Summary: How to receive the best gift and what it means.
July 28, 2013
The Miracle Prayer
The two-thousand member mega-church was filled to overflowing one Sunday morning. The preacher was ready to start the sermon when three men dressed in long, black coats and black hats entered through the rear of the church.
Two of the men walked down the middle isle while the other stayed at the back. They all reached under their coats and pulled out machine guns.
The one man in the middle, obviously the leader, said loudly, “Everyone willing to take a bullet for Jesus stay in your seats.
Naturally, the pews emptied, followed by the choir. The deacons ran out the door followed by the choir director and the assistant pastor.
After a few moments, they were about twenty people sitting in the church. The preacher was holding steady in the pulpit.
Then the men put their weapons away and matter-of-factly said to the minister, “All right pastor, the hypocrites are gone now. You may begin the service.”
By this point in the travels and experiences on the mission trip by Jesus and the disciples, hypocrites were pretty much out of the picture. Yet, we see another clue in Luke 11:1 through 13 that a disciple became curious about prayer while observing the Master during His prayer time. So, this unnamed disciple outright asked, “Lord, teach us to pray as John taught his disciples.
There must have been something remarkable about Messiah’s prayer, otherwise His words would have been considered normal, and something different must have been taught by John the Baptist that was remembered, or was a part of his reputation that Jesus’ disciples wanted to know. No doubt, there was suspicion that certain magical words or phrases were needed to enlist God’s favor, so this disciple posed the question.
It’s not important to identify this unnamed disciple, yet this person must have been one of the 70 since this group is certainly referred to in Luke. The Twelve didn’t seem to be all that anxious to give credit to anyone in this larger collection, plus there was posturing within the inner circle for position and notoriety. You would think that politics would have been put aside in the presence of Immanuel, but disciples just didn’t seem to keep their human desires at bay.
Still, Jesus didn’t seem to mind the question and began giving them specific words to use. The complete prayer is not recorded here as it is in Matthew 6. Was the incident in Matthew the same as this one in Luke? Apparently not since this account is the result of a disciple asking for information and Matthew’s account is before a crowd. In Luke there is an emphasis on a relationship with God as friend, and we find a more important point, that God does care about how you treat your neighbor, or so it would seem if there is no edit point between verses four and five. Yet my suspicion is that the way verse four ends and five begins, continuity may have been lost when information in the original script did not make it to the translators. This makes the passage fascinating and curious. The Teacher switches from a prayer relationship with God to one of friendship and what it means, as if to equate God to a friend. Such a quick subject change is either missing original content, which may have been similar to Matthew’s account, or an intentional description of how our relationships with each other affects our relationship with God, even to the point of making our prayers effective or not.
Just before the change, Yeshua gave the recorded and final words to the ideal prayer, “And do not bring us to the time of trial.” What kind trial is he referring to? Apparently, this trial is what happens in our lives when we attempt to live on our own understanding and apart from the Holy Spirit. The story then launches into a supposition intended for us to place ourselves in that situation with God taking the place of “friend.”
In paraphrased form, here is the story. Suppose you have a friend and you knock on his door at midnight, which is an obvious inconvenience. You say, “Lend me a loaf of bread for sandwiches because another friend has showed up and he’s hungry.” The guy at the door says, “Seriously?! It’s midnight, dude! We’re in bed—all of us. You should have gone to the store when it’s open. Forget it!” He slams the door.
Another knock on the door and your friend is again standing there is his robe looking at you with tired eyes and messed-up hair. Now you beg, “His car broke down and he walked three-hours to my place and he’s hungry. I thought you were my friend,” you say to lay a guilt trip on him.