One time Yeshua was in a certain place praying. As he finished, one of the disciples said to him, “Sir, teach us to pray, just as Yochanan taught his disciples.” 2 He said to them, “When you pray, say:
May your name be kept holy.
May your Kingdom come.
3 Give us each day the food we need.
4 Forgive us our sins, for we too forgive everyone who has wronged us.
And do not lead us to hard testing.’”
5 He also said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend; and you go to him in the middle of the night and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, 6 because a friend of mine who has been travelling has just arrived at my house, and I have nothing for him to eat.’ 7 Now the one inside may answer, ‘Don’t bother me! The door is already shut, my children are with me in bed — I can’t get up to give you anything!’ 8 But I tell you, even if he won’t get up because the man is his friend, yet because of the man’s hutzpah he will get up and give him as much as he needs.
9 “Moreover, I myself say to you: keep asking, and it will be given to you; keep seeking, and you will find; keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who goes on asking receives; and he who goes on seeking finds; and to him who continues knocking, the door will be opened.
11 “Is there any father here who, if his son asked him for a fish, would instead of a fish give him a snake? 12 or if he asked for an egg would give him a scorpion? 13 So if you, even though you are bad, know how to give your children gifts that are good, how much more will the Father keep giving the Holy Spirit from heaven to those who keep asking him!”
In Matthew’s gospel (chapter 6) this material is part of the sermon on the mount. Why does Luke place it deliberately in the context of Jesus’ final journey to Jerusalem? I think it’s because the relationship of Jesus, and therefore also of his disciples, to the One called Father, is a crucial theme throughout Luke’s Gospel, and becomes an urgent question in view of Jesus’ impending crisis in Jerusalem.How can the Father be trusted if he lets the Son suffer? How can the Son keep faith with a Father who may not rescue him?
Jesus has insisted that only the son of God understands the father. Here he allows his disciples a way into that intimate relationship, by means of his prayer. Luke’s version of the prayer lacks some of the explanatory phrases which appear in Matthew’s, which is the one used in Christian worship. It is addressed simply to “Father” not “our Father in heaven”; it lacks the explanatory phrase, ” your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” but simply asks for the kingdom to come; and it is clearer than Matthew that our forgiveness of others is not made the measure of God’s forgiveness of us; we pray for forgiveness because we also have learned to forgive.
I like to tell people that the whole of Christain faith is here:
Firstly the prayer focuses on the Father whose character (name) is to be honoured, and whose Rule on earth (kingdom) is longed for.
Then the prayer turns to life in God’s Spirit, using the pronouns suitable for a group, who receive the daily necessities as gifts to be shared, and share also the generous forgiveness of God with each other. This does not however make them into superchristians, who can triumph over every evil; rather, knowing their weakness they pray to avoid hard testing.
The prayer as a whole is the word of God’s son and of his children, briefly but powerfully articulating a relationship to the Father, with the Son, in the shared life of the Spirit. It is a model of the Christian life and should be used daily by believers.
Luke wants the reader to note the brass neck of the man who keeps knocking although it’s inconvenient to his friend. If the friend will respond nevertheless how much more readily will the Father God respond to the prayers of his children! Maintaining the conversation with God is important, Jesus advised, even if it seems cheeky. An intimate relationship which permits impertinent demands on God is encouraged by Jesus. Of course there are gifts God gives freely to everyone. God makes the sun to shine on good and bad alike. But there are gifts that have to be sought, because what God wants to give depends on the readiness of the recipient, and may not be precisely what the recipient asked for.
These are lessons that the disciples and the readers of the Gospel understand more profoundly because they are placed in association with Jesus’ suffering. Thus, when Jeus asks his Father to take away the cup of suffering, is he given an egg or a scorpion?
It’s noticeable that where Matthew says the Father knows how to give good gifts to his children, Luke says the Father gives the Holy Spirit to his children. Luke thinks that the greatest gift is sharing the life of God.