Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” Jesus told them, “When you pray, say:
‘Father, uphold the holiness of your name.
Bring in your kingdom.
Give us the bread we need for today.
Forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive everyone who has wronged us.
And don’t lead us into [trial].’” (Luke 11:1-4 CEB)
- Much of the material that Matthew put into the Sermon on the Mount, Luke chose to put into his chapter 11 instead of the Sermon on the Plain. If you want to compare Luke’s version to Matthew’s version of the Lord’s Prayer, click here.
- In Luke’s version, the disciples ask for this prayer after they see Jesus praying. “Teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” This is new information! We don’t know what John taught his disciples, but apparently it was a prayer that made an impression on the people who heard it.
- Daniel Erlander (author of Manna and Mercy) says that this was a common practice among teachers and disciples in the ancient world; when they ask him to teach them to pray, they are asking for a summary of his teaching, the things most important to Jesus. In this prayer, Jesus emphasizes manna (daily bread) and mercy (forgiveness). Erlander uses this prayer as a lens through which to read the whole Bible. Jesus see the answer to the world’s problems as 1) a recognition that everything is a gift from God’s abundance, and 2) a loving, merciful, egalitarian attitude toward our neighbors. It’s a powerful vision, and fits with Luke’s emphasis on social justice.
- The CEB translates the last word “temptation,” but I think “trial” is better. It is the same Greek word Paul uses in his letter to the Galatians when he says, “Though my poor health burdened [or tested] you, you didn’t look down on me or reject me” (Galatians 4:14). Words can have different meanings in different contexts, and it is possible that “temptation” is the correct reading. Luke may have a different theology than I do! But I prefer “trial” both for theological and textual reasons. Let me point out again: this is a conscious choice on my part. We are always making choices when we read the Bible.
- If you compare this to Matthew’s version, you’ll see it is shorter. Matthew uses language Matthew likes: lots more “in the skies (heavens)” references. Luke doesn’t talk as much about the skies; he’s talking about what happens on this planet.
Jesus goes on to talk more about prayer, and that’s where we’ll hear some more familiar material tomorrow.
Lord, teach us to pray; teach us to desire the things you want us to desire.