of faith. Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” There is no greater measure of the believer's faith than the amount of time that we spend praying.
I've learned to just pray and trust God, and then expect the Lord to work in mysterious, unobservable and undetectable ways behind the scenes. Usually, God answers in ways that we cannot detect or analyze. God likes to work in this manner to force us to trust Him. Hebrews 11:6 says that without faith it is IMPOSSIBLE to please God! Most Christians stop praying in frustration when they don't see the fruits of their labors in prayer. God would rather have us not pray at all, than to pray amiss to satisfy our worldly appetites.
Our faith is measured by prayer. You'll never be a successful Christian until you learn to pray. Take time to pray! Just talk to God as you would to your best friend, because He is exactly that. Jesus is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother!
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