google-site-verification: google3e8cc4742c5fd8a2.html Luke Looks Back 15

Luke Looks Back 15

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Study 15 - -Luke 11:1-13

Praying to the Father

A disciple asks a question about prayer and although he gets a model prayer he also gets much more.

First the prayer. We read 11: 1 – 4.

This is a shorter version of the prayer than Matthew’s. Matthew starts off with ‘our Father in heaven’ instead of just ‘Father’. Matthew introduces the prayer after warning his disciples against showing off in praying, long words and many words. I doubt whether he would want us to keep on repeating this particular set of words either. He wants honest heart prayers in our ordinary every day language. One good idea is to pray along the pattern he has given us but rewording it as we go. So we might start off: ‘Dear Lord and Father I am so amazed that you have asked me to address you like this’ or ‘may I call you Father this morning even if you seem rather far away just at the moment’ or ‘ you are in heaven and I am stuck here on earth but please hear what I have to say’.

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Question 1: Think up 2 other ways you might start your prayer. Something like:’ I want to honour your name and who you are this evening as I pray – help me to do it by your spirit, please’ and an infinite number of other possibilities.

‘each day’ (11: 3 NIV) is a rare word in the Greek which may mean ‘today’ ‘tomorrow’ or ‘enough for the day’.

Question 2: To which OT incident is it likely to refer? A cynic might ask whether this prayer is necessary in the day of the supermarket (at least in the world’s better off countries).

The giving of manna and quail in Exodus 16 is being referred to. The owners of the supermarket probably think they filled the shelves but a greater than them, the Lord, organised the natural world for them to plunder! Question 3: Praying for the coming of the Kingdom could be dangerous. Why? What effect should praying like that have on us? What might it look like if it came and was openly apparent, as it is not now?

It might come and where would we be then? If we have placed our trust in Jesus we shall enjoy the fruits of his faithfulness, but if not, not. If we ask for the coming of the kingdom we must live in kingdom style now, or else we are hypocrites. No one knows what it will look like with any certainty; all we do know is that it will surpass our wildest dreams.

Question 4: Is it necessary to forgive every one who sins against us before we receive forgiveness from the Father?

No. To say that would contradict every other place where forgiveness is mentioned in the Bible. What it means is that if we expect to be forgiven we need to live in the world of forgiveness. In the same way if we want to be loved by God we need to live in the world of love, which is what John meant when he said: Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. We read 11: 5 – 13.

There is a problem in 11: 8. The NIV has ‘the man’s boldness’ but that is probably not as good as the TNIV ‘your (the person knocking’s) shameless audacity’ and even that is probably not right. The root meaning of the word being translated is ‘ avoidance of shame’ but In the original it is not ‘the man’s’ or ‘your’ but ‘by him’, which can refer to the person knocking or the one in the house being woken up. So it may mean that the person getting up has to do so in order not to lose honour and be shamed. It is amazing that Jesus used a parable in which the Lord God is shamed but that is the most likely meaning of this passage. Our experience of answers to prayer is probably not the same as is expressed in this passage. For something slightly different I will read out 10 statements we might make, or hear other people make, about prayer. I will pause very briefly after each and you can say ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘maybe’ after each. Then my comment will follow. Keep in mind what we have just read that Jesus said.

1) If we nag the Lord we will get whatever we want. Paul didn’t think so when he only prayed 3 times for his thorn in the flesh to be taken away. No, then. (2 Cor 12: 8!)

2) If we don’t get what we want it is because of our lack of faith. No it isn’t according to Jesus (Lk 13: 1 – 5).

3) All night prayer meetings are always more effective than one hour ones. Not according to Jesus in Matthew 6, but yes according to him in this passage. So it must depend on circumstances and attitudes.

4) Jesus was only making a point to antagonists in these verses – note that he calls his hearers evil in v 13. There may be some truth in this but it is a series of promises even if we find it difficult to see how they actually work out in our every day lives. Maybe, then.

5) Prayer is about learning to align ourselves with the will of God. If we do so successfully we shall ask and receive. This is the gift of discernment. Yes. Definitely true.

6) Prayer is always answered but God in his wise providence often gives us the opposite of what we ask for. Possibly true but it can be the way some people try to get past the fact that they feel they don’t always get answers to prayer at all. So, maybe.

7) Saying ‘if it is your will’ is a simplistic cop-out. Well, yes, it often is.

8) The struggle of prayer is not a struggle with God (like Jacob at the brook Jabbok, as often asserted) but with ourselves (as even Jesus experienced in the garden of Gethsemane) bending our wills to obedience. Yes. Very, yes.

9) Some people with wonderful tales of answered prayer may be adept at only seeing what they want to see. Unfortunately that does often seem to be the case.

10) We may expect our prayers to be answered only if we have a deeper sense of the Fatherhood of God than of our own need. No! In his abundant grace and goodness the Lord will often answer prayers from even his frailest servants, like you and me.

I think passages like this are very difficult, particularly for those of us who live in the cynical, Western world. My questions probably reflect the fact that this is where I live. Those of you who live in a more spiritually open society may wonder why I appear to be so negative. If so, just treasure what you have got and pray for those of us who are not so well off spiritually.

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