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Teach Us to Pray

April 7 2024

Book: Luke

Scripture: Luke 11:1-13

Thank you for reading this sermon from Christ Fellowship. I hope and pray that this sermon will be a blessing of grace and truth to you. With that said, let me encourage you not to use this sermon as a replacement for your local church. Christ Jesus did not establish his Church simply for us to consume content. Instead, He calls us to be part of a real, covenant family. 


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.”

This is Luke’s version of the Lord’s Prayer – also found in Matthew 6. I want to make a few general comments before we read it.

First, I want us to read this prayer as a student. “Teach us to pray”, he says. I think it is interesting that we have no record of Jesus teaching his disciples to preach. But he did teach them to pray. He demonstrated prayer and instructed them to pray often.

Second, I want us to read this prayer as a pattern, or an example. We can say it as it is written, but it’s meant to be a model or a pattern.

Third, I want us to think of this as the prayer of a missionary, because this was the audience. He’s teaching missionaries how to pray. And in a sense, that’s all Christians. So, I want us to read this prayer as missionaries of Jesus.

Lastly, I want us to read this prayer with a group mentality, not just as individual Christians. Normally, we think of the Lord’s Prayer as a bedside prayer to teach our children, but as we read it, I want you to notice that Jesus uses plural pronouns. Give “us”… forgive “us”… lead “us”… This is a prayer for the church, a community of disciples depending on God together in prayer.

To illustrate the importance of this, consider the fact that the church happened through prayer. In the book of Acts, all of these things happened because of corporate prayer:

  • the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost,
  • signs and wonders at the hands of the apostles,
  • bold witnessing to the Word of God,
  • the conversion of many priests,
  • the sending out of frontier missionaries,
  • the establishment of new churches,
  • the rescue of apostles from prison,

Now, let’s read the Lord’s Prayer together as students and as missionaries.

And he said to them, “When you pray, say:

“Father, hallowed be your name.

You are my Father – someone who cares for me, someone who knows me, someone who loves me. And everything I have to give, every bit of honor that this world can come up with, it all belongs to you.

Jesus first points us to God and His glory, because without that priority in place, the other requests might seem self-serving. But they are not. They are asked for a purpose – and that purpose is the fame of God, the glory of God.

Your kingdom come.

We want you to rule in our hearts and in our lives. We want you to express your sovereign rule over this earth in the same way it is felt in heaven. We know God already rules over everything. He is already King. But the earth is not completely convinced of this yet.

This is us asking God to convince the world that He is Lord. Wake us up. Reveal your glory. Do you see why this is a missionary prayer? This can only happen by God’s Spirit working through His church to accomplish the mission Jesus gave us – to make disciples of all nations.

Give us each day our daily bread,

In other words, “God, we need your provision in physical things.”

Some are quick to spiritualize this and speak of the daily bread as God’s Word or something like that, but I think the simple request for food is important here. There is one giver. Everything you have, everything I have – none of it really belongs to us. It all belongs to God. He gives. He takes.

That’s why the 10th commandment exists. Envy or coveting something that we don’t have is sin, because it means our hearts don’t trust God for provision. It also corrects the greed of a heart that hoards physical things without generosity.

and forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.

In other words, “God, we also need your provision in spiritual things.”

We look to Him, not only for our physical needs, but also for our spiritual needs. This does not mean, as some believe, that we must daily ask God for forgiveness or else we will be condemned. Instead, this is a prayerful reminder that forgiveness is a lifestyle. We are spiritually dependent on God. We can do nothing good except in response to His grace. So, this is a prayer for restoration. This is a prayer for reconciliation, with God and with one another.

And lead us not into temptation.”

In other words, “God, we need your guidance.”

Again, this is the prayer of a missionary which helps explain this line. We know that God, as James 1 says, does not tempt anyone. So, what does Jesus mean?

I think his meaning is explained well by his own prayer for the church in John 17. Jesus prayed there for his people to be IN the world but not OF the world. He says, “Don’t take them out of the world, but keep them from the evil one.”

So, this prayer is a way of asking God to help us proceed into our mission as a church with care. Jesus knew that He would be sending His church into a minefield. They would need the Holy Spirit to provide direction. And He did. There were times when the Apostle Paul wanted to go somewhere, and the Spirit directed Him somewhere else.

And that is the Lord’s Prayer in Luke. As I said, it’s a bit shorter than the one in Matthew. But this is the prayer Jesus taught his disciples, perhaps more than once.

It’s a prayer that forces us to dig down into our hearts, into our need, to find rest in God’s power and His plans so that the Great Commission might be fulfilled.

But notice what follows:

And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, 

for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 

This seems like a funny situation to us – like asking your neighbor for a cup of sugar in the middle of the night. But in this context, the friend is trying to avoid the shame of poor hospitality.

and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? 

In other words, this is a very inconvenient request.

I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. 

The word “impudence” might also be translated as “shameless audacity”. As we might say, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease!”

Jesus gives this parable immediately after teaching us to pray. He is assuring his disciples that God will answer persistent prayer for genuine need. And he continues:

And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 

10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 

There’s an important bit of information that we lose here in English. The verbs ask, seek, and knock are all present imperatives, and they are continuous. In other words, they imply persistence. Keep on asking. Keep on seeking. Keep on knocking. Don’t stop.

But I need to make an important clarification here. Jesus is not promising that God will give us ANYTHING we ask for. And I’m glad that’s not true. If I had received everything in life that I thought I wanted or needed at the time, I would have missed out on some of the biggest blessings God had planned for me.

Let’s look more closely at what Jesus says. He says, ask and IT shall be given to you. But what is the IT? What is it we should be asking for and seeking after? We know this doesn’t include anything, because of the context.

What did Jesus just teach us to pray FOR? God’s kingdom… daily bread… forgiveness… guidance… that’s what He promises to give when we ask.

This is why context matters. Jesus is commanding us to ask for and seek after the things God wants for us, not what we want for ourselves. And that is reinforced by the last few verses:

11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 

12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 

13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

This last bit addresses a key problem in our hearts. We have a tendency to struggle with prayer because we struggle to believe that God is really good! That’s why we struggle to ask God in dependence and with persistence – because we don’t see Him as a Good Father. We don’t really think God intends to give us the good things we need.

A few years ago, I read a story about a golf tournament in Arkansas. As part of the tournament, they offered a prize for anyone who hit a hole in one on a specific hole. The prize was a brand-new pickup truck. Of course, the odds of hitting a hole in one are very small, even for professional golfers.

The club assumed no one would do it and they decided not to buy the insurance to protect themselves in the unlikely event that someone did it. Well, some guy made the shot, and the club didn’t want to give him the truck. Of course, he sued and probably won.

But here’s the thing. I think a lot of people believe in their hearts that God is really holding out on us like that. He makes all these promises, but we’re not sure He is going to deliver on them.

We suffer and we blame God.  We don’t get what we want, and we blame God.

And this is what it boils down to. Either God is keeping something good from His children, or we want something He’s not offering us because it’s not what we really need.

And that is the heart of this teaching – something every parent in the room can understand.

Our kids want a lot of things they don’t need, things that may actually be harmful to them. How many of your kids would eat the entire bag of Easter candy if you didn’t set some limits?

James, the brother of Jesus, clarifies this. He says, “You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”

This is important, because a lot of Christians will tell you that God will give you anything if you have enough faith – money, health, you name it… you claim it. And that’s foolish. If that’s true, then God isn’t a very good Father.

Prayers are not magic words that we use to twist God’s arm into making things happen. God is not a genie in a lamp waiting to bless us with a new car when we make the wish.

I can’t imagine that sort of thinking brings much glory to God either, because we have a lot of Christians now wondering why they’ve had to suffer and why God didn’t give them what they asked for and they are left thinking it must have been something they did wrong or that God doesn’t really hear them or care.

Jesus wants us to pray. Prayer demonstrates a heart dependence on God. It proves that we trust Him. Prayer is the means of God’s provision and God promises to provide what we need for His mission in our lives. He promises us a kingdom and the righteousness of Jesus we need to gain entrance to that kingdom.

My future is secure. I don’t need a bigger answer to prayer than that. Everything else I do for the rest of my life is connected to that. Jesus is not just Lord over a part of my life. He is Lord over the whole thing. Let’s pray.