It's time to get ready for Christmas. In the Christian Church, we call this pre-Christmas season of preparation Advent. We get ready to celebrate the birth of Christ, when the Son of God came to earth as an infant born in a manger. We also remember that Jesus promised he would come again as the King of Glory returning in the clouds. So as we prepare for Christmas, we also prepare for the second coming of Christ. Are you ready for Jesus to return?
If you could ask Jesus to teach you one thing during Advent, what would it be? We you ask: "LORD, teach me to raise my kids" or "manage my money" or "find someone to marry," "get along with my spouse," or teach me to trust You." There are many things we might ask Jesus to teach us. The Disciples asked Jesus to teach them something in the Gospel of Luke.
Once Jesus was in a certain place praying. As he finished, one of his disciples came to him and said, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
Of All the Things…
Jesus did a lot of amazing things in his life. He healed people who was deaf, blind, lame. He drove demons out of people. One time, he drove a whole group of demons out of a man. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into a heard of pigs and he did. Then the herd of pigs ran off a cliff and plunge to their death in the sea! Amazingly, Jesus once walked on water! Jesus could do things no one else could do.
Of all the things the Disciples could have asked Jesus to teach them, they asked him to teach them to pray. Jesus’ prayer life must been amazingly powerful to impress them more than all the others things he did. Jesus’ prayers were special.
You know, when you find something you love to do, you're always trying to find time to sneak off and do it. Some people sneak off to play golf. Others sneak off to go fishing or hunting. Some sneak off to see a football game or to be with their family. Jesus loved to pray. He was always sneaking off to pray. Matthew 14:23, " After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone." Mark 1:35, "Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray." Mark 6:46, "After telling everyone good-bye, he went up into the hills by himself to pray." Luke 5:16, "But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer." Jesus loved to sneak off and pray, because he loved to spend time with His Heavenly Father. No one loved prayer or needed prayer or knew how to pray as powerfully as Jesus. If you need to know how to pray, Jesus is the one to ask.
We Need to Learn How to Pray
The Disciples needed to know how to pray. They lived in a tumultuous time. People often didn’t know where their next meal was coming from. Sickness, poverty, oppression, depression, and demon possession were rampant. The world was a dark, dark place. The Disciples desperately needed to know how to pray just so they could survive. So they asked Jesus to teach them.
I don't know about you, but when I look around, and I see a lot of darkness in our world today too. It is said our country is more divided now than it has ever been. (It is certainly more divided than I have ever known in my lifetime.) There is a great darkness over our land – mass shootings, lawlessness, evil. The Word of God is scorned by those outside the Church and forgotten by so many inside the Church. I read a story this week about the United Church of Canada, where Canada’s second largest denomination decided to let a self-proclaimed atheist continue ministering in their church. Even though the minister doesn’t believe in God, Jesus Christ, or the Holy Spirit, the United Church of Canada has decided not to remove her from ministry.[i] That just makes no sense! Sometimes, it just seems like the world is going crazy! However, I’m not discouraged. I am in God’s royal family. I am a king in God's kingdom. And when we feel like the world is too full of darkness, we can run to God in prayer. So, we need say, "Jesus, teach us to pray."
It’s not just in dark times that we should run to God in prayer. It’s in all times. We need to learn how to pray—in good times, bad times, times of need, times of thanksgiving. We ought to go to God in prayer continually, as we would go talk to our wife, our husband, our parents, our best friend.
Christmas shows Jesus coming from Heaven to be with us. Prayer is our answer. Pray is us choosing to spend time with God through prayer in Jesus name. We can go confidently into God's presence in prayer. God loves for us to come. The great preacher and missionary Paul Washer said, “Just a glance of our eyes upward makes [God’s] heart beat faster.”
I am convinced, now more than ever, that prayer is the life blood of the Christian. Prayer is not just something Christians do. Prayer is everything! Prayer is the life of a Christian. Prayer is the answer to all our problems. Prayer is the questions we need to ask. Prayer is searching and prayer is the finding. Prayer is the solution to all the personal troubles we face. Prayer is the solutions to the darkness we see in our world. Prayer is knowing the actual problems. Prayer is the way to save a church that is shrinking and dying. Prayer is the way to bring people to Christ. Prayer is the way to turn our families back to the Lord. Prayer is the way to find our way into the future—to know God’s vision for our lives, what career we should pursue, how to raised our family, who to vote for, how to exercise, what to eat for dinner, what to read, what to avoid, who to talk to, who to date, how fast to drive, what route to take home. Prayer shows what programs our church needs to invest in and which ones we need to say goodbye to. Prayer is how we find a way through sickness and depression, how we find true healing from the Lord.
Have you ever driven through a thick fog at night? It so hard to see! Your headlights only go out so far, so you have to be careful. Pray is like our headlights that shine out through the foggy darkness to show the way. Unfortunately, the prayer life of many is so weak, the light barely shines a foot or two out front. You can't tell what you might run into in the darkness. Others have no prayer life at all. It's like their running down the highway at night and have switched off their headlights. their in complete and total darkness, lost and about to run off the road into a tree!
We've got to pray, folks! And prayer is not what you think it is. It’s not just folding your hands and closing your eyes and saying a few words to God. We’ve got to start thinking of prayer as more than we have before. It's not just going through a prayer list and praying for people who are sick. Prayer is not just us sitting around naming all the people we need to pray for and then saying, “We lift up Bobby and Suzy.” That is one part of prayer, but it’s not enough by itself. Prayer is so much more. Prayer is communion with God, our Creator. Prayer is what Adam and Eve did when they would walk and talk with God in Garden of Eden (before they so foolishly chose to listen to the serpent Satan and eat the forbidden fruit and fell into sin). Prayer is what the prophet Elijah was doing when he was caught up in a whirlwind and taken to be with the Lord. Prayer is what Jesus did constantly—sneaking away from the crowds to pray in a quiet place. He loved to spend time with His Heavenly Father. It is also what Jesus did to constantly conform His will to the Father’s. It is how Jesus knew what to do and what not to do and when, so that He was always and everywhere “Lead by the Spirit.” So the Scripture always says, “He was lead by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted…” “He was lead by the Spirit to the Jordan river to be baptized…” “He was lead by the Spirit to Galillee to teach the Gentiles…” “He was lead by the Spirit to Jerusalem to die on the cross…”
InvitationI invite you to join me each week as we ask Jesus to teach how to pray for the next month. "Lord, teach us to pray.” I am asking the Lord to show me what He wants us to know about prayer. I am praying about it daily and studying. I will share what the Lord gives me every chance I get on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings at my church. I invite you to come. I will also share some of what I learn hear on my blog and on my church's Facebook page. Will you come and hear what the Lord might say to you? Will you also ask the Lord to teach you to pray?