Praying to the Father
The true Lord's Prayer in John 17:1-3 has been called the holy of holies of the New Testament.
Every believer in Jesus Christ can pray this prayer! This prayer was designed to teach us how to pray.
A devotion introduction for June
This month we begin a series of devotions on the subject of prayer, taking the development of this series from both the Old and New Testaments. Our method is still going to be expositional — understanding what each passage says — but it will be centered around this theme of prayer.
I do this because I feel a great sense of lack in my own life in this regard. I want to understand more the ministry, the power, and the necessity of prayer. I sense that this lack is a common problem among most Christians. How many of you feel that your prayer life lacks something?
Prayer, basically, is simply conversation with God. There are always only two people represented in true prayer, you and God — and no one else. Others may be present, as in this account where there were two people and God. There can be hundreds of people, but real prayer is always a conversation directly between a single human being and God himself. There are many kinds of prayer we could talk about and will be talking about in the course of these studies. We will look at intercession, thanksgiving, supplication, and various forms of petition, etc., but fundamental to them all is simply a conversation, a dialogue between an individual and God.
This is what Jesus had in mind in his great teaching on prayer in the Sermon on the Mount. He said,
When you pray... He did not say if you pray. He takes it for granted that, in the Christian life, there is going to be prayer. Prayer, as one hymn puts it, is
the Christian's native breath. We cannot live without it. Jesus says,
When you pray, go into your closet, and shut the door, and pray to your Father who is in secret. By that phrase
shut the door, he certainly does not mean that we are to pray only in literal closets. I'm sure if we tried that we would probably feel it so stuffy we could not even breathe, so prayer would not go on very long. Also, we do not always have closets available. Jesus is speaking metaphorically, saying,
Shut out everything else. When you pray do not let anything else interfere. Do not be involved with thinking about other things or people, but talk only to God himself.
I find it interesting to listen to people pray. Sometimes you can hear some amazing things. When you listen you can often detect that people do not think about God so much as they are thinking about the people who are listening to their prayer. I know a wonderful man who, whenever he prays, almost invariably will begin with directing prayer to God, but then he is so aware of other people listening that he starts preaching to them in prayer. Have you ever heard anything like that? This man will start out,
Our Heavenly Father, we thank you that we can come before you. We know that God is a prayer-hearing God and all those who come to God in prayer shall be blessed by Him. Before you know it he has begun not to speak to God but to speak to those present about God. But that is not prayer. Prayer is a conversation, simple and direct, between you and God himself.