Thoughts on How Jesus Illustrated the Lord's Prayer:
Jesus was the great story teller using stories to illustrate His teachings. Isn’t it interesting that the story which follows His model prayer, referred to as the Lord’s prayer (Luke 11:1-13) does not relate to asking for one’s own needs but another person’s needs - a friend? “Suppose one of you has a friend, and goes to him at midnight ...” I believe that is because in Jesus’ understanding, He assumes that we know that our needs are already met by our Father. He had earlier taught on that subject: “But your Father knows that you need these things” and “All that I have is yours”.
We all start our spiritual lives with a need to learn to trust in God’s goodness, His provision. If we are attuned to the Lord, we discover that He is ever faithful in all the situations of life. That which we once feared, we no longer fear. We comprehend that God is at work in our lives working ALL things together for a good end. In all of this, His desire is to raise up mature “sons” who then can not only trust Him for their own lives but for others as well. To mature in prayer, then, is to learn to share our faith in God in order to meet other’s needs. And, since WE don’t have what is necessary to meet that other person’s need (e.g., this assumes that we have come to the end of our self sufficiency - that we can fix others), we go to a third party, another friend, and ask for that need.
In reality, then, the illustration story of the Lord’s Prayer is really about three friends. This is interesting especially since the first friend is referred to as “a bothering friend”, coming to us at midnight, when we’re safe and cozy and in bed. Inconvenient to say the least. I’m sure that is why the Lord’s Prayer includes a request for forgiveness (which really is letting go of the irritation considering our own ability to be inconvenient at times as well). In God’s eyes, we are all related. No one person is greater or lesser and no one is really an irritation.
So, in order to pray God’s prayer, we must recognize that all parties are friends, not foes. We simply are the middle party bringing about a connection between two others, our Father friend and the (initially perceived) irritating or inconvenient friend. Further, the purpose is to exercise our faith on behalf of the other. Our prayer becomes:
Loving Father in heaven (who is behind the curtain/canopy - another word for heaven - which is opened up to us through Jesus)
Not our kingdom but your kingdom (which Jesus says elsewhere is at hand, always available, just in the next room, as Dallas Willard* interprets that statement)
Come for my friend (not foe)
Lead us (Just as you have been faithful to me, lead my friend to learn that Christ is all in all - working all things for good - turning negatives into positives as Norman Grubb** says)
Not to enter into temptation (seeing the irritation as being the final end instead of trusting God’s provision)
But deliver us from evil (responding in pain or with pain - assigning wrong motives about others, making it all about us or seeking ways to irritate back)
Give US our daily (Again, just as You have always provided that which is sufficient for every situation, do the same for my friend)
Bread (Jesus said elsewhere, “Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” So, Lord bring my friend Your revelation or perspective of how You want to turn the situation that seems like an irritation into an opportunity while bringing Your Loving provision.)
Similar to the irritant that causes a pearl to develop, our greatest opportunities originate with irritants. How we interpret them is why we pray. And, if we respond as friends, not foes, perhaps we would see the the kingdom, the power and the eternal glory that we so long to see.
So ask, seek, knock (that’s all that is required) trusting that our Father (friend) has good things for both us and our other friend.
In Luke’s gospel, the ultimate provision is the Holy Spirit, not the three loaves. “How much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.” We start out thinking we need “things” in order to solve our problems. But the ultimate answer is that we need to know His Presence in the midst of whatever we are going through. Perfect love casts out fear.
The Holy Spirit is the presence of the Father and the Son. Described elsewhere as our Helper, the One who comes alongside, who transforms our minds and hearts. Interestingly, the Holy Spirit is also described as wind, not knowing where it is coming from or where it is going. How descriptive of both how life comes at us and how God works things in directions we know not. Every situation is different. There are no rules to follow. Each situation requires its own asking/seeking/knocking. Each situation necessitates a Holy Spirit encounter who comes alongside and transforms what initially seems like an irritation into something God can use for our good.
The disciples start this discourse with: “Teach us to pray as John’s disciples taught them.” I wonder what John’s model prayer sounded like as he was still under the Law. Luke 7:28 says, “I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” Why is that? Because, Jesus came to fulfill and share the Law (of Love) to us, in us, through us, and as us, via the Holy Spirit that the Father faithfully gives us. Praise to God who lavishly gives us all we need in every circumstance.