A lot has been written and taught on prayer over the years. My personal book shelf holds thousands of pages on the topic. How to pray more effectively. How to pray the best more fervent prayers. How to get better results when we pray. Visit any Christian book website or brick and mortar store and you’ll get tons of books on the topic of prayer.
Today I was reading through Luke and I came to chapter 11 where the disciples ask Jesus to teach them how to pray. “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples,” the disciples asked Jesus.
Jesus doesn’t hesitate. He seizes the teaching moment and gives them what has become known as the Lord’s Prayer.
Beautiful. A model prayer. Something Believers have been praying in various forms for centuries. It’s been recited, sung, quoted, studied, broken down, taught to children and passed around for generations. It’s the “go-to” prayer to pray when you don’t know what else to pray.
What strikes me about this passage in Luke 11 is that as beautiful as this model prayer is, there is something much more exciting to glean from Jesus’ teaching on prayer. Something that is much more powerful and something that if more Believer’s adopted into their prayer lives, their prayers would become unstoppable. With one simple change in our prayer life, we really can “seek and find.”
Jesus tells a story about a friend lending bread a midnight. This is a lesson on prayer that teaches about our persistence and God’s good character.
Then Jesus says something that has always puzzled me.
So I say to you “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asked receives; those who seek find, and to those who knock, the door will be opened.” (Luke 11:9-10 TNIV)
As first glance this really makes it look like when we accept Jesus and become a Believer that we join this magical little club. Then whatever we ask Abba for, it will just magically appear. Like a good fairy with a magic wand or a genie with infinite wishes.
I know this isn’t true. God isn’t a genie granting wishes. Yes He loves us. Yes He is a good good Father. Yes He gives us bread instead of a stone and a fish instead of a snake. But he’s not some magic genie out there doling out wishes whenever we ask. So what does this mean?
Jesus finishes his lesson on prayer with this statement.
“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for [bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asked for] a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asked for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:11-13 TNIV)
One phrase sticks out to me in what Jesus said. The very end. “How much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Did you catch that?
Jesus closes his teaching to his disciples on how to pray by talking about asking for the Holy Spirit and saying that God will give the Holy Spirit to all who ask for him.
When I read this a light switch went off in my heart.
What is the single most powerful and important thing a disciple of Jesus can learn from this teaching in Luke 11?
It’s simple. When we pray, we ask the Holy Spirit what we should pray.
When we pray, we pray according the God’s will by allowing the Holy Spirit to pray through us. How do we have a prayer life that leads to whatever we ask being given to us? We pray according to His will. We pray the very heart of God. And we can do this because we have the Holy Spirit indwelling in us. The Helper. The Comforter.
People talk a lot about a surrendered life. This is all good. A surrendered heart and flesh is important! However, I think the most powerful tool we have as Believers is a surrendered prayer life. When we start our petitioning prayer time with “Holy Spirit show me how to pray. Lord, what is your will for this today? Show me your heart for this burden I carry today. “, we are in essence saying “may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We are opening up heaven to be done on earth. Our prayers start making changes in the spiritual atmosphere around a situation.
How many hours have I spent in prayer praying my requests to God? Rambling off my requests before him. Casting my burdens at his feet. Trying to bend His work & His favor towards the things I think need to be done. How arrogant. How foolish. How powerless.
Don’t get me wrong. He is our Father and He enjoys hearing our hearts. He wants to take our burdens and carry them for us and with us. However, instead of just listing the requests the way I think they need to be answered, I really should be asking the Holy Spirit to show me His heart on the matter. To pray powerfully is to pray the very heart of God rather than my own heart.
“Lord, teach us to pray.” Holy Spirit pray through me so the very heart of God come out in my prayers. Get that. We can pray the heart of God into a situation and over a person for whom we are burdened!
Talk about power. Talk about world-changing.
With one simple change in the way we pray, we really can have the things we seek. We can knock and the door will be opened. We can seek and find.
Have you been praying for a lost loved one for years? I have. There are several loved ones that I’ve been praying over for years. Next time I sit and pray for them, I’m going to change my prayer to include the Holy Spirit. Prayer time surrendered to the Holy Spirit.
Holy Spirit, show me how to pray today. God, show me your heart for those around me and tell me how to pray your will into their lives. I know whatever I ask according to your will, will be done. So I ask you to show me your will for the burdens on my heart. I will not ask you to bend to my will. In stead I want to pray powerfully according to your will Lord. Speak to me and pray through me. I am here. Your willing and broken vessel. Pray through me so that your will be done on earth as it is already done in heaven.
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