The disciples had obviously heard that John had taught His disciples on prayer and they too wanted instruction (11:1). But was there not something more, something much deeper that provoked this request? If we were to open our Bibles and read starting with Matthew and were to read through John we would never find an instance where the disciples asked, “Lord teach us how to witness,” or “teach us how to perform miracles,” or “teach us how to teach.” But in this passage, we do find one of the disciples asking, “Lord, teach us to pray!”
This was a very wise question, a much needed question, and from these disciples who were sometimes so slow about spiritual values, this question becomes extremely significant. What was the motivation behind this question, and why is this so important?
The Pharisees prayed and so did the disciples. It wasn’t just prayer; it was the way He prayed in relation to all that He was and all that He did in His life on earth. It was His manner and attitude in prayer that saturated His total being and living, His every step and action, and that manifested the intimacy of His relationship with and dependence on the Father. Prayer was never just a religious responsibility nor exercise Christ engaged in because He was obligated to do so.
We have observed the past days something of the prayer life of Jesus which undoubtedly was a large part of the motivation behind the request, “Lord, teach us to pray.” For our Lord, prayer was the most natural and necessary aspect of His existence. In answer to this request of Luke 11:1, Jesus gave what is popularly known as the Lord’s Prayer. In reality, it was the disciples’ prayer and provides us with a model or pattern for biblical and effective prayer.
This is an excellent passage in teaching new believers about prayer because it covers a number of categories which are important to prayer.
It is important however to note two things this prayer is not:
(1) It is not and was never intended to be a ritual prayer to be formally and liturgically recited. It was a model designed by our Lord to show the nature of prayer and what prayer should consist of by way of content. There is nothing wrong, of course, with reading or reciting it together as we would any passage of Scripture for a certain focus or emphasis or as a reminder of truth. I am convinced, however, it was never meant to be simply recited as a prayer to God in place of personal prayer poured out to God from the heart. Compare the translation of the Living Bible: Luke 11:1 b reads, “Lord, teach us a prayer to recite just as John taught one of his disciples.” In a footnote to this verse the translator has added the word, “Implied.” But is it really implied?
(2) It was certainly never intended to be used as an amulet or special words to protect someone when in danger. Perhaps you have seen films where people were in some kind of danger and they prayed the Lord’s Prayer in this fashion.