Luke 11:1-4 - Large Little Lesson
Don't get bogged down praying long prayers. Follow Jesus' short pattern instead.
Read / Listen
Read Luke 11:1-4
One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
2 He said to them, “When you pray, say:
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
3 Give us each day our daily bread.
4 Forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation.’ ”
Listen to passage & devotional:
Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 118
Q. What did God command
us to pray for?
A. Everything we need,
spiritually and physically,
as embraced in the prayer
Christ our Lord himself taught us.
I wonder if the disciples were underwhelmed at first.
Here they had just asked one of the best, most important question they ever ask: "Lord, teach us to pray." Not only is this one of the best things they could have asked, but there's nobody better to ask how to pray than the Son of God Himself.
I'll bet that after the question was asked, a hush settled over the group in eager anticipation as to how Jesus would answer, and they sat back a bit, preparing themselves for a long and detailed explanation of how it is mortal men should speak to the Lord God Almighty. We might expect Jesus' answer here would end up making Psalm 119 look short.
But instead, Jesus fully answered this all important question in just 38 words.
We often refer to this passage as The Lord's Prayer, but it would be much more accurate to describe it as The Disciple's Prayer. It's not necessarily the prayer the Lord prayed, but one He gave to us, His disciples, to pray as we live for Him.
We'll spend the final six weeks of this year coming to understand the pattern these 38 words set for us to pray, by Acknowledging who God is, Aligning our lives with His will, as we Ask God for "everything we need, spiritually and physically."
We often value things by size. If something's heavy, it's probably expensive (you might recall the fifth commandment calls us to value our parents by letting them be 'heavy' in our lives). We assume that big businesses are more profitable than small ones, and even that large churches are healthier than fellowships with just a few people.
So it's not surprising to understand our instinct is that if we really want to impress God and convince Him to give us what we want, that longer and more and verbose prayers will be more effective.
There is a time and place for longer public prayers filled with pious language. The Puritans perfected this art form in a way that continues to bless those who read and pray their beautiful prayers. But most of us don't have the capacity to pray this way in our day to day lives, so we don't pray as often as we should because we're intimidated by our perceived need to pray long, eloquent, prayers chock full of holy sounding words.
The truth is that bigger is not always better in any aspect of life. Nearly every prayer written in the Bible, just like this model prayer that Jesus gave us, is fairly short. This is what makes it possible for you to fulfill the Bible's command to pray constantly (1 Thessalonians 5:17, Colossians 4:2, Ephesians 6:18). This isn't a command to pray one massively long prayer, but to continually pray lots of short prayers all through the day.
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father, hallowed be your name.
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Your Kingdom come; lead us not into temptation;
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
Read the New Testament in a year, a chapter a day - John 20