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NUMBER ONE REQUEST Part 1

Jesus' disciples could have requested a number of things from Him. They could have asked Him: 1) for more faith, 2) added strength, 3) more money, 4) friends, 5) better meals or lodging facilities, 6) less travel, 7) greater wisdom, 8) inner peace, confidence or assurance, 9) courage and boldness. BUT, they requested none of these things.

The Number One Request the disciples made of Jesus was: "Lord, teach us to pray. . . ." (Luke 11:1 - NIV) What prompted this sincere request?

First, they had witnessed Jesus pray numerous times and on various occasions throughout their three years of following Him. He prayed in their presence, and they also knew He often went away by Himself to pray privately. They recognized it was a profound life-style and high priority for Jesus to pray to His Father. He frequently withdrew to a secluded place to pray. (Luke 5:16) At times, He even prayed all night.(Luke 6:12, 9:18) Before beginning His public ministry, He was in the wilderness for 40 days fasting and praying to bring Himself into perfect alignment with His Father's will and the power of the Holy Spirit! Jesus prayed before calling His disciples, before feeding thousands, before preaching the Sermon on the Mount, at the Last Supper, before being arrested in the garden, and He prayed several times while hanging on the cross, dying for our sins, our redemption and forgiveness.

Second, Luke records that Jesus had just finished praying, evidently, in the presence of the disciples which prompted their request. "Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, 'Lord, teach US (emphasis added) to pray, as John taught his disciples' ". Jesus' disciples were motivated to make this personal request as they observed Jesus in prayer. Perhaps their motivation came because of: 1) the intensity of His prayer, 2) the seriousness, 3) the simplicity, 4) the honesty, 5) the intimacy, or 6) the fervency, urgency of His prayer. Any one of these characteristics or a combination of them would be reason enough to ask Jesus to teach them to pray. But, the bottom line is that there was something about His prayer that captivated the hearts and minds of His followers. There was something in His prayer and how He prayed that caused a burning desire within them to be taught how to pray like the prayer they had just witnessed.

Most of us would readily confess we are not experts regarding prayer. In fact, our prayers, mine included, many times lack depth, sincerity, truthfulness, maturity and creativity. Our prayers can be rote, hurried and a mere formality. We must quickly admit that our prayer life needs a lot of help. If we spoke directly and personally to Jesus, would we all not say, "Lord, teach ME to pray just like You"? Oh, that is what prayer is: Personal communication with God! Prayer is like being with God in person!

William James once wrote: "Prayer is a conversation with the ultimate partner." Prayer can be more silence than sound, more listening than speaking, giving us a whole new perspective on the meaning and purpose of life and relationships. It opens up to us a renewed glimpse of faith, hope and love. Prayer is truly amazing! Before we even open our lips to pray audibly, God already knows what is on and in our hearts. He has the answers before we even know we have a problem or concern. God is available around the clock, in all places and situations! THEN WHY PRAY AT ALL? Because God wants to have a two-way conversation with us, to build fellowship, to exchange love and commitment, to express our needs and desires to Him, like a child to his/her parent(s).

Jesus honored the request of His disciples. He told them: "WHEN (emphasis added - not if) you pray, say: . . . ." We call it "the Lord's Prayer." Perhaps it should be "the disciples' prayer." It is the one prayer that has spanned the world for centuries. It has been translated into nearly every language of every people-group the world over. It is recited in many churches and worship events. During the last 2,000 plus years, more Christians have memorized the 55 words in this prayer than any other words.

Jesus' followers saw that prayer gave Him the wisdom to teach, the power to preach, compassion to heal, authority to perform miracles, courage to deal with His persecutors, ability to lead, to reconcile, forgive and to die for our sins.

So, are we ready for His lesson on prayer? Do we have that inner compulsion to learn to pray under the tutelage of Jesus? If so, then we can say with John Wesley who said in his personal testimony: "I felt my heart strangely warmed."

TO BE CONTINUED - Part 2


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God has blessed me with a long and fruitful ministry! I have over 40 years in pastoral ministry, retreat speaking, Evangelism, teaching and Christian Radio broadcasting.

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