12.01.07 Lk. 11:1-4
TEACHING HOW TO PRAY
1 He was praying in a certain place, and when He finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John also taught his disciples.”
2 He said to them, “Whenever you pray, say:
Your name be honored as holy.
Your kingdom come.
3 Give us each day our daily bread.
4 And forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves also forgive everyone
in debt to us.
And do not bring us into temptation.”
Judaism had developed a sophisticated series of prayer books, similar to many churches of later centuries. Modern critics often reflect upon the “deadness” of liturgical prayers, but fail to recognize that the Jews also prayed extemporaneously. Messianic scholars insist that in biblical times the free and open flow of prayer was common and that included prayers in the temple. Jesus, being an orthodox Jew, would have prayed a number of liturgical prayers at their appropriate times as well as spontaneous prayers whenever needed.
For the disciples, ministry with Jesus was a profound adventure. They knew He communicated with God and since they observed the results of His prayers, the only request they ever made was, “Lord, teach us [how] to pray.” This prayer model is similar to the example given on the Mount of Beatitudes (Mt. 6:9-13), where the prayer is incorporated into the famous Sermon on the Mount. Matthew included six petitions whereas Luke mentioned only five. The point was to learn how to pray from the heart, not what to pray from a predetermined script.
The disciples obviously noticed that after He prayed, there were incredible results. They realized that the prayers of Jesus were answered – profoundly! In their simple understanding, they believed that if they learned how to pray like Jesus did, they would achieve similar results. A relationship with God is something they would learn later. Another point to consider is this: A unique difference between how Jews and Christians pray is the subject of their prayers. Christians will ask God to bless their food while Jewish people will bless God for their food that He has provided. Which is greater, the food or the God who provided the food? Maybe it is time for Christians to pray the Jewish way.
Finally, according to the book of Jubilees, the synagogue service was a long dry lecture of the smallest details of rabbinic rules and regulations. In fact, the book of Jubilees is considered one of the most important authorities on Jewish customs and opinions at the time of Jesus, second only to the Mishnah. It included everything about proper washing before and after eating, to the kind and quality of wood needed for the temple altar. By this time the disciples not only realized there was a refreshing and unique difference between the sermons of Jesus and those of the local rabbis, but there was a difference between their prayers. And the disciples wanted to know how to pray with results like Jesus had.
. Schneider, “How Should We Pray?” 18.
. See Philo, The Works of Philo. 689-90 quoted in 06.02.02.Q1. Also Martin, Worship in the Early Church. 24. Lightfoot, A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica. 3:67; Geikie, The Life and Works of Christ. 2:3-4.
. Geikie, The Life and Words of Christ. 1:560.