The Lord's Prayer
“To pray is to be Christian.” I remember hearing my professor at Geneva College say this, and I thought, “I must not be a very good one.” As I have grown, I have found his words to be more and more true.
Through prayer, I have witnessed things that I did not think possible. The reason for this is because, as a Christian, I worship a God who has the power to answer my prayers. This blog is an exposition of the Lord’s Prayer in Luke’s gospel, and I hope it encourages you in your prayer life.
The Disciple’s Request
Luke chapter 11:1-13 opens with a question from an inquisitive disciple of Jesus: “Lord, teach us to pray as John taught his disciples?” (v.1). The text does not say which disciple asked the question, but whoever it was, they had been watching Jesus intently to figure out what made this rabbi so different from other rabbis. Jesus had clearly shown an example of private, intimate prayer that the disciple had most likely never witnessed before.
The gospel of Luke portrays Jesus praying many times (Luke 3:21; 5:16; 6:12; 9:18, 28-29). This disciple finally had seen enough and wanted to know how to be intimate with God as Jesus was. The disciple is basically saying, “Jesus, John taught his disciple’s to pray, now can you teach us?” Jesus’ answer to the disciple teaches us a lot about prayer.
The text immediately jumps into Christ’s answer, but can you imagine him motioning to all the disciples to gather round? When he has their undivided attention, he begins:
When you pray, say:
“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” (v.2-4)
Jesus gives a short answer to what we, as Christians, often find so frustrating—praying. Yet, when we dig into the words Jesus gave his disciples, there is more than the just dirt on the surface. If we dig just a little deeper there are some valuable gems below the surface that help us understand what we should be praying for.
Pieces of the Prayer
The introduction to the prayer says, “Father, hallowed be your name” (v.2). Jesus has come to bring glory to God the Father. The opening of the prayer does just that. Not only does it remind us that we are praying to God the Father, but it calls to mind His holiness. As we pray, we are coming into the throne room of God almighty, the maker of heaven and earth. If you are a Christian, you come to God as his adopted child. You are to bring your requests before him with a humble heart.
Jesus reveals what we truly need to pray for and He has in mind what we are most anxious about.
Because God is holy, and because we know He has graciously adopted us, Jesus teaches us that we should ask for God’s kingdom to spread. “Your Kingdom come” we are to pray (v.2) . The highest end for us as believers is to glorify God. And praying that his kingdom would spread throughout the world is indeed a prayer that brings our Father glory.
Now that we have prayed for the highest good—God’s holiness, and the glory of spreading his kingdom—we can bring our own needs before our King. So, Jesus, in the last three petitions, reveals something about us.
He reveals what we truly need to pray for and He has in mind what we are most anxious about. We worry about whether we will have food today, whether we are right with God today, and whether we will be safe from temptations today. These are the categories Jesus gives us to pray about, and He does offer us answers.
First, will we have food today?
Luke records Jesus saying, “Give us each day our daily bread” (v.3). This statement would have been extremely relevant to the disciples. Many of them came from the fishing business. They would have been at God’s mercy each day for the provision of the fish.
For us, this prayer is often neglected. We do not have to worry about where our food will come from in America. For the most part, we are rich. Compared to the rest of the world we have an abundance. Be careful not to forget that God is the provider of everything. Even though we are rich, we should still be diligent to come to our Father for our daily needs.
Second, are we right with God today?
The phrase in the prayer that addresses this is, “and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us” (v.4). The thrust of what Jesus is saying here is expressed wonderfully by Phillip Ryken in his commentary on Luke. He writes:
When people do us wrong, they put themselves in our debt. The same is true of our own sin against God: it deserves to be punished. We owe God the penalty for our rebellion, which is eternal death. But God has mercy for sinners. He is willing to cancel our debt is only we will come to him in faith and repentance. One of the strongest proofs that we have received such forgiveness from our Father is our own commitment to forgive others, no matter what they have done. It is simply a fact: the children of God forgive their debtors. By forgiving our debtors, therefore, we show our family resemblance to our Father in heaven.
And third, will we be safe from temptations today?
The final words of the prayer Jesus taught are, “And lead us not into temptation” (v.4). Can God lead us into temptation? No. However, God can lead us into a position where we will be tested through a trial, but it is never God who puts the temptation into our hearts.
That comes from our own sinful nature. James 1:13 says, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.”
What we need to understand is that God does not want us to fail. In fact, God wants us to flourish by using the means he has provided for us in order that we might respond properly in the face of temptation. We are learning about prayer here but reading God’s word helps us know what he wants us to do when facing temptations.
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
God wants His children to be fruitful in their walk with Him. We pray this final petition of the Lord’s Prayer, not because God is out to get us, but because we know that we are weak.
Remember, “to pray is to be Christian.”
 Phillip Graham Ryken, Luke: Reformed Expository Commentary, (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R), 577.
Brendan joined the Orchard Hill staff in September 2018. Prior to joining Orchard Hill, Brendan was the youth leader at College Hill Reformed Presbyterian Church in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania and also worked for Urban Impact Foundation (UIF) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. During his time at UIF he was on their Options Team and was a Spiritual Formation Teacher during summer day-camp.
Brendan is a graduate of Geneva College. During college he met his wife Rhetta, and was a member of the Geneva College Men's Rugby Club. Brendan and Rhetta married in May 2016 and moved to Pittsburgh in order for Brendan to begin a Master of Divinity Program at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary.
Brendan and Rhetta have grown to enjoy the Pittsburgh area, but often visit their families in rural Crawford County and Greene County. Rhetta loves horses and riding quads, and Brendan enjoys hunting and fishing. Brendan and Rhetta push each other to work out, and tackle life together in whatever way they can.