We continue to make our way through Luke's Gospel in this article as we look at Luke 11:1-4. We come today to the passage in which one of Jesus' disciples asks Him to teach them to pray, not an uncommon thing amongst disciples. But the very question and the answer that Jesus gives prompts us to ask the Lord in prayer to help us to pray.

Jesus' disciples obviously had overheard John's disciples being taught by John how to pray. And so they say to Jesus, "Jesus, we want You to teach us to pray," and so Jesus teaches them this very simple, model prayer. For about nineteen hundred years we've called this The Lord's Prayer, because it's the prayer that the Lord. And why do you think it is that the disciples always ask their mentors, their masters, to teach them to pray? Because prayer doesn't come naturally to us.

I heard this statistic recently, that the average evangelical churchgoer in America prays less than three minutes a day, and that really, outside of table blessings, we don't pray. There is a sheer prayerlessness in the English-speaking churches in the western world today like nothing we've ever seen before. And so what I want us to do is park on this passage for a few weeks together and we'll work through each of the five petitions that Jesus gives here.

Notice the disciples didn't say, "Lord teach us about prayer." They said, "Lord, teach us to pray." My goal will be for us together to work on learning to pray; not learning more about prayer but learning to pray together.

There are three things that I want you to see in this passage and we will look at the first of them in this article before continuing next week to the other two.

I. Pray the Bible

The disciples say to Jesus, "Teach us to pray," and then He begins to give them guidance in prayer. He says, "Pray, 'Father.'" This comes right out of the Old Testament Scriptures. The Jewish person addressed God as "Father" because God had chosen the people of Israel to be His children, and so there's a unique relationship to God through His electing love.

We're to pray that His name would be "hallowed." Over and over in the Old Testament the name of God refers to the reputation of God and it means seeing God for who He is, accepting Him as glorious, acknowledging that He is great.

"Your kingdom come" - read the great prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel and Jeremiah and they're looking for a day when the reign of God will be established in the world. That one day "the earth will be as full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea."

"Give us each day our daily bread" - This comes right out of the story of the manna in the wilderness which was given to the children of Israel on a daily basis.

"Forgive us our sins" - over and over the central thing which is recognized as a part of the blessings of God's covenant promises to Abraham is the forgiveness of sins. So all of these things that Jesus is teaching them are coming right out of their Hebrew Bibles. He's teaching them about prayer from the Bible and He's saying, "Take these things back to God in prayer." So that's my first thing to you. If you want to pray like Jesus, pray the Bible.

Now what does it mean to pray?

Nineteen centuries ago the great early church theologian, Clement of Alexandria said, "Prayer is conversation with God." It's conversation with God. A little more elaborate definition of prayer is found in The Larger Catechism which says, "Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God in the name of Christ by the help of His Spirit with confession of our sins and thankful acknowledgement of His mercies."

Now, notice it says first of all that prayer is about your desires. Every part of prayer expresses what are the deepest desires of your heart. Think of it, when you adore God in prayer you're saying, "God, You are more important than anything else in this world. I'm worshipping You." When we confess our sins and seek forgiveness in prayer we're expressing our deepest desires because we know that we need the forgiveness of sins. When we intercede for one another and lift up requests on one another's behalf, we're expressing the deep desires of our hearts that certain things be done. "O Lord, let my child live. O Lord, let my child be saved. O Lord, let my husband live." And on and on and on - the deep desires of our hearts. When we express thanksgiving we're thanking God for His answers to us in things that deeply matter to us, so prayer's about the desires. It's lifting up the desires unto God.

But it's also a Trinitarian activity.

Notice that Jesus says, "Pray to the Father in My name" - and then Paul tells us in Romans 8 that we need the help of the Spirit in order to pray. "The Spirit intercedes with us with groaning too deep for words." When we don't have the words to say, the Spirit intercedes for us. So we pray to the Father in the name of the Son and with the help of the Holy Spirit. So prayer itself is a Trinitarian activity but prayer is something that ought to be done in praying God's Word back to Him because we don't know what to say to God.

That's what you talk about with God. You talk about with God what He's talked about with you. The things that He has promised to you, the things that He has literally welcomed you to come and talk to Him about. And where do you find those things? In the Bible.

Let me just give you one example from Psalm 46. Let's say you're in a hard spot. The world is going crazy, falling in around your ears, and you're so upset you don't know what to say. You know you need to pray. You've already said, "Lord, help me." And that's a good prayer, but you want to say more but don't even know where to begin. Psalm 46 says, "God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear though the earth should change and the mountains slip into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake in its swelling pride."

You start reading that and already your heart begins to be strengthened as you read those words. And then you say, "Okay Lord, you've given me the words that I need. Lord, You are my refuge and strength. You are my very present help in time of trouble. Therefore, I will not fear though the earth should change and the mountains slip into the heart of the sea and the waters roar and foam and though the mountains are destroyed by earthquakes."

All you've done is taken a Psalm and turned it into your prayer. You've taken the Bible and you've turned it into your prayer. You're praying God's Word back to Him. That is what Jesus taught His disciples to do. "Here's the outline," Jesus says. But notice the outline - the outline all comes from the Bible. Pray God's Word back to Him. Pray the Bible.