Prayer Practice Pause and a Lesson in Love

That we need to pray without ceasing (Luke 18:1 1The 5:17) is critically highlighted by the episode in Luke 11:1-13 . We learn here that there is symmetry in prayer, in its fellowship and layers.   The Lord paused from praying, yet we have to imagine that he was not as he paused, still on the phone. He is Who He is though. That he always listens and concurs is essential to his mediation. We tune out.

Teach us to pray

That grown men bar mitzvahed and enrolled as disciples of Moses found a reason to seek guidance on prayer is eye-opening. If we had a book containing 150 prayers we would be reasonably assured that there is a prayer for every situation. At least we would be certain that our lives either reflected one of the existential conditons of human life, lostness or salvation, faith or unbelief. We would be confident that the Psalms offer scores of examples of prayers that address both conditions.

Try something other

Something was afoot that made John teach his disciples to pray. The previous models were obviously inadequate. Behind the prayers of the ancients was the knowledge of being God’s people: the people in the covenants, in the promises, and participants in various glories (Romans 9:3-4, Luke 2:29-32). In reality those prayers become leaky in the presence of unbelief and hostility.

Father of all-who-come

The lesson features God as Father. That is a new way to conceptualize God. We understand that this establishes our adoption (Romans 8:9-15, Galatians 4:6) and has a new way of living. The prayer has handles for our temporal life: daily bread (including the work assignments John 4:34). It gives us handles on our fellowship with the Father by means of our capacity to do what Christ does: forgive sins.
Our Lord goes on to show examples of what a prayer life should indicate (Luke 11:4-13), namely sensitivity and generosity (#1) due diligence (#2, 3, 4, 5).

  1. responding to a friends request at midnight: And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; Luke 11:5, rise and give him as many as he needeth. Luke 11:8
  2. receiving follows request: And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; Luke 11:9a
  3. eureka” is the reward of inquiry: seek, and ye shall find; Luke 11:9b
  4. knocking facilitates entry: knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Luke 11:9c
  5. gifts match the request: If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if [he ask] a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Luke 11:11, Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? Luke 11:12

He reminds us that humans are not the best practitioners of giving.

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall [your] heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? Luke 11:13

Channel JOY

Tuning in to listen seems to the priority.  When our Lord paused from praying he engaged with the disciples, and those communications with them meant he was not, for one, actively giving thanks.  To listen well and speak in sync with the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26) at the same time is beyond our multitasking abilities.  Prayer needs a place and time. The two need to come together for the joy of fellowship to energize us.

His speech is dynamic, relaying, live, what the Father has to say to us, so he is still in prayer as he interacts with his companions.  In prayer, he locks in with God in a undistracted session. That is prayer to the 7th power! Regular prayer, sees us flip in and out and distracted by tasks and interactions. Prayer, as it is in heaven, is first of all adoration, graphically, an endless ascription of glory, honour, and power to God (Rev 4:8-11).

It is really beautiful how one apostle talks about his prayers for his friends. As often as he remembers (thinks of?) his friends he takes joy from presenting petition(s) regarding them to God.

always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, Phil 1:4

It actually challenges us to distinguish between our earthly condition and the secret place where joy does pervade. So life for the children of God, though burdensome, even troubling and distressing, comes with prayer as a reliable joy portal to the ultimate space of self expression and rapt attention on both sides.