Sunday 24 July 2016

Bible Book:

“He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.’” (v. 1)

Luke 11.1-13 Sunday 24 July 2016

Psalm: Psalm 138


As a young child, I watched in amazement as the 'balloon animal'man made his creations, and at the end of his performance I askedhim, "Can you teach me how to do that?" I wonder if somethingsimilar is happening here in this passage. We are told that Jesus"was praying in a certain place". There was nothing unusual aboutthat of course - Jesus often prayed - but I sense that perhapstoday "one of his disciples" was watching him. When his prayer timehad come to its end unnamed disciple to approached Jesus, andasked"Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught hisdisciples."

Jesus responds by offering what was surely intended as atemplate for our prayers, laying down two foundational principles.Firstly, our prayer is based upon our relationship with God("Father" (v. 2)); and secondly acknowledges our reliance on himfor physical and spiritual needs ("give" and "forgive" (vv. 3, 4)).Squeezed between these two is a constant recommitment to seek andwork for the purposes of God in the world ("your kingdom come' (v.2)).

Luke's Gospel  then continues to explore the theme ofprayer in the life of disciples by drawing together two othersstories.

Firstly, there is the curious incident of the visitor in thenight, who insists that his friend gets out of bed to provide foodfor an unexpected guest (verses 5-8). Persistence in prayer is thekey theme of the story - but surely we are not intended tounderstand that if we nag God enough then, in the end God will givein to us as if to a tiresome toddler. Instead, our persistence inprayer shows that we understand our need sufficiently to "praywithout ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17); that our approach theFather will be greeted by his extravagant generosity which gives us"whatever [we] need" (v. 8).

The generosity of God is underlined again in the third segmentof the reading. Illustrations about fish and snakes, and eggs and ascorpion (verses 11-12) can leave us puzzled. But the words whichunlock our understanding come in the middle of verse 13 when,describing our heavenly Father, Jesus says "how much more will yourheavenly Father give …" . God does not need to be persuaded tobless us, but delights to do so.

To Ponder

  • What aspects of prayer do you find most challenging?
  • In what ways does it help or hinder your prayers to meet withother people?
  • Reflect on a period in your life when you have need to prayerwith persistence. What did you learn?
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