4B The Christian Life Means Engaging In Prayer

Stand Firm: Living in a Post-Christian Culture  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Luke 11:1–4 ESV
1 Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” 2 And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. 3 Give us each day our daily bread, 4 and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.”

Teach Us To Pray

Our text in Luke 11 is similar to instructions the Lord gave His disciples in Matthew 6: 9– 13, but they are not records of the same incident. The Matthew account occurred in Galilee, while the event Luke described happened months later in Judea. Jesus was repeating instructions He likely gave at other times throughout His ministry. And in this instance, He was prompted by a request from one of His disciples.
Luke 11:1 ESV
1 Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”
We don’t know exactly where this exchange took place. Luke simply tells us that Jesus had been praying, and after He finished, the disciples initiated this conversation. Constant communication with His Father was a regular part of our Lord’s life, and there is no doubt that the disciples had this experience with Him many times. While He often prayed alone, privacy was not always possible. On this occasion, the disciples may have been watching and listening, wondering about the structure or the nature of His prayers.
Why do you think the disciple brought up John the Baptist?
As though Christ needed persuading, they even brought up the fact that John the Baptist had taught his disciples how to pray. The scribes and Pharisees also acknowledged that “the disciples of John often fast and offer prayers” (Luke 5: 33) and tried to use that fact to shame Christ and His disciples. In this case, it seems Christ’s disciples simply didn’t want to be left out.
What else do you notice about the request of the disciple?
It’s also important to note that this disciple— whoever he was— said, “Lord, teach us to pray,” not, “teach us a prayer.” It’s not wrong to recite the Lord’s Prayer— if nothing else, it helps drive home the point the Lord was making. But He did not prescribe this prayer and these words for the purpose of rote recitation. Instead, what the Lord gives us here is a pattern to follow, a framework onto which we ought to construct our own prayers. He said,
Luke 11:2 ESV
2 And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come.
He provided a detailed skeleton to hang all our prayers on. The disciples asked Him how to pray; He’s going to show us.

Addressed to Our Father

As you consider our discussion last week about the cultural context, what could upset the Jews about how this is phrased?
Luke 11:2 ESV
2 And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come.
Christ gives us a model for prayer that begins by addressing God with a familiarity the Jews would have found frighteningly presumptuous. Throughout the Old Testament, God is only occasionally referred to as “Father,” but never in the context of a prayer. Christ’s frequent use of the term offended and provoked Israel’s religious leaders, who rightly understood it as signifying His deity. In response to criticism over His working on the Sabbath, Jesus said,
John 5:17 ESV
17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”
Who remembers the fallout of this statement?
John 5:18 ESV
18 This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
But Christ did not reserve the use of the term exclusively for Himself. One of the primary points Jesus repeatedly emphasized throughout His public ministry is that God is the Father of all the redeemed. For example, in the Sermon on the Mount, He said,
Matthew 6:8 ESV
8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
In John 20: 17, after His resurrection, Jesus said,
John 20:17 ESV
17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ”
Can anyone guess how many times God is called Father in just the synoptic gospels?
Altogether, God is called “Father” sixty-five times in the Synoptic Gospels and another hundred in John’s gospel. Christ’s arrival signaled the removal of the partition that separated God and man— quite literally, in the aftermath of His crucifixion (Matt. 27: 51). Through the Son’s sacrificial death, we become children of the Father.
“Father” is translated from the Greek word patēr, but the spoken language of the day was Aramaic, so the word Christ likely said was abba. This wasn’t a formal title. It was an intimate term— usually one of the first words a small child would learn, comparable to “Daddy” or “Papa” today. It’s a term that evokes tender affection and familial love. That’s how God wants His people to think of Him.
Matthew 7:9–11 ESV
9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
God wants us to think of Him and refer to Him in this most intimate way. The sovereign, eternal, holy Creator God of the universe wants you and me to call Him Father.
This is an amazing reality. In his epistles, Paul repeatedly emphasizes the familial character of our relationship to the Father.
Galatians 4:6 ESV
6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”
Romans 8:15 ESV
15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
God is not the remote god of the Stoics, unable to feel anything. He is not the god of the Epicureans, living in perfect, indifferent serenity. Neither is He the god of the deists, who wound up the universe and walked away. He is not, as Thomas Hardy wrote in the epic drama The Dynasts, “the dreaming, dark, dumb Thing that turns the handle of this idle Show!” He is our Abba Father, the God who intimately knows and loves us.
Consider the story of the prodigal son. The magnanimous affection of the father for his penitent child is overwhelming. The son simply hopes to be a slave in the household, but the father instructs his servants,
Luke 15:22–24 ESV
22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
The stunning reality is that if you are a redeemed believer, you are that son. That is the lavish, forgiving love the Father has for you, His child forever. His arms are open and He is eager to embrace you. God is our Father, and that glorious truth is where our prayers begin.
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