How do you pray? Hopefully that question has you replaying your times alone with God in an honest, introspective way. The ability to pray is one of the most valuable gifts that God has given to His people. It is no coincidence that one of the first lessons that the disciples asked Jesus to teach them was, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1 ESV). The disciples had the Creator of the universe at their side and could have asked any question but they asked for Him to teach them to pray. Undoubtedly they had seen Jesus spending hours alone with the Father as they had seen Him separate Himself from the crowds in order to go pray. How did Jesus respond to their requests? He responded by giving them an example prayer. Now, while so much can be pulled out of the entire example, I want to zero in on one particular aspect of what He taught them that is found in Luke 11:5-10. As we look at this, ask yourself this question:
Does my prayer life resemble a weak, dead, dried up ritual that is fit into my life for convenience?
Honestly, so many Christians today are able to identify with this type of prayer life and they find themselves spiritually drained because of it. One of the biggest reasons that our prayer lives are ineffective is because we come before Him as the hypocrites and Gentiles did as described in Matthew 6:5-8 ESV. The hypocrites were guilty of only praying in order to receive self-glorification. Their prayers were in public in order for them to be seen being “religious” by the people passing by. The Gentiles were guilty of offering up long, ritualistic, empty prayers that were believed to be formulas to unlock the power of God. The fact is, so many Christians today find themselves having seemingly powerful spiritual lives on Sunday but empty prayer closets through the week! Also, so many Christians find themselves offering up prayers that are empty and recited in order to check off the box for the day! If these things are evident in our prayer lives we cant hope to have flourishing spiritual lives. So, the question remains, how should we pray?
Prayer should be characterized by a dependence upon God that is made known by the boldness and urgency by which we come before His throne!
In Luke 11:5-10, Jesus teaches the disciples of a man that has a friend come to him at midnight. The man was unprepared for his arrival and has no bread to set before him. To not have bread for a visitor in ancient Jewish culture was unacceptable and was considered an offense! So, the man goes to another friends house and says, “Friend, lend me three loaves.” Understandably, the friend is irritated and tells the man to go away because his children are with him in bed. I can understand this man because with four children of my own the prospect of waking them up and hearing them cry in the middle of the night is not very appealing! What amazes me is what Jesus then says about the situation to the disciples. In vs. 8-10 He says, “I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” Why would Jesus respond this way?
Because the man in need of the bread never quit knocking!
Now, in no way is this to be interpreted as a health, wealth, and prosperity example given by Jesus. In no way do we have a ticket to get whatever we want from God whenever we want it. Instead, it should be interpreted as an exhortation to follow the example of the man and seek God with the same kind of boldness and persistence! Jesus said to ask, seek, and knock. These are not examples of different ways to seek God at different times but it is how we should seek God at all times! Our prayer lives should be so desperate for the will of God for our lives that we find ourselves refusing to stop at simply asking and seeking but we are actually boldly knocking on the doors of Heaven! This is exactly what is seen in the Psalms over and over! David cried out in Psalm 5, “Give ear to my words, O LORD; consider my groaning. Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray.” What boldness! David boldly asked God to listen to his cry and give ear to his words. Do we find ourselves seeking God in that way? Do we find ourselves praying for the revealing of the glory of God around us in that way?
Refuse to allow your prayer life to be another ritual. Refuse to allow your day and its busyness to take precedence over your time alone with God. Instead, treat prayer as the powerful source of spiritual life that it truly is!