Passage: Luke 11:1-13
Key verse: “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.” (NKJV)
A story is told about the great English Christian Poet and Philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleridge on his biography: It was shortly before Coleridge’s death and he was talking to his biographer about the Lord’s Prayer in Luke 11. He said: I have no difficulty as to forgiveness (…) Neither do I find or reckon the most solemn faith in God as a real object the most arduous act of the reason or will. Oh, no, my dear, it is to pray – to pray as God would have us: this is what at times makes me turn cold to my soul. Believe me, to pray with all your heart and strength, with the reason and will, to believe vividly that God will listen to your voice through Christ, and verily do the thing He pleases thereupon – this is the last, the greatest achievement of the Christian’s warfare on earth. Teach us to pray, oh, Lord!
I have been reciting the Lord’s Prayer for as long as I can remember. Having been raised in a Catholic school, it was part of each morning’s ritual. When I became a believer, I remember thinking: “Why would the Lord teach us such a simple prayer?”. No big words, no long sentences. It seemed to me as if the Lord’s Prayer was simply not fancy enough. Then I studied it closer. And as I started peeling the layers off what was under the simple words He taught us and as I went on reading the parable in verses 5-13, I realized that this simple Prayer reveals the essence of our relationship with God: our worship, His forgiveness, His provision, His protection, His faithfulness and our trust. In this passage, Jesus presents this prayer as a brief but comprehensive summary of the desires of a true disciple of Christ.
The prayer has six petitions. Notice that the first three are devoted to the growth of God’s kingdom and His glory:
“Our Father in Heaven, Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done.
On earth, as it is in Heaven.” (NKJV)
The Lord’s Prayer points us to the essence of what we should seek in our prayer life:
1) That His Kingdom’s glory and progress on earth be the first focus of our lives:
The fact that the prayer starts by praising God and continues with petitions for the progress of His kingdom is very significant in many ways. It rebukes our selfishness and frames our minds and hearts to make our first and deepest request that God’s kingdom be advanced and His name glorified. Furthermore, it validates what God spelled out on the first three commandments of the Mosaic Law: God is to be the main focus of our lives, His will and progress of His kingdom our first desire. Another important fact is that when we say “Hollowed be Thy name” that should change our minds as to how we even say the name of God and how we react to the profanities that are used around us when referring to our Creator.
Furthermore, when we ask that His will be done, we get positioned to accept God’s will for our lives, no matter at what cost. His paths many times lead us to trials, but if we see our lives as key pieces in His kingdom around us, we will totally change the way we see our trials. Can you count the times that you have gone through trials, just to realize, months or years later, that you have been positioned to help someone who is facing exactly what you went through? How could you be equipped to reach out had you not walked in their shoes? How could your testimony be really effective?
2) Provide for the needs of our body and soul:
” Give us day by day our daily bread”
Not only should we ask God for our daily provision, but we should also request His divine favor in spiritual matters. Some authors believe that the Lord was speaking Aramaic in this sermon, and if so, the word daily should mean the daily spiritual favor that we should request of the Lord:
“Hawvlan lachma d’sunganan yaomana” (Give us this day our daily bread – Aramaic), asks not only for bread in the physical sense, but also for what we need to thrive spiritually. In Aramaic, the work “bread” (lachma) is related to the word “wisdom” (hochma).
Regardless of whether it means the physical or the spiritual realm, the point is, we are to request of the Lord every day that He would give us materially and spiritually His provision for our body and soul.
3) Unforgiving is unforgiven.
“And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive everyone that is indebted to us.”
Forgiveness of our sins is one of the main reasons we first come to Christ. We realized our sinful nature and understood why He went to Calvary. We then confessed our sin and happily accepted His gift of forgiveness, the ultimate reason for which we obtained eternal life. However, how many times do we forget, while saying our prayers, that God’s forgiveness does not exclude us from the obligation to forgive others? We go on our merry ways, our sins forgiven, and many times withholding forgiveness from those who hurt us. We therefore hurt the heart of He who paid the ultimate sacrifice that we receive complete forgiveness. What right do we have to withhold forgiveness when He forgave us all? How can the Lord hear our prayers if we are holding grudges in our hearts? I know the answer: He cannot. We may fool ourselves that the Lord is near, listening and blessing when our hearts are dark with unforgiveness and bitterness. But we should not make that mistake: He is not near; His ear is not open, until we realize the sin of unforgiveness that haunts us, set the person free in our hearts and make the wrong, right.
Make no mistake: the Lord will not dwell in darkness, and an unforgiving spirit is one that denies the very reason we have His favor in the first place. Forgive as you have been forgiven.
4) Keep our feet from falling, oh Lord!
“And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
We are all going to be tempted by Satan. He’s been around for much longer than any of us have. He knows all men’s ways and He knows exactly how to get to us. The fact that the Lord emphasizes in His prayer that we are to ask Him to keep us from evil should give us encouragement. We are NOT alone! I’m reminded of 1 Corinthians 10:13:
“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way to escape, that you may be able to bear it.”
If there is anything in our lives that has the potential to become a stronghold for Satan, we need to lay it down. We need to willingly walk in the opposite direction of any door leading to the path that will make us fall. Whatever our weaknesses, we should never underestimate either our enemy or our flesh. We cannot defeat them alone. The Lord has promised He would help us keep our feet from falling and He instructs us to ask Him to do so. However, we should shun any path that leads us into where we know we will fall. For how can we ask God “Lead us not” there, when we deliberately walk into it?
The Lord’s Prayer is quite simple, but its purpose is not shallow. Its meaning when carefully studied opens the door to a sincere and fruitful prayer life. Its content covers each one of the steps for a close relationship with God. Should we follow the Lord’s instructions, we should indeed accomplish the ultimate goal of the Christian life on earth – to glorify Our Heavenly Father. And in the process, as we hear from the One who created us, we should indeed have the abundant life that He promised us (John 10:10).
Dear Lord, I thank you that you walked on this earth as such a loving and caring Teacher. You taught us how to live, You showed us your power, Your love and you taught us how to pray. Thank you that you made it so simple to know how to have true communion with You through prayer. Teach me to pray, oh, Lord, in a way that my spirit and Yours are as one and that my life may glorify You more each day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.