Summary: The Lord’s Prayer was not given to be just be recited as a ritual. It is actually given to us as the Lord’s blueprint for prayer that is acceptable to God.
A Study of the Book of Luke
Sermon # 28
“Lord Teach Us to Pray”
Almost all of our prayers begin by rushing into a series of request in which we pour out to God our problems, our needs, our irritations. This only tends to reinforces the focus of our attention on what is troubling us and our inability to remedy it. It could be that is at least part of the problem of why we are more depressed and frustrated after we pray than before.
Alan Redpath sums up how many feel even when they have prayed, “When we have finished our praying we can scarcely bring ourselves to believe that our feeble words can have been heard, or that they can have made a difference in the things concerning which we have been praying. We’ve said our prayers but we have not prayed.” [Victorious Praying: Studies in the Lord’s Prayer ( Grand Rapids: Fleming Revell, 1993) p. 12]
Jesus gave the Lord’s Prayer in response to the disciple’s request in (v. 1), “Lord, teach us to pray?” The disciples seem to have waited a long time to ask Jesus to teach them to pray. They have been with Him for months, perhaps even years by this point. They have watched Him praying in every circumstance of life. They had seen Him taking time to be alone to pray. They understand that Jesus lived a life guided and empowered by prayer. Perhaps as they have watched Him pray it has caused them to realize how very little they truly knew about prayer. Whatever the cause, the Disciples turn to Jesus and ask, “Lord teach us to pray.”
“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: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. (3) Give us day by day our daily bread. (4) And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.” Luke 11:2-4 (NKJV)
Obviously the Lord’s Prayer was not given to be just be recited as a ritual. It is actually given to us as the Lord’s blueprint for prayer that is acceptable to God. There is something tremendously important about the way Jesus answered the disciples question, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Jesus’ reply as recorded in Luke was “When you pray,” and in parallel account in Matthew (6:9-13) he is quoted as saying “In This Manner Pray” in other words “Pray like this.” The Lord’s Prayer was given to show the disciples how to pray, after all that is what they asked, that is how they should go about praying, not just the words they should use. But we must recognize that there is a difference between saying the Lord’s prayer and praying the Lord’s prayer. . Elmer Towns says this way, “The effective prayer is not measured by how loud you pray, or how long you pray, or even if you say the words of the Lord’s Prayer again and again in a repetitious fashion. Your prayer life will be effective it you are sincere (your approach) and if you ask for the right things (what you say).” [Towns p. 27]
The Elements for the Lord’s Blueprint for Prayer
1. Praying On the Basis of A New Relationship
We begin our examination of the Lord’s Prayer by looking at the first four English words, “Our Father in Heaven.” Jesus is stating the importance of starting our prayers with the awareness that God is our Father. What Jesus is teaching here is pretty revolutionary. The word that Jesus used for Father was not a formal word. It was the common Aramaic word with which a child would address his father – the word “Abba”. Of course everyone used the word, but no one under any circumstances used it in connection with God. “Abba” meant something like “Daddy” but with a more reverent touch than we use it today. It meant something like, “Dearest Father.”
When Jesus came on the scene he addressed God only as “Father.” All of his prayers addressed God as “Father.” The Gospels record his use of “Father” more than sixty times in reference to God, yet in all of the Old Testament God is referred to as “Father” only fourteen times and then only in relation to the nation of Israel, never as an individual or personal Father. No one in the entire history of Israel had ever prayed like Jesus. Jesus transformed the relationship with God from one of a distant and unapproachable deity to that of a intimate relationship of a Father.