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Jesus Christ has influenced millions of people throughout history. Today more than two billion people--about one in every three people in the world--claim some allegiance to him.
But who is he? Where did he come from? What did he do? What can we learn from his teaching and life? What do his death and resurrection mean today?
Knowing Jesus consists of 24 studies that explore:
- Jesus' Unique Identity – Jesus in history, Jesus the Messiah, Jesus the true human, Jesus the Son of God, Jesus and wisdom and the word, and Jesus the Lord
- Jesus' Radical Teaching – His teaching in parables, his teaching on the Mount, his teaching about prayer, his teaching about God and his kingdom, his teaching about the future, and his teaching about himself
- Jesus' Powerful Encounters – With crowds and disciples, his acts of healing, his nature miracles, with Satan and demons, his forgiveness of sinners, with authorities and opponents
- Jesus' Perfect Salvation – Rejection in Jerusalem, new Passover and new Exodus, dealing with sin, the triumph of resurrection, the gift of the Spirit, and the hope of a new creation
Each study consists of a key truth, the main teaching and questions to think about, with the aim that you might encounter and know Jesus for yourself. Ideal for personal devotion, group study or as a teaching resource.
"Even you may be a child of God, if you believe in Jesus." -- George Whitfield
Jesus Radical Teaching | 9. Teaching on Prayer
Key Truth | Matthew 6:9-10 | Teaching about prayer
In addition to Jesus' example in prayer, his teaching provided helpful instruction to his disciples. In particular, a number of his parables deal with the nature and practice of prayer.
- Confidence in prayer. A major theme of Jesus' teaching on prayer is the confidence that his followers can have in the goodness of God the Father. Because of this, they should be bold in asking for good things from him, since he delights to give generously to his children (Mt 7:9-11). Jesus even makes the astonishing claim that his disciples can ask for "anything" in prayer, and they will receive it (Mk 11:24; Mt 21:22)! This does not mean that God will always fulfil his children's wildest dreams. Jesus' disciples must ask "in faith", "believing that they will receive it", and so it follows that they can only truly ask in faith for things that are consistent with God's character and kingdom. However, within the will of God there are still many good things that can be sought in prayer - and Jesus promises that God will hear and answer!
- Simplicity and humility in prayer. The confidence of Christian prayer is not in a form of words, or a particular technique, but in the character of the God to whom prayer is made: he is always good. This means that prayer does not need to be an elaborate construction of fine phrases intended to make God take notice of the prayer, but can be a simple, childlike request. Jesus warns against piling up empty phrases, as in other religions (Mt 6:7). Some pagan prayers began with endless terms of address, describing all the attributes of the god to whom the person was praying, but Christian prayer can simply begin, "Father,..."! Similarly, those who pray to God do not need to offer excuses for their behaviour, or present themselves in a better light. Jesus told a parable to remind his hearers that God listens to those who are humble - who simply state the truth about themselves, and trust in God's mercy and grace (Lk 18:9-14).
- Persistence in prayer. Jesus told a couple of parables about the need to be persistent in prayer. In one, a man gets out of bed to give his friend a loaf of bread because of his friend's persistence (Lk 11:5-8). In another parable, an unjust judge grants a widow's request because she refuses to leave him alone (Lk 18:1-8). The point of these parables is not to suggest that God is either unjust or unwilling to grant his people's requests. The point is rather about the persistence of the one who is seeking bread or justice. They refuse to go away, or turn to anyone else, because they know that the man in bed and the unjust judge are the only people who can solve their problems. Persistence in prayer does not just mean praying a lot; it means refusing to look anywhere else for the things that only God can give. Praying is a matter of asking, seeking and knocking (Mt 7:7) - it can often be a hard discipline to maintain.
- Authenticity in prayer. Jesus made a connection between the activity of prayer and the rest of life. In particular, he noted that it is useless for his disciples to pray for forgiveness from God if they are not willing to forgive one another (Mt 6:14-15; 18:23-35). Jesus' disciples are not to be "hypocrites" - people who love to pretend that they are very close to God through loud public prayers and visible fasting (Mt 6:2,5,16). Such people only pray and fast because of the effect it has on other people's view of them. This is hypocritical, because prayer is supposed to be about complete dependence on God. Jesus' disciples are to remember that prayer and fasting can be done in secret, and God knows, which is what really matters (Mt 6:3-4,6,17-18).
Selected text from Knowing Jesus. Copyright 2011 by Creative 4 International, Bath, UK. Used by Permission. All Rights Reserved.
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Copyright © 2010-2017 by Laridian, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Laridian, PocketBible, and MyBible are registered trademarks of Laridian, Inc. DailyReader, Memorize!, PrayerPartner, eTract, BookBuilder, VerseLinker, iPocketBible, DocAnalyzer, Change the way you look at the Bible, and The Bible. Anywhere. are trademarks of Laridian, Inc. Other marks are the property of their respective owners.
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