Please read Luke 11:1-4 – The Lord’s Prayer
Seek the Holy Spirit’s help as you come to his word.
As we have seen, Luke doesn't always tell us when and where things happened. He is more focused on what took place, than on some of the details. Sometimes it is good to focus on what is most important and not get bogged down in details. The account begins with Jesus praying. This is the fourth time he has done so – Luke 3:21; 6:12; 9:18, 28. While the disciples must have been nearby, I think it is fair to assume, based on his previous practice, that Jesus was alone when he was praying. The fact that Jesus spent so much time praying always speaks to my heart when I encounter it. The fact that he felt the need to do so is what gets me. I mean, if anyone could ever have got through a day on their own, surely it would have been Jesus. But no, he needed communion with the Father, and he did whatever it took to engage in that communion. I think our problem is that we don't see our need. Maybe I should speak for myself. It's the lack of seeing, understanding, appreciating one's real needs, instead of the frivolous felt needs of life, that lies at the root of one's prayerlessness.
Although separate from the disciples, Jesus was still within earshot. When he had finished praying, he is approached by one of the disciples who, having been stirred by what he has just heard, and what a privilege it must have been to overhear the Lord speak with the Father, asks, "Lord, teach us to pray". Now here is a question that has been the subject for much discussion over the years. Is this the same event that is recorded in Matthew 6:9-13? In other words, is Luke simply lifting the teaching of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount, which was early in his ministry, and putting it in here in the last year of Jesus' ministry? If that is not the case, then Jesus must have taught the disciples this prayer on at least two, if not more, occasions. I think it is the latter. Every teacher teaches the same things over and over again. Look at the ministry of any man, and you will see regular themes emerging in the course of that ministry. It is just the way it is, even if a man faithfully preaches his way through the Word of God, staying fresh in his relationship with Christ as he does so. It is a further indicator of the fact that the Word of God comes through the personality of the man Christ has chosen to be the undershepherd of his sheep, in a particular location, at a given time.
What lay behind the request – “Lord, teach us to pray”? Was it a request to be taught how to pray regularly? I don't think so because the Jews were well versed in the habit of praying. We see that especially from the activity of the Pharisees. Jesus is being asked here 'what should we pray for?' This disciple, probably not one of the twelve but one of the seventy-two, having heard Jesus pray, was probably left feeling that his praying didn't come anywhere near what he had just overheard.
Jesus understands that it is a genuine request. It is not a test. It is a request devoid of any trap, and Jesus responds accordingly. The first word he utters takes us directly to what prayer is – communion with God our Father. It is astonishing that we can speak the word 'Father' with respect to God. It is only possible because of his grace and adopting love. The use of the word 'Father' means that only those truly in Christ can pray. If there is no God-given new life, if there is no relationship through Christ with the Father, then the only prayer that can be prayed that will be heard is: 'God, be merciful to me a sinner'. While the prayer of the godly will avail much, James 5:16, the praying of the unbeliever avails nothing unless it is the plea for God's mercy and grace in salvation.
Hallowed be your name.
To hallow or to sanctify means to set apart from everything that is marked by sin. It means to prize highly, to honour, to have reverence for, to adore, and much more. The hallowing of God's name doesn't mean that we make it holy or add to its holiness; rather, we recognize the greatness of God in his absolute holiness. God's name is more than just his name; it speaks of his entire majestic being and all his glorious attributes. It is this gulf between God and us that we must be ever mindful of as we approach our Father in heaven in prayer. A fact which merely makes the reality of prayer all the more astonishing.
Your Kingdom come.
The Kingdom of God is the reign and rule of the Mediator King, through the gospel of grace in the world. It is both a present, and yet to be fulfilled, reality. Jesus preached that the Kingdom of God is at hand. He had sent the twelve out to preach that the Kingdom of God is at hand. He had sent out the seventy-two to do the same. Where Christ is, is where his Kingdom and his rule is. The request that the Kingdom would come is seeking the work of the Mediator King to be manifest every day until he returns, and the consummation of his work is fully revealed.
Give us our daily bread.
Our lives are consumed with the overwhelming sense of meeting our physical and material needs. We work hard to provide for ourselves and others in our lives, and that is a good thing. We are not to be lazy when it comes to these things. But we must take real care that in all our labouring we do not forget that it is the Lord who gives, and it is the Lord who takes away. A grasp of that simple fact will both enable us to seek the Lord regarding our needs and maintain balance in our pursuance after material things, including the necessity for food. It will also grant us the capacity to be satisfied with what God has given us and rest content, free of the endless frenetic cravings of the world for more.
Forgive our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
In this petition, there is the request to 'send away as far as the east is from the west' our debts, not financial for they cease when we die, but spiritual. There is only one way this 'sending away' can happen, and what a way it is – through the death of God's only begotten Son on the cross at Calvary. Only Christ's finished work can make atonement for sin, but it can and will do so. Those, who by God's grace, repent of their sin and believe in Christ, with the gift of faith granted to them, know their sins to be forgiven. Having experienced this forgiveness for our sins, from the merciful hand of a Holy God, we have no option but, by God's grace, to forgive those who, by their words and actions, sin against us. It is inconceivable not to do so. But we must ask God for his help to enable us to do so. This wonderful privilege of treating others as God has dealt with us is something we must give ourselves to.
And lead us not into temptation.
From past sins, Jesus moves to teach his disciples and us how to pray about the possibility of future sin. James 1:13 makes it clear that God cannot tempt us to sin. From James 1:2-4 and 1 Peter 4:12, 13, we see that temptation is inevitable in your life and in mine. In 1 Corinthians 10:13, God tells us how he will answer this request. It is a request that faces the reality of temptation and accepts God's provision to guard us from sin. It is a request that faces down presumptive thinking and pride. It stands on the arrogance of the heart, grasps the seriousness and badness of sin, and seeks God's providential protection.
This is a prayer that we are memorizing in the form it is found in Matthew. The question, though, is – is this a prayer that we understand and are committed to praying?