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God’s Word for You

Luke 11:1-2a The Address

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The Lord’s Prayer
(Matthew 6:9-13)

11 Another time, 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 also taught his disciples.”

Luke doesn’t tell us when this event took place. Matthew records the Lord’s Prayer first being delivered during the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6). However, Luke’s version is different; more compact. There is no reason at all to insist that the two accounts present the same event. It’s clear that Jesus taught the Lord’s Prayer on more than one occasion, sometimes with a version that was longer (Matthew 6:9-13), sometimes with a version that was shorter (Luke 11:2-4), and very probably with a version that included a doxology (Didache 8:2).

Although Luke’s presentation of the Prayer is condensed, we will look at all of the statements of the full prayer including the address, the seven petitions, and the doxology.

2 He said to them, “When you pray, say, ‘Our Father in heaven,

Since prayer is an act of worship, we must remember that God demands our worship, including all prayers, to be given to him only. He says: “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only” (Luke 4:8) and “take your oaths only in his name” (Deuteronomy 6:13). God alone hears our prayers, for no one else ever promises to hear our prayers (Psalm 65:2, 50:15).

In one instance—uncertain though it is—the spirit of the dead prophet Samuel complained about being disturbed when he was asked a question (1 Samuel 28:15) and he challenged King Saul, “Why do you consult with me?” (1 Samuel 28:16). Saul did not simply pray to the dead Samuel in the hope that he would hear him. To speak to Samuel, he had to have a witch conjure up his spirit through necromancy in one of the Bible’s most terrifying scenes. Those who say, “I’m only praying to this or that Saint so that they will add their prayers to mine,” are basing those prayers on a false understanding of everything the Bible says about prayer, and they are inviting God’s wrath because by praying to anyone other than God they are violating the First Commandment. Also, the incident with Saul and the Witch of Endor shows us that the dead do not want our prayers or even our questions. The dead Samuel’s “Why do you consult with me?” is no different than the angel when John fell down to worship at his feet. He said, “Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and of all who keep the words of this book. Worship God!” (Revelation 22:9).

God alone invites us to pray: “Seek me and live” (Amos 5:4); “Many peoples and powerful nations will come to Jerusalem to seek the LORD Almighty and to entreat him” (Zechariah 8:22).

Jesus teaches us to address God directly. It doesn’t matter whether we address our prayer to the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit, or to God as the Triune God. This is clear from Jesus saying “Father,” for since there is the Father there is also the Son and also the Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the Father and from the Son (John 15:26).

In this address to the Lord’s Prayer and to every prayer that a Christian prays, we are reminded of the true path of our salvation. How is this so? Firstly, the prayer is addressed to God. As we worship God by praying, we remember that he is our creator. “Did not one God create us?” (Malachi 2:10).

Secondly, our hearts tremble as we pray because we know that we have sinned, and no sinner, no transgressor, may approach God. And yet God invites us to come before him and pray to him through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. The blood of Christ has atoned for our sins, covered them, and made them go away forever. “In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence” (Ephesians 3:12).

Thirdly, since it is God who invites us to pray, we don’t need to fear or to think that our prayers will fall on deaf ears. “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

      With these words God tenderly invites us to believe
      that he is our true Father and we are his true children,
      so that we may pray to him as boldly and confidently
      as dear children ask their dear father.
            (Martin Luther, Small Catechism: The Address).

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

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