Luke 11:1-13

This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on July 24, 2016.

Hermano Leon
Hermano Leon

“I need you to pray for me.” “How can I pray for you?” “Can you add my friend to your prayer list?” “I don’t know what to pray.” These and other statements on prayer can be heard at any church on any given Sunday. Obviously people believe prayer is important, but why then is praying such a struggle for people? Many of us are, or at least we know people who are, Prayer Warriors. Why do their prayers seem so natural and powerful? Is it a learned skill? Is it a sign of spiritual maturity? Can anyone learn to pray like Jesus? After observing Jesus praying one day, his own followers asked him to teach them to pray. Jesus answered his disciples in Luke 11:2-4, with what we refer to as the Lord’s Prayer, or the model prayer. Jesus covered a lot of ground in this prayer, from honoring the Father, to asking for God’s forgiveness. Jesus never intended this prayer to be the only way we pray, or that these words should be recited at every prayer. More importantly than the form, he called attention to the importance of praying regularly. He stated, “When you pray,” not if you pray; He had an expectation that his followers would pray. Jesus set the example by being a man of prayer, and by giving instructions on how to pray.

He started his prayer by honoring and praising the Father. Rabbis did not use the term Father when referring to God. All references to God as Father come from Jesus, and he taught his disciples to call God, Father. The Greek term Jesus used for Father was Abba and it is a casual reference, like the word Dad in the English language. This name showed intimacy and a loving relationship. Referring to God as Father distinguishes Christianity from all other religions in the world. Hinduism, for example, has over 100 names for God, yet not one of them is Father. The name, Allah, in Islam, means God and a Muslim would not refer to Allah as Father.

‘Give us each day our daily bread’ revealed the importance of relying on God every day for everything. Not only does God provide for his children’s needs, he is what they need. Forgiveness is another daily need for the Christian. Jesus also prayed for protection against temptation. The word he used for lead actually means to bring or carry. It is the idea of a shepherd, walking alongside his flock to help them make their way through dangerous terrain.

If God knows everything about us and everything we need, why should we pray? The purpose of prayer is not to get something from God, but rather to deepen our relationship with him. Interestingly, immediately following his account of Mary and Martha, Luke included Jesus’ illustration on prayer about a friend who showed hospitality to another friend. Hospitality is a big deal in Jewish culture. If someone comes to visit you, even unannounced, it is shameful not to show hospitality to that person. In this story, a man has a visitor in the middle of the night. He invites him in, but he has no food to serve his guest. He goes down to another friend’s house to ask to borrow three loaves of bread. The second friend tells him he and his family are already in bed and that he should go away. The man continues to knock and ask for three loaves of bread until his friend gets out of bed and gives him bread. In addition to hospitality, shame is also a big deal in the Jewish culture. It was more shameful for the man not to have food for his guest, than it was to get his neighbor out of bed. Most families lived in one room houses, so when the man wakes his friend up he woke up the entire house. It was inconvenient, to say the least, for the man to get up and find the bread and give it to his friend. However, he realized his friend was not going away until he gave him what he wanted. When the man gave his friend the bread, he did not only give him three loaves; he gave him as much as he wanted.

Jesus used this illustration of the man responding to his friend’s persistence to show the importance of persistence in prayer to God. God’s heart is moved by persistent prayer. Jesus linked the two themes of prayer and the fatherhood of God. Prayer is a matter of relationship. Persistent prayer from a Christian deepens trust, and deepens the relationship. God is not bothered by a Christian’s persistent prayer; he is honored. He is honored when we trust him and rely on him. Like the neighbor, God responds to our persistent requests with more than we ask for or imagine. A Christian’s persistent prayer says to God, “I am committed to our relationship; I am committed to following your will. I acknowledge my dependence upon you, and the only way what I am asking for will happen, is if you make it happen. You alone God are sovereign and supreme.”

Prayer is a barometer of our heart. Prayer reveals our thoughts and our passions. True prayer is never unheeded or unheard. When we ask God according to his will, he will give us what we ask for, or he will give us something better. If an earthly father wants to, and knows how to give good gifts, how much more will your heavenly Father give us good gifts. All good gifts come from him. If we believe this, why would we not ask him?


Dr. Ronny Marriott
Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church, Temple, Texas



Tags: prayer, hospitality, shame, persistence, Father

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