Praying Like a Disciple

It was Jesus’ custom to attend synagogue on the Sabbath where he would’ve necessarily continued the habit of using memorized set prayers and we can be sure that as he did so our Lord did not engage in vain repetition or empty phraseology. The key to the modern confusion comes from the fact that we tend to equate emotion with sincerity. If I don’t feel it, I don’t mean it…


This article was originally the first of a series of three sermons on the Lord’s prayer in Luke 11:1-13. I’ll be posting the other two parts over the next two weeks

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.” And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, ask, and sit will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:1-13)

Luke’s account of Jesus’ teaching on prayer (11:1-13) provides one of those rare gospel passages in which the disciples do something right. They don’t assume that prayer, the prayers they learned in synagogue and from their parents—the way of prayer practiced by their teachers and peers, the way of prayer they’ve always known—will remain the same. Everything else in their lives had changed because of Jesus. They understand that the way they pray will, must, also be redefined by their new Lord.

Prayer can be a very frustrating thing. John Macarthur says that when God brings new birth to a sinner, creating a new heart of flesh, drawing him to faith in Jesus Christ, he makes a completely new type of human being. We may look the same on the outside but inside we’re new creations. And as new people we have two pressing needs that must be satisfied. Just like a newborn baby needs air in the lungs and milk in the stomach, so a Christian, from the moment of new birth needs prayer and scripture. The word of God is milk. Prayer is breath. We cannot live without either one of them.

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