Teach Us to Pray (Luke 11:1)

The Context

As we continue in our study of the Gospel of Luke, we come to a very important section on the subject of prayer.  In Luke 11:1 we read that “Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when He was finished, one of His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.’ ” It must have delighted Jesus to hear His follower ask Him to teach them to pray.

This morning we will examine Luke 11:1 and learn: What is prayer?  How do we pray?  And Who teaches us to pray?

Lord, Teach Us to Pray

What does it mean to pray?  The unnamed disciple wanted to pray, but what was he asking?  It is important to know that from a Biblical perspective, prayer is communication with God.  More specifically, prayer is an act of worship in which a person communicates with God the Father, through the access provided by God the Son, and by the prompting of God the Spirit.

Object of Prayer

Prayer is vitally important because it is communication with God.  Because prayer is an act of worship, prayer is only prayer if the One you are praying to is God.  You cannot and must not pray to anyone or anything other than God.  A Christian may ask a fellow believer to pray for them, but a Christian never prays to a fellow believer.  Despite what some may say, nowhere in Scripture are Christians instructed to communicate with anyone who has died.  Our dear deceased brothers and sisters are with the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Cor 5:8), but we are never instructed to communicate with them while we are still alive.

Some argue that being with Jesus in heaven means they have better access to God, but Hebrews 4:16 tells us that through Jesus Christ, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”  Through Jesus Christ, we have complete access to the Father in prayer; therefore there is no need to find someone closer.

Content of Prayer

Concerning the content of prayer, does prayer simply consist of giving God a list of wishes and desires?  While we are encouraged to ask God for things, prayer is not merely a means by which we get our needs met.  Prayer, first and foremost, is the means by which God makes us more like Jesus Christ and it is a time of aligning ourselves to God and His will.  Since prayer is an act of worship, the content of prayer should be on the worship of God.

Lord, Teach Us to Pray

The unnamed disciple knew that Jesus was the perfect teacher for prayer because he saw Jesus pray and desired to commune with the Father as Jesus did.  He said, “Lord, teach us to pray as John taught his disciples.”  Jesus’ response in the next 12 verses shows us that He desires for us to not only pray, but to pray continually and expectantly.  We will examine Jesus’ response in more detail over the next couple of Sundays.  Specifically, we shall learn about:

  • Prayers of PraiseFather, hallowed be your name” (2a),
  • Prayers of SubmissionYour kingdom come” (2b),
  • Prayers of DependenceGive us each day our daily bread” (3),
  • Prayers of Confessionand forgive us our sins as we forgive everyone who is indebted to us” (4a),
  • Prayers of ProtectionAnd lead us not into temptation” (4b).

Lord, Teach Us to Pray

Jewish religious teachers, including John the Baptist, were expected to teach their disciples how to pray.  The unnamed disciple in verse 1 asks the perfect person to instruct in prayer.  Because prayer is an act of worship, it must be learned from the One who is worshipped.  Because prayer is communication with God, it is fitting that we learn from the One we are communicating with.

Prayer can only be rightly learned from God because God the Son is the One who provides salvation.  Jesus is the One who provides the satisfactory sacrifice for our sins.  Jesus is the One who provides peace between us and God and access to God.  Romans 5:1 -2 says:

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

As Acts 4:12 says, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” There is no other name for salvation and no other name by which we offer our prayers.  This is why we typically close our prayers with “In Jesus’ name I pray.”  We pray in this manner because we recognize that our prayers are only acceptable to the Father on the basis of having our sins forgiven through Jesus.

In Conclusion

If you believe that prayer is communication with God, speak with God this week.  If you believe that prayer is an act of worship, worship God in prayer this week.  If you do not know how to pray, ask Jesus to teach you.  E. M. Bounds once said:

The goal of prayer is the ear of God, a goal that can only be reached by patient and continued and continuous waiting upon Him, pouring out our heart to Him and permitting Him to speak to us. Only by so doing can we expect to know Him, and as we come to know Him better we shall spend more time in His presence and find that presence a constant and ever-increasing delight.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Who teaches Christians to pray?
  2. What are some good types of prayers and what are some not good types of prayers?
  3. What is prayer?