If both John and Jesus taught their disciples how to pray, then we should ask the same question Jesus’ disciple asks in Luke 11:1, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” In response, Jesus gave his disciples a model prayer we can use. The “Lord’s Prayer” was not a prayer to be constantly repeated. This seems evident from the story Jesus told next of a man who asks his friend to give him bread for a surprise guest. Each of us has gone to a friend at times with a request for help on a specific need. The Lord’s Prayer outlines what we can present to the Lord in our prayers.
Jesus opens His prayer with: “Our Father in heaven” (Luke 11:2). The One we address our prayers to is above everything—He is in heaven—at the same time, He is a personal God, our Father. When we pray, “Hallowed be Your Name” (Luke 11:2), we are recognizing God’s holiness and our sinfulness. We are asking “Our Father,” to give us His holy character.
Next, Jesus teaches us to pray, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Luke 11:2). This world is not yet under the full control of Jesus. So we are to pray for the time when sin is eradicated, and when Jesus is again Lord of the earth. And we are to pray for God’s will to be done in our lives today, just as it is done in heaven. Every day we will have specific ways in which we want to submit to God’s will.
Also every day we need “our daily bread (Luke 11:3) and help with other physical needs. Every day we need forgiveness for sins we’ve committed, and every day we will need to extend forgiveness to those who have wronged us. Perhaps Jesus grouped requests for bread and forgiveness together because food is one of our most basic physical needs and forgiveness is our most basic spiritual need.
In Luke’s version of the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus’ final request is for deliverance from both temptation and from Satan himself: “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Luke 11:4). Both phrases convey the same idea, “Do not allow us to be led into situations in which the evil one will have an opportunity to tempt us.”
To energize your prayer life, use the themes of the Lord’s Prayer by adding your recognition of God’s rulership, and your own praise for His holiness. Also add your requests for His Coming Kingdom and for His will to be done in your life. Then bring to Him your own specific physical needs and requests for forgiveness, as well as the specific areas in which you want God to deliver you from Satan temptations.
Douglas Jacobs, D.Min.
Professor of Church Ministry and Homiletics
School of Religion, Southern Adventist University