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
It’s a simple question. Why do you pray? Seriously, just stop for a moment and think about what your honest response would be to that question if we were sitting across from each other right now, and I asked you this. Why do you pray?
As I look at Luke 11, I’m blown away by what I see. Jesus, God in the flesh, was found in prayer. Jesus who had become increasingly popular among the crowds at this point; Jesus who could hardly go anywhere without being met by thousands of followers that were desperate to hear Him teach and see Him heal; Jesus, the humble servant to all was regularly found in prayer. His disciples were able to witness this on numerous occasions – Jesus retreating to a quiet place by Himself to pray. And they wondered “why?” Fame, prestige, and popularity were His and more, but He consistently would remove Himself from those things to be found in prayer. Naturally, this intrigued the disciples, so they asked Him to teach them how to pray, for surely prayer must be so great that Jesus would willingly forfeit praise and position and prestige to be found in prayer.
I can’t help but think that Jesus’ response to their question was not what they expected. Jesus’ instruction on what to pray (Luke 11:2-4) sounds a whole lot different than the way we tend to pray today, too, doesn’t it? When you think of prayer, does a list of prayer requests pop into your mind? Is that really what prayer is? Spouting off a list of things that we’d love to see God do for us and for others? Or is prayer meant to be something so much more? When I look at the Lord’s Prayer, I see praise and adoration. I see confession and repentance. I see a commitment to obedience, and a final request to be kept from temptation.
I would suggest that Jesus was so regularly found in prayer because He found great delight in His Father’s presence. Perhaps prayer was meant to draw us into the presence of the Lord. Maybe prayer was intended for God’s pleasure as opposed to the need we all have to dictate our requests to Him. And perhaps why we pray should be more about deepening our relationship with our Heavenly Father and less about what we can get from Him.
Do you take great delight in being found in God’s presence? Do you enjoy praising Him? Do you look forward to times of communicating with Him? Do you take the time to not only speak to Him but also to listen for His voice? Why do you pray? Today might be a great time for each of us to ask ourselves this important question. Today could be the first day we begin to engage in prayer the way Jesus did. I don’t know about you, but when Scripture tells me to be an imitator of God, I want to take that seriously. I want to pray like Jesus did.
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