Janet Lui, Prayer Ministry Coordinator
Southern California Conference
Prayer is a vital part in the life of a disciple or Christ follower. We can get past the duty of prayer and discover that prayer is one way we come to know God and be known by Him. Jesus demonstrated that the stewardship of time spent with the Father paid high dividends in his life and ministry. Jesus practiced, modeled, and taught the disciples to prayer. It was on this subject that the disciples desiring the experience of Jesus were led to say, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples to pray” (Luke 11:1).
Ellen White broadens our insight into this experience: “The disciples had been for a short time absent from their Lord, when on their return they found Him absorbed in communion with God. Seeming unconscious of their presence, He continued praying aloud. The Saviour’s face was irradiated with a celestial brightness. He seemed to be in the very presence of the Unseen, and there was a living power in His words as of one who spoke with God.
The hearts of the listening disciples were deeply moved. They had marked how often He spent long hours in solitude in communion with His Father. His days were passed in ministry to the crowds that pressed upon Him, and in unveiling the treacherous sophistry of the rabbis, and this incessant labor often left Him so utterly wearied that His mother and brothers, and even His disciples, had feared that His life would be sacrificed. But as He returned from the hours of prayer that closed the toilsome day, they marked the look of peace upon His face, the sense of refreshment that seemed to pervade His presence. It was from hours spent with God that He came forth, morning by morning, to bring the light of heaven to men. The disciples had come to connect His hours of prayer with the power of His words and works. Now, as they listened to His supplication, their hearts were awed and humbled. As He ceased praying, it was with a conviction of their own deep need that they exclaimed, “Lord, teach us to pray” TMB 102-103.
Notice what the disciples observed:
How often he spent long hours in solitude in communion with His Father.
A look of peace on his face, the sense of refreshment that seemed to pervade his presence.
A connection between his hours of prayer with the power of his words and work.
Finding God in the Lord’s Prayer
Jesus would go on to teach a second time the prayer that has become known as the Lord’s Prayer. This prayer was given as a model and not to say that we should use these words as a mantra. As we meditate on this prayer we discover much about the character and attributes of God (note: the prayer recorded in Luke 11:2-4 varies from the prayer of Matt. 6).
Relationship is key, “When you pray say, Our Father.”
Jesus wasn’t looking for a politically correct way to pray. Seeing God as a loving Father may be difficult for us to comprehend but it is a fact. Stay on this one point and pray until you can believe and accept it. Our Father, is God. As creator, sustainer, and redeemer of life, He wants to be both Father and friend to us. He is the God whose lap is big enough for all his children.
He is from another realm, “In heaven.”
We must learn to worship God both in spirit and in truth. His ways are higher than our ways and his thoughts higher than our thoughts (Is. 55:9).
He is King “Your kingdom come.”
Every kingdom has a king. As we submit to the Sovereignty of God we enthrone him in our hearts. We speak of our desire that all the kingdom work be established.
He is a Holy God to be reverenced, “Hollowed be your name.”
As we begin to pray, to know God, there will be times when we will simply bow in awe of God. As He opens our understanding to his perceptions and knowledge regarding circumstances in our lives we will know that we are standing on Holy ground.
He is our provider, “Give us this day our daily bread.”
The God who says, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Gen. 18:14) invites us to ask for what we need for every day. Note: Even as I am writing this, in Hawaii, with no internet connection I said, “God, if only I could get a wireless connection so I could look up the quote from TMB…I had not real faith just a comment.” In a few minutes I felt impressed to check the wireless networks I had checked for three days before. None were available. I was unable to even sign up for local skyway network. However, God chose to reveal himself to me and meet my need. You guessed it! There was a new network listed that I could use to download the article. God’s “broad band” is called prayer. It is available to all of us there are no sign up charges or outages.
He is a forgiving God “Forgive us our sins as we for give those who sin against us.”
The theology of sin is forever set in the cross. Jesus died once and for all for all sin (Rom. 6:10). The benefit of forgiveness is reciprocal. An unforgiving spirit makes mockery of the cross of Jesus Christ. As his followers we must learn to sit at his feet and ask Him to create in us a heart that forgives. Talk to God about the difficulty to forgive. It is no secret to Him. It has been said, “To err is human to forgive divine.” God will take our willingness to forgive and begin to work with us in the process of forgiving. We may have such a deep hurt, such that we can only begin by praying, “Lord, make me willing, to be made willing to be made willing to forgive.” Press on.
He is our protector “Lead us not into temptation.”
We are not so different from the disciples of Jesus’ day. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Jesus taught the disciples in the garden on the night of his arrest, “pray that you will not fall into temptation” on returning only to find them sleeping, He again said, “get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation” (Luke 22). Prayer is the Christian’s “weather” channel. We can prepare for storms and find shelter when necessary. “He will not let your foot slip…He who watches over you will not slumber” (Ps. 121:3-4).
If the truth be known, Jesus ever lives to make intercession for us (Heb. 7:25) as he did for Peter. He prayers that our faith “will not fail” when Satan chooses to sift us like wheat. That we might strengthen our brothers and sisters when are on the other side of our trials (Luke 22:31-32). The Holy Spirit is God’s gift to his children, who ask. He is our strength in temptation. “In the same way, the Spirit helps in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit intercedes for he saints in accordance with God’s will” (Rom. 8:26-27).
When we begin to talk with our Father as a trusted friend, who is God, we begin to fulfill the requirement of Heb. 11:6. “…without faith it is impossible to please him because anyone who comes to God must believe that he exists and rewards those who diligently seek him.” As we come to know God we bring a strength and power to our corporate prayers. We then, begin to align with God’s will. As we place him on the throne of our hearts and submit to his will we can begin to pray the transformational prayers that will first change our lives and then help shape the kingdom work. Let our prayer today be, “Lord teach us to pray as you taught your disciples to pray.”