A New Communication
Explore the Bible Series
November 14, 2004
Background Passage: Luke 11:1-54
Lesson Passage: Luke 11:1-13
Introduction: Christians pray. They may pray poorly, unwisely, or inadequately; nevertheless, Christians pray. The regenerate heart rises naturally and impulsively to commune with God. Notice that Jesus did not say to his disciples, “If you pray…” He said, “When you pray…(emphasis mine).” This passage does not argue that men should pray; rather, it provides direction how to pray. The impulse to pray comes from the gracious regenerating work of the Spirit (See Romans 8:15). The Spirit-born man prays as certainly as a newborn babe breathes and blinks its eyes. Perhaps a better analogy might focus on the appetite. Babies possess a need and desire for food. Parents do not teach children to have an appetite; however, children must be taught about nutrition (not an easy task, I might add). Likewise, these disciples sensed their need to pray, but they did not know how to pray. They asked the Lord to give them direction. Notice, their request was, in itself, a prayer. They asked the Lord to teach them to pray, and he graciously answered their supplication.
Personal Note: I normally provide a general overview of the entire chapter in our lesson summaries; however, I will focus the entire lesson outline on the “Lesson Passage” this week.
I. The Occasion of the Model Prayer (Luke 11:1)
A. Again, Luke recorded something of the private prayer ministry of the Lord. This Gospel devotes more attention to these references to the Savior’s prayerful solitude than any other New Testament writers. We cannot discern from the context where this event occurred. Perhaps Jesus and the disciples remained in the vicinity of Bethany, but, as any serious student of Luke can observe, the Beloved Physician did not follow a strict sequential, chronological account of the public life of Jesus.
B. The disciples observed a considerable difference in their prayers and those of the Master; therefore, they approached him about teaching them to pray. One of the Twelve acted as a spokesman for the group and made the wise request of the Lord. Clearly this unnamed man spoke for others because he asked that the Master teach “us” to pray.
C. This disciple pointed out that John the Baptist had taught his disciples to pray, and the nature of this entreaty may provide some insight into the identity of this inquirer. The Gospel of John, for instance, identified Andrew as a disciple of John’s (See John 1:40). Perhaps this unknown inquirer was Andrew or one of the band of fishermen disciples.
II. Jesus Taught his Disciples How to Pray (Luke 11:2-4)
A. The proper address of prayer (v. 2): Jesus advocated a reverent, intimate approach to God. The Jews also referred to God as “Father,” but they used a somewhat more formal term than found in this text. Jesus, however, taught his disciples to use the tender, intimate word that children used in the warmth and tenderness of the Jewish home. Understand, Jesus clearly did not advocate an irreverent, familiar spirit toward God; rather, he, no doubt, employed this word to encourage his followers to appreciate the approachability and tender love of God. The word Abba also indicates the following truths about the Lord.
1. God’s merciful adoption of sinners as his beloved children
2. God’s gracious guidance of his children
3. God’s wisdom in dealing with his children
4. God’s sovereignty over his children
5. God’s tender nurture and provision for his children
Note: Matthew’s account of this prayer refers to God as “our Father.”
It is remarkable that God should bid sinners to address him as their Father.
It is one thing to address God, in some objective sense, as Father, but
Jesus encouraged his followers to see God as their tender and affectionate
B. The proper spirit of prayer (v. 2): In addition to addressing God as Father, Jesus also taught them to hallow his name. The familiarity of the heavenly household should never produce a flippant, disrespectful approach to the throne of grace. Christians must always address God with great reverence and honor.
C. The proper petitions of prayer (vv. 2-4)
1. “Your kingdom come”: The disciple’s prayerful priority must center on the advancement of God’s kingdom. This petition certainly includes the promised destruction of Satan’s influence and the advancement of the Kingdom of God in the earth. Furthermore, this request has an eschatological element. True disciples looked forward to the culmination of the Kingdom as embodied in Christ’s glorious and triumphant return (See John’s brief, poignant prayer in Revelation 22:20).
2. “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (v.2): This phrase does not appear in many of the ancient manuscripts of the Gospel of Luke, but it does occur in Matthew’s account. This petition expresses the disciple’s longing that many sinners may be brought to saving faith and loving obedience to the Savior. It calls for the earth to be become more heaven-like through the advancement of grace in the hearts and conduct of believers.
3. “Give us this day our daily bread” (v. 3): Disciples, according to this request, must seek daily supplies for the necessities of life. The term “bread” certainly includes all of our physical requirements. The very air we breathe, clothes we wear, and food we eat are gracious gifts from the Father. The Lord taught that Christians should pray for “daily” supply, not future extravagance.
4. “”And forgive us our sins as we forgive everyone who is indebted to us” (v. 4): This petition anticipates two important principles. First, it implies that the praying man acknowledges his own sinfulness and need of pardoning grace. Second, the petition anticipates that other will sin against God’s people. The sinner’s forgiveness is not earned by forgiving others; rather, the forgiveness of others grows from the soil of God’s gracious pardon of sinners.
5. “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (v. 4): The disciple who has felt the weight of his own sinfulness cannot help but seek to avoid further sin in life. This petition teaches disciples to pray that God would lead them away from tempting situations. Furthermore, they long to be delivered from sin; that is, God would guide the paths of his people and provide a way of escape and defense from the snares and schemes of Satan.
III. Two Parables Concerning the Believer’s Prayerful Confidence in God (Luke 11:5-13)
A. The parable of the untimely inquirer (vv. 5-8): First-century norms of hospitality required that friends provide food and lodging for acquaintances that came their way. The man in this story had an unexpected visitor arrive in the middle of the night, and the unprepared host felt shame that he did not have adequate provisions for his guest. In desperation, the host went to the home of a neighbor to ask for bread for the weary and hungry traveler. The slumbering neighbor may, Jesus acknowledged, chafe at the untimely nature of his friend’s request; nevertheless, the earnest persistence of the request moved the neighbor to help his friend. The lesson is clear, believers may often find their resources inadequate to meet the needs of an unexpected crisis; yet, they may turn to their gracious Heavenly Father for aid. Unlike the inconvenienced neighbor, the Father does not need his rest, and the believer’s request will be met with warm sympathy and gracious abundance.
B. The parable of a son’s request (vv. 9-13): Perhaps this text should be seen as an analogy rather than a parable, but an important principle is brought forward by the means of a familiar occurrence. Jesus began this section with the statement of a principle (vv. 9-10). Three ascending images are used:
1. “ask, and it will be given to you”: Hendriksen points out that the word that Jesus used denotes a humble consciousness of need and was used to reflect the request of an inferior to a superior.
2. “seek, and you will find”: Seeking requires more than asking. This word denotes a willingness to engage all of one’s abilities for fulfillment, under the Lord’s kind provision, of the needs of the hour.
3. “knock, and it will be opened to you”: Knocking implies that the seeker will persevere in his actions. All three of these verbs appear in the present tense and imply a continuous action; however, this persistence seems to particularly characterize the last of the three statements (knocking).
Jesus concluded his teaching on prayer by reminding his disciples of the Father’s wise and warm generosity to his children (vv. 11-13). He compared the gifts of sinful, fallen fathers to the gracious disposition of the Heavenly Father. Christians may, in times of distress, imagine that they are better parents than the Lord. That, of course, cannot be.
Questions for Meditation and Discussion: