Doesn’t it seem that these days everybody has their own opinion about what prayer is? But, I’m thinking it would be wise to pay close attention to what the Master said about prayer when his disciples asked for help.
Many will tell us that The Lord’s Prayer, the prototype Jesus gave to the disciples, is outdated since he was talking to people under the Old Covenant. It may be that some parts of the prayer have been completed “in Christ”, but as we read it, line by line, we can see that much of it is not visible in the earth. To pray that God’s will be done on earth, as it is in heaven, comes early in Jesus’ prayer, suggesting that God’s will is not always done. And, certainly, to pray that we be delivered from evil, that we might do or that might be done to us, is a very contemporary need.
What he tells them after this should encourage us in our prayer. It is a discourse on why we may expect our prayers to be answered. When we know the will of God—and the disciples would know because His will is what they have seen Jesus doing on the earth, as well as what he told them he came to do—and then pray according to His will, we can expect a positive answer to that prayer. “If a son asks for bread, will you give him a stone?” Jesus asks. Some might say that refers only to the Holy Spirit, which Jesus mentions at the end of the lesson, but in context of the whole, I doubt it. If it does, what do we do about the “lead me not into temptation” part?
This chapter is full of lessons about what God is doing and what he is not. When Jesus casts out a devil and sets a mute man free, some said he did it by the power of Beelzebub, ruler of demons. Jesus schools them on what happens when a kingdom is divided; i.e., he would not be casting out demons on behalf of the devil. He, instead, was the “stronger man” who seized the devil’s spoils.
It seems that prayer, in all of its forms, must be based on what the scriptures have to say about prayer and about God’s will, and upheld by what Jesus has already accomplished on the cross.
I found it interesting to read Jesus’ reply to the woman in the crowd who called out a blessing on “the woman who gave you birth.”
“But he said, ‘Indeed, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!'” (vs 28)
We’ve heard “keep it” before.
Remember? In the Sower and the Seed teaching, Jesus said those who keep the word, the seed, bring forth the intended harvest. And harvest is the whole point of a seed.
Which is why, I believe, we see Jesus’ stern rebuke to the lawyers at the end of this chapter. These—who claim such knowledge of God and His ways—are the ones, he claims, who have killed the prophets in the past, prophets who brought the people God’s words. “Woe to you lawyers! For you take away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering,” (vs 52).
The key of knowledge. What might that be?
Might the key of knowledge be the Word of God? Might we be hindered from entering into the freeing, healing, overcoming place it provides if we allow those words, the seed, to be stolen?
It’s so good to be reminded, through this study of Luke before Christmas, of the reality and the certainty of what we have told and believed! It is no fairy tale. It is history and it is alive today.
“Until now you have asked nothing in my name: ask, and you shall receive, that your joy may be full,” (John 16:24).