LORD TEACH US TO PRAY
“We do not want to be beginners (at prayer). But let us be convinced of the fact that we will never be anything but beginners, all our life! Thomas Merton
Dear God, Why don’t you leave the sun out at night when we really need it? Barbara
Dear God, My father can never get a fire started, could you please make a burning bush in our back garden? Sherry
Cute! But we need to grow up.
“And it came about that while He was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray…’” Luke 11:1
‘Lord teach us to pray’ was their request. Not how to preach, not how to perform miracles, not how to build lasting relationships, the thing they most wanted to be taught was how to pray. When you think of the fact that these were Jesus’ own disciples asking this, disciples who had been with him for an extended period of time, that after three years with him, this was the thing they most wanted Him to instruct them in. What exactly had provoked this request? Had they actually heard the Lord “offer up prayers and requests with loud cries and tears”? (Heb 5:7) How often had they observed and been close to him in these sessions of prayer? How was He when He came back from a night of praying, and then there was all the healing and deliverance that took place. Small wonder they say ‘Lord, teach us to pray.’
Jesus responds by giving them what we have named ‘The Lord’s Prayer’. Luke tells us that it was to be a verbatim prayer (Luke 11:2) but Matthew indicates that it was to be a model. (Matt 6:8-13)
“Pray then in this way:
‘Our Father who art in heaven,
Hallowed be Thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Jesus taught that for it to be His kind of prayer was to be in His name (John 14:14) offered in faith with a forgiving spirit (Mark 11:24-25) and sometimes to be accompanied by fasting. (Matt 17:21) It is to be inclusive of enemies and critics (Matt 5:44), preferably in private, but always in humility. (Matt 6:6-7)
From the practice of Jesus we learn that it must be engaged in both day and night, takes priority and ought always to accompany any event of importance. We have been given identical instructions to the early disciples, what are we going to do with them?
THE LORD’S PRAYER by Martin Luther (written AD 1528)
Here the Lord has combined ALL THE NEEDS which cause us to cry to Him. Also WHAT and HOW to
pray are prescribed as in a table ….and there is no doubt that our prayer will please God.
“Hallowed be Thy Name”….Our first need which ought to impel us to pray and call upon the name of God… What does this mean? Is it not already holy? IT IS HOLY IN ITS NATURE, BUT NOT IN OUR USE. Those who misuse the Name of God for deceiving and lying, profane the Name of God, just as churches were desecrated when a fight had taken place in them. The 2nd Commandment explains this petition: God’s Name is hallowed when one does not curse and swear…and when one calls upon Him, prays, praises, magnifies Him, preaches that He is merciful and helps us in need, peril or otherwise.
“Thy Kingdom Come” ….The second need. It becomes most personal: As I too am to become a part of those in whom the name of God is hallowed, so I here pray that God’s Kingdom may also come to me, and His will be done in me. CHRIST IS THE KING OF RIGHTEOUSNESS AND LIFE, AGAINST THE DEVIL, SIN, DEATH, AND AN EVIL CONSCIENCE….We here pray that the Word of God may go out into the world with power that many may come into this kingdom and become partakers of redemption. All is comprehended in Christ’s saying: “Seek ye first the Kingdom…” (Matt 6:33).
“Thy will be done”….When you pray this, you must look askance at a gang called the devil and his mates who would hinder. The devil has his poisoned arrows and he cannot endure the Word to be preached; so he opposes. And, GOD’S WILL IS TO BE DONE IN ME. Christians become a wall for destroying all the counsels of the adversaries in reaching the world with the Word. This prayer demolishes the devices of tyrants so their counsel will not prevail.
“Give us this day our daily bread”…. This is beginning to be understood, though there are few who do understand it. WHEN YOU PRAY THIS PETITION YOU PRAY FOR EVERYTHING THAT CAN PREVENT OUR BREAD FROM COMING AND THE CROPS FROM PROSPERING…We also pray for temporal peace against war, because in times of war we cannot have bread … We pray for good government, for sustenance and peace, without which you cannot eat. Therefore it would be proper to stamp the emperor’s or the prince’s coat-of-arms upon bread as well as upon money….So we realize that bread, hunger and war are in God’s Hands. Therefore do not think that peace is an accidental thing: it is a gift of God. Bread cannot come to me if there is no peace.
“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors”….Now comes the greatest need of all – OUR LIFE – which we cannot lead without (facing) sin. Here is the greatest need of all, and we pray: “Forgive us our debts (trespasses).” We get stuck in the mire of being proud and thinking we are a thoroughly holy people. Therefore, He says here: “Forgive us our debts.” Anyone, therefore, who has a burdened and sorrowful conscience prays here for grace and forgiveness….for the strength of the Name, the Kingdom, and the will of God. May everyone acknowledge the need! I do not know enough about my neighbour, and must pray daily for forgiveness….If you have someone whom you do not forgive, you pray in vain…Forgive him from the heart; then he will also be certain that his sin has been forgiven…and your heart will rejoice.
“And lead us not into temptation”….”INTO EVIL ENTICEMENT.” That is very fine old German…First, there is the FLESH which says, “Go and have illicit relations with another’s wife, daughter, maid!”…Or it says: “I’m going to sell this as dearly as I can.” The greed of the flesh!…Second, there is the WORLD which tempts you with envy, hatred, pride. Impatience with some neighbour, and you blow your top! Further, it refers to not conforming to the world. Pray: “O Lord, bring it to pass that the flesh and the world do not seduce me!”…”Let me not fall into this or other temptations. “…Then, the DEVIL, who tempts you by causing you to disregard God’s Word. Or he assails you by unbelief, diffidence, by fanatics, superstition, witchcraft, and the like. He will deliver you! Pray: “Father, let not our flesh seduce us, let not the world deceive us, let not the devil cast us down.”
“But deliver us from evil”….The Greek is PONEROS. Its whole meaning points to the devil. From that wicked one deliver us! You must also include in this “evil,” everything on earth which is evil, such as sickness, poverty, death, whatever evil is in the dominion of Satan, of which there is very much on earth. For who can count all the evils? A child becomes sick, and so forth. In short: DELIVER US FROM THE DEVIL! Then the Name of God is hallowed, His kingdom comes, His will is done, and we shall be delivered for all things.