Tag Archives: Prayer


Sunday, August 11

Luke 11:1-13


Ask, seek and knock (Luke 11:9-10). Seems simple enough!  So, why don’t I get everything for which I ask, seek and knock?  Perhaps, James tells us, “because you ask with wrong motives” (4:3). In our lesson today we want to know that for which we are asking, seeking and knocking.


How did the disciples know Jesus was praying? They waited until He was finished to ask Him to teach them how to pray. Did Jesus have a certain body posture or motion He would exhibit when He prayed? Perhaps He assumed the stoic figure with folded hands glowingly staring towards a beam of light like many of our pictures display.

Jesus’ disciples wanted to converse with God like Jesus was doing.


The prayer Jesus gives His disciples, I believe, was not a mantra they were to repeat or a rote script that they were to memorize for times of prayer and devotion. I think Jesus was giving them hooks upon which to hang their personal thoughts, worship, praise and petitions. Prayers center around God, His Holiness, His Sovereignty, His provision, His forgiveness and His protection.


Mars Hill in Athens

I believe that a clue to how Jesus prayed is found in the illustration He uses to enlighten the disciples about the nature of prayer. Luke translates Jesus words into Greek using a word that only appears once in all of the New Testament: right here. It is a unique word that had a clear meaning in Athens on Mars Hill. The Rock of Shamelessness was a white stone near the edge of the precipice where the accuser would point to the person standing on the “Rock of No Mercy” or “The Stone of Pride”, trying to persuade the court of the accused guilt in murder.*

Athens’ Aeropagus from Mars Hill

In the parable Jesus talks about the shamelessly persistent neighbor who is waking his neighbor to insist upon his immediate need for three loaves of bread. Add this illustration to Jesus’ final comment in Luke 11:13 and we now know how to ask for the filling of God’s Holy Spirit in our lives: with shameless persistence. I think this is a description of how Jesus often prayed when He was alone, talking to His Father.


Knowing Christ is not a casual, passive activity.  It is a demanding pursuit that requires an aggressive, proactive and unrelenting determination.  Jesus uses the expression “shameless persistence”.  These are the kinds of prayers that God hears and grants to those who seek the Holy Spirit; not necessarily a healed body, a larger paycheck, a bigger house, or a faster car.  Jesus tells us that when we ask for the Holy Spirit with “shameless persistence”, God will give it like a father gives to his children!

*Madvig, D.H. “Areopagus” in The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Volume 1, Rev. Ed. 1979), pp. 287-289. See also: ἀναίδεια” Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon.


“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

“This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from the evil one.

14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Matthew 6:1, 5-15

Imagine standing in front of a crowd with trumpets sounding and heralders hearlding that you are now about to pause to pray!  “Silence!” the announcer cries out!  “It’s time for this holy person to pray!”

Just the thought of such a scene brings a wince to our faces as we consider the hubris of someone willing to announce their holiness to the world! 

And then I think of the times I have prayed publicly in church, before dinner or with a family in a hospital room wondering how my audience might respond to my special choice of words…and I hang my head.  Suddenly I don’t feel so holy after all.


“They are not my audience!” I cry out in shame.  Our audience in prayer is to be to The One and Only God of heaven who desires an intimacy with me that is just between the two of us.  There is only God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit that I should be focused upon.  He will attend to the hearts of the people around me!  It really is not about me!

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” – Romans 8:26-27 (NIV)


Jesus’ elegant prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) shines forth to teach us.  And so we learn that our conversation with our God is unpretentious, not littered with mindless repetition, but straightforward, simple yet thorough.  It is a prayer that celebrates our total dependence upon God as we live life, wrestling with our pride and arrogance under the ever-cleansing flow of the blood of Christ (1 John 1:7).

Audience of One

“…go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.” (Matthew 6:6)