Luke 11:1 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.” 2 He said to them, “When you pray, say: “‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come…
The Lord’s Prayer – the “Our Father” – as it is found in Matthew 6:9-15, is a passage I have studied quite a bit. But recently the Lord helped me realize something that comes out more clearly from the passage in Luke 11:1-2 – Jesus did not just them about prayer, but was also teaching them about how they should live. In fact, when we look at the “Our Father” – the “Lord’s Prayer” – we are actually looking at a “model for life” God, the Father, was giving through Jesus, the Son. And I believe Jesus, Himself, modeled this prayer 2 different ways. First there is …
1. Jesus’ Model of the “Only Begotten Son” with His Heavenly Father.
In this prayer we see how Jesus “modeled” how a “child of God” is supposed to pray. In fact, Jesus is probably giving us His own personal model for the types of things He asked and shared with God, His Father (reread Luke 11:1). As Jesus said about His relationship with God, the Father in John 5:19-20:
19 … “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these.
I believe that in these verses Jesus is revealing the type of closeness and longing Jesus had for the Father. And Jesus is probably revealing some of what went on all those mornings and nights Jesus went off by Himself to pray and be alone with the Father.
So, when Jesus tells us to pray, “Our Father”, Jesus is inviting each one of us to enter into relationship with God as Our Father, through the intimacy of prayer, in similar ways to how Jesus talks to the Father.
To summarize: “Prayer” is NOT a “tool” so much as it is an “activity of relationship-building” with God, the Father, through Jesus, the Son. “Prayer” – and the “Our Father” in particular – is God, the Father’s own personal “model for life” that we are being given as “children of God” because of God’s great love for us!
In the “Our Father”, Jesus models what He has received from the Father… that He now passes onto us.
But there is also a SECOND “model for life” that we are receiving through Jesus; that is …
2. Jesus’ Model of a “Rabbi” with His Followers.
– To call Jesus “Teacher” was a Jewish way of calling Jesus “Rabbi” (cf. John 1:38). Jesus is primarily called “Rabbi” instead of “teacher” in the gospels of Mark & John, because they are written primarily to Jewish readers. So when we look at the Lord’s Prayer, we also need to consider what Jesus was modeling as a “Rabbi”.
In particular, a Rabbi was someone who was known amongst the Jewish people for how they lived “righteously”. And “Righteousness”, to a Jew, is how you LIVE the truth of God, not just how much you “KNEW” about the truth of God. Rabbis did NOT just “teach” the truth about how to live righteously – they LIVED it… that’s why people followed Rabbis.
Even though Jesus taught this prayer early on in His ministry, these words – and Jesus’ own personal actions – would constantly be watched by all those who followed Jesus. They would be watching to see if Jesus actually did not just “teach” this prayer… but would Jesus LIVE this prayer?
To summarize: If you want to learn more how to pray the “Lord’s Prayer” AND how to live for God, you need to study Jesus’ life very closely! And look also at the “Our Father” as a model for how you should live.
How we pray can reveal a lot about how we live; but how we live WILL reveal a lot about how we pray.