“What Jesus Said About Prayer”



Welcome to “Key to the Kingdom.” My name is Bret McCasland. When someone decides to follow Jesus, some changes may need to take place in that person's life. To be a true follower, or disciple, calls for a commitment to Jesus in various ways. For example, such a person will become a faithful student of God's Word, reading and applying the Bible's message. A commitment to being a good steward of the financial resources God provides is also important. Perhaps the most common thing that is focused on is a person's prayer life. It certainly deserves a great deal of attention. Followers of Jesus recognize prayer is the means by which we talk and share with the Creator of this universe. Many books have been written on the topic of prayer. Classes have been taught and seminars continue to be held teaching and encouraging people to pray. There is not anyone who is following Jesus who would question the importance of prayer in a believers' life. Throughout His ministry, Jesus prayed to His Heavenly Father on a regular basis. I have often thought, if Jesus needed to talk with God then so do we. And, if anyone can teach us something about what our prayer life should look like, it would be the Son of God. In today's lesson, on “Key to the Kingdom,” we will notice just some of the teaching Jesus offers to His disciples about prayer. I encourage you to stay with us for the next few minutes, as we study the lesson entitled, “What Jesus Said About Prayer.”



I would like to begin today's lesson by asking a question; and that is, do you have a hard time praying to God? Not long ago, I asked that question of a rather large group of people and the majority of them responded by saying, “Yes, praying is a challenge.” And perhaps that is your response, as well. Sometimes people ask me questions about prayer. They want to know things like, how do I pray to God, why is prayer so important, and what do I say when I pray? Well, I try to offer a good answer to those questions, but Jesus is the best one to handle such questions. What He said about prayer and what He taught about prayer, throughout His public ministry, is what we will consider for the next few minutes in our lesson today. We will look at one specific passage that helps answer some questions about our prayer life. But as we do, there are some things I want us to keep in mind. In fact, there are five things which I believe are very important. Number one, we can pray anywhere and most anytime. Number two, the prayers we offer to God do not have to be offered inside of a church building. Number three, no one can limit our prayer activity. Number four, we can pray for people in situations, without anybody knowing it. And number five, one’s prayer life can be as deep and as personal as we want to make it. Prayer is a privilege entrusted to us by the Maker and the Sustainer of this world. It is the avenue through which we can talk with our Heavenly Father. The gospel writer, Luke, records more about prayer than any other writer; and especially in regards to what Jesus had to say and what He did in regards to His prayer life. I want us to notice Luke's teaching beginning in chapter 11, in verse 1. <One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When He finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive anyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation."> Matthew's version of that same prayer, which he inserted into the Sermon on the Mount, is a little bit longer, but it states basically the same thing. Now, one thing we immediately notice, as we contrast those two, is that Matthew also includes the words, “Your will be done, on earth as it is heaven.” You know, without a doubt, Jesus was a praying man. And even as God's Son, He recognized His need to talk with His Father. Well, one day a certain disciple, perhaps representing the rest of the disciples, found Jesus praying. And when Jesus was finished praying, the man had a statement, or perhaps a question. He said, “Lord, teach us to pray.” That is the only time in all of Scripture when any of Jesus' disciples asked Him to teach them something. And, no doubt, the disciples were praying people. They had seen Jesus pray on numerous occasions. Perhaps they had heard some of His teaching. No doubt, they prayed together as a group. But, there was something about Jesus’ prayer life that these disciples did not possess. And perhaps it was that that the disciples wanted to make a part of their life. They recognized Jesus had some sort of a connection with their Heavenly Father they did not have, and they wanted it. Well, Jesus responded to that man's question, or statement, with four specific things about God, that we just read. Our Heavenly Father is holy, Jesus stated; and, no doubt, that is true. Our Father in heaven is more holy than we could ever hope to be. He is more holy and more majestic and more powerful than any other gods that people might tend to worship, even in our world, today. And, our prayers are addressed to that Holy Father. Jesus also stated our Father provides for our needs. God knows what you need and what I need in our life, even before we might recognize that need; and, He comes through for us. He provides exactly what we need, exactly at the right time. Jesus also states our Father forgives our sin. That's good to know, isn’t it; that our Father forgives the sin in our life. And we all sin. We all mess up, or make mistakes, or say or do things that we should not say or do. And yet, our Father in heaven is willing to forgive us. He's willing to make us right. He's willing to give us that second chance. The fourth thing is, God does not lead us into temptation. Oh, I'm glad He doesn't do that. Satan is responsible for leading us astray. God never will. God will not tempt us to go in the wrong direction or down a wrong path that opposes Him and His will for our lives. Now, those four statements help us to recognize who God is. God is our Holy Father in heaven who is full of love and blessings for all people, everywhere. Now, some have called this the Lord's Prayer. And I suppose it is, because Jesus initiated it, but, at the same time, we know Jesus prayed far more words and far deeper thoughts than what we have listed here. In essence, we might even call it a disciple’s prayer, for it was what Jesus taught His disciples to pray, or a believer’s prayer. This is the base, or the foundation, from which those who follow Jesus Christ offer their prayers to our holy Heavenly Father. Jesus wants us to know that when we pray, we are expressing our dependence up on our Heavenly Father. As we pray, we call out to Him and say, “I can't do this on my own. I need help. I need guidance. I need forgiveness.” And we rely upon our Heavenly Father to provide exactly what we need. In part, Jesus' answer to the statement, “Lord, teach us to pray,” focuses on just praying, just spending time in the presence of your Holy Father. Spend time praying to God. That's exactly what Jesus did throughout His public ministry. We read in Scripture, Jesus would get up very early in the morning, while nobody else was awake, and He prayed to God. We have record that He prayed all night long. Jesus would pray before making many major decisions. Yes, without a doubt, Jesus was a praying person. And if He spent that much time praying, then, we need to consider the necessity of praying, ourselves. Well, Jesus then illustrates what prayer is to look like in a person's life, by offering an illustration. He offers a parable, or a story, if you will. Let's continue on here in Luke chapter 11, as we begin in verse 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; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ 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.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need. 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. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you fathers, if a son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 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!”> I know that's a rather lengthy reading, but I wanted to read it all, as it all seems to flow together. Verses 9 and 10 are perhaps the most familiar; that, we are to ask and seek and knock when we are in need. And indeed, those words are important. And yet, those words are not to take over the other teaching that Jesus offers to us. He simply states it like this to teach us how we are to pray. In other words, there is no shame in continually asking and seeking, knocking, to ask God to give and provide for what we need. Well, we know from other places in Scripture, if we do not ask in prayer then we do not receive from God. He is the giver of all good gifts, and He wants to give those gifts to those who ask of Him (James 1:17). Well, Jesus offers two short parables to illustrate His point, here, and they are about how we are to view God. What is our perception of God? And in the first one, we just read, He is not making a comparison between the sleeping friend and God. Rather, He is drawing a contrast between the two; that God is on one hand and the sleeping and reluctant neighbor is on the other. The word in verse 8, boldness, or shameless audacity, as I read, is not being persistent or demanding. It does not describe the one who was knocking and who was asking for help, but rather it refers to that sleeping and reluctant neighbor. He wants to avoid shame in his community. You know, that was a big deal in that day and time, to not be shamed, to not be embarrassed. And if word got out the next day that he did not get up and help his neighbor, who was in need, then he would be embarrassed. He would be put to shame. And because he wanted to avoid that kind of situation, he eventually would get out of bed and help the one who was knocking on the door and give him some food for his friend. And so, because of his desire to avoid shame, he will get up and do just that very thing. You know, this parable, or this story, is really meant to be humorous. The excuses of sleeping children and a locked the door were funny. No one would behave like that. Perhaps Jesus would have said, “Can you imagine, disciples, this kind of thing happening?” And their response would be, “No, we can't imagine that.” In that society, people helped one another. They had open windows. They cooked together. They shared meals together. They shared life. There weren't closed windows. There weren't locked doors. People helped one another. And so, every citizen had their reputation at stake. Every person was expected to provide assistance for their neighbors, even if it was at a late night hour. So, Jesus wants His disciples, and He wants us, to identify with the one who is knocking. We are seeking and knocking on God's throne room door, because we don't have what we need. We don't have any resources to take care of that. We don't have any way to get it; but yet, we know God does. And that's the meaning of the second parable. It drives home Jesus' point, that as parents, whether we consider ourselves to be good parents or bad parents, there is one thing that is common to all of us. It is part of who we are. It is part of our DNA. And that is, we want to provide for our children. To the best of our ability, we want to give them what they need. We want to come through on their behalf. Then Jesus states, in verse 13, “But how much more will our Heavenly Father give to us what we need!” Oh, none of us can ever measure up to God, in any form or fashion. And that's the point Jesus is making here. Jesus draws on the idea that God is so much more of a loving and generous Father, or parent, than we could ever hope to be. And not only does He meet our needs, but He goes far beyond: He exceeds what we need and He blesses us in ways that we might not even know or understand, this side of eternity. And the point Jesus is making here is that our loving Heavenly Father always comes through. He always provides. He always meets our needs. We take a look at this whole story, the teaching and the parables. If we were to restate it or to summarize it, it might go something like this: An inconsiderate neighbor who does not even like you will eventually get up and give you what you need because he wants to protect his reputation in the community. But, how much more will a loving Father give you, His child, what you really need? And our Heavenly Father will freely give to us all things. And that taps into what Jesus stated there in the first couple of verses, He will give to us our daily bread and forgiveness and spiritual protection and even the greatest gift of all, the Holy Spirit. Since all of that is true, we can trust God. We know He will always provide. And there is no reason to be embarrassed if we continually ask and seek and knock. It's not to wake God up. It’s not to say, “Hey God, I need this,” but it is to express our dependence upon Him. He sees what we need, already, but every time we ask and seek and knock in prayer, it tells us, it reminds us that we rely upon our loving Heavenly Father. Jesus’ point is, how much more will a loving and just God, who is eager to hear our prayers, provide for us as we continue to pray to Him. When I think about this teaching here, Luke chapter 11, I'm reminded of a couple of passages written by the apostle Paul. The first one is Ephesians 3, verse 20. <Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all we could ever ask for or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in His Son, Christ Jesus, both now and forever more!> Isn't that a great word from, from God's Word; that, God is more than able to do more than what we could ask or imagine from Him. And He gives to us abundantly because of His great riches, which we receive through His Son. There's a second passage here, Philippians 4 verse 19. <My God will supply all your needs according to His riches of glory in Christ Jesus.> That is a comforting thought. God will come through. He will supply all of my needs, again, according to His riches that are found in His Son, Jesus Christ. Yes, disciples of Jesus, who rely up on God, do not give up on His goodness. They know He will always provide more than enough. And when it comes to the message of prayer, it is keep on praying, as you keep on expressing your dependence upon your loving Heavenly Father. Yes, God provides exactly what we need, and He provides it at exactly the right time. And perhaps, most importantly, we do not have to beg Him to do so. He always comes through. He knows what we need, and we are dependent upon Him as we receive those blessings. Oh, Jesus did much more teaching on the subject of prayer, and all of it demands our attention. It is worthy of our careful study. But these words right here, that we have studied today, in Luke chapter 11, are some of the most important things Jesus had to say about the subject of prayer. We see other places where Jesus is actually praying; and we learned something about that. We see other parables that Jesus tells about a different perspective of what our prayer life is to look like. But these things here in chapter 11 are some of the most important things we can do as we seek to follow Him as His disciples. Oh, I hope you have the kind of prayer life that expresses your dependence upon your loving Heavenly Father. And I also trust you know, without a doubt, that God loves and He provides for you in every way possible. And I hope and pray today that as you pray to your loving Heavenly Father, you continue to express your dependence and reliance upon Him.


Church buildings like this one are often called places of prayer or even houses of prayer. In some countries, they are called prayer halls. But the idea behind that is simply when one comes into a church building, or a prayer hall, prayer is offered. Considerable amounts of time are given to pray to God. We pray thanking Him for the blessings we receive. We pour out our hearts to God concerning the things that are on our heart. We make our pleas, our petitions, our requests. Oh, prayer is a wonderful gift God has entrusted to us, and it is our way of communicating with our Father in heaven. Yes, prayer is special! In Jesus’ ministry, He stated that prayer is asking and seeking and knocking on the throne room of God, seeking Him and asking Him and knocking, knowing that God will hear and He will answer the prayers we offer. And that's good to know, isn't it! And yet we realize prayer is not to be done just inside of a prayer hall or church building. Prayer is and can be done throughout every day. I don't know about your prayer life, but I would encourage you to spend considerable amounts of time, on a regular basis, praying to God, pouring out your heart to God, knowing that He hears your prayer and He will answer those prayers according to His will for your life. I invite and I encourage you, today, to think about how much time you devote to God in prayer, and to make that a regular and a consistent part of your walk with the Lord.


Thank you for joining us for today's message. Isn't it good to know our Heavenly Father loves us, and He is more than able to answer our prayers. If you would like to hear or view this message, on what Jesus had to say about prayer, please go to our website, keytothekingdom.com. There you will find it along with many other Bible lessons. Feel free to download any of them without any kind of cost or obligation; they're absolutely free. Hopefully they will assist you in your daily walk with the Lord and as you grow as one of His disciples. While on the website, please take a minute or so to look at some of the other things offered. Short devotional thoughts and inspirational messages provide a practical application of God's Word. Many past lessons can be freely accessed, as well, along with a variety of Bible lessons. If you would like to get in contact with us, you can do so either through an email message or by calling the number on the screen; and, I would certainly love to hear from you. Facebook® is another way to keep up with our ministry. New messages are posted on Facebook® every week. I hope you will like then share them with your friends. It truly is a pleasure to offer these weekly messages for your consideration, and I hope they provide a spiritual blessing. Let me say again, thank you for being with us today. I invite you to join us again next time, as we continue to study the Bible on “Key to the Kingdom.”