JESUS TEACHES US HOW TO PRAY
Luke Ch 11: 1-13
Key Verse: 11:2
“When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come.”’”
Today we learn about Luke’s account of the Lord’s Prayer. Some also call this prayer, “The Our Father”. In this passage we learn a lot about prayer from Jesus. To some prayer is a religious activity. There is a ritual called praying the Rosary which included saying the Lords Prayer ten times. When I did this in Sunday school, I didn’t think much about what the words meant, I just repeated the them from habit. When we make prayer a religious activity it is not very helpful to us spiritually - it is actually burdensome like homework. Or, to some prayer is an activity reserved for times when they are in trouble. If they are ok, they do not pray much, but if they are having problems then they pray. Prayer is so much more than this. It is so deep, and it is part of forming a deep connection with God. What is so amazing, is that we can actually talk to God directly through prayer. When we prayed two by two at the beginning of this service, he heard you just now. You cannot call the president of the United States and talk to him. But, you can speak directly to God, and he’s even more important than the president. This is really amazing! In this passage we learn what the contents of our prayer should be. We also learn with what attitude we should have when we pray.
First, The Lord’s Prayer (1-4)
One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord teach us to pray…..” This was a noble request by this particular disciple, who was unnamed in this passage. This request, to learn to pray, was a prayer by itself. In many ways, we are like this disciple aren’t we? We want to know God more and we pray and seek God - in prayer, and Bible study, and we are here at worship service today seeking God. This disciple’s pure hearted petition opened the floodgates of heaven - about prayer. Jesus was most likely waiting to teach his disciples about prayer. We see the heavenly teachings that came forth from Jesus revealed in verses 2-4. Jesus said in verse 2, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come.”” Here, Jesus first teaches us that we can call God our Father. This is a revolutionary idea! The Jews saw God as one to be feared and almost unapproachable, except by consecrated priests. The Israelites trembled with fear when God appeared on Mt Sinai, and there was thunder and lightening and only Moses was allowed to go up the mountain, no one else dared. The Jews had a substitutionary name for God, Yahweh which simply means “I Am”, or in third person “He Is.” So to them, that was God’s name, “He Is.” They didn’t call him Father, in fact they thought it was wrong to do so. We see in John chapter 5, that one of the reasons the religious leaders wanted to kill Jesus is that he called God his Father, which they considered blasphemy. Jesus broke down all these barriers and relationship obstacles for us, telling us that now, in Christ we can call God our Father. Because God is our heavenly Father, we can be certain he cares for each one of us as his children. It is comforting to have an earthly father. When we were little our fathers taught us many things, how to play sports, and taught us wisdom and about making good decisions. As we grew older they helped us fix things in our homes, and are excellent babysitters for small children. But earthly fathers can only be with us so long. Also admittedly, their love for their children is not always unconditional. Here we learn about God our heavenly Father, who loves us unconditionally and cares for us in ways we cannot even comprehend. We often cannot comprehend the vastness of the universe. Therefore, we cannot comprehend the vastness of God’s character and his love for us. Thank God in Jesus we can call this awesome, creator God our Father. He is great and powerful, but we do not have to be afraid to approach him. He loves us unconditionally.
The next part of verse 2 says, “hallowed be your name..” Hallowed means to revere God as holy, to honor him and praise him. This is our purpose on earth and why God created us - to worship him and glorify him. This opening verse of the Lord’s prayer is very much like the 1st Commandment, which teaches us to worship God alone and to have no other idols and no other gods besides him. There is an expression that each person has a God-sized hole in their heart that only God can fill. What happens when a person does not satisfy this empty hole with God? They find something else to worship in God’s place. They might worship their boyfriend or girlfriend or even a rock band. I knew one young man quite well, not so young anymore, in high school he really liked a particular rock band, and built a shrine in his room with all kinds of memorabilia that he collected. He even had the cigarette butt that was discarded by the bass player during a concert on display, which he grabbed off of the floor. Obviously this is an example of misplaced worship. But he came to Bible study and realized God is his true center of worship. He realized he was very foolish for his behavior too, he worshipped this rock band did not care about him and they didn’t even know him. They only took his money from him in the form of high priced concert tickets. The empty hole in his life was not satisfied. He dismantled his shrine and repented. Later he went to seminary school and gave his life to God and led many to Christ including his whole family. Here Jesus is telling us, “hallowed is God’s name.” God is holy. We make God’s name holy by putting God first in our lives above other things. Above money, above our ambitions, even above earthly relationships.
The last part of verse 2 says, “your kingdom come.” This is a prayer for God’s sovereign will to rule over all people and all creation as the rightful ruler. There once was paradise on earth, but sin came into the world through Satan’s temptation. Now the earth is a battleground between God and Satan. The time will come when Jesus will return again as described in the Book of Revelations. This time he will come not as a servant but as a ruler and judge. Jesus said in Mark Chapter 13 verse 10, “And the gospel must first be preached to all nations.” Before God’s ultimate sovereign rule over the earth all peoples must get a chance to repent. We are praying to bring God’s kingdom to earth when we share the gospel with all people, and many have gone out as missionaries and are sharing the gospel to all nations. God’s ultimate victory will be when his kingdom comes to earth.
Now let’s look at verses 3-4. There are 3 petitions included in these verses which are for our physical and spiritual needs. The first is to pray that each day God gives us our daily bread, in verse 3. Some people depend on many things other than God. Some depend on themselves, and some depend on friends and family. These days there is a shortage of workers and consequently a shortage of cars, lumber, and many other things, even hot dogs - because a lot of people quit their jobs and are at home depending on government stimulus checks. This is not a good idea this money will surely run out. We need to depend on God for our daily bread and our provision. God is faithful. His administration doesn’t change every 4 years, in fact it never changes. He gives us everything we need, as he gave to the Israelites when they were in the desert for 40 years. God gave them mana and quail daily, and miraculously. The food they needed would just appear! It’s very much a blessing when the things we need just appear and we know it came from God, and I can say that this has happened to me many, many times. It is very important to depend on God. Then we can be free of worrying. Matthew Chapter 6:33 says, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.” Some people are hard working and self-reliant. They work whenever they can for more money, even on Sundays skipping God’s day of rest. Their physical effort is admirable, but they are worried. In this passage we see God offers a better way, seeking him first and being blessed with what we need. Here again we see the relationship God wants with us, he wants our faith and trust. You cannot have a relationship with anyone without trust, especially not with God. Placing your life in God’s hands that he will take care of you in every way is part of a deep relationship experience with God. That is why Jesus taught us to trust God for our daily bread in the Lord’s prayer.
The second petition is for our spiritual need for God’s forgiveness and salvation from sins. Look at verse 4, “Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.” As we need bread every day for our bodies, so we need forgiveness every day for our souls. Everyone wants to live a healthy life. Many focus on the physical. But we also need to maintain our mental and spiritual health as well. How can we do so? We need daily forgiveness from God for our sins. Jesus is forgiving, he forgives everyone, even those who crucified him he forgave them. When our sins are forgiven, we can have peace with God. We can enjoy God and God’s blessing and be a blessing to others. We can think clearly, work effectively and sleep soundly.
However, in order to receive God’s forgiveness, there is a condition: We must also forgive others. Usually this is something we do not WANT to do. But we have to do it. Jesus wants to forgive us so we can spend eternal life in heaven. To do so we have to satisfy his requirements, and forgiving others is an important one. I heard an analogy that unforgiveness is so toxic to a person’s mind and spirit, that it is like drinking poison while at the same time hoping the other person gets sick. People who live in unforgiveness are in danger of becoming practitioners of witchcraft and not knowing it. They secretly wish for harm to come upon their transgressor, which is not too much different from those who practice black magic to get revenge - and we know what happens to them. So then do what Jesus asks and forgive others! Don’t drink the poison from the devil. Lets receive God’s forgiveness for our sins, and forgive others and have a healthy relationship with God. Amen.
The third petition for our spiritual needs is the prayer: “And lead us not into temptation.” We are vulnerable to Satan’s temptation due to our sinful nature. The Bible describes Satan as a roaring lion, prowling around looking for someone to devour. What a chilling illustration of the devil’s true character. It reminds me of the true story of two lions who preyed upon workers building a railroad in Uganda in the 1800’s. So many workers were killed by them, and devoured. So they started posting armed sentries to stand watch, but the lions were very smart and avoided them. They also knew how to avoid the traps that were set to capture them. They snuck into the workers’ camp at night and dragged them from their tents into the jungle, more than 100 were killed. The devil is even more clever and destructive than this. In our permissive society, there are many pitfalls of sin we can fall into. Once we fall into temptation we cannot escape with our own effort, we need God’s help. So we should pray humbly to God asking, “Lead us not into temptation.”
Second, “ask…seek…knock” (5-13). Now that we know what to pray from the Lord’s prayer, Jesus teaches with what attitude we should pray by telling a parable. A certain man was suddenly visited by one of his friends. His own refrigerator was empty. He desperately needed something to give his friend, failure to show hospitality was not an option. There was no late night fast food options nearby. So he made a midnight visit to another friend for three loaves of bread. As you can imagine, at midnight his request was not well received. But the man did not give up. With shameless audacity, he pleaded with his friend again and again. His friend finally realized that the only way he was going to get back to sleep was to give the man bread. Jesus concluded this parable, “I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need” (8).
This tells us that prayer is not making a polite request to God. It is boldly and desperately pleading for what we need. Jesus teaches us to ask with shameless audacity. Jesus went on to say, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (9). This tells us that our prayers should not be passive, but persistent. Jesus promised further, “For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened” (10). There is one peron who prayed for many years for a Bible House. He character is generally persistent, and maybe slightly audacious, in a good way. He prays without ceasing, and God has answered his bold prayer and we have a Bible House today. Thank God for bold prayers by this servant of God.
In order to help us understand God’s heart, Jesus first reminds us how human fathers love their children. When hungry children ask their fathers for something to eat, the fathers do not give something harmful in response. Even though my 18 year old daughter is a little lazy to make food I enjoy making food for her even when she is fully capable to do it. I make something she’ll like, not something she will dislike. We human fathers, even though we are evil, know how to give good gifts to our children. How much more will our Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! (13) The best gift God can give is the Holy Spirit. Why is this so? The Holy Spirit is God himself dwelling within us. The Holy Spirit assures us that we are God’s children with a heavenly inheritance. The Holy Spirit strengthens us when we are weak, gives us wisdom when we need it, leads us into all truth, and enables us to bear good fruit. Through the Holy Spirit we can receive strength, power and wisdom to overcome all kinds of problems and live a victorious life. This is the good gift God, that our heavenly Father wants to give us.
Today we learned about having a close relationship with God through the Lord’s prayer. The Lord’s prayer short but very powerful. By believing in the Lord’s prayer and petitioning God for our prayer requests, we can have a right relationship with God and with others. We can be healthy, both personally and as a community. Let’s pray the Lord’s Prayer, not habitually, or ceremonially, but from our hearts with faith.