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From the editor: "Teach us to pray" (Lk 11.1)

J Grant

One of the most difficult disciplines in Christian life is to have an ordered and systematic prayer life. In the morning we may feel that we have so much to do in the day that we must leave the main prayer time until the evening. When the activities of the day are over we decide that, as tiredness grips us, it would be better to leave prayer until we enjoy the freshness of the morning. Day by day the cycle of failure may be repeated and therefore become difficult to break.

Luke’s Gospel presents the Lord as the dependent man on earth. As the disciples watched Him in prayer there arose in their hearts a desire to pray intelligently. The prayer life of the Lord was attractive and instructive and this led to the request, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples". In response to the question the Lord gave them a model prayer. He did not intend that these should be the words we use every time we pray, but He did leave a pattern to be followed.

The prayer commences with the words, "Our Father", thus bringing to God in prayer our appreciation of the relationship that we enjoy. Let the wonder of it never be lost to us. The great God of creation and of redemption brought us into this relationship with Him, so that we have the privilege of saying, "Our Father". We enjoy our Father’s love, His care and provision for His own. We are not distant to Him, but close; not ignored, but loved; not treated as outcasts, but received with warmth and dignity. Never let us lose the thrill of bowing and calling Him, "Father".

Following such an introduction the Lord continued, "Hallowed be thy name". In these words we express the reverence with which we approach Him. Believers must never display undue familiarity in prayer. There is no need to cower before Him; He enjoys the presence of His people. It is, however, necessary to remember that we are approaching the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, He who is "glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders" (Ex 15.11). Our deportment, our language and our attitude must always reflect the reverence with which we come to Him. Let us speak to Him of His Son and of His greatness and glory. Let us acknowledge the privilege and responsibility that is ours as we bow before Him.

Following this we read of our requests. These are divided into two distinct groups. First, we express our desires for His Kingdom and then, second, the expression of our dependence on Him. The desires are, "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done as in heaven, so in earth". As we look around society and observe the declining standards of morality, the open rebellion against the Word of God and the suffering and anguish which are the result of such declension, we surely long for the day when "a king shall reign in righteousness" (Is 32.1). The Church will be raptured to glory before these voiced desires become a reality on earth, but believers today still look forward to the time when His Kingdom is established. It is at the beginning of that age when, at the Manifestation, He will be "glorified in his saints and…admired in all them that believe" (2 Thess 1.10). What a day it will be when His will is done on earth!

Observe, however, that after dealing with the matters that are introduced by "Thy" the prayer then turns to those which refer to "us". Note the order. Last, we turn to our own needs and spiritual desires: "Give us"; "forgive us"; "lead us not"; "deliver us". Our dependence on Him is gladly acknowledged. We rely on Him for our "needed" (JND) bread, content to have the needs of the day met. We pray that we will be delivered from the evil one and not fall to temptation. To Him we bring our needs, our requests and our spiritual desires.

The parable which follows the prayer, that of the man who went to his friend at midnight to ask for bread (Lk 11.5-8), teaches us that God is never wearied by our asking. He is never indifferent to our requests, never exhausted by our coming, never displeased by our constant reliance on Him. It is a delight to Him that we come and it is with confidence that we bow, knowing that our voice is heard.


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