The text for this lesson is Luke 11:1–13
- Jesus taught His disciples and followers the Lord’s Prayer to show them how to pray. God invites us to talk to Him using this same prayer today.
- Law: I am born in sin, cut off from God, unable to communicate with Him because of the barrier of sin.
- Gospel: Through Baptism and His Word, God creates faith in me, forgiving my sins for Jesus’ sake and restoring my broken relationship with Him. He brings me into His family of faith and teaches me how to talk to Him.
Prior to this text, Jesus sent seventy-two disciples ahead of Him to all the cities where He was Himself about to go. They went out two by two to bring peace to the households that would receive them. Jesus told those He sent out, “The one who hears you hears Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me, and the one who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me” (Luke 10:16), indicating that believing in Jesus is what reconciles us with the Father. After the seventy-two returned, Jesus preached the parable of the Good Samaritan, in which He shows Himself as the neighbor to all people, coming to bind up their wounds, forgive their sins, and restore them to eternal life. In this context of Jesus’ peace and mercy, He now teaches His disciples how to pray.
It was common for religious teachers to instruct their students with regard to prayer and to give them set forms of prayer. John the Baptist taught his disciples how to pray (v. 1), but Scripture doesn’t record the prayer for us. Jesus’ disciples witnessed Him praying often. They knew this was His custom. He would withdraw to a desolate place and pray (Mark 1:35). Now, they wanted to be taught by their teacher how to pray.
Jesus gives His disciples the words to use for prayer. The words are important. They are from Jesus’ own mouth. The Lord’s Prayer is not only a set form of prayer but also a model for prayer. It is not a magical incantation, where if you say the right words in the right way, you can manipulate the divine. In fact, Matthew and Luke record the Lord’s Prayer in slightly different forms. Matthew’s version is longer than Luke’s. Matthew follows the Lord’s Prayer with a teaching about forgiving others their sins, but Luke follows with a teaching on making petition to God and not giving up.
The prayer that the Lord taught His disciples is broken up nicely into what we call petitions. A petition is a request. After the short introduction in Luke of the single form of address, “Father,” he records Jesus giving five petitions: “Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.” He either omits two petitions that Matthew records or is simply recording another time when Jesus instructed His disciples on prayer. Both options are feasible.
After giving the words to the prayer, Jesus launches off into an analogy on praying with “impudence,” that is, with boldness and audacity. A friend has the audacity to approach another friend in the middle of the night to ask for bread. Jesus teaches persistence and confidence in prayer. The Son promises that the Father will answer everyone who asks, seeks, and knocks. This is a confidence that only God can promise. Without this instruction, we may have otherwise been timid in our requests, thinking, How dare I ask God for something? However, Jesus encourages, even commands, us to ask and then follows it with a promise that the Father will hear and answer (v. 10).
Jesus’ use of the word father in His analogy of how God hears our petitions is an expansion on the introduction of the Lord’s Prayer. It’s an analogy of the relationship that God has with those who believe in Jesus. God promises to give good things to His children. We are God’s children by Baptism. And the chief good gift is the Holy Spirit, who grants life and salvation.