Once Jesus was in a certain place praying. As He finished, one of His disciples came to Him and said, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
Jesus said, “This is how you should pray: ‘Father, may Your name be kept holy.
May Your Kingdom come soon.
Give us each day the food we need,
and forgive us our sins,
as we forgive those who sin against us.
And don’t let us yield to temptation.'”Luke 11:1-4
Pray like this:
Our Father in heaven, may Your name be kept holy.
May Your Kingdom come soon.
May Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us today the food we need,
and forgive us our sins,
as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
And don’t let us yield to temptation,
but rescue us from the evil one.[For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.] Matt 6:9-13
I told you yesterday that you won’t find these two pericopes in a harmony of the gospels. Why is that? Although they come from the same sermon, they are different in content and very different in the setting we find them in. It is not so much the difference in content that is the reason for why they don’t appear together in any harmony. The main reason is the way they are being used. The question remains, is it Matthew or Luke who are using them differently, or is it Jesus who preaches “this sermon” in different settings? I will leave that question to you to answer. Let’s look carefully at the settings.
Firstly, Matthew sets it in the midst of a series of Jesus’ teaching, in a large chunk of Matthew’s gospel, beginning with Chapter 5 and extending to the end of Chapter 7. The Lord’s Prayer is found in a section devoted to teaching on prayer, which begins with, “Don’t be like the hypocrites and pharisees when you pray. Instead pray like this…” following which Jesus gives the pattern or the example of the Lord’s Prayer. After the Lord’s Prayer, He comments on not being like the hypocrites and pharisees in matters of fasting either. Following that, He moves on to cover matters related to money.
Our difficulty is that we don’t know for sure if it is Matthew who is clipping certain elements and putting them together, or if this is the order in which Jesus preached the sermon. The longer segment of Matthew beginning in Chapter 5, begins with the Sermon on the Mount. We have seen already how both Matthew and Luke use that differently. Yet we can guarantee it is taken from the same sermon on the Mount or the Plateau. The problem lies in what follows. Has the other material been simply combined with it by the Gospel writer, or is this the order in which Jesus gave it? I strongly suspect the former is true.
Notice how Luke handles this material. He has the Lord’s Prayer in his longer chunk of inserted material (Greater Interpolation) whereas the Sermon on the Mount is found in Luke’s shorter inserted material (Lesser Interpolation). Clearly Luke is taking material and arranging it in different ways as we have seen numerous times through these series of Gems on Luke. Let’s investigate his placement of the Lord’s Prayer. As I have stated, this appears in his Greater Interpolation. It is placed after the story of Mary and Martha. Luke introduces the Lord’s Prayer with these words: Once Jesus was in a certain place praying. As He finished, one of His disciples came to Him and said, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”Jesus said, “This is how you should pray: …”
This gives the Lord’s Prayer a setting. There is a reason for Jesus responding as He did. Jesus has been praying in a particular place and clearly the disciples have been part of it. Much of what Jesus models for them, is done in the context of the Rabbi who has His disciples follow Him wherever He goes. They see Him modeling the way to live life. The picture painted in this introduction to the Lord’s Prayer is that of Jesus praying and the disciples watching from a distance. They were clearly there with Him, perhaps listening to all He is praying. Or perhaps they couldn’t hear what He prayed just that He prayed for a long time. When He had finished, one of them said, “Teach us to pray”. Conceivably they have been looking on and talking among themselves. “How can He pray for so long?” “I wonder what He is praying about?” which leads into, “Lord, teach us to pray, like You do.”
Verse 5 then starts with: “Then, teaching them more about prayer, He used this story. . .” This is all sequential, it is not simply sermon material clipped and put into a collection of teachings. This segment of Luke’s Greater Interpolation is not necessarily sequential in its entirety but these two elements certainly belong together in time. The same cannot be said for Matthew’s use of the Lord’s Prayer. Hence no harmony puts these two segments together in parallel, even though they are clearly inherently parallel teachings. In Luke, the Lord’s Prayer is clearly being used to “teach the disciples to pray”. They have seen Him praying and they want to know how to do it: how to pray so long and how to know what to pray. Seemingly, following that in the same time frame, Jesus adds to it the story of a man who comes at midnight. Notice again it is a story and not a parable. More about that when we deal with that pericope.
Do you want to know how to pray? Then study this section in Luke. That is exactly what the disciples wanted too.
Now let’s compare Matthew’s version of the Lord’s Prayer with that of Luke’s. You can see at a glance that they are different, yet mirror one another.
I will take pity on you and give the comparisons laid out. I have had a large group of new followers of Gems join us, so won’t suggest you do the comparisons for yourself on this occasion.
We will start to pick the passage apart in the next Gem. Happy hunting before then.
Pray for great things, expect great things, work for great things, but above all pray.R. A. Torrey
Imagine if God was on Twitter. Would that make prayer easier? No, I think the problem runs deeper than that.Ian Vail
God answers the prayer we ought to have made rather than the prayer we did make.J. L. Packer
Prayer is asking for rain. Faith is carrying the umbrella.Robert C. Savage