Outline of Luke Chapter 11:
F. Instruction on Prayer, Luke 11:1-13.
1. The Lord’s Prayer Template, vs. 1-4.
2. Instruction for Persistence in your Requests to God, vs. 4-13.
G. Rejection by the Nation, Luke 11:14-36.
1. The Divided Kingdom, vs 14-26.
2. Observers of the Word are the Blessed Ones, vs. 27-28.
3. Prophecy of Judgment against the Nation, vs. 29-36.
a. Jonah a sign of Jesus as the Messiah, vs. 29-30.
b. Various Judges against that Generation in the Judgment, vs. 31-32.
c. The Lamp Analogy; Encouragement to Believe, vs. 33-36.
H. Rejection by Pharisees and Lawyers, Luke 11:37-54.
1. Rebuke of the Pharisees Unbelief, vs. 37-44.
2. Rebuke of the Lawyers Unbelief, vs. 45-52.
3. The Plotted Revenge of the Pharisees and Lawyers, vs. 53-54.
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F. Instruction on Prayer, Luke 11:1-13.
Teaching on the characteristics of disciples, here our Lord is concerned with the relationship of the disciples to God in prayer. We begin Chapter 11 with the first section regarding the prayer life. Here we have two subsections regarding prayer including:
1. The Lord’s Prayer Template, vs. 1-4.
2. Instruction for Persistence in your Requests to God, vs. 5-13.
a. A parable that speaks of the readiness of God to hear prayer, vs. 5-8.
b. A statement on the certainty of God’s answering prayer, vs. 9-10.
c. A final argument that God will answer prayer even more readily than a human father will respond to his children’s requests, vs. 11-13.
1. The Lord’s Prayer Template, vs. 1-4. This section is paralleled and expanded in Mat 6:9-13.
Luke 11:1, “It happened that while He (Jesus) was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples’.”
“Praying,” is the Present, Middle Deponent, Participle of the Verb PROSEUCHOMAI, προσεύχομαι. Used approximately 90 times in the Bible, it conveys intimacy and personal petition combined, directed to God. Prayer includes both praise and thanksgiving, Rev 7:9-12, and is both personal and private, Mat 6:6, as well as associated with corporate worship, Mat 18:19; Acts 16:25; 1 Cor 12–14. It also includes intercession, which is probably the most important Christian addition to prayer, James 5:13f., that also includes praying for those who are persecuting you, Mat 5:44.
In our verse, when Jesus’ disciples saw Him praying, they asked Him to “teach us how to pray,” DIDASKO HEMEIS PROSEUCHOMAI. Graciously they waited until, “after He had finished,” which in the Greek simply says “when He stopped,” HOS PAUO in the Aorist, Middle, Indicative that means, “stopped, ceased, etc.”
In their petition to Jesus, they also asked, “as John also taught his disciples,” KATHOS IOANNES KAI DIDASKO HO MATHETES AUTOS. This reminds us of Luke 5:33, when the Pharisees accused the disciples of Jesus to be gluttons compared to John’s who often “fasted and prayed,” but in a good sense.
Having heard Jesus pray many times, the disciples wanted to learn how to have the same special and close relationship with God the Father through their prayer life. Apparently, John the Baptist had taught his disciples how to pray, but we have no first hand record of that in the Scriptures. In the tradition of the Rabbis of that time, it was the custom to compose and teach prayer formulas to their disciples. This may be what John had done, and this is what we see our Lord doing in His response. As such, it is the role of the spiritual leaders, whether in the Church or in the family, to teach the students / children how to pray.
In His response, Jesus was not only an example of how to pray, but gave an illustration of a prayer. In His example, He addressed God on intimate terms as Father and taught the disciples to do the same. As we have seen, Jesus often prayed by Himself in the wilderness and on mountains, before major decisions such as the selection of the disciples, and in the struggle in Gethsemane. Jesus never prayed to Himself, yet, He taught His followers to pray in His name.
Remember that this instruction on prayer, which is given in more detail in Mat 6, is a template on how to pray. This was never intended to be a prayer that is stated verbatim, especially in a rote manner, as Mat 6:5-8, tells us.
In fact, in Mat 6:1, we have the basis for what not to do in our prayer life as instructed by our Lord, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.”
Then in vs. 5-8, we have further prohibitions:
1) Vs. 5, “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.”
Our prayers are to be real and genuine. We should never pray for the sake of approbation from others. If that is what our prayer life is, then the applause we receive by men is the full reward we will receive. Yet, if we are genuine in our prayer life, not looking for the approval of man and only focused on our relationship with God, it will be Divine good production, which is rewarded in the eternal state.
2) Vs. 6, “But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”
Though there are times for corporate / public prayer, prayer as husband and wife, prayer as a family, or prayer as friends, etc., the majority of our prayer life is a private affair between us and God that should be guarded and protected without distraction or disturbance. This is the highly rewardable Divine good production that our heavenly Father desires. The issue is intimacy in our relation with God!
3) Vs. 7, “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.”
“Meaningless Repetition,” is the Greek Verb BATTOLEGEO, βαττολογέω that means, “use vain repetitions, to speak foolishly, babble, or stutter.” It is only used here in the NT, a hapax legomenon. It means much talk without content, repeating the same thing over and over again, useless speaking without distinct expression of purpose as contrasted to succinct, knowledgeable speech, thus foolish speaking or indiscrete vowing in prayer. So, it comes to mean meaningless and mechanically repeated phrases, the reference being to pagan (not Jewish) modes of prayer, and is akin to stammering or stuttering, as the repetition of words sounds to be.
This is the basis for the inaccuracy that most Christian churches and Christians have in their prayer life, especially when saying the “Our Father Prayer.” In addition, certain denominations have other prayers that they have fabricated over the years for their parishioners to follow and apply repetitiously and routinely. They all are in violation of our Lord’s mandate in vs. 7, and therefore are nothing more than human good works which are burnt up at the BEMA seat of Jesus Christ, if they are believers.
Therefore, we should never enter into the repetition saying of the “Our Father” prayer. It is a template for things to pray for and an outline for prayer. It was never meant to be routinely quoted, because when it is, maybe the first few times it had meaning, but after much repetition, it becomes meaningless, as it is stated without much thought involved. As such, we are NOT to use meaningless repetition in our prayers. This is what the Pagan Gentile’s false worship would do. I find it interesting that what the pagan religions did back in the day is what the majority of Christian churches are doing today. God is not impressed with our eloquence or volume in prayer. God desires and is pleased only with sincerity and intimacy in our prayer life.
4) Vs. 8, “So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”
This verse is both a prohibition against the pagan form of religion, (i.e., “Do not be like them”), and a statement of faith, (i.e., “Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him”). Our God is an Omniscient, Eternal, and Infinite God. He has known, does know, and will always know all things, and their non-existent potentials. Therefore, when we know our God, we understand that He knows it all before it even happens in our time. With that, we understand that God is waiting for us to apply faith in Him for the various situations of our life, so that in grace, His perfect righteousness and justice can respond to our needs. The second half of this verse is subtlety telling us that. In addition, it is implying that when we do ask / petition Him in our prayers, He is able to answer and provide what is needed. At the same time, it implies that if we do not ask or petition Him through prayer, He does not directly provide for our needs.
When God is able to bless us, we say it comes through His “grace pipeline.” In order, for a blessing to come through that pipeline, the righteousness and justice of God have to be satisfied. When they are, the Love of God is able to bless us, which we call grace. As such, we understand from Scripture, that when we earnestly pray to God, His righteousness and justice are satisfied, and therefore He can answer our prayer. On the other hand, if we do not pray to Him or we pray being out of fellowship with the Holy Spirit, or prayer repetitiously, or with meaningless words, His righteousness and justice are not satisfied, and He cannot answer directly our prayers. In addition, our prayer life must always include unwavering faith in God; otherwise He is not able to answer our prayers. Cf. 1 John 5:14-15, “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.” “Knowing” in this passage means confidently applying faith in Him in our prayer life.
In conclusion, we understand from these prohibitions regarding our prayer life, what we should actually be doing, which is the opposite of these things. We understand this because part of the prayer was designed to expose the self-righteousness and the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and Lawyers who would not admit to personal sinfulness.
For some reason, Luke did not include these prohibitions for instruction regarding our prayer life, but Matthew did record them as part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. In addition, Matthew recorded the template prayer that our Lord gave in Mat 6:9-13, which we will note in parallel to Luke 11:2-4.
Luke 11:2, “And He said to them, “When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come’.”
What is noted in one verse in Luke is found in two verses in Matthew.
Mat 6:9-10, “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven’.”
Luke omitted “our” and “who is in heaven,” at the beginning and, “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” at the end of this section. Some ancient manuscripts later added them to Luke’s Gospel for consistency with Matthew, but the oldest and most reliable manuscripts do not have them. Matthew includes them as it corresponds to the ordinary Jewish usage, as Jesus would have done, but Luke, writing to Gentiles, omits them.
First off, Luke begins this verse by saying, “When you pray, say,” HOTAN PROSEUCHOMAI LEGO. Given the brevity of Luke’s account, you could come to the conclusion that we should say this prayer verbatim, repetitiously, or routinely. Yet, in comparing Scripture with Scripture, we see that Matthew has also noted this in more detail where Matthew records Jesus saying, right after His prohibitions regarding prayer, “9Pray, then, in this way,” which uses the Greek OUN HOUTOS PROSEUCHOMAI HUMEIS. The key word is the Adverb HOUTOS that can mean, “in this manner, in this way, as follows, thus, so, just as, or simply.” As this is stated following the prohibitions, (i.e., what not to do in prayer), it should be translated “in this way,” as it is in the NASB.
The ASV, KJV, and NKJV translated it, “in this manner,” and the ESV and RSV translated it, “pray then like this.” The ISV and NIV translated it as, “This, then, is how you should pray.” Notice none of them say “this is what you should pray or say.” They all use the nuance that this Adverb provides that means this is a template or model for how to pray. “In this way or manner,” does not mean to use these exact words; it means to use this pattern. Therefore, this is a model to follow without imitating the words. It is not a prayer that we are to say verbatim or repetitiously.
The model prayer begins by addressing our prayer to God the “Father,” PATER, which identifies the first member of the Trinity. This tells us that all prayer is to be addressed to God the Father, Mat 6:9, just as Jesus did, cf. Luke 10:21. In ancient times, a person’s name carried significance since it revealed his character. As such, the followers of Jesus are to hold The Father’s name in reverence, in recognition of His supremacy over man and even within the Godhead.
In Mat 6:9, this is seen when Matthew includes “who is in heaven.” It first notes the supremacy and sovereignty of God the Father, then emphasizes the availability of God as expressed in the trusting relationship between a father and a child, and then is a reminder of our new approach to the Father based on the completed work of Jesus Christ upon the Cross, Cf. Heb 10:19-20.
Heb 10:19-20, “Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh,”
Then “hallowed be Your name,” is the Aorist, Passive, Imperative of HAGIAZO, ἁγιάζω that means, “sanctified, consecrated, set apart, made holy, etc.,” which identifies the holiness of the Father, (One of His Divine Attributes). In the Passive Voice, it means God the Father receives the action of the verb, “holiness.” As you know, God is already “holy,” as part of His Divine essence. But here, in this prayer, it means, “let Your name be holy, (among man),” or “let Your person be treated as holy.” So, this is a prayer petition, that 1) in the heart of our soul, God will be sanctified, set apart, and treated as holy; as He is in His being, and 2) that others treat Him that way too.
With the Imperative Mood of Request, it means to petition God that His name be set apart, made holy, and in the Aorist Tense, it views the entirety of the action of God being set apart by us within our own souls and throughout mankind. So, the petition request is that God receive a set apart name.
Ultimately, God Himself will sanctify His name among all people, Ezek 36:20-23, but we should treat Him as such every day.
In addition, this tells us of our need to be like Him in order to have fellowship with Him when we pray. We cannot pray to the Father for our petitions if we are full of sin. We will see this below. And that is why 1 John 1:9, is so important to the Christian way of life, especially in our prayer life. It is the principle of being in fellowship through the confession of your sins to be “cleansed of all unrighteousness,” so that you are experientially sanctified, just as your heavenly Father is. This is necessary because if you pray being out of fellowship, you remain experientially full of sin, and you cannot be effective in prayer, Psa 66:18; Prov 15:29; John 9:31; James 4:3; 5:16f. Therefore, unless you are in fellowship, you cannot be effective in your prayer life.
Psa 66:18, “If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear.”
Prov 15:29, “The Lord is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the righteous.”
John 9:31, “We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him.”
Therefore, the template prayer, as all prayer should, begins with a theocentric attitude that adjusts our thinking away from ourselves and being done in human terms, to one of the Divine Will of God and being like Him; sanctified experientially.
As noted above, it also tells us that God’s name is in effect His reputation among men, but it essentially stands for God Himself. As such, men are to speak of Him with appropriate reverence and honor. The roots of this thought lie in Isa 8:13; 29:23; Ezk 36:23. Therefore, in this opening, God is petitioned to bring about a situation in which we and all of mankind will have reverence and worship of Him, instead of blaspheming Him or sinning against Him. Therefore, the prayer has action by men, as well as by God, in view, and the first theme of this prayer is the establishment of God’s holiness being glorified.
Outside of these passages, we also note that our prayers are to be done “in the name of the Son,” John 14:13-14; John 15:16; 16:23-24, and “in the power of the Spirit,” Eph 6:18; Rom 8:26-27.
John 14:14-15, “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. 15If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (Later manuscripts added “Me”, to “if you ask Me anything,” but it is not in the oldest and most reliable texts, and should not be in this passage.)
John 15:16, “You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.”
John 16:23-24, “In that day you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you. 24Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.”
Eph 6:18, “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.”
Rom 8:26-27, “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; 27and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”
Finally, praying to the “Father,” tells us that we do not have to approach God like a subject to a king, nor like a slave to his master. We can come to God as a dearly loved child would come to his father, expecting a warm welcome and response to our needs.
Next, we have, “Your kingdom come,” which in the Greek is ERCHOMAI HO BASILEIA SU, “Let come the Kingdom your.” ERCHOMAI is in the Aorist, Active, Imperative of Request again that is used in prayer for petitioning or requesting something from God. In this case, it is that His Kingdom comes to the petitioner.
This goes with what our Lord instructed the disciples to say to people, that “the kingdom of God has come near,” Luke 10:9; 11. This is not a petition for the Millennial reign of Jesus to begin or for eternity to begin with a “new heaven and new earth,” Rev 21:1-2. It is a petition for salvation to come into the lives of others, and that the rule of heaven be in our lives and their lives, cf. Mat 13:52.
Mat 13:52, “And Jesus said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old”.”
This also means that believers have a responsibility to spread the gospel and to teach the people of God, cf. Mat 23:34, just as the head of the house was responsible to feed and provide good things to his household. Believers have received a rich supply of the good things from God freely and generously. They have a peace that is literally beyond all human understanding, Phil 4:7. They have a joy that is “unspeakable and full of glory,” 1 Peter 1:8, etc., etc., and they are to give freely and generously, Mat 10:8. Therefore, we are to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ and teach His Word, the mysteries of the Kingdom, cf. Luke 8:10, Mat 13:11, to a lost and dying world, so that the Kingdom of God can come near to them and they be saved.
So, it is a petition that more people come to know God and live in His Kingdom while here on earth, as God rules and reigns in our lives and theirs, so His will may be done on earth just as it is always done in heaven. That is why Matthew has with this, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” This is the secret of having righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit in your life, Rom 14:17.
Rom 14:17, “For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
Luke 11:3, “Give us each day our daily bread.”
Mat 6:11, “Give us this day our daily bread.”
Here, Luke and Matthew differ slightly in the Greek. They both begin with HO ARTOS, “the bread,” HEMEIS, “our,” HO EPIOUSIOS, “the daily,” DIDIOMI, “give,” HEMEIS, “us,” where EPIOUSIOS is only used in these two verses in the NT. It is also a rare word in the Greek language, but means, “daily, necessary for existence, for the following day, etc.” From the LXX use in Prov 30:8, it means, “the amount appropriate to the individual.” As such, it seems to indicate that the Lord had in mind not chronological time but appropriate sustenance needed. Therefore, we could translate this, “the bread which we need give us today.” Thus, it was a petition to “give,” (DIDOMI in the Present, Active, Imperative), bread that was adequate for that day.
Then for “each day,” in Luke it reads, HO KATA HEMERA that literally reads “according to the day.” Matthew simply has SERMON, “today.”
So, this is a petition for the sustenance we need today in the image of the manna from heaven provided by God each day, cf. Ex 16:4, 15; Psa 78:24; 105:40; Prov 30:8; Neh 9:15; John 6:31, to alleviate us from anxiety over tomorrow, as our Lord also commands in Luke 12:22; Mat 6:25-34.
Psa 105:40, “They asked, and He brought quail, and satisfied them with the bread of heaven.”
Prov 30:8, “Keep deception and lies far from me, give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food that is my portion.”
John 6:31, “Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, “HE GAVE THEM BREAD OUT OF HEAVEN TO EAT’.”
Luke 12:22, “And He said to His disciples, “For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on”.”
Therefore, this is a request for our logistical grace blessings to be provided, which includes food for our physical needs, and in the imagery of “bread,” the spiritual sustenance we need each day to live the spiritual life that begins with faith in Jesus for salvation and is followed by the intake of His Word daily, (the mind of Christ, 1 Cor 2:16), needed to nourish our souls, John 6:33, 35, 48, 51.
“One might argue, Why ask God for what He’s already promised to provide? In response, I ask, Do you really think the purpose of prayer is to convince God to do something He wouldn’t otherwise do? We don’t pray to bend God’s will to ours. We pray to make His will alive in us and to conform to His agenda. Prayer is a meeting of the minds in which we adopt His way of thinking in practical terms. In this spirit, Jesus said, in effect, “Don’t hesitate to ask for your needs.” (Swindoll’s Living Insights New Testament Commentary – Luke).
Luke 11:4, “And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.”
Mat 6:12 records the first section, “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
Mat 6:13a, records the second part, “And do not lead us into temptation,” and then has the additional part, “but deliver us from evil.”
There are three parts to Luke’s account:
1) And forgive us our sins.
2) For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
3) And lead us not into temptation.
1) “And forgive us our sins,” KAI APHIEMI, (in the Aorist, Active, Imperative), HEMEIS HO HAMARTIA HEMEIS. HAMAR-TIA is the Greek word for “sin, a sinful deed, or sinfulness.” Matthew used OPHEILEMA instead that is more of the figurative term for sin, as it means, “debt, something owed, one’s due, and sin.” OPHEILEMA is only used here and in Rom 4:4, to disclaim salvation by works. Some prayer books use the word “trespasses,” from the Greek PARAPTOMA, but that word is not used in the Greek here, but is in Mat 6:14-15.
In Matthew’s writing, he draws out the indebtedness to God we have because of our sins that we are to ask forgiveness for. All sins are moral and spiritual debts to God. But human beings are debtors who cannot pay. As such, the followers of Jesus should continually recognize that it is God’s grace which saves from sin both positionally and experientially. Jesus recognized that even in a redeemed state, man is still a member of the human race and thus prone to sin. That is why this prayer is not one for salvation, because we are already saved and have eternal security. Therefore, we are Positionally Sanctified. This is a prayer for our Experiential Sanctification from the filth of having sin upon our souls experientially. Therefore, God created a process for the experiential forgiveness of our sins called “confession of sins,” which we also call the Rebound Technique. As God is holy, we must fellowship with Him in holiness. When we confess our sins, we are entered into an experiential holiness called experiential sanctification, because we are cleansed of our sins. Now, we can have fellowship with God.
This was the main lesson Jesus taught the disciples when He washed their feet in John 13:1-9. There, He explained to the believing disciples that they did not need to take a “bath,” LOUO, but only to “wash, NIPTO, their feet.” In other words, they were already saved and Positionally Sanctified. Now, because of sin in their life post salvation, they needed to “wash their feet,” for Experiential Sanctification. This second washing is done by applying Luke 11:4; Mat 6:12, and 1 John 1:9, which all speak to the confession of our sins to God.
The confession of sins for forgiveness is not a doctrine exclusive to the Church Age and NT, or to any other Age for that matter. It is a universal doctrine. Numerous passages in the OT point to the believer to confess their sins to God. In fact, the Law taught confession of sin, Lev 5:5, “So it shall be when he becomes guilty in one of these, that he shall confess that in which he has sinned.” Cf. Lev 16:21; 26:40; Num 5:7; cf. Psa 32:5; 38:18; 51; Prov 28:13. These are precursors for the confession of sin for the Church Age believer,
Prov 28:13, “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.”
Psa 32:5, “I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I did not hide; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”; And You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah.”
1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Luke 11:4a, is the principle of 1 John 1:9, the confession of our sins to God the Father, that we also call the Rebound Technique. As stated above, this is not a prayer for salvation, since we are forgiven of our sins positionally at the moment we believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior, which gave us salvation for all of eternity and Positional Sanctification. This is a request for our Experiential Sanctification, as 1 John 1:9, also uses APHIEMI for the experiential or moment by moment forgiveness of our sins. To receive God’s experiential forgiveness of our sins we need to confess them to God the Father.
1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive (APHEIMI) us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
When we do, it provides for us Experiential Sanctification, which also means we have fellowship with God and we walk in His light, 1 John 1:3, 6-7.
These passages go together, as our Lord would not instruct us to pray for the forgiveness of our sins for salvation over and over again, since our salvation is secure for all eternity at the moment we first believed in Jesus. Therefore, this prayer model for our daily prayers would not include that and is instead a prayer for our Experiential Sanctification so that we are in fellowship with God and therefore have communion with Him, i.e., walk with Him in the Light, 1 John 1:7, “But if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” This takes us back to the first part of this prayer model and the “holiness” or sanctification of God that we can enjoy experientially.
Therefore, when we confess our sins to God on a daily or moment by moment basis, we recognize the indebtedness to God we have regarding our sins and sinfulness, and recognize that He did everything to pay our debt. That something was to send His Son to the Cross to pay the penalty for our sins. When we confess our sins to God daily, we do not do it for salvation, that matter has already been settled. Instead, we do it for experiential “cleansing of all unrighteousness,” which are the known and unknown sins we have committed since we last confessed our sins. This provides for with Experiential Sanctification so that we can “walk in the light, as He Himself is in the light.” It allows us to have fellowship with God, which includes the filling of the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, cf. Eph 5:8, 18.
Eph 5:8, “For you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light.”
Eph 5:18, “And do not get drunk with wine (i.e., do not sin), for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.”
Therefore, to request God to “forgive us our sins” is designed for the believer to walk as God walks, in the light, sanctified, holy, set apart, etc., so that we have fellowship with Him daily. Even though we are given these things at the moment of our salvation positionally, we cannot experience them if we have been or are walking in sin. And, the only way to have cleansing so that we can walk in His light, is to abide by His Word that tells us to confess our sins to Him. By doing so, God is the one who “cleanses you from all unrighteousness,” not yourself by changing your thoughts or changing of heart or doing penance, or any other thing. Those would be a system of human good works, which are not acceptable to God.
We will see this principle of the confession of our sins to God in the parable of the Prodigal Son, Luke 15:11-32. There, Jesus will illustrate confession of sin and the extraordinary forgiveness of God in the parable. In vs. 18, the prodigal son says, “‘I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight’.” This is the son’s prayer of the confession of his sins, (i.e., rebound).
Interestingly, many of the “early church fathers,” wrote in regard to the confession of sins, including:
Epistle of Barnabas 19:12, “Thou shalt not make a schism, but thou shalt pacify those that contend by bringing them together. Thou shalt confess thy sins. Thou shalt not go to prayer with an evil conscience. This is the way of light.” (Brn 19:12 APE).
Ignatius of Antioch was among the Apostolic Fathers, was the third Bishop of Antioch, and was a student of John the Apostle. “Moreover, it is in accordance with reason that we should return to soberness of conduct, and, while yet we have opportunity, exercise repentance towards God.” (ISI 9:1 APE). “Soberness of conduct” reminds us of Eph 5:18, “do not get drunk with wine for that is a waste of life.” Then it goes on to say, “But be filled with the Spirit.”
Hermas (the Shepherd) Similitude 9 23:4, “If our God and Lord, who rules over all things, and has power over all His creation, does not remember evil against those who confess their sins, but is merciful, does man, who is corruptible and full of sins, remember evil against a fellowman, as if he were able to destroy or to save him? (HSI 23:4 APE)I, the angel of repentance, say unto you, As many of you as are of this way of thinking, lay it aside, and repent, and the Lord will heal your former sins, if you purify yourselves from this demon; but if not, you will be delivered over to him for death.” (HSI 23:5 APE)
So, the first part of this passage shows us that we need to confess our sins to God the Father, and in comparison to other NT Scriptures, when we do, we walk in the light of God, have fellowship with God and are filled with the Holy Spirit.
From our previous studies, we understand that temptation is an inevitable part of life, whether it comes from within our own Old Sin Nature, (OSN), from the world, (Satan’s cosmic system), or from Satan himself (the Evil One, which includes his minions). Therefore, it would be absurd to pray that we are not tempted in this life, especially when God uses it to prove or reprove our faith, as we exercise our spiritual muscles. God uses testing to also develop our relationship with Him. So again, why would He have us pray to avoid temptation? Even Jesus went through temptation to prove His faith and relationship with God, His Word, and His Holy Spirit. Therefore, this is not a prayer for avoidance, but a prayer for sustaining us as we go through temptation, so that it does not become sin in our lives and lead us away from our relationship with God. That is why our Lord added, as Matthew recorded, “And deliver us from the Evil One.”
In the example of Jesus, the NT also uses PEIRASMOS to record the temptations of Jesus by Satan. Jesus came through His temptations victoriously, Luke 4:13, and the epistle to the Hebrews notes the tremendous significance of Christ’s perfect obedience when being tempted in all the ways we are, Heb 2:18; 4:15.
Heb 4:15, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.”
In addition, we see in Scripture, that while God is never its author, He is able to use our temptations to accomplish His own righteous purpose and develop spiritual growth within our souls. When we look to God for the strength and power to endure and overcome temptations, He causes the temptations to result in a strengthening rather than a weakening of faith, James 1:2-4, and for those who persevere under it, the Lord promises the “Crown of Life,” James 1:12.
James 1:2-4, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials (PEIRASMOS), 3knowing that the testing, (DOKIMION, “testing, genuineness, sterling quality”), of your faith produces endurance. 4And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
James 1:12, “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”
And going back to the petition for the forgiveness of our sins experientially, remember Jesus was tempted in all ways so that He would be able to come to our rescue when we ask, Heb 2:18, “For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.”
Therefore, this is a prayer petition not in the Imperative Mood for a request, but the Subjunctive Mood of negation of the possibility of being carried away into sin by being tempted to sin by Satan and his cosmic system, (i.e., not to succumb to temptation.)
Every temptation by Satan falls into one of these three categories, as temptation is primarily an attempt to get someone to act independently of God by implanting a desire for self-assertion or self-determination; to go one’s own way, Prov 14:12-18; Isa 53:6.
Isa 53:6, “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.”
Satan used these three on Adam and the woman in the Garden of Eden, Gen 3:1-7, on Jesus in His three temptations, Luke 4:1-13, and he continues to use them on us today, as John warns. They include: 1) Appetite, 2) Beauty, and 3) Ambitious pride. John calls them in 1 John 2:16, “For all that is in the world, 1) the lust of the flesh, and 2) the lust of the eyes, and 3) the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world, (Satan’s cosmic system).” We could also characterize these as 1) The fleshly, 2) The aesthetic, and 3) The spiritual or intellectual temptation.
Because he has been using them since day one of human history, he most likely used them with the Angelic race prior to the creation of man, to lead them in rebellion against God, which resulted in the great fall of the angelic race.
Interestingly, the first Adam, who was tested in a beautiful garden of delight, with every creature subject to his will and provided with everything necessary to sustain and strengthen him physically, failed. But, the Last Adam, spending forty days with the wild beasts of the wilderness and without food, was victorious in that terrible wilderness.
In the Garden of Eden, Adam’s sin was more than merely eating forbidden fruit; it was disobeying the revealed Word of God, believing the lie of Satan, and placing his own will above God’s. This is what Satan wanted Jesus to also do, as he wants you and me to do as well.
Though the particular tests of our Lord were out of the ordinary experience of human beings, because they were a testing towards His Deified powers, the areas of testing which they represent are common to all people. All sinful desires can be classified as either lusts of the flesh, lusts of the eyes, or the ambitious pride of life, (or a combination thereof, 1 John 2:16). The tests which Satan put the Lord through fall into those three categories:
- Appetite: To turn stone into bread would have self-satisfied His human fleshly hunger for food.
- Beauty: To worship before Satan would have returned the glorious dominions of His creation back to Him.
- Ambitious Pride: To throw Himself off of the pinnacle would have self-aggrandized His Deity and status as the Son of God.
Using these three categories of temptations, Satan tempted our Lord in three areas, as we too are tempted in these ways. Each was directed towards Jesus to satisfy His problems Himself with His own Deity, rather than relying upon God. For us, it is directed to use our own human powers and abilities to solve our problems, rather than relying upon God and His Word.
- Temptation to act independently of the filling of the Spirit, Luke 4:3-4.
- Temptation in relationship to the Plan of God, Luke 4:5-8.
- Temptation in relationship to the Word of God, Luke 4:9-12.
As such, Satan’s objectives were threefold.
- He sought to destroy the doctrine of KENOSIS, (i.e., Jesus use your Deity to satisfy your problems).
- He sought to fulfill his original sin to make himself like the Most High, Isa 14:14, (i.e., Jesus worship me).
- He sought to annihilate the prototype spiritual life, (Jesus falsely apply the Word of God).
Likewise, temptation comes to us so that we use our own human power or resources to solve our problems, worship the creature rather than the Creator, and not use or wrongly apply the Word of God in our lives.
These temptations were designed to test Jesus Christ to operate independently of God the Holy Spirit in problem solving. If the Deity of Christ acts independently of the filling of the Spirit, the humanity of Christ destroys the prototype spiritual life. Likewise, if we do not rely upon God the Holy Spirit and the Word of God to problem solve, we will destroy our spiritual life. If we act independently of the filling of God the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, our spiritual life becomes vanity (MATIOTES), cf. Eph 4:17-19; 2 Peter 2:18.
Eph 4:17, “So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility (vanity) of their mind.”
2 Peter 2:18, “For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error.”
Therefore, Satan attacked the humanity of Christ at the point of His strength. This was a temptation to compromise the prototype spiritual life. Our Lord’s strength was the filling of the Holy Spirit and metabolized Bible doctrine circulating in His stream of consciousness of His soul. Satan attacked the two power options. He attempted to get our Lord to operate independently of the filling of the Spirit and Bible doctrine. Satan was tempting our Lord to violate the will and plan of God, just as he does to the believer every day, a sin which is unfortunately committed by believers daily. Yet, with the power and filling of God the Holy Spirit and the Word of God resident within our souls, God leads us to be overcomers and not give in or be destroyed by temptation to sin, which furthers the development of our eternal relationship with God.
The method of temptation used by Satan established a pattern according to which he would deal with man as seen in the Garden of Eden temptations, Gen 3:1-6:
1. Questioning God, i.e., distorting or casting doubt on the Word of God, is the beginning of every temptation.
2. Contradicting God, i.e. denying His Word outright, is the inevitable result of questioning it.
3. Surpassing God, is that satanic device in which some imaginary good is sought, above and beyond what God has offered, 2 Cor 11:14-15, “No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.”
4. Disobeying God, which is the final result that leads to sin, vs. 6-7.
Gen 3:6-7, “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. 7Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.”
James 1:14-15, “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 15Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.”
As Satan’s tactics are characterized as temptations of Appetite, Beauty, and Ambitious Pride; his mode of operation is carried forward through fear, lies, and deception. We have to remember that the Bible tells us that Satan is the enemy of:
1. Unbelievers, Luke 8:12; 2 Cor 4:3‑4; 2 Thes 2:7‑10; Col 2:8.
Luke 8:12, “Those beside the road are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, so that they will not believe and be saved.”
2 Cor 4:3-4, “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
Col 2:8, “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.”
2. The Church Age believer, 2 Cor 2:11; 2 Cor 11:3; Jas 4:6‑10; 1 Pet 5:6‑9; Eph 6:10‑18.
2 Cor 2:11, “So that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.”
2 Cor 11:3, “But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.”
3. The Church. Rev 2:9, 13, 24; 3:9.
“Satan does not tempt us just to make us do wrong things—he tempts us to make us lose what God has put into us through regeneration, namely, the possibility of being of value to God. He does not come to us on the premise of tempting us to sin, but on the premise of shifting our point of view, and only the Spirit of God can detect this as a temptation of the devil. Therefore, temptation means a test of the possessions held within the inner, spiritual part of our being by a power outside us and foreign to us.” (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest).
Temptation in our thinking today means, to entice so as to move someone to sin, evil, or human good. But, as we have noted above in its original meaning, it also meant, “testing or trying.” The Greek Verb for “testing,” is PEIRAZO, πειράζω that means, “try, attempt, put to the test, tempt, or entice to sin.” Therefore, it could be thought of as a challenge of the will either for good or bad. In fact, we see God “testing” Abraham in the Isaac incident, Heb 11:17-19; cf. Ex 20:20; Deut 8:2; Judges 2:22. Clearly, God was not trying to get Abraham to sin, but was challenging his faith in God.
Ex 20:20, “Moses said to the people (after giving them the Ten Commandments), “Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin”.”
With that understanding, we are also reminded that a temptation by itself is not sin. Therefore, when you are presented with a temptation to sin, the temptation itself is not the sin. The sin is when you act upon the temptation either mentally, verbally, or overtly.
Furthermore, in regard to a challenge of faith, all temptations towards the believer are a challenge for the believer to continue to trust and rely upon God and not give in to the temptation and sin, thereby maintaining their walk of faith with God, while growing spiritually as a result of the tactical victory of not giving in to the temptation to sin.
So, the subject of the following principles is in regard to enticing to sin, as we are tempted to sin from one of three sources: 1) From our Old Sin Nature (OSN); 2) From Satan or one of his minions, Eph 6:10-11; or 3) From the world, (Satan’s cosmic system). As noted above, we are never tempted to sin by God, James 1:13.
A temptation is an enticement to choose a path that leads to or enters us into sin, human good, or evil. It is a choice that leads us astray from our ongoing experiential relationship with God. It leads us to not be in fellowship with God, walk in the Light of Jesus, or be filled with the Holy Spirit. It leads us to not be experientially sanctified before God. With that said, we also see that a temptation to sin can have the complete opposite of its goal when we resist its enticement to sin and act independently of God.
It is not a sin to be tempted. Yet, when you respond positively, (i.e., say Yes), towards temptation, it becomes a sin, human good, or evil in your life, and you lose your fellowship with God, are now walking in darkness, and are no longer filled with the Holy Spirit. When you go negative towards God’s will at the point of being positive towards temptation, then you enter into sin, human good, or evil and come under the control of the Old Sin Nature, (OSN), James 1:14; Rom 6:6; Eph 4:22; Col 3:9. Being under the control of the OSN, (a.k.a. the flesh), means you are out of fellowship with God and you are not filled with the Holy Spirit.
James 1:14, “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.”
Rom 6:6, “Knowing this, that our old self (OSN) was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin.”
Eph 4:22, “That, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit.”
Col 3:8-9, “But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. 9Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices.”
The NIV Application Commentary shows us several things we learn about temptation from Jesus’ example.
1. Do not try to think or rationalize your way out of God’s will. When Jesus was tempted, He did not think or rationalize His way out of God’s will. He could have easily said that God would not want His Son to starve, to suffer rejection, or to die. He could have easily rationalized His way through or out of the situation by thinking the kingdom was going to belong to Him anyway, so what did it matter how it came into his hands? Jesus avoided this kind of “the end justifies the means” thinking as He responds to the three proposals of Satan. We must be careful that the shortcuts that often become possible in life do not in fact reflect rationalization to avoid God’s will for our lives.
2. Tests in life are not bad; in fact,
God allows them in our life, Job 1-2, James 1:2-4. The main issue is our response to the test. Do we respond in a way that looks to God to guide us through it? Do we trust Him, or do we put Him to the test?
In addition, how do you respond to personal struggles in your life? Do you get angry? Do you seek to reassert your control, even when you know you cannot control events? Or do you rest in faith, look for God’s hand, and ask Him what you should do and learn from what you are going through? If we are to grow spiritually, we can expect trials. If we are to grow spiritually, we need to look to God in the midst of them.
3. Our trust in God should extend His provisions for our lives. Though Satan tested Jesus about the most basic of needs, bread, we sometimes desire to “feed ourselves” with things we feel are basic to life. But those “basic things” frequently involve a larger home, more gadgets, the finest appliances, the most expensive clothes, and a host of other material possessions to say that we have arrived. Yet, life is not defined materially; rather, it is defined relationally and spiritually in terms of knowing God and serving Him in the context of His will. Will Satan succeed in testing us to take bread that God is not asking us to eat, while we ignore the most basic meal of all, His will?
The pursuit of material goals can become a driving force in our lives. But where does God’s Word and leading stand? Sometimes, giving resources to the accomplishment of ministry may mean giving up personal material pleasures. Sometimes, seeking to have less materially can lead to having much more. And, sometimes God provides abundantly in the midst of a sacrifice made for His will.
4. Our trust in God should include contentment with the station He has given us in life, Phil 4:11-13. Satan tempts us to slip into idolatry as directly as he did here with Jesus, using subtle substitutes, leading us to not be content with what we have and to pursue what we desire. Perhaps we worship our work, our status, our possessions, our family, or other unsuitable items that stand in the way of knowing God. Maybe he asks us to take the easy path of “growth” without suffering or facing rejection in our stand for Jesus or for Divine values. Sometimes, when we opt for comfort in life, it means selling our soul to the prince of this world.
Another way we show lack of trust is to grab for power that is not ours or to take power in a way it is not intended to be received. The implications of such a power grab extend into how we exercise authority in the home, how we conduct our businesses, and how we relate to others. Yet, God desires to give us rich blessing, even to share in the benefits of His authority. The best authority is one exercised not under threat, but that which is earned. The most genuine authority is not that which is seized, but that which is received from the God who honors faithfulness. But, to worship Satan and to take his path to get there is to lose whatever access to God’s blessing we may possess.
5. We should never try to force God to act on our behalf, show that He loves us, etc., or prove Himself or His Word in any way. A way we tend to show a lack of trust in God is to try to force Him to act on our behalf. In the test we often set up, we want to see if He is for us or against us. This type of spiritual wagering does not involve leaping from tall buildings, but walking into events where we say in effect, “If you care for me God, then this situation will turn out this way.” In effect, we test the “emergency broadcast system” of God’s presence and presume on how He should react. This kind of testing is an attempt to control God, not follow His leading. We are setting ourselves up for disappointment, since it may be in our best interest for events to go in a different direction than we desire.
6. We should never blame God for our problems or whenever suffering occurs. As stated above, God never tempts us to sin, James 1:13, but He will allow us to be tempted by our OSN, Satan, or the world, as Job was, cf. Job 1-2. When problems, difficulties, or suffering occurs in our life, we may feel that He has abandoned us, when, in fact, He may be getting our attention, revealing a better way to us, or asking us to meet Him in the midst of the adversity. As Jesus turned down Satan and consciously chose to follow God down the hard road of His ministry, so too must we be prepared to walk into events under His leading, even where the outcome is not clear. And remember, He has given us His 11 Problem Solving Devices and will always provide us a way of escape to overcome the adversity and be winner believers inside of His plan for our lives.
1 Cor 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”
Rev 2:7, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.” Cf. Rev 2:11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21.
Rev 21:7, “He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.”
Temptation comes in three categories: Appetite, Beauty, and Ambitious Pride. They come from three sources: Satan, his cosmic system, and your OSN. They are designed to get us to act independent of: God’s Word, the Holy Spirit, and God’s Plan for our lives. The NIV Application Commentary shows us several things we learn about temptation from Jesus’ example.
Matthew concludes the prayer with, Mat 6:13b, “[For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]” Luke does not record this and the earliest manuscripts of Matthew did not either. It appears to be a doxology that was added to the end of the prayer template, as later transcribers thought that a doxology praise was lacking, or would be a good way to conclude. Yet, the whole is a doxology of God.
The pattern in this model prayer when combining both Luke’s version and Matthew’s, is first pray for God’s kingdom and then for man’s needs. It is divided into two sections, and each section is subdivided into three categories. This pattern keeps us from wandering all over the place in prayer or from simply praying the same things. This structure gives us direction.
1. The first section with its three categories are invocations for the glory of God:
a. That God may be glorified in His name, so that it shall be universally reverenced.
b. That God may be glorified in His kingdom; that kingdom before which every power of evil shall eventually fall.
c. That God may be glorified in the hearts of humanity by all men becoming obedient unto His will.
These petitions appropriately come first, as it is of first importance to us that God should be honored in His person, in His authority, and in His desires/will. The three petitions also represent three stages of spiritual growth in the communion and fellowship with God.
1) We first know and revere His name as God.
2) From there we advance to the full recognition of His royal and Divine authority.
3) And from this in turn we again advance until we know Him fully as Father and perform His wishes/will through the joyous constraint of our love for Him, as do the elect angels in heaven.
2. The second section with its three categories, are for humanity and thus petitions we ask for ourselves:
a. For our bodies, in the present, that we may have sustenance. “Daily bread,” is our Logistical Grace Blessings both physical and spiritual. It is not a petition for milk and honey, symbols of luxury, but for bread, life’s sustenance and necessity, and for bread in moderation, bestowed day by day, like the manna.
b. For our souls in things concerning the past, that past trespasses/sins may be forgiven. This is the experiential forgiveness of sins using the Rebound Technique of 1 John 1:9. This is the one thing needful of the soul in regard to the past. This also comes with a condition precedent to obtaining this petition, (i.e., that we have a spirit of forgiveness), which condition is plainly stated in the petition itself. Just as we have received forgiveness, we are to give forgiveness to others.
c. For our souls as to the future, that they may be enabled to avoid giving in to temptation where it becomes sin. This is a petition for protection from the temptations from Satan, his cosmic system, and our own OSN. and that we may be delivered from “the evil,” so as to be overcomers experientially.
Therefore, Jesus’ template prayer, which is not exhaustive in categories of prayer, gives us a good outline as the things we should be praying for on a daily basis, so as to first glorify God and second petition Him for our every need both physically and spiritually.
2. Instruction for Persistence in your Requests to God, vs. 5-13.
After giving instructions to the disciples on “how to pray,” Luke next records Jesus giving a parable that instructs on the persistence and faithfulness we should have in our prayer life, in vs. 5-13. This is broken down into three sections:
a. A parable that speaks of the readiness of God to hear prayer, vs. 5-8.
b. A statement on the certainty of God’s answering prayer, vs. 9-10.
c. A final argument that God will answer prayer even more readily than a human father will respond to his children’s requests, vs. 11-13.
a. A parable that speaks of the readiness of God to hear prayer, vs. 5-8.
Luke 11:5-8, “Then He said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and goes to him at midnight and says to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; 6for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7and from inside he answers and says, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ 8I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs”.”
This is called the “Parable of the Friend at Midnight.” It speaks of the character of God in responding to the needs of His people. And as Jesus often did, He took a commonplace incident from everyday life to stress an important principle of the faith-rest life, (i.e., true faith will persist in prayer until the answer comes).
“Midnight,” in vs. 5, is the Greek noun, MESONUKTION, μεσονύκτιον. It is only used here and in Mark 13:35, regarding the Second Advent of Jesus, and in Acts 16:25; 20:7, for the literal times of Paul praising God and teaching His Word. The Romans divided the night into four watches: “evening,” OPSIOS, 6–9 p.m., “midnight,” MESONUKTION, 9 p.m.–12a.m., “cockcrow,” ALEKTOROPHONIA, 12 a.m.–3 a.m., and “morning,” PROINOS, 3–6 a.m.
Here, is a principle of friendship, PHILOS, φίλος in that if a friend does a favor for you, you should return with a favor to them when and if they have need or petition you.
The Bible tells us that we are the friend of God, John 15:13-15; James 2:23. Therefore, He desires that we petition Him of our needs when they arise. As a friend of God, we should reciprocate His friendship towards us in service towards Him.
The petition here was “to lend,” KICHREMI, κίχρημι that is only used here in the NT. It is in the Aorist, Active, Imperative, which is a special request of someone when the lending is actually a matter of giving, with an understanding of reciprocal repayment at some point in the future, rather than a return of the same. It is clear the same loaves could not be returned.
“Three loaves,” TREIS ARTOS, “bread, loaf of bread, or food.” Three being the number of Divine-perfection, this neighbor was not asking for the extra ordinary but the common food of the day. Bread was typically made in the morning for that day’s supply. So, we have the principle of our “daily bread.”
In vs. 6, the arriving friend was “on a journey,” EK HODOS, could also mean, “out of his way or lost.” So, the friend had a problem that this man was trying to help with. The ordinary custom of hospitality in that day was to give a newly arrived guest something to eat. Failing to offer food to a guest would be insulting and dishonorable. Therefore, this is an intercessory petition prayer to help another.
In vs. 7, the neighbor’s first reply does not necessarily mean he was uncaring to the petition. He actually had his own family to care for first. To get up in the middle of the night would have disturbed his family. So, rightly he was taking care of his first priority, his family, just as God our Father, prioritizes taking care of His family; you and I, believers in Christ.
The key word in this passage is in vs. 8, “persistence,” which in the Greek is the Noun ANAIDEIA, ἀναίδεια that actually means, “shamelessness.” It also can mean, “importunity (i.e., wearisome persistence, the fact of being troublesomely demanding or insistent).” It is only used here in the NT. It is a compound word from the negative AN, “without” and AIDOS that means, “modesty or reverence.” Literally it would mean, “without modesty.” But it is rendered as a positive word meaning, “without a sense of shame” or “shamelessness.”
Jesus was speaking of the shameless manner in which the man came to his friend / neighbor and continued to ask for help; his shameless persistence. He had no shame in making an unreasonable request in the middle of the night. As such, it was impudent (i.e., rude, showing a lack of respect and excessive boldness), of him to expect help at such a time. He was shameless in his persistence, continuing his pleading until his friend responded. Therefore, if shameless persistence can obtain a favor from a neighbor, then certainly earnest persistent prayer will receive our heavenly Father’s answer.
The same principle of persistence is taught in Luke 18:1-8, the “Parable of the Unjust Judge.”
In addition, in the Greek, there is a subtle undertone of our resurrection being reciprocation from God for our friendship with Him, as both EGEIRO and ANISTEMI are used in this parable for “rising, raised, etc.,” to go along with “midnight” used in Mark 13:35.
The whole point of the story is the need for persisting in prayer. If the neighbor had simply asked his friend to arise and provide some food, it would not be importunity. The picture is one of overcoming reluctance on the part of the petitioner. It is obvious that the man continued to knock, in spite of being refused, until at last, not out of goodwill but because the neighbor would not go away, the man got up and provided the bread, just as the judge helps the widow in Luke 18. The neighbor also would give him bread since he too might be in need sometime.
- Just having a pattern of prayer will not make you a prayer warrior. You also need determination. Our Lord wants us to know that we must be persistent in our prayer petitions. We cannot ask for something one time and then go off as if we never asked anything of the Lord. It is persistence that gets the results because it demonstrates our faithfulness in God as we ask over and over again, knowing He will answer our prayer.
- We are not to be discouraged because God does not respond to our prayer the first time we offer it up to Him. We are to be persistent in our prayer requests, Rom 12:12, until the answer comes.
Rom 12:12, “Rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer.” Where “devoted,” is the Verb PROSKARTEREO, προσκαρτερέω, which is a compound word from PROS, “toward or face to face,” and KARTEREO, “be strong, persevere, endure because of strength, or be steadfast.” In classical Greek ethics, the concept is a reference to the right attitude and conduct of wise ones. Then, PROSKARTEREO, in classical Greek, when used of interpersonal relationships, it comes close to “dedication or being loyal to someone,” (e.g., a slave’s faithful service). Therefore, it comes to mean, “adhere firmly to, persist in, or remain devoted to.” Cf. Acts 1:14; 6:4; Col 4:2.
Col 4:2, “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.”
- Even people who have poor manners and bad behavior will behave righteously and respond to the persistent requests of another. Therefore, you can trust that God, who is absolute righteousness, will behave even more righteously. This illustrates the Lord’s supreme goodness and unreserved love to answer our prayers.
- When we are doing what God considers good, we can boldly come to Him for provision, even if it feels like impudence, Eph 3:12; Heb 4:16; 10:19, 22; 1 John 3:21-22; 5:14.
Eph 3:12, “In whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him.”
Heb 4:16, “Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Heb 10:19, “Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus…. 22let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”
- If boldness moved an unwilling man to do the right thing, how much more can we rely upon God, who is uncompromisingly willing and good, to meet our persistent requests?
Now, we turn to the second section of this object lesson.
b. A statement on the certainty of God answering our prayer, vs. 9-10. From this point to vs. 13, it is paralleled in Mat 7:7-11.
Luke 11:9-10, “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened.”
Here, we have another grouping of three; the number of Divine Perfection. The initial teaching in vs. 9, is reiterated in vs. 10. In fact, vs. 9, is the major chorus of the worship song we sing, “Seek Ye First.”
1. The first of the group in vs. 9, is “ask, and it will be given.”
As we have previously noted, “ask” is one of the words used for prayer in the NT. It is the Verb AITEO in the Present, Active, Imperative that means, “ask, request, or demand,” yet the latter is not part of the context of our prayer life. We do not “demand” things from God. Nevertheless, this is one of the NT words for prayer and originally meant, “to request something that one really needs.” In the Imperative Mood, as all three examples here are, tell us this is a command from our Lord. We are commanded to “ask” God for our needs and the needs of others.
“It will be given” is the common Verb DIDOMI in the Future, Passive, Indicative for the dogmatic fact that we will receive our petition request to God at a forthcoming time, cf. Mat 21:22.
Mat 21:22, “And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”
2. The second of the group in vs. 9, is “Seek and you will find.”
“Seek,” is the Verb ZETEO, in the Pres., Act., Imper., that means, “seek, look for, inquire about, etc.” It can also mean, “wish for or desire,” which is the motivation behind our petition/request to God. So, we also have a secondary context of the righteous desires of our heart. To seek means to diligently, earnestly, and tenaciously search after something, sparing no effort or expense, for the sought object is valued to the highest degree. Believers are to seek God in this manner regarding our petitionary prayers.
“You will find,” is the Future, Active, Indicative of the Verb EHURISKO, εὑρίσκω that means, “find, discover, obtain, ascertain, or contrive.” It is where we get our word “eureka,” from, which is an exaltation stated when we find something that was lost, or we were diligently searching for. Therefore, God promises us that subsequent to our petitionary prayers, we will find the answer, whatever it might be. The Indicative mood once again shows the dogmatic fact of reality that we will find an answer to our prayers that we have been diligently seeking from God.
3. The third of the group in vs. 9, is “knock and it will be opened to you.”
“Knock,” is the Pres., Act., Imper., of the verb KROUO, κρούω that in the NT means, “to knock,” on a door, whether the door is literal or figurative. Here it is figurative for knocking on God’s door to get Him to respond to you. Being in the Present tense, it gives us the meaning of a “continuous knocking,” which, by the use of the Imperative mood, we are commanded to do.
Remember, when you knock on someone’s door, you typically do not strike the door only once. Usually, it is several strikes on your first attempt at knocking. Then, if the homeowner does not answer your first attempt, you knock again with several more strikes on the door, and usually much harder or louder to get the homeowner’s attention. This should not be lost when regarding our prayers to God. Keep knocking, and if necessary, get a little more assertive when you do.
“It will be opened,” is also in the Fut., Pass., Indic., of the Verb ANOIGO, ἀνοίγω that means, “open, open (itself), or be open.” Here, in a figurative use of the door of God’s home; heaven, it represents God answering our prayers. It means that because of our persistence in prayer, (i.e., knocking), God will answer our prayers, (i.e., open the door). It means that God will respond to our prayer petitions when we are persistent in offering them up to Him.
Therefore, we are commanded to “keep on asking, seeking, and knocking,” which are all illustrations of our prayer life in faith, with the promise that “it will be given, we will find, and it will be opened to us,” which are all illustrations of God responding to and answering our prayers.
This pattern is reiterated in vs. 10, for a double emphasis on these prayer and faith-resting principles. There we see that “everyone,” PAS, “all or every,” is the class of people in view. Therefore, it does not matter what your socio, religious, or economic status. Everyone and anyone who prays to God faithfully, persistently, and diligently, will receive an answer to their prayers.
In vs. 10, “asks,” “seeks,” and “knocks,” are all the same root verbs used in vs. 9, but here are in the Present, Active, Participle in the Singular, Nominative Case, to emphasis the action of prayer as a “thing” we must do.
Then, the illustrative responses by God in answering our prayers, is the same root word for the last two, “finds” and “it will be open,” with “finds,” EHURISKO, in the Present, Active, Indicative for a fact of a present discovery of the answer to our prayer.
In addition, in the first grouping of “asking,” rather than using “given” DIDOMI, that emphasized the Giver, (in this case God), the emphasis is on the one who “receives,” the answer to their prayers, (the person who prays), with the Present, Active, Indicative of LAMBANO that means, “take, take hold of, grasp, seize, receive, get, or obtain.”
Therefore, in vs. 10, the emphasis is on the one who has their prayers answered with the verbs, “receives, finds and opened to you,” all in the Indicative mood for the dogmatic reality of happening.
By giving these instructions on prayer, our Lord is asking His disciples to purse both spiritual goals and request basic needs with great boldness and shamelessness, faithfully and persistently. As such, the pattern prayer of vs. 2-4, plus the persistence in faithfulness of our prayers in vs. 5-10, equals the effective prayer of the believer.
In addition, remember that the Bible tells us that in offering prayers, we have a petition and a desire. The petition is the specific thing we ask for, and the desire is the motive behind the prayer that we hope is fulfilled. Sometimes we know and understand this motive and other times we do not, but God always does. Therefore, when God answers our prayers, He responds to both the petition and the desire either positively or negatively.
1. Positive ‑ Negative. Here, your petition is answered yes, but your desire behind it is answered no. For a silly example, you pray to make a million dollars; yes, you will make a million dollars, but no, you will not be happy.
For a Biblical example, in Psa 106:13‑15, the Jews were tired of the great Divine provision of manna, the greatest health food ever. They longed for the Egyptian meat and food they used to eat. God answered their petition yes; He sent them quail. But the desire for satisfaction or “food happiness” was not answered; instead, they suffered terribly from it and thousands died.
2. Negative ‑ Positive. The answer to the petition is no; the desire behind the petition is answered yes. Example: no, you will not make a million dollars, but yes, you will be happy.
In Gen 17:18, Abraham prayed that Ishmael, the son of Hagar, might be his heir. God said no to Ishmael becoming his heir, but yes to the desire behind it; to have an heir; for he eventually had Isaac.
In Gen 18:23‑33, Abraham prayed that God would spare Sodom. After bargaining with God, Abraham settled with asking God to spare Sodom if there were ten believers; he was sure there were at least ten believers in that large city of perhaps 200,000 people. He was wrong; there were only three believers. The petition to spare Sodom was answered no; the desire that Lot and his two daughters be preserved was answered yes.
3. Positive ‑ Positive. Both the petition and desire are answered yes.
In John 11:41‑45, the petition was for the resuscitation of Lazarus, the desire was that the bystanders who witnessed this might be saved. Both petition and desire were answered yes. Vs. 45, “Therefore, many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary saw what He had done, and they believed in Him.” Cf. Judges 16:28, (Samson); 1 Kings 18, (Elijah); Luke 23:42‑43, (Thief on the Cross).
4. Negative ‑ Negative. The answer is “no” to both the petition and the desire; in other words, God does not answer either.
In 2 Cor 12:7-10, Paul prayed three times that God would remove his thorn in the flesh. This was a prayer that could not be answered. The motivation was wrong and the prayer was wrong, as God answered his prayer by saying in vs. 9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Which led Paul to understand and state in vs. 10, “Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” And later in Phil 4:13, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
Some ancient texts have added an additional object lesson to the beginning of this passage that reads, “If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone?” But it is not found in the most reliable texts and should not be included. The addition is due to Matthew having this as the first object lesson in his account of our Lord’s teaching, Mat 7:9. Interestingly, Matthew did not record the second objection lesson of the egg and scorpion as Luke did. They both record the object lesson of the fish and snake / serpent. It is Matthew’s 2nd lesson, and Luke’s 1st.
The first point we see here is the relationship factor. Above, we had a friendship relationship in the parable of the Friend at Midnight. Here, we have a father-son relationship. Like the prayer template in vs. 1-4, we see the relationship that we have with our Heavenly Father, as we are His beloved children and He is our heavenly Father.
In all three verses, we have the word AITEO, once again, for “ask,” which reemphasizes the continued lesson of our prayer petitions to our Heavenly Father. In these examples, these petitions are for ourselves; not intercessory prayer as used in vs. 5-8.
In vs. 11, the first of two examples, we see a request by a “son,” HUIOS, for a “fish,” ICHTHUS, where it is said that the “father,” PATER “will not instead,” ME ANTI, “give” EPIDIDOMI, “him” AUTOS, a “serpent,” OPHIS, “snake or serpent.”
Interestingly, one of the main symbols for Christ and Christianity is the fish, and one of the main symbols for Satan is the serpent, as Luke used figuratively for Satan and His cosmic system in Luke 10:19. Therefore, allegorically we could say, “if a son asks for salvation through Jesus Christ, the Father will not give him sin and condemnation through Satan.”
In vs. 12, the second of the two examples in Luke’s account, (Matthew did not use this one), we also see a request (AITEO), by the son, but this time “for an egg,” OON, ᾠόν, which is only used here in the NT. OON is the ordinary Greek word for “egg.” Next, we have the antithesis, “will he give,” EPIDIDOMI, “him,” AUTOS, “a scorpion,” SKORPIOS?
We noted SKORPIOS in Luke 10:19, and it is only otherwise used in Revelation 9:3, 5, 10, to describe the fallen angelic attack on the human race during the Tribulation. As such, if the “serpent / snake” represents Satan, the “scorpion” represents the fallen angels. Therefore, allegorically, as the egg represents new life in Christ, the scorpion represents torment in the eternal Lake of Fire.
Interestingly, a scorpion rolled up with the tail tucked in resembles an egg. Therefore, the emphasis is upon deception, as Satan is the great deceiver, as we have noted above. No normal human father would deceive his child in this way. It is unnatural. Nor would he try to harm his child in any way. The Heavenly Father, being absolute good, would also never try to harm or deceive His children, as noted in vs. 13.
Our Lord gave His disciples power and authority over serpents and scorpions in Luke 10:19, therefore, we have power to overcome the deceptions and temptations of Satan and his cosmic system so that we do not enter into sin.
Therefore, our Lord asked a rhetorical question: What sort of person would give his own child something harmful or useless when the child asked for his basic needs? Fish and eggs could be obtained easily. The question begs for a negative answer. No one would do such an evil deed.
Luke 11:13, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”
Mat 7:11, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!”
These two parallel verses have slight variations as underlined above. The main difference is the gift of the Heavenly Father to His children. In Luke, it is the “Holy Spirit,” HAGIOS PNEUMA, and in Matthew, it is “good things,” the Plural of AGATHOS.
In addition, there is a contrast between earthly fathers who are “evil,” PONEROS, because they have an OSN, who “know,” OIDA, “how to give,” DIDOMI, “good gifts,” AGATHOS DOMA, “to their children,” HO HUMEIS TEKNON, and our “heavenly Father,” OURANOS PATER, who gives His children “much more,” POSOS MALLON, that includes the Holy Spirit, as noted here.
And, as it concludes, our heavenly Father gives these good gifts, including the indwelling and enabling power of the Holy Spirit, “to those who ask Him,” HO AITEO AUTOS. This means that when we have prayer petitions to God the Father, especially for our own needs and benefits, which is the context in these verses, He will dogmatically answer them, and the answer will be greater than what our earthly fathers could ever do.
In addition, the context of the “gift” here is the Holy Spirit, which means that the Holy Spirit will lead you in whatever is necessary for the petition and desire of your prayer request to be fulfilled, which many times will be the empowering of your soul to overcome the situation with the Word of God resident within your soul; as God said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you,” 2 Cor 12:9. Therefore, God is anxious to respond to our spiritual needs, as much as He has promised to provide for our physical needs. With the allegories of Satan, fallen angels, and the eternal Lake of fire, in contrast to Christ, the new spiritual life, eternal life in heaven, and the Holy Spirit, God is ready to provide for all of our prayer petitions.
Throughout this lesson, Jesus was emphasizing that faith is not the only criterion for success in prayer; it is sometimes necessary to be persistent. His final point was that in prayer, believers are coming to a loving, holy, and righteous heavenly Father, not earthly fathers who sometimes fail. Our heavenly Father will never fail us, Deut 31:6; Heb 13:5; Cf. Rom 8:31; Josh 1:5; 1 Sam 12:22.
Deut 31:6, “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”
Heb 13:5, “Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you”.”
God gives us, His children, the best answers to our prayers. He gives Himself. He gave His Son to us on the Cross, and He gives His Spirit to us for daily living. He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will he not along with Him freely give us every good thing? Philemon 1:6; Heb 13:21; James, 1:17.
Heb 13:21, “Equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen”
James 1:17, “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.”
“The human father who gives his children snakes and scorpions is sadistically cruel, which is barely conceivable in a human father, much less a righteous, loving, heavenly Father. On the contrary, our heavenly Father delights to give good gifts to His children. God will always behave righteously. In fact, He wants nothing more than for us to do what is right, and He will not withhold anything to help us behave righteously. And where we fail, He has promised to succeed through His Holy Spirit.” (Swindoll’s Living Insights New Testament Commentary)
This all relates to the attitude and confidence we should have when we are praying. When we make our petitions, we are not coming like a slave groveling in front of a master, or like a neighbor to a neighbor, or as a friend to a close friend, or as a child to an earthly father. Each of these could provide a reasonable explanation for not answering our requests. They might be willing but not able to help. But we are coming to our Heavenly Father who is always willing and able to answer our every righteous petition.
- Always count on God to answer your prayers clearly. I did not say quickly, although that could happen. Some people seem to get quick answers to their prayers. They might ask at breakfast, “Lord, please provide the rent money,” and they go to the mailbox that afternoon to find it waiting. But typically, when you make a request there is a fairly long period of waiting. And in the waiting period, you grow, and your trust in God expands.
- When there is a longer wait, do not hesitate to become increasingly more persistent. God tells us to be emboldened in our prayer requests, because it demonstrates our faith in Him. He did not say, demanding, but shameless audacity. Therefore, never hesitate to be bold in your prayer requests, even though the odds are stacked against you. You are talking to a Father who has never met His match. Therefore, never hesitate to be bold in His presence, because it comes from assurance in the goodness of God. His answer may be no, to either or both the petition and desire, but He will nonetheless honor your confidence in His ability and always give you clear answer.
As we celebrate our communion service this morning, I wanted to bring to your attention an interesting impact that Luke 11:13, had on a certain-gentlemen, and I would say, every Christian in the last two centuries.
Do you know what the inspiration for the song “Amazing Grace” was? Well, in great part, it was Luke 11:13.
The story behind “Amazing Grace,” is not a song of theology per se, it was a man by the name of John Newton’s own heartfelt expression of gratitude toward God, who helped him turn from his profane and wicked life and eventually fight against the ills he practiced. Written almost two and a half centuries ago in 1772, the words for the beloved song were borne from the heart, mind, and experiences of this Englishman.
Having lived through a rather unfortunate and troubled childhood, (his mother passed away when he was just six years old), Newton spent years fighting against authority, going so far as trying to desert the Royal Navy in his twenties. Later, abandoned by his crew in West Africa, he was forced to be a servant to a slave trader but was eventually rescued. On the return voyage to England, a violent storm hit and almost sank the ship, named the Greyhound, prompting Newton to begin his spiritual conversion as he cried out to God to save them from the storm.
The Greyhound had been thrashing about in the north Atlantic storm for over a week. Its canvas sails were ripped, and the wood on one side of the ship had been torn away and splintered. The sailors had little hope of survival, but they mechanically worked the pumps, trying to keep the vessel afloat. On the eleventh day of the storm, sailor John Newton was too exhausted to pump, so he was tied to the helm and tried to hold the ship to its course. From one o’clock until midnight he was at the helm.
With the storm raging fiercely, Newton had time to think. His life seemed as ruined and wrecked as the battered ship he was trying to steer through the storm. Since the age of eleven he had lived a life at sea. Sailors were not noted for the refinement of their manners, but Newton had a reputation for profanity, coarseness, and debauchery which even shocked many a sailor.
Upon his return, however, Newton became a slave ship master, a profession in which he served for several years, until 1754-55. Bringing slaves from Africa to England over multiple trips, he admitted to sometimes treating the slaves abhorrently. At that time, Newton abandoned his life as a slave trader, the slave trade, and seafaring, altogether, wholeheartedly devoting his life to God’s service, and became ordain in 1764. Later in life, Newton became a supporter and inspiration to William Wilberforce who lead the fight to pass the British Slave Trade Act in 1807, which abolished the slave trade in that empire.
John Newton had rejected God and Biblical teachings and had led other sailors into unbelief. Certainly, he was beyond hope and beyond saving, even if the Scriptures were true. Yet, Newton’s thoughts began to turn to Christ. He found a New Testament and began to read. Luke 11:13, seemed to assure him that God might still hear him: “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him.” Then later, for a New Year’s Day sermon in 1773, he spoke these words to illustrate his lesson. It debuted in print in 1779 in Newton and (and his good friend) Cowper’s Olney Hymns. In 1835, American composer William Walker set it to the tune known as “New Britain.” This is the version most frequently sung today.
That day at the helm, March 21, 1748, was a day Newton remembered ever after, for “On that day the Lord sent from on high and delivered me out of deep waters.” Many years later, as an old man, Newton wrote in his diary of March 21, 1805: “Not well able to write; but I endeavor to observe the return of this day with humiliation, prayer, and praise.” Only God’s amazing grace could and would take a rude, profane, slave-trading sailor and transform him into a child of God. Newton never ceased to stand in awe of God’s work in his life.
With the message that forgiveness and redemption are possible regardless of sins committed and that the soul can be delivered from despair through the mercy of God, “Amazing Grace” is one of the most recognizable songs in the English-speaking world. And now, we see how lyrics like, “I once was lost, but now am found, Was blind but now I see. (And) Through many dangers, toils, and snares I have already come. Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.”, carry a much deeper meaning than a sinner’s mere gratitude. Close to death at various times and blind to reality at others, Newton would most assuredly not have written “Amazing Grace” if not for his tumultuous past. And many of us would then be without these lovely words that so aptly describe our own relationship with Christ and our reliance on God’s grace in our lives: “Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved; How precious did that grace appear, The hour I first believed.”
Jonathan Aitken, a Newton biographer, estimates that the song is performed about 10 million times annually.