For the audio of this teaching go to http://followingjesus.org.za/sermons/being-the-beloved-20-the-practice-of-prayer-2/

Following Jesus by Practicing Prayer – The HOW of Prayer 

Why pray? What is prayer? We pray because prayer is essentially relationship with God, being companions and co-workers with God. It’s easy, most children instinctively pray. Yet the more we pray the more we find it’s a serious challenge! Jesus’ Jewish disciples, well practiced in praying the Psalms, one day watched Jesus praying and asked him, “Teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples to pray!” (Luke 11:1f). The How To?

There are two basic ‘modes’ of prayer: ‘Closet Prayer’, regular time and place alone with God; and ‘Ceaseless Prayer’, continual interactive relationship (1Thess 5:17). Today we focus on the former, Jesus’ teaching on how to pray (in Luke 11:1-13 & Matt 6:5-15). If we practice the former then we naturally develop the latter, continual prayer. 

  1. Pray in private alone with God, not to be seen by others or to impress them – that is hypocrisy (M 6:5). Build a secret history with God; live for the audience of One!
  2. Pray in a regular place and time to not to be disturbed (“close the door”, Matt 6:6). See the pattern of Jesus in Mark 1:35 (cf. Isaiah 50:4-5) and Luke 6:12.
  3. Pray sincerely from the heart as you talk to your parent or lover. Using many words and repeating empty religious phrases reveals a pagan view of God – not the God who is your loving all knowing Father, ready to meet your needs (Matt 6:7-8).
  4. Here’s the ‘how to’ pattern of prayer when alone with God (from Matt 6:9-13):

4.1.          Begin by acknowledging relationship – look up and worship God (9).

4.2.          Then pray for God’s purposes, concerns and interests:
A) Pray for God’s name (nature & character) to be known, respected and worshipped in people and places on earth, as it is in heaven (9).
B) Pray for God’s Kingdom (rule & reign of love) to break into people’s lives and places where it’s needed on earth, as it is in heaven (10).
C) Pray for God’s will to be done in people and places as it is in heaven (10).

4.3.          Then pray for your own concerns, interests and needs:
A) Pray for the specific things (practical and spiritual) you need today to get through today well – to do God’s will this day on your piece of earth (11).
B) Pray about your shortcomings, ask for forgiveness of your sins, and forgive any and everyone who has hurt or offended you (12). Note Jesus’ emphasis on forgiving others otherwise God won’t forgive us (14-15).
C) And pray for God to keep and deliver you from trials and temptations, from the work of evil in this world… in your particular world (13).

4.4.          Then end by looking up again, praising and worshipping God, proclaiming his Rule and Reign of Love over all other powers (v13): “For YOURS is the Kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever, amen (= so be it)!”

  1. Pray with perseverance: in Luke 11:5f, also 18:1f, Jesus teaches persistent pushing through – Jewish “chutzpa” – and never to give up or to back off in our praying.
  2. And pray with persevering confidence and faith in God’s goodness for the gifts we need – the gift(s) of the Holy Spirit (11:13) – who enables us, praying in us, to grow in companionship and co-working with God (see Rom 8:26-27, 1Cor 12:7-11).

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