by Erin Bird
By now, you know 2021 is slipping past us and 2022 will be upon us soon. (Which means you have two days left to try to get your 2021 New Year’s Resolution accomplished!)
Hopefully, you heard this past Sunday, we will begin the 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting this Saturday, Jan 1. (If you didn’t pick up a devotional booklet, you can do so tomorrow (Friday, Dec 31) anytime between 1:00 and 5:00 pm.) I strongly encourage you to not only participate each day with the devotional booklet but to also fast from something for the first three weeks of 2022. It could be a certain type of food, or a specific meal each day, or even something like social media or entertainment so that we might together as a church family seek God and His full presence.
Through the booklets and on Sundays, we’ll engage in a series called The Upside-Down Kingdom which will walk us through much of Jesus’s “Sermon on the Mount” from Matthew 5, 6, & 7. But here on the Riverwood website, I want to dig deeper into the topic of prayer since that is what we will be focused on doing for 21 days. To help us consider this important topic to make the most of the 21 days, we will look at the Lord’s Prayer from Luke 11.
You are probably more familiar with the Lord’s Prayer from Matthew. If you grew up in a church that recited the Lord’s prayer, it is patterned more after the version in Matthew than the one in Luke. While Matthew’s version isn’t vastly different than what is recorded in Luke, the version in Matthew just has a bit more. (We will study Matthew’s version this coming Sunday.)
There is a reason I am choosing to look at Luke’s version for this post – because of how it starts. Take a moment to read verse 1:
“Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.’” (Luke 11:1 ESV)
Luke opens the 11th chapter of his gospel with Jesus praying to the Father, just a stone’s throw away from the disciples. When He finishes, He walks back over to where the disciples are sitting, and one of them pipes up and asks Jesus to teach them to pray. Perhaps the Twelve were talking amongst themselves about prayer while watching Jesus in the distance down on His knees. So when Jesus rejoins them, one brave soul makes a request of Jesus – “teach us to pray.”
The fact that the disciples ask Jesus to teach them to pray tells me they weren’t content with their current understanding of the topic. They weren’t just content to have Jesus do the praying for them. They weren’t content with just saying the prayers taught to them when they were young Jewish boys. And they clearly weren’t content to just freestyle it. They sensed something different in the way Jesus talked with the Father. (And they knew John the Baptist had taken time to teach some of his disciples to pray.) So because they desired a close relationship with God the Father, they boldly yet humbly asked Jesus to teach them to pray.
As we begin the 21 Days on Saturday, I hope you will be like the disciples. I hope you won’t be content with the current state of your relationship with God through prayer. I hope you won’t be content to just repeat prayers you may have been taught in childhood. And I hope you won’t be content to just mumble something every so often.
Instead, I hope you will truly seek after God, letting Jesus teach you yet again how to engage in prayer that draws you close to the Father and gives you the joy of watching Him do what only He can do in response to your time with Him.