Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Copyright 2000; 2001, by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
This passage includes the shorter version of the model prayer, a parable about persistence in prayer, and two short sayings concerning God’s side of prayer. We begin with the model prayer. Note at the outset, that while it has relevance as a private prayer, the pronouns are all plural. It is fundamentally a corporate prayer.
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.”
2 And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come.
“Father” is the Aramaic word “Abba.” This is the address of a child to his or her dad.
“Hallowed be your name.” May God’s name, which represents His person, be honored and accepted in the world of men. May He be given the reverence that is due Him. Ryle said, “We declare our hearty desire that God’s character, and attributes, and perfections may be known, and honored, and glorified by all His intelligent creatures.”
“Your kingdom come.” This is a prayer for God to act, to hasten the coming of the Day of the Lord, to swiftly bring about His rule of peace and righteousness. Ryle again said, “In so saying, we declare our desire that the usurped power of Satan may speedily be cast down,–that all mankind may acknowledge God as their lawful King, and that the kingdoms of this world may become in fact, as they are in promise, the kingdoms of our God and of His Christ.”
3 Give us each day our daily bread,
It is in the context of God’s name being honored and His purposes being accomplished that we are instructed to present our needs. The “give us” is “keep giving us.” The petition is “daily.” The implication is that this petition is to be made again and again. We are to look to God constantly. This serves to remind us of our complete dependence upon God for everything, our dependence upon Him for life, breath, all.
We are to ask for “our daily bread,” the provision of our daily needs, that which is needed to sustain life.
4 and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.”
There are those who don’t like this one, that think that somehow we get beyond sin in this mortal life. But that view doesn’t square either with experience or with this Scripture. We are instructed to confess our sins. Ryle said, “In so saying, we confess that we are fallen, guilty, and corrupt creatures, and in many things offend daily. We make no excuse for ourselves. We plead nothing in our own behalf. We simply ask for the free, full, and gracious mercy of our Father in Jesus Christ.”
We are to be forgiving because we have been forgiven by a Holy God, and our expectation of forgiveness is contingent upon our forgiving others.
Matthew 6:14 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.
Mark 11:25 And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
Luke 6:37 “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;
Daily forgiveness is necessary for open communication with God.
“lead us not into temptation” God tempts no one. This is a petition for deliverance/strength in the face of temptation. Again, Ryle wrote, “… we entreat Him who orders all things in heaven and earth, and without whom nothing can happen so to order the course of our lives, that we may not be tempted above what we can bear. We confess our weakness and readiness to fall. We entreat our Father to preserve us from trials, or else make a way for us to escape. We ask that our feet may be kept, and that we may not bring discredit on our profession and misery on our souls.”
Jesus now, having provided a model, gives instruction on persistence in prayer. Leon Morris calls the parable “humorous”/a bit of irony to get us to see how praying just a little bit and quitting is silly.
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,
Which of you? We are drawn into this parable and made participants. A “friend” is meant to be a genuine friend. But even if it wasn’t, the notion of hospitality of the day made the entire community responsible for the well-being of a visitor/traveler.
The time is midnight. Presumably we are to understand that the visitor has just arrived, traveling by evening/night to avoid the noonday sun. This is not a capricious thing that the guy has partied until midnight and is now avoiding a trip to QT.
6 for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’;
The situation of the man with the guest is that he stands to be embarrassed by failing to be a proper host. He turns to this friend for help, for the saving of his reputation. He asks for 3 small loaves/rolls, enough for one person.
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’?
This is not a completely bogus reply. The listener should be picturing a one-room house with kids scattered around on the floor to be stepped on, no convenient lighting, with a door bolted shut with a heavy timber. It will involve considerable inconvenience to help the friend. The man in the house is not being especially selfish, and, to his credit will eventually come through. But notice the Scriptural contrast between the friend and God, in basic ability and readiness to help. There is no wrong or inconvenient time with God.
Psalm 121:3 He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
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.
An alternate translation of “impudence” is “persistence.” The idea is one of unblushing persistence, literally barefaced shamelessness. The man is coming confident of his relationship to his friend, knowing his friend, and sure that eventually he will help even if it is a pain in the neck. It is the kind of reverent boldness that brought Abraham to intercede for Sodom. It is the kind of persistence in Psalm 55:16-17
Psalm 55:16 But I call to God, and the LORD will save me.
17 Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice.
Wilcock said, (this story) ” … teaches us to pray persistently, not because God will not answer otherwise, but as if he would not. In other words, it is about the practice of prayer, or our part in it. It does not illustrate God’s side of the matter. The basis of prayer, or God’s part in it, is the subject of the sayings about a father who naturally will not give his son a serpent or a scorpion if the boy has asked for a fish or an egg. At the receiving end of our importunate prayer is a Father who does not need to be importuned, but is only too eager to give the best of answers.”
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.
“ask, seek, knock” The tense is apparently one that means to keep on continually asking, seeking and knocking. Again, this is a teaching about persistence in prayer. What is to be learned through such persistence?? What is the virtue in it? It draws us to our Father. It is a purifying thing. We often become aware of selfish/wrong aspects of our praying that ought to be eliminated. It prompts us to work out matters of obedience that stand in the way of quick answers. James says that perseverance produces maturity and completeness in the faith.
We know that verse 10 is not a blank check. Where are the qualifiers? The model prayer is just before this, giving the proper context, but the qualifiers largely aren’t here in this passage. They are not the point of this parable. The point is to encourage us to come and come persistently to our Father.
Now follow two short sayings about the One to whom we speak.
11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent;
Some translations include a phrase about a loaf of bread and a stone. Apparently the oldest manuscripts don’t have this, although it does appear in Matthew 7:9. A stone may look like a small loaf of bread, but it is of no value.
What is the fish and snake? A snake might look like a Galilean-style skinny fish to an unsuspecting small child. But instead of being helpful it could be extremely harmful.
12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?
What is the egg and scorpion? This is the same message as in verse 11. A scorpion resembles a small egg when it rolls up into its shell. Its appearance might fool a naive child.
So what do these verses have to do with the boldness/persistence? We can be confident in our praying that even if we are stupid and wrong in our asking, our heavenly Father will give us only that which is for our good. He is not in the business of passing out snakes even if we want them!
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!”
The best gift is the promise of His own presence in and with us, His Holy Spirit.
Hendriksen said, “The point is this: if even an earthly friend would certainly extend help, whatever his motive, then will not the heavenly Father, about whose motivation there can be no question, generously answer our petition?”
Morris commented, “People ought not to think of God as unwilling to give. He is always ready to give good gifts to His people. But it is important that they do their part by asking. Jesus does not say, and does not mean, that if we pray we will always get exactly what we ask for. After all, ‘No’ is just as definite an answer as ‘Yes’. He is saying that true prayer is never unheeded. It is always answered in the way God sees best.”
In sum, we have the invitation to be persistent in prayer, knowing that we are heard and that our Father will act on our behalf in accord with His purposes and for His glory.