Teach Us To Pray…
Message by: Leroy Surface

And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.  And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.  Give us day by day our daily bread.  And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.  Luke 11:1-4

I can well remember when I was a small child.  My daddy would gather his children into the living room at night for prayer.  He would read aloud to us from the bible and ask us questions about what he had read.  Then we would all kneel at the couch or a chair, and begin to pray.  Dad would always begin family prayer by having us all repeat “The Lord’s Prayer” together.  Oftentimes we would not finish this simple prayer before dad would begin to weep before God, and begin to pour his heart out to God in intercession for the needs of the family, church, and nation.  He would submit himself to God: “…not my will, but thine be done.”  He would worship and rejoice in the Lord: “…I magnify thy name.”  Most of dad’s prayer was a total surrender to the Lord, and a “pleading” for the intervention of God in the affairs of those he loved.  As a very small child I didn’t understand all that was happening, but no one could be in the house when dad prayed and not “feel” the presence of God almighty. 

“The Lord’s Prayer” was given to us as a result of one of the disciples asking Jesus to “teach us to pray.”  Several of the disciples had overheard Jesus praying.  My, what a blessing that must have been, to hear the “Son” praying to His “Father.”  Certainly, we would think, Heaven must have come down when Jesus prayed.  The scripture tells us of occasions when the heavenly angels came and ministered to Him.  What glory that must have been.

Our Father which art in heaven…  The expectation of receiving anything from God is based on this one truth; God is “Our Father.”  This is not the “sinner’s prayer,” but it is the “believer’s prayer.”  It is the prayer of the “child of God.”  We can, as Hebrews 4:16 says, “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”  Further in “The Lord’s Prayer,” there is a “pattern” for prayer, and things we should seek every time we pray.  It is, however, far more than a “prayer outline.”  This prayer, as with every other “religious” work can be just a “dead work” with no value at all to the one “saying” the prayer.  Jesus’ response to “teach us to pray,” was far more than a “prayer” to memorize.  His teaching on prayer is found in the next several verses of this text.

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; For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him?  And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee.  I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.  Luke 11:5-8

Jesus said to His disciples, and to us, “Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight…”  He puts us in a “hypothetical situation.”  Company comes to our house late at night.  They have just arrived after a long journey from a distant land.  They have spent days walking or riding through the hot, dry countryside.  They are tired and weak from hunger, and you have nothing to set before them.  There is no “bread” in your house.  You are ashamed!  The custom of the land is to welcome them into your house, wash their feet, and set a hearty meal before them before giving them the best beds in the house for their rest, but you have nothing to set before them.  You do not hesitate to go to a friend’s house, even at the midnight hour.  You knock on the door, but the friend tries to ignore the knocking.  You continue to knock until a voice comes from inside the house, saying, “what do you want.”  You ask for three loafs of bread.  Your friend tells you to come back in the morning.  You explain the situation, but your friend tells you the doors are locked and barred and he is in bed with his children with him: he cannot open the door to you.  Your friendship does not open the door, but because of your “importunity,” he rises up and gives you all the bread you need.  He doesn’t feel sorry for you!  It wasn’t his “friendship” that caused him to open the door; it was your boldness, your desperation, and your perseverance, even your “brashness” in daring to come at midnight.  Now listen to the conclusion that Jesus brings to us concerning how to “pray.”

And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.  For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.  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?  Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?  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 11:9-13

Jesus is telling us to approach our “Heavenly Father” in the same way you would approach the “friend” at the midnight hour.  You wouldn’t normally be so “bold” or so “brash,” but necessity is upon you.  Needy people, the “lost,” the “sick,“ the “afflicted,” and the “oppressed” have come to your “church” or into your life, and you realize, you “have nothing to set before them.”  In your Father’s house there is plenty.  Do not hesitate to come “boldly” to Him.

I raised six children.  We did not “trust” in doctors or medicine.  When fever or pain struck any of my children, they always came to “daddy” to pray.  Dozens, if not hundreds, of times I saw the Lord immediately break the fever and take the pain away.  There were times, however, that I knew I had nothing to offer.  I could not take my child in my arms and call upon the Lord with confidence.  I had not “prayed in secret.”  My business or other cares of this life had robbed me.  Maybe I had been “too tired” to pray for days at a time.  In those times we still did not put our trust in the doctors or medicine: I would leave the child in the crib, or with their mother and go into a back room, or over into the corner of the room and begin to call on “Him who is able (Hebrews 5:7).  I would repent for not praying.  I would “humble” myself before God.  I would ask for “mercy.”  I would plead for His Spirit to return to me.  I would ask!  I would seek!  I would knock! until He opened to me.  Then, rejoicing in Jesus, I would return to the sick child and speak to the sickness or fever in the name of Jesus Christ, and it would cease. 

In II Chronicles 7:14, God said, “If my people, which are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked way…”  Every child of God can pray when they are awakened to the desperation of the situation.  No one can pray when they seek to come as God’s “equal.”  The attitude, “how lucky God is to have me” is not one that will ever move God in our behalf.  Paul asked the question of the Corinthians, “What do you have that you did not receive” (I Corinthians 4:7)?  Any child of God that has anything to “give” has first “received” from God.  Even Jesus said, “The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do: for what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.”  Jesus had to “receive” from the Father all that He “gave” to the people.  Let Jesus, in the days of His flesh, cease to “pray,” and He will have nothing to offer.  In John 14:10 He tells us, “Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, He doeth the works.”  Apart from the “Father” that was in Him, Jesus had nothing to offer. 

Notice the final words of Jesus’ teaching on prayer: “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)  The “answer” to every problem or situation a person may face is for the “Father” to give the “Holy Ghost” to the seeker.  All the “asking,” the “seeking,” and the “knocking,” that Jesus exhorted us to do, was for the Holy Ghost to be given to us.  The answer to every part of “The Lord’s Prayer” is that we would be presently “filled with the Spirit,” that we would have something to give to a lost, sick, and oppressed world.

Thy Kingdom come...  Wherever the scripture speaks of “The Kingdom of God,” it is speaking of either the “realm,” or the “reign” of God.  Christ is the “realm.”  No one will ever find “God” apart from Christ.  Jesus told us, “No man cometh to the Father but by me” (John 14:6).  Every child of God will “abide in Christ.”  John said, “…in Him is no sin.  Whoso abideth in Him sinneth not.”  Much could be said about the realities of the realm, but it is the “reign” I would address in this message.  Jesus told His disciples in that day, and us in this day, to pray, “Thy Kingdom come…”  He is speaking of the “reign” of God rather than the “realm.”  As long as Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father, the “realm” is in heavenly places, and yes, the believer “sits together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6).  The Psalmist speaks of the “realm” in Psalms 110:1, “The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool;” next, he speaks of the “reign” in Psalms 110:2, “The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.”  Zion is the church of Jesus Christ.  God has promised to “rule in the midst of His enemies” even while Jesus “sits” at the Father’s right hand.”  The prayer, “Thy Kingdom come” is the cry of God’s children for the “rod of His strength” to be sent out of Zion.  It is a cry for the Holy Ghost to “come upon us.”

In Luke 3:22, the Holy Ghost descended like a dove upon Jesus.  In Luke 4:1, “Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness…”  There He fasted and prayed for forty days, and was tested by the devil.  In Luke 4:14, “Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee.”  In Luke 4:18, Jesus read from the book of Isaiah in the synagogue at Nazareth, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”  In Luke 4:21, He said, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.” 

In Mark 1:15, Jesus began His ministry, preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.”  Jesus was not preaching a “kingdom” that could not come for at least another two thousand years at His “second coming.”  Neither was He preaching about a kingdom that would not come for another three years, at the “day of Pentecost.”  Jesus said, “The time is fulfilled…the Kingdom of God is at hand”  It was time for the Kingdom to come immediately.  Now, read the rest of that first chapter of Mark, and the second and third chapters. 

It is evident from the record of the gospels that Jesus’ miraculous ministry, apart from His turning water into wine at Cana of Galilee, began in the synagogue in Capernaum on the Sabbath day.  Notice the response of the people to His teaching:

And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes.  Mark 1:22

In the synagogue that day was one possessed with an unclean spirit.  He began to cry out as Jesus was teaching, saying, “Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? Art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God” (Mark 1:24).  Jesus immediately rebuked the spirit, saying, “Hold thy peace, and come out of him.”  The scripture records that the spirit “…cried with a loud voice, and came out of him.”  Notice the people’s response to this:

And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? What new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him.  Mark 1:27

On that same Sabbath day Jesus went to Simon Peter’s house and healed Simon’s mother-in-law of a fever.  About sunset, the people of the city began to bring the diseased and those that were possessed with devils.  They came until, as the thirty-third and thirty-fourth verses say, “And all the city was gathered together at the door.  And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him.”

The following day Jesus began visiting the surrounding towns, teaching and casting out devils everywhere He went.  He reached out his hand and touched a “leper,” and cleansed him from his leprosy.  After this miracle, Jesus could no longer come openly into the city (Mark 1:45), but stayed in the “desert places,” yet the people “came to Him from every quarter.”  Several days later, Jesus came to a house in Capernaum.  Immediately the people, when they heard that He was there, crowded around the house until it was impossible for anyone to enter because of the multitude.  It was there that He healed the man who was sick of the palsy.  The multitude was amazed, and glorified God, saying, “We never saw it on this fashion.”  To those who understood the things they saw and heard, it was evident that the Kingdom of God had come to them.

In Luke 9:1-2, Jesus gave “power and authority over all devils and to cure diseases” to His twelve disciples.  He sent them to “preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.”  In the sixth verse they departed, and “went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing everywhere. 

In the tenth chapter of Luke, Jesus sent another seventy disciples in the same manner as the twelve.  In the eighth verse, He instructed them, “And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you: and heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The Kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.”  In Luke 10:17, “the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.”  Jesus answered them in the eighteenth verse, “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.  Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: an nothing shall by any means hurt you.”  Such is the Kingdom of God wherever and whenever it comes upon men.

Thy will be done…  Jesus instructed us to pray continually, “Thy Kingdom come…”  The reason is given in the next phrase, “Thy will be done...”  The Kingdom of God did not come in the earthly lifetime of Jesus until after the Holy Ghost came upon Him.  Jesus came “in the power of the Spirit” into Galilee and began to do the works of His Father in Heaven.  The Father’s will was done “in earth” exactly as “in Heaven.”  In John 5:19, Jesus confessed, “The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do: for what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.  For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth Him all things that Himself doeth: and He will shew Him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.”  As Jesus was to later tell us, “without me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5), so it was with His ministry, without the Father, Jesus could do nothing.

And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, He went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.  Mark 1:35

I have heard people say many times, “I believe in the power of prayer.”  I must tell you, there is no power in prayer.  Prayer is simply the means of communication between a child of God and our Heavenly Father.  A person may hear a burglar breaking into their home at night.  They dial 911 on their phone and shortly the police arrive and capture the burglar before great damage is done.  How foolish it would be to go around telling people, “I believe in the power of the telephone.”  The telephone didn’t save them.  It was just a means of communication with the police who did come and save.  So it is with prayer.  The secret of Jesus’ ministry is that He was in daily communication with the one who sent Him.  He called on the Father to lead Him, to instruct Him, to anoint Him, to always be with Him and upon Him by the Holy Ghost.  The “Spirit of the LORD” would come upon Jesus; He would see the purpose and will of His Father, and “in the power of the Spirit,” He would do His Father’s will on earth.

Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.  It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.  Psalms 127:1-2

...as in heaven, so in earth.  Solomon was right when he said in Ecclesiastes 1:2, “vanity of vanities; all is vanity.”  Every work of man is vanity.  Every “human effort” to please God, or to do His will is vanity.  Everything that God does not do is vanity.  Our knowledge is confusion.  Our wisdom is foolishness.  Our works are vanity.  Without Him we are nothing, can do nothing, and know nothing.  We “try” to do His will and end up in a mess.  The Psalmist reached the same conclusion.  Except the Lord build the house, we labour in vain.  Except the Lord keep the city, we awake in vain.  Everything man does as a mere “method” towards the will of God is an exercise in futility.  It is only when we realize this futility in all our works that we will truly turn to the Lord with all our hearts.  “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.”  Notice, He said “as in Heaven, so in earth.”  Only God can do that.  His Kingdom must come upon us.  The Holy Ghost must fill us, and anoint us.  We will wait at the altar for the promise of the Father, the Holy Ghost.  We will tarry until He “clothes” us with miraculous power from Heaven.  Then, His WILL, will be done in earth as in Heaven.  Jesus never studied philosophy, psychology, medicine, business, government, or any other human system.  He was a carpenter until God anointed Him with the Holy Ghost (Acts 10:38); then He became the “healer” of all that were oppressed of the devil.  Let us lay aside the vanity of human efforts to serve God, and seek His face, waiting upon Him at the altar of prayer until He fills us and clothes us with power from on high.

Give us day by day our daily bread...  In that we are children of the Kingdom of God, our “daily bread” has nothing whatsoever to do with the natural food we eat.  Remember the man Jesus told us of who went to a friend at midnight to get three loaves of bread?  This plea for bread was not to satisfy his own hunger, but to set before others who had arrived unexpectedly at his house.  He had bread enough for himself, but not for company.  Far too many Christians see no reason to pray or seek the Lord.  Many who live good clean lives are satisfied to casually “serve the Lord” with the expectation of Heaven when they die.  The vast majority of “Christians” today have never been “baptized with the Holy Ghost,” but it is the “promise of the Father” that Jesus told us to “wait” for (Acts 1:4-5).  Far more have never had the “Spirit of the Lord” come upon them to anoint them for the work of God.  How many have obeyed the command of Jesus to “tarry” until they are “endued” with power from on high (Luke 24:49)?  The promise is that we will be “clothed” with “miraculous power” from Heaven.  The majority have never even “tasted” of that which Jesus called our “daily bread.”

Our daily bread from Heaven is foreshadowed by the “manna” the children of Israel ate in the wilderness.  The manna covered the ground each morning when they awoke.  Every man of Israel was to gather enough manna for that day.  If he tried to gather enough for two or three days, it would breed worms and stink.  It was to them a “daily bread,” and it was given “day by day.”  Jesus told us to pray “give us ‘day by day’ our daily bread.”  In Matthew 6:11, it is said, “give us ‘this day’ our daily bread.”  We are to come boldly to the throne of God in prayer and intercession every day of our lives, to receive for that day that which we would minister to others.

Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God…

I have been a night person all of my life.  I would almost never go to bed before midnight regardless of how early I might need to get up in the morning.  Often I would write until three or four A.M. and still wake up around 7:30 in the morning.  I would do my praying and bible study late at nights.  The problem with this routine that I followed for many years is that it was not unusual for other things to take away my time with the Lord.  Some time back, during a time of fasting and prayer, the Lord spoke to my heart about coming to the church at six AM to pray.  The next morning I did so, but that night I stayed up and wrote a message until three AM.  That morning I did not go to the church to pray, but waited until night as I had in the past.  Then something strange happened.  Each morning I would wake up about 5:45 AM, but I would turn over and go back to sleep for another hour.  The first morning I did this I had a troubling dream.  The next morning I had another dream, even more troubling.  It seemed that every morning the Lord would wake me up to pray, but I would go back to sleep and the adversary would come to talk to me.  Within a week I was in such a state of mind that I thought all my fasting and praying was in vain, and that God would not hear me.  One day, being troubled and tormented by the adversary, I questioned the Lord as to why, and I received an amazingly simple answer.  I realized for the first time that the adversary only came during the hour I was supposed to be in the altar of prayer.  One thing I quickly understood; if I were at the church talking to the Lord, the devil would not be in my bedroom talking to me.  The next morning I was awakened 4:30 AM.  I got up, went to the church, and the Spirit of the Lord met me at the door.  His presence settled on me and He began to speak to me.  “The only way you know you are sanctified is because I shed my blood for you.  The only way you know you are crucified is because I suffered the cross for you.  The only way you know you have victory is because I destroyed he that had the power of death, that is, the devil.  I spoiled principalities and powers.  I triumphed over them.  I cause you to triumph.  I give you the victory.”  The next hour was spent rejoicing in Jesus.

When you start your day early in the altar of prayer, nothing will ever “come up” to keep you from that appointment.  Other things will fall by the wayside, but your time with the Lord will only increase.  You will ask, and you will receive the Holy Ghost; you will seek, and you will find His will and purpose for you; you will knock, and the “Kingdom of God” will be opened unto you.  Your prayer will become one of expectancy; “Thy Kingdom come…today!  Thy will be done as in Heaven so in earth…today!  Give me bread today to give to others; healing for the sick, miracles for the afflicted, and deliverance for the captives.”  God’s answer to all of these is to “send the Holy Ghost upon you.”  Pray, worship, rejoice in Jesus until Heaven opens and the Spirit of God is poured upon you.  You will leave that altar understanding why Peter could say to the lame man, “such as I have, give I thee...”  You will have received something you can give.