How do we pray? Are we allowed to ask for what we need? Are we waiting to be worthy?
Let’s learn to pray.
We’ll look at Luke 11:1-13 verse by verse and some of what Jesus taught on how to pray.
When Y’all Pray (vs 2a)
Luke 11:1 Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” 2 So He said to them, “When you pray, say, …
When teaching his disciples to pray, the first words from Jesus were, “When ye pray...” Modern English has lost the word ye and substituted the confusing word you which is the same for singular and plural. Some dialects maintain a plural like ye in y’all, you’ns or youse and other regional variants. Some believe that the use of the plural you before the Our Father indicates a group prayer, and that certainly is a reasonable conclusion. Perhaps that is one reason why the first words are “Our Father” rather than “my Father”. Perhaps if we understood how unifying this wonderful and instructive prayer is supposed to be we would make use of it in more churches than we currently do.
Why do We say Our Father? (vs 2b)
Luke 11:2 So He said to them, “When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven…
The Lord’s prayer begins with two important words. Our, we, us is found throughout this the most perfect of all prayers. God is ours, not for me alone. Some people are offended by calling God a father, and substitute the word mother or parent, but there have been abusive mothers too and Jesus did not use parent but father. God does not describe himself with the metaphor of father to cause offense. He knows that no human parent is perfect. He wants us to understand perfect fatherhood through him. In Greek father means one who “imparts life.” In the Bible it does not refer to a “universal fatherhood” towards humanity, but to those in "intimate connection and relationship" with him.
Why Hallow His Name? (vs 2b)
Luke 11:2 So He said to them, “When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.
The Ten Commandments say it in the negative, You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. That includes the popular OMG. The Lord’s Prayer says it in the positive, hallowed be your name. Do we approach God’s name with reverence? Do we talk about him as someone that we love? Hallowed means "to make holy, consecrate, sanctify; to dedicate, separate." Do we use God’s name as holy, treating it with great respect and adoration? Do we begin our prayers by praising God and praying that his name be glorified? Do we promote our religion, our denomination, our theology or God’s name? All churches are polluted by sin. God is not. Let us glorify his name.
Why are We Debtors? (vs 4a)
Luke 11:4 And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us…
When we sin we miss the mark, which is what the word sin in Luke’s version of the Our Father means. We have not lived up to life’s highest expectations. Our sins create an unfulfilled obligation to others and to God, an injustice that needs to be set right, a debt that we owe. When we forgive we release others, not only of their having missed the mark but also of the debt of justice that is owed to us. We give up the right to justice. For instance, if someone has unjustly swindled us out of something valuable, forgiveness means we give up the right to justice. Because we do, we can rightly ask God to forgive our debts.
What does Temptation Mean? (vs 4b)
Luke 11:4 … And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.”
We are encouraged to pray “lead us not into temptation.” What does that mean? The Greek word can mean either trial or temptation. Temptation is everywhere. We live in a world where there are many enticements to miss the mark of right living. We want to stay faithful to God and are surrounded by gods of materialism. We are surrounded by those who misuse God’s name. Many are seduced into working without rest building bricks for corporate pharaohs. We can be tempted to dishonor our parents. We can be tempted in a moment of anger to kill. We can be enticed to be unfaithful to a spouse. We can be tempted to steal, lie and covet what is not ours.
Audacious Prayer (vs 5-13)
Luke 11:5 And He said to them, “Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; 6 for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7 and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’? 8 I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.
9 “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 11 If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
We could translate verse 9 as, “So I say to y’all, Y’all ask and it will be given to y’all; y’all seek and y’all will find; y’all knock and the door will be opened to y’all.” The promise is to expect answers when we all pray together. Do we sometimes believe that God is like a sleeping neighbor, uninterested in answering our prayers? He encourages us to persist in bold and audacious prayer, like the midnight visitor. Fearlessly pray, brazenly asking that he gives us bread. God encourages us, despite our unworthiness, to be persistent, without quitting. Notice how our daily bread is expanded to fish and an egg and then to an even more wonderful gift, the Holy Spirit.
We don’t need to be afraid to pray, hiding from God like Adam and Eve. God knows our sins and still encourages us to come to him boldly and often. He wants to hear from us and is ready this minute to forgive and give us what we need.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.