Vol. 19, No. 5 – February 2, 2020
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.
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If you would like more information on this subject, you may watch/listen to lesson:
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A PERSONAL NOTE FOR YOU
If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I am here to tell you that Jesus loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His life for you. God the Father also loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His only Son for you by sending Him to the Cross. At the Cross Jesus died in your place. Taking upon Himself all of your sins and all of my sins. He was judged for our sins and paid the price for our sins. Therefore, our sins will never be held against us.
Right where you are, you now have the opportunity to make the greatest decision in your life. To accept the free gift of salvation and eternal life by truly believing that Jesus Christ died for your sins and was raised on the third day as the proof of the promise of eternal life.
So right now, you can pause and reflect on what Christ has done for you and say to the Father:
“Yes Father, I believe that Your Son, Jesus Christ,
died on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins.”
If you have done that, I welcome you to the eternal Family of God!