"...Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples." (Luke 11:1)
We've looked at how Jesus lived among us. He faced temptation, He called the disciples, He taught us to forgive, He showed His power over sin, death and Satan. We learned of His transfiguration and were reminded of His glory. We saw how Jesus faced the goal of the cross and we asked ourselves "Where am I going?" We looked at how Jesus trained harvesters for His work.
Today we look at the Lord's Prayer, the model prayer for us as we follow Jesus. The disciples asked Jesus "teach us to pray." We, too, as His disciples today need to ask Him to teach us to pray.
The Lord's Prayer is not a prayer poem but a prayer pattern.
After the Lord's Prayer, Jesus went on to tell us about the persistent friend and reminds us to be persistent in prayer. And, then He reminds us that He does truly answer our prayers.
Read Luke 11:1-4. Matthew 6 also records a similar prayer that Jesus prayed.
A This prayer is for God's children.
"Our Father." We are to pray to our Heavenly Father. We are to pray that God's name or person be worshiped and glorified and that He will be obeyed on earth as completely as He is in Heaven. No one should pray this prayer who is not committed to obey Him. It is not just a poem to be rattled off rote fashion. It is a pattern for prayer. We cannot truly say "Hallowed" or "Holy" be Your Name if we are living life apart from God. If you are not His child, make the words "Our Father" a prayer from your heart that He will accept your confession of your sins and welcome you into His family.
How can we "hallow" or make God's name holy? By how we talk, (in words that are pure, honest and kind) by our thoughts,(by turning away from things that tempt us to do wrong, and by thinking about what is good, and pure, etc.) in our lives,(by doing what pleases God) in our families (by bringing up our children or influencing others to know and love the Lord, to be obedient and respectful) and in our work (by being honest in our dealings with others, by living ethical lives so that others know us to be genuine, fair-dinkum people).
B God's will can be done here on earth.
"Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." How is God's will being done in Heaven? How do the angels do God's will? They do it with all commitment, diligence, love, delight and perseverance. So, it is possible to live in obedience to God's will. We don't have to sin every day as some would tell us. Right here it says, "Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Just as the angels are God's representatives in Heaven, we are to be God's representatives on earth! Are you God's ambassador? Are people aware that you love and follow God? Are you doing God's will in your life? By saying these words you are saying to God, "I accept your plan for me. I will obey you and follow you." The key to living like this is given to us later, in verse 13. (through the power of the Holy Spirit.) Does God give us everything we ask for? No! He gives us everything we ask for that is according to His will!
C "Give us day by day our daily bread."
God is concerned about our daily needs. He wants us to ask Him for our needs. We need food to eat, a house to live in and the necessities of life. He wants us to ask for them with faith like a little child who trusts his parents to feed him. Do you ask God to help you with your needs or are you busy trying to work out how you can sort it all out for yourself? Sure, we need to do our part. God doesn't want lazy children. He wants us to do our best and to provide for our families. But, He is the one who gives us the very air we breathe, and the daily strength we need. Sometimes, with all of our best efforts we might be out of work. Does that mean that God cannot provide for us? No! He has many ways to provide for His children even when there is high unemployment, or when we are ill or unable to have the strength we need for the work. He wants us to ask Him first for our needs to be supplied one day at a time. He has amazing ways of accomplishing this.
God does delight to delight his children! He does love to do good things for us!
D "Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us."
Our deepest needs are spiritual. If there is something that needs to be forgiven, we must quickly ask God to forgive. And we must forgive those who have wronged us. Until we forgive, we block God's forgiveness for ourselves.
E "Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one." Have you ever been puzzled about this part of the Lord's Prayer? James 1:13 says, "God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone." The word "temptation" used in the Bible has the wider meaning of "testing." James 1:2 & 12 tell us "blessed is the man who endures temptation." Why? Because "When he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him." God never tempts us to do evil, but sometimes He allows us to be tested to see if we truly trust Him. When our faith is tested and we come through victoriously, we are stronger in our faith. But, our prayer to God is, "Please do not let me be tested beyond what I can endure." God wants to help us to live a life of victory. "Submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." (James 4:7-8)
F "Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen." (This doxology is not found in the Lord's Prayer recorded in Luke, but is in the Matthew passage.) Jesus must have taught his disciples this prayer earlier and the ending was put on it then. It is a reminder that God's kingdom is the one that lasts forever. And, we can be a part of His kingdom by His grace through faith. What a privilege and responsibility is ours!
Read Luke 11:5-8
If a friend came to you at midnight asking for some food to feed unexpected guests, would you refuse them? Even if you had to get out of bed and have your sleep broken in order to help them, because they are your friends, you would do it. The man mentioned in verse 7 had to disturb his whole family in the small one-roomed house where they all slept to get up for his friend. So, he and his family were all inconvenienced in order to help the man who came at midnight.
I remember a time when we had to wake up friends when we had car trouble and needed help. It was about midnight, too! We had been towed to a town where we had to leave our car to be repaired, but still were more than an hour away from our destination. These friends drove all that way to get us and that distance back again to their home. It broke their sleep and they had to get to work the next day. Out of friendship they came and did not hold it against us.
And, God is not annoyed if we call out to Him any time of the day or night. He is our friend and He will answer anytime and anywhere.
Read Luke 11:9-13
Jesus said we are to "ask, and it will be given to you, seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you." We need to be faithful to pray and not give up. One prayer request we can have certainty about praying in God's will is for the salvation of people. For the Bible says that, "He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9) We know we are praying in His will when we pray for people to come to know the Saviour.
Some people have prayed for many years before they have seen their prayers answered. We must not give up praying for others!
A man named Frank Jenner spent years of his life in Sydney speaking to people, primarily on George Street. He had a mission from God to speak to at least 10 people a day and ask them this question: "Excuse me, (sir or madam), may I ask you a question? If you died within 24 hours, where would you be in eternity, heaven or hell? Now don't try to evade this question, it must be one or the other." There were many who brushed him aside, but there were stories of others who could not get away from the question, nor the sincerity and warmth of the person. The author of the book traced 10 people in various parts of the world who came to know the Lord and served the Lord in Christian service through that contact with Frank Jenner in Sydney. Yet, it was 16 years before Frank heard about any who had really gone on for the Lord through that contact. He was just an ordinary man. People in his own church did not know how God was using his life in this way. But, many of his prayers for the souls of people he spoke to were answered, even though he did not know for a long time. Don't give up praying! (from "Jenner of George St." by Dr. Raymond Wilson)
Sometimes we might feel as if our prayers are not answered. But, our prayers are always answered. Sometimes God says "yes." Sometimes He says "No." Sometimes He says "Wait." And, sometimes He says "Hey, I have a better idea." Sometimes we ask God to answer prayer in a particular way, and if He doesn't, we think He hasn't answered prayer. But, you know there are times when we look back in our lives that we are glad that He didn't answer prayer in the way we thought was best.
A missionary couple was driving in a place at night when their car stopped and they could not get it to go again. They were in a dangerous area with wild animals as well as dangerous people around. It was pitch black and they couldn't see a thing. They were frightened to stay there and prayed that God would make the car start. But it would not go. So, they had to sleep in their car that night, even though they were very afraid to stay there. In the morning when they woke up they found that where the car had stopped was at the edge of a cliff, with a huge drop-off right in front of them! They pushed the car back from the edge and tried to start the car, and it started first go! What if God had answered their prayers for the car to start the night before? They would have driven right over the edge in the dark. I reckon they were very glad then that God had not answered their prayers the way they thought was best the night before! We too must say, "Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven."
Luke 11:11-13 tells about a son asking His father for bread. Would his father give him a stone instead of bread? Or if he asks for a fish, would his father give him a serpent. Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion. These may seem strange questions to us. But there were rocks that resembled the type of bread that was used in their country. And there was a species of scorpion that had a fat "body" segment which is fat and almost egg-shaped. (p.297 The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible) And a snake that resembled a fish. Would a good father trick his children when they asked for food? No, of course not! And, our Heavenly Father will not trick us or disappoint us, either. His presence with us through the most difficult of circumstances is precious. I have heard many Christian people over the years witness to the fact that they would go through hard situations again to experience the keen sense of the presence of God in their lives. We have never been promised freedom from difficult experiences, but we have been promised that even when we walk through the "valley of the shadow of death" He will be with us.
This section of Luke 11 (verse 13) ends with the promise that God wants to give the Holy Spirit to us. We simply must ask in faith. He desires to give the Holy Spirit to us as He did to the disciples at Pentecost. That is the only way we can stay close to the Lord in our lives.
Jesus loves us so much that He even left us a pattern for prayer! He knows we need to be taught. From these scriptures, let us ask ourselves some questions:
May, as we say together the Lord's Prayer today, say it truly from our hearts to Him. If you do not know Him, make the very first words, "Our Father," be prayed as a confession to Him that you accept Him today as your own Heavenly Father, and go on to commit all the other words as a pledge of promise to Him for your life.
Unless otherwise stated, all Bible quotations are from the New King James Version.
Holiness, godliness, righteousness, and Christ-likeness in personal and church life