The disciples asked Jesus how to pray to God. They knew they needed God's help and they knew that Jesus knew how to pray. Scripture records the episode this way:
Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples." And he said to them, "When you pray, say: "Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation" (Luke 11:1-4).
Andrew Murray, the famous South African church pastor wrote, "The disciples never asked Jesus to teach them how to preach, only how to pray. To know how to speak to God is more important than knowing how to speak to man." Let's consider what Jesus was teaching his disciples then, and us today.
A Christian is one who has God for his Father. Father is the Christian word for God. This is one reason Jesus taught his followers to address God as their Father. Prayer is like a personal conversation between a child and his dad. Prayer is God's gift inviting us to pour out our hearts to him. Just as a concerned parent wants to know if his child needs help, so our Father in heaven wants us to bring every need to him. Jesus is teaching that prayer is the best way to prepare for moments of distraction, fear, conflict and temptation.
Your Kingdom Come
The kingdom of God is wherever God rules and reigns. We should pray for God to bring his kingdom into places on earth where he is currently not the reigning king. This request starts with our own heart and then extends to people we know and places we care about. Asking for God's kingdom to come is a simple way of saying, "Father, I have on my heart what is on your heart." Seeking first his kingdom guards us from being distracted and giving our time and energy to things that don't matter.
Everyday brings a fresh list of things to worry about. Natural fears are calmed when we seek God's provision. The words, "our daily bread," represent everything we need from God to get through the day. God provides every physical blessing we enjoy. Acknowledging God as the source of all we need creates a sense of gratitude and dependence. In short, remembering who God is and his promise to take care of his children calms our fears.
The divine cure for sin is forgiveness. God forgives us. We forgive others. Since Christ's death on the cross paid for all of our sins, the focus here is our closeness to God. For the Christian, sin does not sever his relationship from God – he is still his Father's child – but it does affect his fellowship with God. A Christian who sins doesn't feel close to God. He feels conflicted because he has wandered away from God's will. Confessing our sins keeps our heart close to God. Furthermore, confessing our sins prepares us to forgive those with whom we have had problems. Unresolved conflicts can easily become a root of bitterness. Alistair Begg once said, "The #1 killer of a spiritual life is an unforgiving spirit. Forgiving is so difficult to do in our own strength that we must ask God's Spirit for the power to do it."
Finally, there is the matter of temptation. We must constantly ask God to protect us from compromising situations. Our enemy, the devil, is always trying to get us to follow him. Prayer prepares us for moments of temptation and helps us steer clear of situations where we are vulnerable.
Perhaps your prayer life is a little rusty or maybe even non-existent. Don’t be discouraged. It's never too late for a fresh start. God is ready and willing to help you learn how to pray. He wants to hear from you. He loves it when his children call on his name. He won't hold any request against you because he understands that we need help. He knows that we can't do it by ourselves. Ask Jesus to teach you how to pray to God. Lord, we need you!
1. What is your most common request to God?
2. How does regarding God is your Father change your attitude toward Him?
3. How would seeking first God's kingdom change your outlook?
4. How have you noticed that discontentment and unforgiveness can overwhelm Christians?
5. In what ways can prayer for deliverance from temptations protect us?
6. Encourage your group with a prayer story.
Author:Paul Schlieker www.bible-study-lesson-plans.com
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