The How and Why of Prayer: Recap part 1

Prayer is something we all need help with. Whether we just want to get started praying, or need to believe God that he hears and responds to our prayers, or anything else related to prayer, there’s much growth to be had. Fortunately, Jesus gets it. His disciples ask him in Luke 11:1-13 to teach them to pray, and Jesus gets right to work. He gives a model prayer that while brief is anything but elementary. One thing I appreciate about this prayer is that a 1st grader can really get it and pray it from the heart, but it will also take our entire lives to really mine the depths of the prayer – we never graduate from it to “deeper” prayers. Below, I want to recap the big points from the sermon in hopes that it stirs afresh some concepts that hit home yesterday morning. Or if you weren’t there to hear it, you can get it on our sermons page or on our app (under “Stand Alone” sermons).

Quote from Tim Keller from his book Prayer:

Prayer is the only entryway into genuine self-knowledge. It is also the main way we experience deep change – the reordering of our loves. Prayer is how God gives us so many of the unimaginable things he has for us. Indeed, prayer makes it safe for God to give us many of the things we most desire. It is the way we know God, the way we finally treat God as God. Prayer is simply the key to everything we need to do and be in life. We must learn to pray. We have to.

Breaking Down The How of Prayer from Jesus:

How to approach God: Father

God is our heavenly Father and we are children of God because of THE Son of God, Jesus Christ. John Calvin wrote in his famous work Institutes of the Christian Religion, published in the 16th century: “Who would break forth into such rashness as to claim for himself the honor of a son of God unless we had been adopted as children of grace in Christ?” Calling on God as Father is not our natural right; it is our privilege by God’s grace to approach him in this intimate way.

Father, hallowed be your name

In this request, we are asking God to make his name holy in our lives. We want him to make evident to all people that he matters most, that we’re seeking to glorify him and not ourselves. As Calvin notes, this includes a sense of wonder, as well as deep appreciation for his holiness. “We do not revere God’s name unless he captivates us with wonderment for him.” We’re also asking that his name be made holy in all places, around the world – it is an evangelical petition that people would be made aware of his Name, and that it would become holy in their hearts as well as they bend their knee in faith to Jesus.

Your kingdom come

In the second petition, we’re calling on God to make his Kingdom our home, to show forth in our lives that we belong to him and no one else. Asking for his Kingdom to come can be done in every sphere of our life, and it would benefit us to be specific with God about this. “Father, may your kingdom come in my marriage, in my work, in my social interactions, may it come as I go through this trial that you would be seen as on the throne in my life.”

Give us each day our daily bread

This request may feel a little tricky because many of us have more than enough for tomorrow, or next week, or next month, or many months to come! Some would say that, in response to this prayer, we should never have more than the next day’s provision… I see this as a mis-step, missing the point. This needs to remind us of our absolute dependence on God as our provider and that anything we do have is a gift from him. We steward what he gives us, and if that’s an abundance through smart, hard, ethical work, then it is a good gift. We need to be generous toward others as he has been generous with us. Consider taking the posture of open hands, showing a thankful heart and a readiness to admit all you have is from him, and that you still need his provision and don’t pretend you’re the author of your own success.

Forgive us our sins, for we forgive everyone who is indebted to us

We will never outgrow the need to seek God’s forgiveness, and Jesus won’t pretend otherwise! Remember this is a prayer for the mature, it’s a prayer to strive to grow into and embrace. Be specific with God where you know there is sin, in action, word, motivation, or any other way. As a Christian, sin negatively impacts the quality of relationship we can have with God; repenting and seeking his forgiveness restores and even increases the intimacy as you see the depth of your need and his extravagant grace towards you in Christ.

And lead us not into temptation

What are we to think? That God would actually lead us toward sin? Never! Rather, we are crying out to God for help – “Lord, protect me from myself – I have sinful tendencies and I need to be kept from situations that I’m inclined to sin against you.” You’re never strong enough not to need God’s help!

In part 2 we’ll look at some of the “why” of prayer Jesus gives us in vs. 5-13.