1One 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."
2He said to them, "When you pray, say: " 'Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. 3Give us each day our daily bread. 4Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.' "
5Then he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, 6because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.'
7"Then the one inside answers, 'Don't bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can't get up and give you anything.' 8I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man's boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs.
9"So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
11"Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" (NIV)
1. The substance of prayer is important.
While there is a sense in which we can come to God as we are, "pour(ing) our hearts out to him" (Ps 62:8), this does not mean that we can say whatever we want to Him (like "babbling pagans" - Mt 6:7-8), nor to view Him in whatever way we like (Lk 9:18-20; Heb 11:6). By giving them a particular pattern of prayer, Jesus is reminding the disciples that certain kinds of prayers are far more acceptable to God than others.
2. In Christ, we may approach God as our Father (v.2).
What this means, among many other things, is believers in Christ have security when they come to the LORD; we can be assured that He will never turn us away ("no one can snatch him - i.e., the believer - out of my Father's hand", Jn 10:29).
"Father" also indicates "what great love" He has for us (1 Jn 3:1-3).
3. The most important prayer we can make is for God to be honoured (v.2).
"hallowed be your name" - "may your name be honoured"
"God's name represents all His character and attributes" - MacArthur Study Bible
It is really a prayer that God would manifest His glory in the world, in the church, and (especially) in one's own life (1 Co 10:31).
4. God's people should long for His kingdom more than anything else (v.2).
As the people of God, we are receiving a kingdom that can not be shaken (Heb 12:28-29), described as a new heaven and new earth, "the home of righteousness" (2 Pe 3:13), where the LORD will dwell with his people forever (Rev 21:1-4). This should be our greatest hope and longing (Rom 8:18-27; Gal 5:5; 2 Ti 4:8).
5. The LORD wants His church to express dependence on Him for everything they need (v.3).
"daily bread" - bread is what people of Biblical times needed for sustenance, but this particular prayer can represent anything that we need on a daily basis - strength, courage, safety, etc.
Rom 8:32, Php 4:19, and 2 Pe 1:3 also provide strong encouragement for us to ask God to provide what we need.
6. Christians are constantly in need of forgiveness (v.4).
"If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives." (1 Jn 1:8-10)
7. The genuineness of faith is shown by forgiveness to others (v.4).
"But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins" (Mt 6:15). See also Mt 18:21-35.
8. We may seek God's protection in cirumstances where we may easily be tempted (v.4).
It is through prayer that the promise of 1 Cor 10:13 is fulfilled: "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it."
9. God wants us to be persistent in our prayers, because He rewards persistence (vv. 5-10).
"Ask, seek, knock" is even better rendered, "keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking". Such persistence is confirmed by the actions of the neighbour in the parable that Jesus tells.
10. God is infinitely more generous than even the best human parent (vv. 11-13).
"how much more" - Paul also uses this kind of reasoning ("If...then") to speak of God's grace to us in Rom 5:9-10, 15 and 17; and Rom 8:32.
11. The Holy Spirit is the greatest gift that a disciple of Christ can ask for (v.13).
We as His people have the Spirit indwelling in us already (Eph 1:13-14), but we may take Jesus' invitation to ask as a motivation to seek the LORD for more of the Spirit's power (Acts 4:23-31), fruit (Gal 5:22-23) and gifts (1 Co 14:1).
Discussion Question #1: What is God's will for His people, according to the prayer of vv. 2-4?
Discussion Question #2: What do you find encouraging and challenging about practicing prayer in the way Jesus wants us to?
Discussion Question #3: If you were to hear someone say, "Persisting in prayer doesn't make sense to me because, if anything, it shows a lack of faith; it means you don't believe that God heard you the first time!" How would you respond to this?