Our Daily Prayer

Luke 11: 1-4
Gal 2: 1-2,7-14 / Psa 117

When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed be Your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins’ …
(Luke 11:2-4)

For forgiveness and daily bread,
And protection from harm’s way;
We never know what lies ahead,
So pray Our Father every day.

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.” He said to them, “When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed be Your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.'” (Luke 11: 1-4)

Reflection

Like the seven days of the week, the Lord’s Prayer in the Gospel of Luke can be divided into seven parts. With just a few short sentences, our Lord gave us the complete formula for unlocking the vault of heaven that will provide all our essential needs, especially in building a loving relationship with God, our Father.

First of all, “Our Father” (Mt.6:9) indicates that Jesus intended this prayer to be one of communal rather than private worship. As He reminds us, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Mt.18:20). It is in a prayer community that we find peace and fulfillment. As we pray together, we make holy the Name of our Father (hallowed be Your Name), so that we, His children may also be set apart from sin. By according Him the respect and honor that His holiness is due, we are also made holy. (Note: many who joined our brotherhood no longer swear or profane the name of the Lord.) Your kingdom come is the third part of the prayer where we ask God to bring forth His reign in our life by the power of His Holy Spirit and of His Word. By praying this, we are also asking Him to use us in propagating the Good News of His kingdom to others. Then we pray, Give us each day our daily bread, as we recall how God provided manna to the Israelites each day that they were in the desert (Ex.16:15-21). God wants us to trust Him every passing day for all our needs, because as Jesus assures us, “Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself” (Mt. 6:34).

I believe the most important part of the Lord’s Prayer is when we pray, Forgive us our sins, Because from the very start of His ministry Jesus had always preached repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Just as we need to ask for our material needs on a daily basis, we also need to pray continually for God’s forgiveness in order to draw ourselves farther away from our former sinful ways. The road to holiness and perfection, however, is not only in asking and receiving God’s forgiveness, but also in forgiving everyone who sins against us. Our forgiveness certainly depends on our capacity to forgive as well. “If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions” (Mt.6:14-15).

And lastly, we ask God not to subject us to the final test. Only our Lord Jesus passed the final test, but He knew that we must all persevere in life’s trials if we are to merit passage to His Father’s kingdom. In this petition we are asking for God’s guidance and grace.

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for teaching us how to pray to our Father in heaven. Through this prayer we have been drawn into a more meaningful relationship with our loving God, Who provides for all our needs, and forgives all our trasgressions. May we grow in holiness each day that we pray Your prayer to Him. Amen.

Yahweh is one of the unique marks of the Israelites, to the point that their clamoring for a king under Samuel’s judgeship is considered a sin (1 Samuel 8). Israel’s second king, David, born in Bethlehem, of the tribe of Judah, becomes the archtypical king, and he is promised that one of his sons will always sit upon the throne (2 Samuel 7), fulfilled ultimately in Jesus Christ.

John comes proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matthew 3:2), and Jesus takes up the same message (Matthew 4:17). He sends out his disciples with the authority to do miracles and proclaim to villages, “The kingdom of God is near you” (Luke 10:9, 11). The kingdom of God comes when Jesus proclaims God’s reign, and demonstrates that reign by preaching good news to the poor, freedom for the prisoners, sight for the blind, release for the oppressed, and the Jubilee Day of the Lord (Luke 4:18-19). The kingdom is here in Jesus and his disciples — and in you and me — but it will come fully and completely when Jesus returns to earth to reign over all as King and Lord (Revelation 11:15).

When we pray, “Your kingdom come,” we are asking God to manifest the power and glory of his kingdom in us, and throughout our world. What a prayer! We are praying that Christ might reign over all. We are also asking the Father to hasten the return of Jesus Christ to this earth. Amen!

“Give us each day our daily bread.” (11:3)

The first petition for our own needs is, “Give us each day our daily bread.” Though the words used in this phrase are very rare words in Greek, we think they mean, “Give us each day our bread for today.” This is a prayer asking God to meet our everyday needs: for food, but also for all our other needs.

It’s strange, but we long to break free from the necessity of praying this prayer. We would like to store up enough money so that we don’t have to worry — or pray — about where our next meal will come from. We would like to be “comfortably” well off, if not rich. We don’t want to have to pray for our next meal.

I don’t think that Jesus wants us poverty-stricken, though that may happen to us, and he is able to meet our needs. But he does want us to get in the habit of relying upon the Father. For everything. Should we thank God for our food if we have earned the money for it by our own labor? Of course!

“You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.” (Deuteronomy 8:17-18)

Since it is God who gives us the ability to earn a living, then in a real sense, it is he who “gives” us our daily bread. He strengthens us, and provides through us. So often, when we have our health, we take this ability for granted. Jesus is teaching us to look to the Father for every provision.

Sometimes you hear the teaching that we should pray for others’ needs, but never for our own, that God will provide without us even asking. Though that teaching sounds pious and faith-filled, it goes directly counter to Jesus’ own teaching. We are to ask God for our daily needs. He is interested in our jobs. He cares about your school. He is concerned about the health of your business. He cares about your marriage, and children, and relationships. Your church matters to him.

Jesus teaches us, “Give us today our daily bread.” How is it that we so often confuse such a simple concept?

“Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.” (11:4a-b)

Some people would have you believe that sin and guilt and temptation were invented by the Catholic Church. :-) Not so; Jesus taught about it. Sin describes a broken relationship, a breach of trust, an ugly deed, a selfish value system. To pretend that we have no problems is the height of denial. But many people around us live in that fantasy world, at least until reality catches up with their living.

This petition of the Lord’s prayer requires a recognition of the need for forgiveness. Not just forgiveness once in our lives, but continual forgiveness. Yes, as we follow Jesus, sin’s hold over us loosens. But there still is sin we need to take seriously. The Apostle John said,

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.

“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense — Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 1:8-2:2)

For We Also Forgive (11:4b)

But forgiveness is not only for disciples to receive, but also to be offered. Jesus teaches us to pray “Forgive us … because we also forgive.” Is our forgiveness dependent upon us forgiving? When you read Jesus’ explanation of the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:14-15 you’d certainly think so:

“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15)

But, having said that, there is no way that we can earn forgiveness by amassing “forgiveness points” by forgiving others. Forgiveness is by God’s grace through Jesus’ atonement for our sins, not by any merit we have. Yet, unforgiveness can block God’s blessing.

Though the NIV translates both words in 11:4a-b as “sins,” there are actually two Greek words used. “Forgive us our sins” uses the common Greek noun hamartia, “sin, miss the mark.” In the next phrase, “for we also forgive everyone who sins against us” is word “sin” translates the Greek verb opheilo, “owe, be indebted.”[4] You’ve met people who feel that everyone “owes” them something; those who hold a grudge are something like that. They nurse a hurt, a slight, a sin until it separates them from the person — and from God himself.
In my career as a pastor I have counseled with many, many people who wonder why they aren’t experiencing God’s fullness. At the bottom of many of their lives is a root of bitterness, unforgiveness toward someone who has hurt them deeply.

Two simple lessons we disciples learn from this petition: (1) we must ask for forgiveness time and time again, and (2) unforgiveness blocks God’s blessing.

“And lead us not into temptation.” (11:4c)

The final phrase can seem confusing. Does God tempt us? No. Jesus’ brother, the Apostle James, teaches us: “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” (James 1:13-15)

But we do believe that God guides our steps. This is a prayer that God would protect us against temptation. In Matthew’s version of this prayer, Jesus adds the explanatory phrase, “deliver us from evil” or “deliver us from the evil one.” Jesus is teaching us to be dependent upon God to help us in times of temptation, when the tempter seems especially strong. Don’t lead us into places where we can be tempted, we pray, but lead us in places where you are, and where we can be free.

Sometimes we disciples flirt with temptation. We don’t exactly seek temptation, but we are attracted to sinful things. And so we sort of wink at them. Our resistance is low; we are being “dragged away and enticed” by our “own evil desire,” as James put it. This prayer, “and lead us not into temptation,” helps teach us how important it is for us to stop flirting with sin but to actively flee and resist it. That is to be part of the content of our prayers.

Some of you are saying, “But if God knew what I really thought about, or wanted to do, he wouldn’t have anything to do with me.” Some of you are ashamed of your secret sins, but afraid to open them up to God himself. My dear friends, there is nothing we have done or said or thought that can surprise our Father. The miracle of the cross is that he cares about us in spite of our rebelliousness. This part of the Lord’s Prayer reminds us to call upon the Father for strength when we are tempted. We are not to fight a secret war against sin; the Father wants to be our continual partner. He knows your weakness, and mine. And wants to free us and make us whole. What a wonderful Father! What wonderful grace.

The Lord’s Prayer is deceptively simple. We may pray it often, and by rote. We may take its words for granted. But this week — especially this week — let the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples to pray fill your thoughts and meditations. And may its vocabulary become yours.

Father, I know so much. And yet I realize that I hardly know you at all. Bring me back to a simplicity of relationship with you, my Father. Forgive me for my prayerlessness. Forgive me for my pat prayer formulas. Help me to learn from Jesus how to really pray. I know that is your desire, too. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

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