How Do I Please God With My Life?
By Spending Time With Him
John the Baptist: Part 4
Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 11:1-13
Abraham Lincoln once said about prayer, “I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom, and that of all about me seemed insufficient for the day.”
*Matthew 6 is given as part of the sermon on the mount, and it’s given publicly. Luke 11, also called the Lord’s Prayer, is taught later in Jesus’ ministry and was done privately, just the disciples. Both are Jesus’ instruction on how we should pray, both emphasize different aspects of prayer. Today we will weave in and out of both but primarily focusing on Luke 11.
The Disciples Want to Be Religious (Luke 11:1)
Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”
It was a regular practice for Jesus to go off and pray, and we don’t know if he could be heard, but there was something different about Jesus’ prayer life when the disciples compared it to their own prayer lives, or those rabbis they had seen before.
We know right away what the prayers would not have been like. In Matthew 6:5-8 Jesus says, “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” The way that Jesus prays and the teaching He gives on praying is radically different than all the Jewish religious teachers.
By the time of Jesus, there were over 24 sections of the Jewish faith. We know of the Pharisees, and Sadducees from the gospels, and the Essenes from historians such as Jospehus and Philo. So, each of these sects would have prayers that they would offer, morning, mid-day, and in the evening. “Jewish religious leaders and their followers customarily had their distinctive prayers.”
The disciple asking Jesus for instruction on prayer would have known the public prayers which he and the other worshippers would have recited at the services. But such prayers were not adequate for the new life which Jesus was leading his disciples.
The disciple also adds, “as John taught his disciples.” John taught his disciples to pray, and it would have been different than how the Pharisees or Sadducees would have taught their disciples to pray. But Jesus, when He teaches the disciples to pray, is going to throw them for a loop. He will break from generations and generations of rabbinical teachings.
Jesus Instead Focuses Them on a Relationship (Luke 11:2)
2 And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come.
Who Are We Praying To?
Jesus gives this teaching with the Sermon on the Mount, and here again much later in his ministry in Luke 11. Jesus, stops right there, gathers the rest of the disciples and begins to teach them how to pray. ““When you pray, say: “Father” Jesus’ instruction begins with a declaration, a calling out of Father, In Luke’s account of Jesus’ teaching on prayer he does not add, “in heaven” as in Matthew 6:9 just to emphasize the importance of this first word. He also leaves off, “Our” father to emphasize the personal nature of the relationship.
“The variations in the Lord’s Prayer come naturally from Jesus’ desire to teach a pattern for prayer rather than a rigid insistence on form.”
The Jewish people had referred to God as Father, but it was the father of the nation, or even as Matthew says, “father who is in heaven.” The focus of the Jewish father was sovereign and transcendent (far above and more powerful than all). They would not even say His name, instead they combined two titles for God into Jehovah to use instead.
Jesus on the other hand only referred to God as “Father.” In the Gospels he uses “Father” more than sixty times. This is the dramatic difference between the Old and New Testament – No one in the history of God’s people ever prayed liked this, the way Jesus prayed.
In the Old Testament, the word “Father” is used only fourteen times, and it was as a corporate Father of Israel – never as an individual or personal To the Jewish people hearing Jesus say God as a personal Father would have been shocking.
In Greek, it is the word Abba, and in English the closest translation is the loving term “daddy” but it has a more reverent flavor, so “dearest father” may be more accurate.
For Jewish families the name given to a child was considered to indicate character.
Can We Trust Him?
That God who is our dearest father, our daddy, His name is to be honored. “hallowed be your name” Jesus could have picked any name that God has revealed Himself to us in Scripture – Elohim, the Creator God; El Shaddai, God Almighty; there are many names that Jesus could have given, but here he says that disciples are to hallow the name of their “dearest father.”
Psalm 20:7 “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.” The God who we trust and whose name we honor is our dearest father, our beloved daddy.
What Is He Focused On?
“Your kingdom come.” John the Baptist and Jesus preached the same message, “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is here.” It is a present reality and a future reality at the same time. As our father’s kingdom expands on the earth, His name will be honored, and as Matthew 6 says, “your will be done . . .”
Why would we pray for God’s name to be honored, and for His kingdom to expand? Is Christianity the best way to live? Will it make a difference in our world? Would you neighbor who doesn’t know Christ, would their life be any better off?
The first part of this prayer assumes a level of commitment. Christianity is not something you dabble in, or take parts of it and add it to something else. It’s all or nothing. Either Christ is who He said he was, or he a charlatan fanatic and a liar – who is not worthy of our time. We are on this planet to make known the name of Jesus. Bellevue Baptist Church exists to make known the name of Jesus.
Luke 9:62 “Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Jesus wants his disciples to understand their relationship with God, and to have a proper view of their purpose before they begin to turn to their own concerns. Our lives must line up behind God’s plan for our lives or our prayers will be all over the place.
How Do We Approach Him? (Luke 11:3-4)
With Our Daily Needs (v. 3)
“3 Give us each day our daily bread,” – Once the disciples understand who they are praying to, and His purpose for their lives, they then must turn their thoughts to living out that calling and purpose. Jesus then instructs his disciples to ask their loving father for the everyday things that they need for their daily living to live-out their calling. The emphasis seems to be on the day-to-day; or the bread I need for today (not tomorrow, not storing up bread for weeks or years, just today).
Children go to their father to ask for what they need in their daily lives. “Dad, I’m out of face wash, or dad, I need some gas for my car, or dad, I need some toothpaste.”
Jesus goes on to teach about our daily needs in Matthew 6:25-26 ““Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” Your loving father will take care of your daily needs. You don’t have to worry on those things, instead focus on the purpose and calling He has put before you.
We Approach Him With Our Sin (Luke 11:4)
“4 and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.” – daily bread is linked to forgiveness of sin with the word “and”. We need both daily bread and forgiveness of sin in order to live in such a way that pleases the Lord.
Sin is described as a debt that is owed to God. Jesus shows the disciples that in order to be forgiven of sin, they must themselves forgive anyone who has sinned against them. It is described as a debt owed, and the debt is forgiven. But it is clear that followers of Christ must be a forgiving people.
Matthew 6:14-15 “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
Matthew 18:32-35 “Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers,11 until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
We Approach Him With Our Weaknesses (Luke 11:4)
And lead us not into temptation.” – the final part of Luke’s account of the Lord’s Prayer deals with temptation. It is a recognition that they have weaknesses and are asking God to give them strength in their weakness.
It is a pattern for the disciple to follow where they recognize that they need help, “I am weak and there are some situations where I need help.” We see as an example in the moments before Jesus’ arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane right before the crucifixion.
Jesus talking to his disciples says in Mark 14:38-42, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 39 And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. 40 And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him. 41 And he came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”
Jesus then moves from the topics of prayer or the pattern to a parable that talks about the attitude of prayer.
We Approach Him With Boldness (vv. 5-8)
5 And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, 6 for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7 and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? 8 I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs.
After a long fight of getting the kids to bed, drinks of water, teeth brushing, baths, and stories read, everyone is finally settled down for the night. The kids are asleep, the wife is asleep, the dog is asleep, nothing but the sound of snoring. Your head slowly sinks into the pillow, and then there is the sound of knocking. Drew, “I need three loaves of bread.” You say, “no, everyone is asleep.” But he just keeps on knocking. The kids start rolling over. The dog starts barking, Shhhhhh. So you get up and get your friend the bread.
“because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs” – it literally means shamelessness. It’s not the amount of times we say a prayer, it is the attitude the posture, that we make our requests.
We Approach Him With Increasing Severity (Luke 11:9-10)
9 And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.
The request begins with asking alone. Then an action is added, to the request, to seek. The idea is not just to express our need, but to get up and look around for help. It involves effort. “Knock” includes asking plus acting, plus persevering – like someone who keeps pounding on the door.
But is not about some religious repetition of words but the attitude of the heart. It will be given to you, you will find it, it will be opened – for you his precious child. They deal with reliance not empty religion.
In the Old Testament, Hannah really wanted a son so she went to the temple to pray, “Hannah was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli took her to be a drunken woman. 14 And Eli said to her, “How long will you go on being drunk? Put your wine away from you.” 15 But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the LORD.” (1 Samuel 1:14,15) Hannah prayed from her soul.
We Approach Him As A Good Father (vv. 11-13)
“11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Jesus begins his teaching of prayer with saying, “Father.” Here He concludes the teaching by explaining that you know what is a good gift for your children, now putting God in proper perspective, begin to understand how much greater your heavenly father will answer your prayers.
 Week One: By Repenting of Sin and Drawing Close to Him. Week Two: By Accepting My Place in His Universe. Week Three: By Persevering in the Face of Difficulty.
 Kent Hughes. Luke, That You May Know the Truth (Wheaton, Illinois; Crossway Publishing, 2015) 413.
 Clifton J. Allen, Ed. The Broadman Bible Commentary, Vol. 9, Luke-John (Nashville, Tennessee; Broadman Press, 1970) 96.
 Hughes, 414.
 Ibid, 415.
 John A. Broadus. An American Commentary on the New Testament, Matthew (Valley Forge, Pennsylvania; Judson Press,?) 137.
 Hughes, 431.