The Gospel of Luke is sometimes called The Prayer Gospel as it records nine prayers by Jesus and eleven defining moments in Jesus’ ministry that are preceded by the act of Jesus praying. Jesus begins and concludes his ministry in prayer.
Luke 3:21-22 records Jesus beginning his ministry as he prays following his baptism:
Now when all the people were being baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying; the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
Luke 23:46 records the conclusion of Jesus’ earthly ministry as the last words he speaks are a prayer:
“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”
In between the beginning and conclusion of Jesus’ ministry, Luke records Jesus praying as he:
- withdrew to deserted places to renew himself after teaching, preaching, and healing
- contemplated important decisions such as choosing his disciples
- prepared for his crucifixion.
As you read in Luke about the demands and responsibilities of Jesus’ ministry, you understand that Jesus’ days were too full for Jesus not to pray.
Today’s scripture lesson from Luke 11:1-13 includes the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples to pray after one of them observed Jesus withdrawing to a certain place to pray. In turn, he asks Jesus to teach his disciples to pray as John the Baptist had taught his disciples to pray. This request is one of the defining moments of Jesus’ ministry as Jesus instructs his disciples to pray saying, “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. And do not bring us to the time of trial.”
This version of the Lord’s Prayer from the Gospel of Luke may not be as familiar as the longer, more formal, version of The Lord’s Prayer from the Gospel of Matthew that we pray each week in worship. Both versions of the Lord’s Prayer, however, teach the following realities of prayer and, in turn, the following requirements of being a disciple of Jesus:
- affirming God’s holiness, “Father, hallowed be your name”
- aligning life with God’s kingdom, “Your kingdom come”
- acknowledging dependence upon God, “Give us each day our daily bread”
- confessing, “And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us”
- living in relationship with God, “and do not bring us to the time of trial”
I recently read a definition of prayer that I think is applicable to the prayer that Jesus taught.
It has been said that “prayer isn’t a chore or a task Christians are called to perform – it’s a necessary function of the Christian life. In fact, the Bible encourages us to do it continually. Why? Because it keeps us connected to God. It’s more than a means of requesting help and favor – it’s about maintaining a relationship.”
To help his readers understand that prayer is about maintaining a relationship with God, Luke follows Jesus’ teaching about prayer with Jesus telling a parable about an insistent friend who showed up at midnight to borrow not one, but three loaves of bread. Refusing to receive no as an answer, eventually his neighbor responds to his request by giving him whatever he needs.
Why would Luke include this parable in the Prayer Gospel? Perhaps Jesus wanted his disciples to understand:
- that prayer is as much about the persistence of the person who is praying as it is about God’s persistence with the person who is praying
- that prayer is as much about boldness as it is about persistence
Perhaps Jesus wanted his disciples to realize that their days were too full for them not to pray as they affirmed God’s holiness, aligned their lives with God’s kingdom, acknowledged their dependence upon God, confessed their sins and lived in relationship with God.
Friends, Jesus wants us to do the same as we live the prayer that Jesus taught.
The Prayer that Jesus Taught
by Pastor Marc Brown
July 24, 2022
Accompanying Scriptures: Luke 11:1-13
Fort Hill United Methodist Church
Order of Worship for July 24, 2021
Scripture Lesson Luke 11:1-13
The Good News “The Prayer that Jesus Taught”
Music “How Great Thou Art”
Closing Music “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” arr. Larry Shackley