These guys are hilarious…
“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.’”
Jesus taught His disciples many things during his three years with them, but Luke 11 captures one of the only times in the Gospels when the disciples asked Jesus for instruction on a specific activity. The Bible says, 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” (Luke 11:1).
Notice about what these men didn’t ask. Theology was not their first focus. Church growth and leadership were not at the top of the list either. They were not interested in healing, preaching, or walking on water. Why? The disciples had learned that prayer was the source of all things. Of all the things they could have selected to be taught by Jesus Himself, they chose the discipline of prayer. Through observing Jesus’ prayer life—His commitment to spending time with His Father and the way He spoke to God—they were eager to pray as He prayed. Since Jesus demonstrated power in His prayer life, His closest followers desired to learn from Him. His example caused them to thirst for something more in their own lives and ministries. And because they asked, Jesus used the opportunity not only to instruct them, but us as well.
Pray the Way Jesus Explained It
Imagine how you would have felt at this moment. The disciples were about to listen to the greatest prayer warrior of all teach on the subject of prayer. All were silent, and Jesus held their undivided attention. Picture the twelve sitting around the Lord with their sharpened pencils and opened notebooks. They were ready for a lengthy lecture on prayer, but before they could even get comfortable in their seats, it was over, and Jesus moved on to His next point. Surely both their pencils and their mouths dropped as they thought, “What?”
In just forty English words, Jesus had explained how to pray. What Jesus didn’t say still speaks louder today than what He actually did say. Our Lord’s brevity teaches the most vital prayer lesson of all:
Prayer is not learned in a classroom. The most crucial words in this crash course are the first three: “When you pray…” We do not learn how to pray by going to prayer conferences. We do not learn how to pray by reading books on the subject. There is only one way to cultivate an intimate, effective prayer life: Pray, pray, pray.
Even though you may study a foreign language, the only way to learn it thoroughly is to speak it. Prayer is similar; you learn it by doing it. Prayer is learned experientially. Jesus, through His silence, is saying, “Listen, prayer is not about filling your mind with knowledge on ways to pray. Prayer is about doing it, so start praying.”
Andrew Murray, speaking of the practice of prayer in his book With Christ in the School of Prayer, commented, “Reading a book about prayer, listening to lectures and talking about it is good, but it won’t teach you to pray. You get nothing without exercise, without practice. I might listen for a year to a professor of music playing the most beautiful music, but that won’t teach me to play an instrument.”1 A powerful prayer-life is developed through the practice of actually praying.
Aren’t you grateful that Jesus had a prayer-life? If he did, shouldn’t we?
Lets just be honest, some people are really hard to love.
But Jesus tells us that we are to love God and our neighbor (Matt. 22:34-40). Also the New Testaments commands that we love one another (1 Thess. 4:9, 1 Pet. 1:22, 1 John 3:23). And if we would be honest enough, we would all have to say that we struggle every now and then when it comes to loving other people. Some people just seem to be unlovable people, but I want to share with you several reasons why we must love even the unlovable.
- God loves them. “For God loved the world in this way. . . .” (John 3:16). He loves the arrogant church member, the person caught in sin, and the follower who denies Him. That’s the point: He who loves all of us with an amazing love and expects us to love others in the same way.
- We show the power of the gospel by loving all people. Jesus said our love for one another would be one way to show the world His love (John 13:34-35).
- We live in Christian obedience when we show love toward all. Christian love, while not being devoid of emotion, is an active love, a doing love – evidenced by how we act toward others. Christian love means we act as a Christian toward all people, even when our feelings aren’t there.
- Love motivates our praying for unlovable people. We can’t change unlovable people. No program will fix the person who is power hungry or judgmental. Lasting transformation occurs only under the power of God – and that means we must pray for even for the people we like the least. To not pray for them is to be unloving.
- Unlovable people are often loners, and loners need help winning spiritual battles. The church of Jesus Christ is designed to be a body, a family, an army, a people of God. We have never been intended to fight battles alone; instead, we fight together, guarding one another’s back. Loving an unlovable person is one way of helping him fight spiritual battles he’s likely losing on his own.
- We are all sometimes unlovable. All of us sometimes act less than Christian. Maybe nobody sees it, and perhaps it doesn’t happen often – but it’s still un-Christlike. We, too, will have those days when we need undeserved love. Perhaps others will model then the love we’ve first shown them.
READ: Titus 1:15-16, 2:7-8, 11-15 (NLT)
THINK: Do the people around know that you follow Jesus? Have you told them? Have you shown them? Can people who dont know you tell that there is something different about you, just by the way you conduct yourself? Do you say “No” to anything that could compromise your devotion to God or His standards? Do you say “Yes” to opportunities to do good, to honor God, to encourage others and to influence them for Christ? Could people get an accurate impression of what Jesus is like by what they see in you?
RESPOND: What behaviors and character traits should be evident in those who follow Christ? Do you say that you know God but then deny Him by the way that you live? See 1:16.
What is Gods “grace,” and what is its purpose? See 2:11. Having received Gods grace, what should you be able to learn and do in response to temptations and ungodliness? See 2:12. What does it mean to say “No” to these things? What insight does verse 14 provide about why Jesus gave His life for us? How should this affect your daily life?
PRAY: Pray that your faith will be confirmed by your actions. Pray for boldness to live out your faith. Give God thanks for His grace and for the hope and strength it provides. Thank Him for the blessed hope of Jesus return.
ACT: Pay particular attention to your attitudes and behaviors today. Be sure that they reflect your devotion to Christ. Exercise self-control by saying “No” to ungodly or questionable behavior and “Yes” to all that is Christlike.