Luke 11:1-13

The request of Jesus' disciples that he teaches them how to pray comes as a result of his own praying – they see how good he is and want some of the action. If Jesus wanted to spend time praying, how much more should I? The disciples knew that John had been teaching his disciples, so could have spoken to them and found out what he was saying but they wanted to learn from their own master. In a world saturated with books on how to have a better prayer life, it's important to come here first and learn directly from our master.

There is too much to write about this prayer, but I'll try some brief thoughts. The first priority is God's name – and surely I can't truly say that line without pausing to reflect on why God's name should be hallowed and that, surely, will lead to praise. How hard it is to pray for "daily bread" when I know that there's plenty in Sainsburies across the road. I believe that all things are provided by God, but it's often hard to really believe it. This prayer, though, ought to help. The phrasing "forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive…" is crafty. It means there's no way to pray honestly for my sins to be forgiven while I'm holding something against someone else, it means that I have to forgive before I can pray as Jesus taught. "And lead us not into temptation" – not merely a request that I'm not led into temptation, but also that I am led. Otherwise, I won't know which way to go. While this prayer is a list of five requests which God will honour, it should also search and change my heart – making sure that I praise God, that I seek his kingdom to come, remember that he provides everything, remember and confess my sins, forgive other people everything and want to avoid temptation. Jesus knew what he was doing!

Verses 5-13 give us some attitudes towards prayer. An "impudent" or shameless asking for things is good. I can often shy away from these kind of requests as I don't want to offend God but Jesus says go for it! "Ask, and it will be given to you", but remember that the top priority is God's name – so be careful what you ask. Secondly, the Father is generous as human father's are. (But more so!) "If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give" you exactly what you ask for is not what v13 says. While God loves to give us good things, the only promise here is being given the Holy Spirit. Only? Isn't that the best gift that there is, when you consider that with the Holy Spirit comes the promise of a personal relationship with God, the forgiveness of sins and eternal life? And it's as simple as asking.

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 who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.


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