In Luke 11:1-13 we hear some of Jesus’ thoughts on prayer. It is evident from Luke’s Gospel that Jesus prays often (Luke 3:21; 5:16; 6:12; 9:18, 28). Jesus’ disciples have no doubt noticed His prayerfulness and in this passage they ask Him to teach them how to pray (Luke 11:1). Jesus starts His instruction by saying “when you pray.” For the follower of Christ, prayer is not a matter of if, but when. That isn’t to say that prayer is some heartless command, rather it is the natural result of a belief in a personal God.
What follows is what has come to be known as “The Lord’s Prayer.” The prayer is also recorded in Matthew 6:9-13. The two passages are very similar. The only difference being that Luke’s version is shorter at various points. Even still the concepts shared are the same and are given in the same order. The prayers are also recorded in different contexts. Matthew indicates this prayer was shared with a large crowd during the Sermon on the Mount. Luke indicates the prayer to be part of Jesus’ answer to a question from the disciples about how to pray. While I certainly think it fruitful to pray the prayer verbatim, it is important to consider the concepts contained within the prayer.
First, Jesus instructs us to approach God as Father. God is our Heavenly Father. For many, envisioning God as Father is not a very flattering thought. Often great pain is brought about because of the absence or because of presence of a hurtful father. However, all that is lacking in our earthly fathers is found in our Heavenly Father. He loves and cares for us more than we’ll ever know. He desires to give good things to us, even His presence through Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13). The word father is probably too stuffy a term to define Him. Daddy would be more appropriate. He cherishes us over all His creation. He is our Dad and He cares for our every need and circumstance.
Hallowed be your name
Next Jesus says we should pray “hallowed be your name.” This is essentially a declaration of praise to God for His perfect nature. It is an acknowledgement that His name is worthy to be set apart as Holy. In the same way, as we pray to Him, we ought to start by exalting Him for His marvelous attributes and His faithful character. Just as last week we considered the things we ought to love God for, in our prayers we ought to express these things to Him. King David was a master at writing prayerful psalms which give God the praise He is due. Consider Psalm 100:
Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.
As we approach Him in prayer we ought to thank Him for the good He has done. The breath in our lungs, the mind He has given us to think with, the body He has given us to be productive with, the sun He has given to light our days and the moon to govern our nights, the people He has surrounded us with. All of these things are good gifts which He has granted to us. He is truly worthy of all our praise!
Your Kingdom come
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Another component of our prayers ought to be for God’s Kingdom to come. In Matthew’s version he says, “your Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.” Luke’s version is communicating the same thing just in a shorter form. The prayer for God’s Kingdom to come is a prayer for His authority to reign in our hearts and His will to be done in our lives. I believe in a God who works all things for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). As a result I welcome His authority in my life, and I depend on Him entirely. I also desire His will to be done in my life because His will is “good, pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2).
Give us each day our daily bread
Next Jesus says we should pray God would supply our basic needs. The statement recognizes our dependence on God. In our independently minded culture, it is probably not so popular to freely admit I am entirely dependent. Though it should be a natural conclusion. Our very existence depended on two individuals. Our successes today are very much dependent upon the efforts of others before us. Our ability to function is dependent upon the natural laws of the universe. Our entire functionality in this life is dependent on things and people outside of ourselves. Chiefly our dependence is on God. We depend on Him for even the very basic necessities of life.
Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us
Not only do we depend on God for our basic provision, but we also depend on Him and Him alone for spiritual provision. As we touched on last week, we fail to fulfill the command God gives us to love Him and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. The Bible clearly teaches our salvation depends on God’s forgiveness through Jesus Christ alone (To name a few passages: John 3:15-18; John 14:6 Romans 3:20-23; II Corinthians 5:14-17; I John 5:11-13). We are sinners. That is we disrespect God’s authority in our lives, we pursue our own desires rather than His, in our pride we fail to acknowledge that we are dependent upon Him for all things, rather than seeking justice (Micah 6:8) we seek our own pleasure, rather than loving our neighbors we love ourselves. We are in desperate need of forgiveness because of our sin. Interestingly, after Jesus tells his disciples to ask God for forgiveness, he says we should do so as we forgive those who sin against us. A person who has received God’s forgiveness is marked by a spirit of forgiveness.
And lead us not into temptation
The emphasis on this final portion of the prayer is on keeping us from the very real power of temptation in our lives. The fact is that we are tempted in many ways each day to be unfaithful to God, to our families, to our friends, to our employers, to our employees, to our fellow employees and to our neighbors. We can trust that God is with us when and wherever temptation arises. As we are reminded in I Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”
So let’s recap. Jesus lays out a prayer for his disciples to pray. It is good for us to pray it as it is given, but it is also important for us to understand what we are saying. We ought to approach Him as our loving dad, declare His goodness & holiness, ask for His authority & His will for our lives, recognize & seek His provision for our basic needs, come humbly before Him to seek forgiveness, and request His strength to resist the temptations we are faced with in this life