The Gospel According to Luke is probably my favorite book of the Bible. I love all of the Gospels. They are after all "Good News". The main character is my Savior and the message of these books is central to my faith; salvation through Jesus Christ alone. But Luke is my favorite for its wealth of stories that are not found in the other Gospels. Through the stories that Luke chooses to include, special emphasis is placed on those that the world rejects; the poor, the sick, the outcast, women, elderly, sinners. Luke shows us a Jesus who has truly come for the "least of these".
There is another reason that Luke is my favorite book, and that is for its special emphasis on prayer. In no other Gospel is prayer given such attention. And yet Jesus gave great attention to the practice. There are two Greek words for prayer and they are mentioned 41 times in the book of Luke. Jesus taught about prayer, gave instructions on prayer, but more importantly is shown praying himself.
It has often perplexed me why Jesus felt the need to pray. He was, after all, God in flesh. If there was ever someone who did not have the need to pray, Jesus would be that person. But Jesus did pray. In Luke 3:21, Jesus prayed at His baptism. In Luke 5:16, Scripture tells us that Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness to pray. In Luke 6:12 Jesus went out to the mountain to pray all night. Luke 9:18, Jesus is found alone praying. In Luke 22:41 Jesus prayed for His Fathers will to be done in the Garden of Gethsemane. While Jesus was on the cross, Luke 23:34, he prayed for those who crucified Him to be forgiven. It would seem that Jesus prayed at all times for all sorts of reasons.
And so, if Jesus felt the need for prayer in His life, how much more do we need prayer in our lives? That’s a rhetorical question by the way because the answer is infinitely more. We need prayer infinitely more than Jesus did. But if you are anything like me, prayer is a difficult habit to acquire, an easy practice to set aside.
And do I even have the right to pray? Do I know the right words to use? Have I been "saved" long enough to pray? What if I pray for the wrong thing? These are all questions I have either asked myself or heard other Christians ask. And they are legitimate. After all we are talking about praying to God, all-powerful, all knowing, can smite me at will God. But here is what Jesus had to say about our prayer lives.
2 He said to them, "When you pray, say:
"‘Father,[a] hallowed be your name, your kingdom come.[b] 3 Give us each day our daily bread. 4 Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.[c] And lead us not into temptation.[d]’"
5 Then Jesus said to them, "Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6 a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ 7 And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he will not get
up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity[e] he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.
9 "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. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
11 "Which of you fathers, if your son asks for[f] a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 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!"
We can deduce several things from Jesus’s teaching on prayer.
First we can deduce that God wants us to address Him as Father. He is not far off; not unapproachable. He is not disinterested. He is our Father; loving, wise, good. When we address Him as such, it makes the whole concept of prayer easier, doesn’t it?
Second, we can deduce that God wants us to pray for His Kingdom to come. Multiple times in scripture Jesus talks about the Kingdom of Heaven being on earth. When we are praying for His Kingdom to come, we are essentially praying for His will to be done.
And finally we can deduce that God wants to grant our requests. Do you need wisdom? Ask!! Do you need help in relationships? Ask!! Do you need a job? Ask!! As long as your requests are in line with the Kingdom of God, He delights in granting them. How many times have I failed to pray because I thought my requests were too small? I thought God wouldn’t be bothered with my petty life. But God is my good Father and Jesus tells me to ask. I think I will take Him at His word.
So I am renewing my commitment to prayer today. I am going to pray for God’s will to be done. I am going to bring all my requests to God. I am going to make it my habit to pray, as Jesus did. And I am going to remember that God is my Father. Will you join me in this commitment?