Putting Prayer In Its Place
Luke 11:1—Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.”
This was clearly a defining moment in Jesus’ ministry when one of the disciples asked Him to teach them to pray. In those days, rabbis often composed prayers for their disciples to recite. Having seen Jesus pray many times, they knew of His love for prayer, and they knew prayer for Him as more than just reciting words. His prayers were real and effectual; thus, attractive, and they wanted to know how to do it as well. Of course, His response brings us to the short but powerful “disciple’s prayer” we often delight in. This prayer provides a concise yet complete framework for our thought in prayer.
There is the comment, “as John (the Baptizer) also taught his disciples” which leads us to the point in our following discussion: A good shepherd will follow his Lead Shepherd in giving instruction about prayer and helping them enjoy life-giving prayer meetings. A loving pastor must give diligence to not let the corporate prayer meetings fall back into the default mode of long request, random talking, and continual focus on the outer man with no Scripture to guide our thoughts.
Leaders often give direction in everything from private devotions to public outreach programs while letting prayer meetings go into the ditch and die because of lack of facilitation. I know that when the spirit of prayer is evident, groups pray well. But at the beginning, some guidance and nurturing—lovingly applied—brings life and purpose to prayer meetings.
Our next section called “Putting Prayer in Its Place” is designed to
1. Identify the biblical arenas where prayer is heard.
2. Note the miracle factors of those arenas (I call it the wow factor).
3. Learn how to gently and patiently shepherd the flock into those places as Jesus would.
We should want our flock to enjoy the transforming power of the gospel and participate with God in prayer along the lines of His passion for the multitudes.
There is a certain level of responsibility we have in nurturing life-giving prayer meetings.
The following outline will provide a framework for our leadership and thought.
Prayer as it relates to:
1. The sufficiency of Christ (Active Head)
2. A healthy-revived local church (Organic nature)
3. Leadership (Servants of Christ) (Stewards of the mysteries of God)
The End Goals
1. God gets glory in the church (Ephesians 3:21).
2. Christ is honored as the active all-sufficient Head (Ephesians 3:17).
3. Believers experience fullness of joy (John 15:11).
4. The lost see us and repent (Matthew 5:16).
Philip Yancey asks, “Why does prayer rank so high in theoretical importance and so low in actual practice and satisfaction?”
1. We won’t develop prayer if we don’t develop people.
2. The church will be disconnected from prayer if prayer is disconnected from Jesus.
3. Praying will be worthless if prayers can have a life of their own (without Scripture, without Christ, without heart, without thought, without hope, without rest, without faith).
We must be participators with God, not just imitators of a religious disciple.
• Shepherd their minds with truth.
• Shepherd their hearts with passion.
• Shepherd their hands with practice.