Monday 18 June 2018

Bible Book:

“Lord, teach us to pray” (v. 1)

Luke 11:1-13 Monday 18 June 2018

Psalm: Psalm 86


Today’s passage begins with Jesus praying alone. This is something we are told that he did repeatedly (eg Luke 3:21; 6:12; 9:18). As good Jews, the disciples already would have known how to pray but it was traditional for rabbis to teach their followers a distinctive way, as indeed John the Baptist had clearly done (verse 1, also Luke 5:33). Jesus then taught them what many people will recognise as the basis for the Lord’s Prayer, although the parallel version in Matthew’s Gospel (Matthew 6:9-13) is closer to the form most commonly used.

There is much that could and has been said, about every element of this prayer. Addressing God as “Father” (v. 2) was not unknown in contemporary Judaism. However, Jesus seems to have used the mode of address, and the even more intimate Aramaic term ‘Abba’, far more frequently than others. Hallowing (verse 2) is a strange concept for us to understand but it was a very common one in Judaism. It is essentially a prayer that God’s nature, power and holiness would be recognised by all.

The hardest verse to translate here is the deceptively simple one about “our daily bread” (v.3). The original Greek is confusing and a better interpretation might be something like ‘our bread of tomorrow, give us today’. This could be an allusion to the story of the manna in the wilderness (Exodus 16), or possibly a reference to the great, heavenly banquet at the end of time itself (eg Matthew 8:11). The final verse of the prayer has perhaps prompted the most common debate, though, with the questions it raises about whether God deliberately tests or tempts people (verse 4), as seemed to happen with Job in the Old Testament (Job 1:10-12).

The passage concludes with a number of sayings and examples, drawn from everyday life, about the need for perseverance and faith in prayer. It seems likely that Luke, in his role as editor, collected these disparate stories together here not necessarily because they were told at the same time but because they all related to prayer.

To Ponder

  • What sort of lessons can you learn from the way Jesus prayed?
  • How would you understand the phrase “do not bring us to the time of trial” (v.4)?
  • Have you ever had the experience of praying for a fish and seemingly receiving a snake (verse 11)? How did you respond?
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