How to pray—and why

Posted Mar 24, 2020

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Reminder: Resurrection’s goal is to read all of Luke during Lent. So many of the daily reading portions are somewhat longer than usual.

Daily Scripture

Luke 11:1-36

1 Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”

2 Jesus told them, “When you pray, say:

‘Father, uphold the holiness of your name.
Bring in your kingdom.
3 Give us the bread we need for today.
4 Forgive us our sins,
    for we also forgive everyone who has wronged us.
    And don’t lead us into temptation.’”

5 He also said to them, “Imagine that one of you has a friend and you go to that friend in the middle of the night. Imagine saying, ‘Friend, loan me three loaves of bread 6 because a friend of mine on a journey has arrived and I have nothing to set before him.’ 7 Imagine further that he answers from within the house, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up to give you anything.’ 8 I assure you, even if he wouldn’t get up and help because of his friendship, he will get up and give his friend whatever he needs because of his friend’s brashness. 9 And I tell you: Ask and you will receive. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 Everyone who asks, receives. Whoever seeks, finds. To everyone who knocks, the door is opened.

11 “Which father among you would give a snake to your child if the child asked for a fish? 12 If a child asked for an egg, what father would give the child a scorpion? 13 If you 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?”

14 Jesus was throwing out a demon that causes muteness. When the demon was gone, the man who couldn’t speak began to talk. The crowds were amazed. 15 But some of them said, “He throws out demons with the authority of Beelzebul, the ruler of demons.” 16 Others were testing him, seeking a sign from heaven.

17 Because Jesus knew what they were thinking, he said to them, “Every kingdom involved in civil war becomes a wasteland, and a house torn apart by divisions will collapse. 18 If Satan is at war with himself, how will his kingdom endure? I ask this because you say that I throw out demons by the authority of Beelzebul. 19 If I throw out demons by the authority of Beelzebul, then by whose authority do your followers throw them out? Therefore, they will be your judges. 20 But if I throw out demons by the power of God, then God’s kingdom has already overtaken you. 21 When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his possessions are secure. 22 But as soon as a stronger one attacks and overpowers him, the stronger one takes away the armor he had trusted and divides the stolen goods.

23 “Whoever isn’t with me is against me, and whoever doesn’t gather with me, scatters. 24 When an unclean spirit leaves a person, it wanders through dry places looking for a place to rest. But it doesn’t find any. Then it says, ‘I’ll go back to the house I left.’ 25 When it arrives, it finds the house cleaned up and decorated. 26 Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself. They go in and make their home there. That person is worse off at the end than at the beginning.”

27 While Jesus was saying these things, a certain woman in the crowd spoke up: “Happy is the mother who gave birth to you and who nursed you.”

28 But he said, “Happy rather are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.”

29 When the crowds grew, Jesus said, “This generation is an evil generation. It looks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except Jonah’s sign. 30 Just as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so the Human One [or Son of Man] will be a sign to this generation. 31 The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with the people of this generation and condemn them, because she came from a distant land to hear Solomon’s wisdom. And look, someone greater than Solomon is here. 32 The people of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they changed their hearts and lives in response to Jonah’s preaching—and one greater than Jonah is here.

33 “People don’t light a lamp and then put it in a closet or under a basket. Rather, they place the lamp on a lampstand so that those who enter the house can see the light. 34 Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light. But when your eye is bad, your whole body is full of darkness. 35 Therefore, see to it that the light in you isn’t darkness. 36 If your whole body is full of light—with no part darkened—then it will be as full of light as when a lamp shines brightly on you.”

Reflection Questions

Jesus’ disciples saw his spiritual power and wanted to know how to pray the way he did. But the religious leaders, sure they were upright, slandered Jesus. They claimed Jesus set people free from the effects of evil because he was in league with the ruler of demons! Jesus’ response was forceful—in Luke 12:10 (we’ll read its context tomorrow) he said they were insulting the Holy Spirit. “Attributing the Holy Spirit’s work to an impure spirit is roughly tantamount to calling God Satan.”*

  • Jesus taught his disciples the Lord’s Prayer and gave them an insight into “answered prayer” (Luke 11:11-13). He compared the “good gifts” parents give their children with God’s gift of the Holy Spirit to all who ask. But often we ask for something other than the Holy Spirit. What are you praying for today? If God answers by giving you the Holy Spirit’s presence, will you thank God for that or be upset that you didn’t receive whatever else you asked for?
  • Verses 34-35 urged us to examine the health of our eyes—not just physical, but spiritual. Jesus' enemies blinded themselves spiritually by refusing to consider any evidence that didn’t fit what they wanted to be true. In what ways has God brought new light to your mind, to your ways of thinking, over the last year?

Prayer

Lord Jesus, give me the bread I need for today. And give me your presence, too, because that is the true inner bread of life I urgently need. Amen.


* HarperCollins Christian Publishing. NIV, Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, eBook: Bringing to Life the Ancient World of Scripture (Kindle Locations 226134-226135). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

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GPS Guide

Whether you’re just starting to explore the Christian faith, or you’re a long-time Christian, we want to do everything we can to help you on your journey to know, love and serve God. The GPS (Grow, Pray, Study) Guide provides Scripture and insights to enhance your journey. If you have a question or comment about the GPS Guide, please send it to GPS@cor.org.

Brandon Gregory

Brandon Gregory

Brandon Gregory is a volunteer for the worship and missions teams at Church of the Resurrection. He helps lead worship at Leawood's modern worship services, as well as at the West and Downtown services, and is involved with the Malawi missions team at home.

I’m dealing with a heavy emotional issue right now, so this will have to be a short insight. The fact is, most of the people I know are going through some terrible times right now. The pandemic is causing some major disruptions and issues, but I know a lot of people dealing with broken relationships, divorce, job loss, and more on top of all that.

When things get difficult, or seemingly impossible, it brings to light the all-too-frequent nature of my prayer life to be an all-or-nothing thing; I either want God to solve all of my problems, or I don’t want to bother with prayer at all. Stated this way, this is absolutely ridiculous, but in my life of plenty, I’m just so used to having everything I need that I can afford to abandon prayers that give an incomplete answer.

This is where the Lord’s prayer can teach me a lot: I’m really not used to asking for daily bread. I’m used to just having enough stockpiled that if I don’t receive exactly what I ask for, I can just shrug my shoulders and buy some more bread. But with many problems, including ones I’m dealing with and ones I’m sure many of you are dealing with, there will be shortages of metaphorical (or perhaps even literal) bread.

I spend a lot of time right now worrying about next week, or next month, or this summer. It’s good to plan for the future; but there are also times when it’s impossible to plan for the future and we just need to pray for today’s bread and be thankful that today’s problems are solved. When tomorrow comes, we can pray about tomorrow’s problems and ask for that day’s bread. In trying times, we have to be comfortable with the very uncomfortable possibility that God may only give us one day of bread at a time. If that’s where you are right now, keep praying. One day of bread might be the best we can get right now, and that’s where this prayer many of us have memorized can turn into a daily discipline.

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