Summary: This is a lesson on how Jesus taught us to pray.
The Provision of Prayer
Luke 11.1-13 (New Century Version)
Midweek Bible Lesson
October 15, 1997
The main focus of this passage is the Jesus’ primary teaching on prayer. It is this text that becomes the cornerstone for the church position and view of prayer. The passage begins with the disciples asking Jesus to teach them how to pray and this is one of the very few things that they specifically asked Jesus to teach them. This reveals the importance and power of prayer. Jesus then teaches the disciples a manner, in which, to pray and seek the throne of God. Jesus teaches prayer in three ways: a model, a mind-set and a manner.
This event takes place in the third year of Jesus’ public ministry and He has begun the trip to Jerusalem. This is a very long trip that takes several months because Jesus is operating an expansion of His ministry outside of Galilee. There is no specific time reference given but it is assumed that this occurs during the third year of ministry because Jesus has set out to Jerusalem. However, this is not a straight trip because He goes to so many different places and the arrival in Jerusalem is long after this record of 9.51 takes place. It is very likely that this is early in the third year of ministry and may take place over the passing of a few months.
We do not know the location of this event but we do have the knowledge that Jesus was traveling away from Galilee toward Jerusalem and the entire group had stopped for prayer. Jesus has just been in the home of Mary and Martha and we know that they lived in Bethany, near Jerusalem. There are many locations that could have been a point for them to stop but in this situation the location bears little or no effect on the teaching of Jesus.
This event occurs around Jesus traveling to Jerusalem for the Passover but He is also interested in doing ministry along the way. The traveling and ministry spur this situation on and cause the disciples to ask about prayer. There was obviously some type of interest produced, in the hearts of the disciples about prayer, from the ministry of John. This interest carries on into their involvement with Jesus. This event seems to take place through a natural course of events but the disciples spur the teaching by their request.
I. The Instruction – A model
The model is the Lord’s prayer and this pattern of prayer has been a part of the Christian tradition for centuries. This model lays out a way that we can pray to God and shows how we can have an effective life in prayer. Jesus did not just show this to the disciples for their benefit but gave to the church as a way that we can nurture and maintain a vital relationship with God.
A. The disciples request
One time Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his followers said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray as John taught his followers.”
1. Jesus was a man of prayer
This passage clearly describes Jesus as a man of prayer and He was devoted to the discipline of seeking the heart of God. He is the one who provides the example and teaches both with His own lifestyle and with the examples that He presented. It is this fact that shows the full and total impact of the teaching.
2. The disciples have the desire to pray like Jesus
The disciples are the ones who are on the receiving end of this teaching and they were the ones who were seeking to learn about prayer. The aspect of prayer in the spiritual life of the Jewish people was of great importance. There were specific and special times during each day that were set aside for prayer and the entire society stopped for those times to speak with God. The Altar of Incense was a key part of the Jewish worship experience and the burning of incense and smoke was a symbolic representation of prayer being lifted to heaven. The disciples were so interested in prayer because they had seen how prayer had been a vital part of the ministry of John the Baptizer.
B. The Lord’s Response
Jesus said to them, “When you pray say: ‘Father, may your name always be kept holy, may your kingdom come. Give us the food we need each day. Forgive us for our sins, because we forgive everyone who has done wrong to us. And do not cause us to be tempted.’
Jesus is telling the disciples the method and means of how they can approach the throne of God. It is this process of revealing how and why prayer is important to the life of those who would follow pursue a Christian life.