Luke 11:1-13 (ESV)
1 Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” 2 And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. 3 Give us each day our daily bread, 4 and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.” 5 And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, 6 for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7 and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? 8 I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. 9 And I tell 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 the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
When Jesus finished praying, one of his disciples asked if he would teach them to pray too. In verses 2 through 4, Jesus responded by providing a template for prayer that they could all follow. Jesus never intended this prayer to be recited word for word as a substitute for prayer. Rather, he provided themes for organizing his disciples’ thoughts directed toward God. The prayer began with an address to God the Father. The word “Father” implies both authority and intimacy. What an honor to know that the follower of Jesus can address God as her Father in prayer. The prayer has 5 basic components after the address:
- “Hallowed be your name” requests that God and his name be treated as holy.
- “Your kingdom come” asks that righteousness be manifest on earth.
(These first two petitions establish an attitude of worship and admiration.)
- “Give us each day our daily bread” asks for provision from God for life’s basic needs.
- “Forgive us our sins as we forgive others” reminds us of our need for reconciliation to God with the implication that we will surely be reconciled with those who have wronged us as a result.
- “Lead us not into temptation” asks that the believer be helped to live in alignment with the character of God.
(These last three petitions demonstrate an attitude of total reliance upon our Father.)
What a wonderful resource this template for prayer is for all followers of Jesus! We can feel like God is too important or too busy to listen to our requests and petitions, but when Jesus taught the disciples to address God as their Father, he reminded them of the familial love that exists between God and his children. He taught us to be concerned with our Father’s reputation and accomplishing his will, along with our need for provision, forgiveness, and protection. Most of us know this prayer as the “Lord’s Prayer,” but it should be called the “Disciples’ Prayer” because Jesus, the sinless one, had no need to ask for forgiveness. May we all be challenged to pray more. And when we pray, let’s communicate with the Lord in a way that is balanced, not merely focusing on daily needs, but with an attitude of reverence and respect. May our prayer time always include the confession that we are wholly dependent upon the Lord for everything pertaining to life and godliness. Make sure you set aside some time to talk to God today.