John T. Willis

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Fundamental Prayer for Jesus' Followers--Luke 11:1-4

After relating the story of Jesus' encounter with Mary and Martha at Bethany as Jesus was traveling from Galilee to Jerusalem, Luke now relates an incident in which one of Jesus' disciples ask him how to pray, and Jesus gave his reply. This prayer appears also in Matthew 6:9-15. Many people call this "The Lord's Prayer." But more specifically, this is the prayer which Jesus taught his disciples to pray. Let us briefly work through this text in Luke 11:1-4. 1. Luke repeatedly reminds his hearers and readers that Jesus constantly spent much time in prayer, as when he was baptized by John the Baptist (Luke 3:21), going into the wilderness after healing the leper (Luke 5;16), before choosing his twelve apostles (Luke 6:12), instructing his hearers to pray for those who abuse you (Luke 6:28), right after Jesus fed the 5,000 (Luke 9:18), just before Jesus went on the mountain to be transfigured (Luke 9:28-29). After teaching his disciples how to pray in Luke 11:1-4, Jesus often prays throughout the Gospel of Luke. 2. After Jesus had prayed, one of his disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, as John taught his disciples. When one prays, this causes others to learn from him how to pray. Jesus had recently prayed to his heavenly Father (Luke 10:21-22). The account of the prayer which Jesus taught his disciples in Luke 11:2-4 naturally falls into four points. 3. Point 1: Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. The term "Father" is a very intimate, endearing term. The Old Testament often emphasizes the importance of this powerful metaphor. Four examples are Exodus 4:21-23; Hosea 11:1; Isaiah 1:2-3; Psalm 103:13. The last text says: "As a FATHER has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him." In Aramaic, "Father" is "Abba." To emphasize the intimate relationship between God and his people, this term "Abba" occurs several times in the New Testament: Mark 14:36; Galatians 4:6; Romans 8:15. The term "hallowed" means "sanctified, holy." God's "name" is a well-known Hebrew circumlocution for "God himself." God's "name" is not some myterious entity separated from God himself. God's "kingdom" is his "rule" in the hearts of individuals and communities of faith. 4. Point 2: Give us each day our daily bread. Some people try to make something different from what this text clearly says. All human beings are dependent on God. This means our food. God miraculously supplies food for all of us every day. Just because we get customed of experiencing this does not mean this is "natural." Food is a daily gift of God. The only appropriate response to this is thanksgiving. When Jesus initiated the Lord's Supper, the first thing Jesus did was to thank God for this gift. 5. Point 3: Forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. All of us are great sinners. We have to seek God's forgiveness daily. The only appropriate response is for us to forgive others just as God has forgiven us. Often, other people forgive us; so we must forgive others as well. 6. Point 4: And do not bring us to the time of trial. We are constantly confronted with the temptation of apostasy, of falling away from God. Hence, Jesus teaches all of us to pray that God will not allow us to come to the time of trial. See the same thought in Luke 8:14-15; Acts 20:19. As well all know, Matthew 6:9-15 contains some additional points in the teaching that Jesus gave about how we should pray. The famous conclusion: "For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever" appears nowhere in the New Testament, but comes from 1 Chronicles 29:11. Ponder this prayer deeply and often. This changes our hearts and our lives. Share YOUR insights and dreams and fears and reverses with others. Let me hear from YOU. John Willis


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