Summary: Jesus emphasises the importance, validity and efficacy of persistent petitionary prayer. The basis of our prayer is our relationship with God.
PERSISTENT PETITIONARY PRAYER
It all began with Jesus at prayer, and with the disciples’ desire to learn from Jesus how to pray (Luke 11:1). Surprisingly, we are encouraged to pray in much the same terms as Jesus Himself. Our address towards God is to be one of familial relationship: “Our Father” (Luke 11:2).
When Mary Magdalene encountered Jesus at the empty tomb, the message which she was commissioned to share with the disciples was that Jesus would soon be ascending to ‘My Father’ and ‘your Father’ (John 20:17). There Jesus spoke of the same Father, but His by eternal generation, and theirs (ours) by regeneration. Yet here we are, collectively, allowed to use this term, “Our Father” (Luke 11:2).
However, we must not let this familiarity descend into irreverence. Our address towards God is also to be one of humility. Our Father is the One who inhabits eternity (cf. Isaiah 57:15). It is only in Christ that we have this Father/son relationship with Him (Romans 8:16-17).
We must also recognise His sovereignty: “Your kingdom” (Luke 11:2), and petition Him for its promised establishment here in earth. It is surprising to discover just how much of this model prayer is of a petitionary nature.
We pray for His on-going forgiveness, and profess our own forgiveness of others (Luke 11:4). It is not that, if we do not forgive others we will not be forgiven (as if God’s free grace somehow rested upon our own good behaviour). Rather, since we are a forgiven people, it should be in our new nature to be forgiving towards others.
James 1:13 informs us that God tempts no man, so when we pray, “lead us not into temptation” (Luke 11:4), we are petitioning the Lord to prevent our steps from going astray. Knowing our own willfulness and vulnerability, and the spiritual warfare in which we must engage, we need to be conscious of His presence ever with us.
Jesus emphasises the importance, validity and efficacy of persistent petitionary prayer (Luke 11:9-10). This is illustrated in the parable of the friend at midnight (Luke 11:5-8). The basis of our prayer is our relationship with God.