And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come.  Give us each day our daily bread,  and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.”  And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves,  for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’;  and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’?  I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs.  And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.  What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent;  or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?  If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:2-13 ESV)
It’s not a secret how we are to be praying. In Luke chapter 11, Jesus clearly reveals how the father desires us to pray to Him. It’s clearly revealed. This is really good news of His grace to be so kind as to tell us how we can speak with Him.
So then the question is – why do I (we) not pray this way and pray this way more often?
I think there are five main reasons for this and all can be discovered in this text of Scripture.
1. I do not truly treasure the glory of God.
“Father, hallowed be your name.” (11:2) This is a desire of the heart that reveals Jesus’ desire to decrease and for the Father to increase. This is an honest confession that God’s name and value is worthy enough to be celebrated and reveled in. Do I truly want to encounter God in such a way that HE is seen in all that I do? If I’m being honest I think I am more often wrapped up in what others might think of me, my family, my influence, my abilities or my lack of abilities. With great conviction I must admit that if God were treasured more in my own heart then I would be constant in prayer.
2. I am too earthly minded.
“Your kingdom come.” (11:2) – Jesus is longing for the Kingdom of God to be totally eclipsing the stained, sin-saturated, and decaying world. He has eternity in view and His entire perspective is that the kingdom of God is so majestic, pure, holy, and real that He longs for it to advance. My view is too temporary, minimal, small, and earthly. If, with consistent admiration and discipline, I were to fix my gaze on what is eternal then I too would beg for my Father’s ways to flood my culture. Any sadness or sorrow or suffering would be swallowed up by the cry for His kingdom to come.
3. I am not desperate.
“Give us each day our daily bread” (11:3) – This passage combined with illustration in v.5-8 is a reminder that I am to come to God with a desperate expectation for Him to fulfill my need. Either I am not fully aware just how needy I am or am consistently failing to admit that I need Him to be the one who answers. Facing the reality that I am way too comfortable with being really comfortable is tough to admit. In verse 11-13 Jesus reminds us that we are like little children who should be running to our loving Father with our needs and concerns.
4. A lack of trust or faith in His supremacy or in His goodness.
“And lead us not into temptation… ask…seek…knock” (v.11:4,9-10) – He promises that I will be answered, that I will find, and that door will be open to us when I (we) ask, seek, and knock (v.10). Jesus reminds us that the way out of sin and to avoid temptation is to trust the strength, the provision, and the goodness of our supreme Father. When I lack the practice of desperate prayer it usually means that I’m distrusting His strength or care to do what He’s said (and proven) He wants to do. My genuine lack of faith, after all these years, is embarrassing.
5. I am too prideful and arrogant (the chief reason).
All of these previous reasons flow from this root cause. It is probably true that I care more about my kingdom, my present world and circumstances, and my comfort and luxury than His fame and renown, His kingdom, His provision and His strength. Therefore, I don’t run and rely on Him in desperate prayer. My conversations lack the passion that every father desires to have with his son. And just like the young man who tries to prove himself to the world, I am often resting in my own self-reliance which is a clear indication of how prideful and arrogant I am.
The truth is that more time in prayer with God would humble me. It would cause me to treasure Him who is worthy of my awe and sacred speech. It would create in me a greater hunger for eternal things. I would be more desperate for Him as I will see just how needy I truly am. And eventually I would embrace less and less of me and gain more and more joy in Him.
Isn’t it truly a gift to have a Master like King Jesus? To lovingly teach us and show us how to become closer and more connected with our Heavenly Father. Isn’t it beautiful to know that Jesus provided the “way” for us to have access to the Father and that he did the necessary work to cleanse us so that we can stand before Him? And it’s so inspiring that he did it all by modeling true humility and love!
The humbling revelation of why I struggle praying is a gift and an invitation. God knows that there’s nothing sweeter and more satisfying and more freeing and more fueling than bending ourselves to the will of our Father who promises to answer, reveal and open all that we need. What amazing grace!
Join me in returning, running to our Father in prayer!