JESUS TEACH US TO PRAY

CORPORATE PRAYER PART I

There is a general kind of praying which fails for lack of precision. It is as if a regiment of soldiers should all fire off their guns anywhere. Possibly somebody would be killed, but the majority of the enemy would be missed.

-Charles Spurgeon

JESUS, TEACH US TO PRAY

In Matthew, we see a simple request from the disciples: Lord, teach us to pray. I have often heard it said that it should be of interest that the only request from the disciples that comes in this manner is a request to be taught to pray. They did not ask to be taught to preach. They did not ask to be taught to make disciples. They did not ask Jesus to teach them to share the gospel or their personal testimony, to speak in tongues, how to write beautiful hymns, nor how to assess trends and apply wisdom to build bigger churches or increase conversions.

                  The point that is often made from this assessment is one worthy of considering: Jesus’ prayers were so noticeably worthy of modeling that the disciples desired to possess this ability, this gift of prayer as well. Now, I don’t know that this was the motivation. Luke tells us they included an important phrase that might modify that thought: “Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples. That means there could be other reasons this is requested, but nevertheless I find it no less worthy a cause to study.

                  Did the disciples not know how to pray? Well, I guess you might say they didn’t know how to pray when they looked at prayer as they knew it, experienced it, and interacted with it. But they surely knew they could pray and had witnessed prayers before. Jesus’ made a point to rebuke the Pharisees for their public prayers.[1] These prayers would have surely been witnessed by the disciples. They were Jews. They have a history of prayer. They were also looking to some degree for the Messiah[2], so they likely had some knowledge of the Jewish religion, though they (at least two of them) were referred to as untaught.[3] This arguably means that Jesus’ prayers were so different in some way that the disciples were compelled to be taught, to know how to pray this way themselves. I think it is a worthy question and hope to encourage you through sharing my thoughts as a result of personal study. If you haven’t done so already, check out my first blog on prayer in this series.

The Lord’s Prayer[4]

9 “Pray, then, in this way:

‘Our Father who is in heaven,

Hallowed be Your name.

10 ‘Your kingdom come.

Your will be done,

On earth as it is in heaven.

11 ‘Give us this day [a]our daily bread.

12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from [b]evil. [c][For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]

 

Jesus’ taught us some weighty truths in this prayer. Short of exegeting the entire passage on through chapter 12, I will lay out some truths you can test for yourself.

  • There is clearly a group involvement in the words of the pray: Give usour.
  • Luke’s presentation focuses on human needs: daily bread, debt forgiveness, protection from temptation and evil by guiding our walk
  • Matthew gives us a view to God’s goal: The supremacy of God’s name over creation (Hallowed be your name)
  • Prayer is about God’s  kingdom which does not exclude man’s needs
  • Corporate prayer in this manner speaks and seeks the Father: Our Father who is in heaven…
  • The Father is the giver, the source, of gifts and what we need and we should come to Him
  • Praying for human needs does not compromise God’s glory or make His name less worthy of praise or the intentional spread of the kingdom; They are interrelated. Man’s needs require God’s Lordship and find their proper place in them.
  • We should acknowledge our sin and need: Requests for daily bread, forgiveness, and guidance/deliverance all acknowledge man’s dependence.
  • Prayer flows from faith: Jesus continues to teach that God is a good Father that gives good gifts to His children. We are commanded to believe this.
  • Faith flows from accurate theology: Jesus taught us about His Father so we would understand why we pray what we pray. If we know who God is, we would pray this way.
  • Faith based prayer based on accurate theology rests in God’s work and person while the world prays and relies on their works and abilities: Both Matthew and Luke follow the teaching on prayer with teaching and examples of God’s ability, willingness, and request to take care of us while they also address examples of men who seek to accomplish their goals on their own through religion, power, and law.

 

SUMMARY

The Lord’s prayer teaches us that corporate prayer is a single-minded, faith-based acknowledgment of who God is that simultaneously seeks God’s name be exalted and man be preserved. Let me open that last portion of the summary up a bit more: The Lord’s prayer acknowledges the Father’s goodness, wisdom, wealth, and omnipotent ability by acknowledging man’s natural evil, foolishness, poverty, finiteness, brokenness, and susceptibility to be misled, overpowered, and deceived to the point of enslavement and death. I believe these are all valid things that can be found in the Lord’s Prayer and te teaching that follows. Once these truths are known to men, then they do the only reasonable thing: they cause man to ask God to come forth, take over the world and be its ever present ruler, and take care of their needs, now and forevermore, because He is worthy to be supreme. His name is thus praised. The praise is true worship. 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

This is a helpful link to read and think about.

Please make sure you understand this about links to other sites: I believe we are to be careful about what we believe. Don't accept another person's word on what the Bible says. ALWAYS check the Bible and seek the LORD to teach you and safeguard you by His Holy Spirit. People aren't perfect. Our opinions, guesses, and understanding is NOT Scripture and can have mistakes. Everyone is wrong on at least something. If I share a site, I am not necessarily endorsing the person or their views. I share sites for a number of reasons and I try to read what people that disagree with me to understand what they are saying. I believe every Christian should grow in their ability to do this. If anything, it is helpful in forming and filling out your beliefs and will assist in explaining why you believe what you believe or why you disagree with other options. Be a good "Berean". 


[1] Matthew 6:5-7 is likely aimed at the Pharisees, but refers to hypocrites in general. Luke 18:9-14 is a parable reflecting a Pharisee and a tax collector. I will examine this further later in the article.

[2] John 1:35-51

[3] Acts 4:13

[4] Matthew 6:9-13, Luke’s account is a bit shorter: Luke 11:2-4