Luke 11:2
And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.
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(2) When ye pray, say, . . .—The reproduction, with only a verbal variation here and there, which may well have been the work of the reporter, of what had been given in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:9-11), is every way significant. That which had been given to the multitude was enough for them. If they wanted to be taught to pray at all, if earnest desires did not spontaneously clothe themselves in words, then this simplest and shortest of all prayers expressed all that they should seek to ask. To utter each of those petitions from the heart, entering into its depth and fulness, was better than to indulge in any amplitude of rhetoric.

(2-4) Our Father which art in heaven.—See Notes on Matthew 6:9-11. The following variations may be noticed. (1) The better MSS. omit “our” and “which art in heaven,” and begin with the simple “Father.” It was, of course, natural enough that it should be, in course of time, adapted by transcribers to the form which was in common use. (2) Many of the best MSS., again, omit the whole clause, “Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth,” which may have been inserted with the same purpose. (3) St. Luke substitutes “day by day” for “this day,” and so implies that the word ἐπιούσιος (epiousios), translated “daily,” must have some other meaning. (See Excursus II. on Notes to St. Matthew.) (4) St. Luke uses the word “sins” instead of “debts,” as being, perhaps, more adapted to the minds of his Gentile readers, while he retains the primary idea of St. Matthew’s term in the words, “every one that is indebted to us.” The familiar “Forgive us our trespasses,” of the Prayer Book, it may be noted, is not found in the Authorised version at all, and comes to us from Tyndale’s. (5) Many of the better MSS. omit the clause, “But deliver us from evil,” this too, probably, being an addition made for the sake of conformity. (6) St. Luke (all the MSS. here agreeing) omits the final doxology found in some, but not in the best, MSS. of St. Matthew.



Luke 11:1 - Luke 11:13

Christ’s praying fired the disciples with desire to pray like Him. There must have been something of absorption and blessedness in His communion with the Father which struck them with awe and longing, and which they would fain repeat. Do our prayers move any to taste the devotion and joy which breathe through them? But low conceptions mingled with high desires in their request. They think that if He will give them a form, that will be enough; and they wish to be as well off as John’s disciples, whose relation to their master seems to them parallel with theirs to Jesus.

Our Lord’s answer meets and transcends their wish. He does give them a model prayer, and He adds encouragements to pray which inculcate confidence and persistence. The passage, then, falls into two parts-the pattern prayer {Luke 11:2 - Luke 11:4}, and the spirit of prayer as enforced by some encouragements {Luke 11:5 - Luke 11:13}. The material is so rich that we can but gather the surface wealth. Deep mines must lie unexplored here.

I. The pattern of prayer.

We call it the Lord’s Prayer, but it is so only in the sense that He gives it. It is our prayer for our use. His own prayers remain unrecorded, except those in the upper room and at Gethsemane. This is the type to which His servants’ prayers are to be conformed. ‘After this manner pray ye,’ whether in these words or not. And the repetition of the words is often far enough away from catching their spirit. To suppose that our Lord simply met the disciples’ wish by giving them a form misconceives the genius of His work. He gave something much better; namely, a pattern, the spirit of which we are to diffuse through all our petitions,

Two salient features of the prayer bring out the two great characteristics of all true Christian prayer. First, we note the invocation. It is addressed to the Father. Our prayers are, then, after the pattern only when they are the free, unembarrassed, confident, and utterly frank whispers of a child to its father. Confidence and love should wing the darts which are to reach heaven. That name, thoroughly realised, banishes fear and self-will, and inspires submission and aspiration. To cry,’ Abba, Father,’ is the essence of all prayer. Nothing more is needed.

The broad lesson drawn from the order of requests is the second point to be noticed. If we have the child’s spirit, we shall put the Father’s honour first, and absolutely subordinate our own interests to it. So the first half of the prayer, like the first half of the Decalogue, deals with God’s name and its glory. Alas! it is hard even for His child to keep this order. Natural self-regard must be cast out by love, if we are thus to pray. How few of us have reached that height, not in mere words, but in unspoken desires!

The order of the several petitions in the first half of the prayer is significant. God’s name {that is, His revealed character} being hallowed {that is, recognised as what it is}, separate from all limitation and creatural imperfection, and yet near in love as a Father is, the coming of His kingdom will follow; for where He is known and honoured for what He is He will reign, and men, if they rightly knew Him, would fall before Him and serve Him. The hallowing of His name is the only foundation for His kingdom among us, and all knowledge of Him which does not lead to submission to His rule is false or incomplete.

The outward, visible establishment of God’s kingdom in human society follows individual acquaintance with His name. The doing of God’s will is the sign of His kingdom having come. The ocean is blue, like the sky which it mirrors. Earth will be like heaven.

The second half of the prayer returns to personal interests; but God’s child has many brethren, and so His prayer is, not for ‘me’ and ‘my,’ but for ‘us’ and ‘ours.’ Our first need, if we start from the surface and go inwards, is for the maintenance of bodily life. So the petition for bread has precedence, not as being most, but least, important. We are to recognise God’s hand in blessing our daily toil. We are to limit our desires to necessaries, and to leave the future in His hands. Is this ‘the manner’ after which Christians pray for perishable good? Where would anxious care or eager rushing after wealth be, if it were?

A deeper need, the chief in regard to the inner man, is deliverance from sin, in its two aspects of guilt and power. So the next petition is for pardon. Sin incurs debt. Forgiveness is the remission of penalty, but the penalty is not merely external punishment. The true penalty is separation from God, and His forgiveness is His loving on, undisturbed by sin. If we truly call God Father, the image of His mercifulness will be formed in us; and unless we are forgiving, we shall certainly lose the consciousness of being forgiven, and bind our sins on our backs in all their weight. God’s children need always to pray ‘after this manner, ‘for sin is not entirely conquered.

Pardon is meant to lead on to holiness. Hence the next clause in effect prays for sanctification. Knowing our own weakness, we may well ask not to be placed in circumstances where the inducements to sin would be strong, even while we know that we may grow thereby, if we resist. The shortened form of the prayer in Luke, according to the Revised Version, omits ‘deliver us from evil’; but that clause is necessary to complete the idea. Whether we read ‘evil’ or ‘the evil one,’ the clause refers to us as tempted, and, as it were, in the grip of an enemy too strong for us. God alone can extricate us from the mouth of the lion. He will, if we ask Him. The only evil is to sin away our consciousness of sonship and to cling to the sin which separates us from God.

II. A type of prayer is not all that we need.

The spirit in which we pray is still more important. So Jesus goes on to enjoin two things chiefly; namely, persistence and filial confidence. He presents to us a parable with its application {Luke 11:5 - Luke 11:10}, and the germ of a parable with its {Luke 11:11 - Luke 11:13}. Observe that these two parts deal with encouragements to confidence drawn, first, from our own experience in asking, and, second, with encouragements drawn from our own experience in giving. In the former we learn from the man who will not take ‘no,’ and so at last gets ‘yes’; in the latter, from the Father who will certainly give His child what he asks.

In the parable two points are to be specially noted-the persistent suppliant pleads not for himself so much as for the hungry traveller, and the man addressed gives without any kindliness, from the mere wish to be left at peace. As to both points, an a fortiori argument is implied. If a man can so persevere when pleading for another, how much more should we do so when asking for ourselves! And if persistence has such power with selfish men, how much more shall it avail with Him who slumbers not nor sleeps, and to whom we can never come at an inopportune moment, and who will give us because we are His friends, and He ours! The very ugliness of character ascribed to the owner of the loaves, selfish in his enjoyment of his bed, in his refusal to turn out on an errand of neighbourliness, and in his final giving, thus serves as a foil to the character of Him to whom our prayers are addressed.

The application of the parable lies in Luke 11:9 - Luke 11:10. The efforts enjoined are in an ascending scale, and ‘ask’ and ‘knock’ allude to the parable. To ‘seek’ is more than to ask, for it includes active exertion; and for want of seeking by conduct appropriate to our prayers, we often ask in vain. If we pray for temporal blessings, and then fold our hands, and sit with our mouths open for them to drop into, we shall not get them. If we ask for higher goods, and rise from our knees to live worldly lives, we shall get them as little. Knocking is more than either, for it implies a continuous hammering on the door, like Peter’s when he stood in the morning twilight at Mary’s gate. Asking and seeking must be continuous if they are to be rewarded.

Luke 11:10 grounds the promise of Luke 11:9 on experience. It is he who asks that gets. In men’s giving it is not universally true that petitions are answered, nor that gifts are not given unasked. Nor is it true about God’s lower gifts, which are often bestowed on the unthankful, and not seldom refused to His children. But it is universally true in regard to His highest gifts, which are never withheld from the earnest asker who adds to his prayers fitting conduct, and prays always without fainting, and which are not and cannot be given unless desire for them opens the heart for their reception, and faith in God assures him who prays that he cannot ask in vain.

The germ of a parable with its application {Luke 11:11 - Luke 11:13} draws encouragement from our own experience in giving. It guards against misconceptions of God which might arise from the former parable, and comes back to the first word of the Lord’s Prayer as itself the guarantee of every true desire of His child being heard and met. Bread, eggs, and fish are staple articles of food. In each case something similar in appearance, but useless or hurtful, is contrasted with the thing asked by the child. The round loaves of the East are not unlike rounded, wave-washed stones, water-serpents are fishlike, and the oval body of a quiescent scorpion is similar to an egg. Fathers do not play tricks with their hungry children. Though we are all sinful, parental love survives, and makes a father wise enough to know what will nourish and what would poison his child.

Alas! that is only partially true, for many a parent has not a father’s heart, and is neither impelled by love to give good things to, nor to withhold evil ones from, his child. But it is true with sufficient frequency to warrant the great a fortiori argument which Jesus bases on it. Our heavenly Father’s love, the archetype of all parental affection, is tainted by no evil and darkened by no ignorance. He loves perfectly and wisely, therefore He cannot but give what His child needs.

But the child often mistakes, and thinks that stones are bread, serpents fish, and scorpions eggs. So God often has to deny the letter of our petitions, in order not to give us poison. Luke’s version of the closing promise, in which ‘the Holy Spirit’ stands instead of Matthew’s ‘good things,’ sets the whole matter in the true light; for that Spirit brings with Him all real good, and, while many of our desires have, for our own sakes, to be denied, we shall never hold up empty hands and have to let them fall still empty, if we desire that great encyclopediacal gift which our loving Father waits to bestow. It cannot be given without our petition, it will never be withheld from our petition.

11:1-4 Lord, teach us to pray, is a good prayer, and a very needful one, for Jesus Christ only can teach us, by his word and Spirit, how to pray. Lord, teach me what it is to pray; Lord, stir up and quicken me to the duty; Lord, direct me what to pray for; teach me what I should say. Christ taught them a prayer, much the same that he had given before in his sermon upon the mount. There are some differences in the words of the Lord's prayer in Matthew and in Luke, but they are of no moment. Let us in our requests, both for others and for ourselves, come to our heavenly Father, confiding in his power and goodness.See this passage explained in the notes at Matthew 6:9-13.2-4. (See on [1633]Mt 6:9-13).Ver. 2-4. See Poole on "Matthew 6:9-13". Whoso compares this prayer as it is recorded by Matthew will find the form of words differing in more things than one; not only the doxology or conclusion is left out wholly by Luke, but for shmeron, there we have cay’ hmeran, here, for ofeilhmata Luke hath amartiav, for wv kai hmeiv afiemen toiv ofeiletiav hmwn we have here kai gar autoi afiemen panti ofeilonti hmin; from whence plainly appears that our Saviour did not intend to oblige his disciples to the same syllabical words, but only to words of the same import, that is, to praying for the same things: yet that Christians have a liberty to use the same words is out of question, and as much out of question that they have a liberty to vary, still keeping their eyes upon the matter of this prayer, and not forgetting that when they go unto God in that holy duty.

And he said unto them,.... That is Jesus, as the Syriac and Persic versions express, who directed his speech to all the disciples; for though but one of them addressed him, it was in the name of the rest: and besides, the instructions Christ was about to give concerned them all, even those that heard them before, and those that had not:

when ye pray, say, our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth; the last petition is left out in the Vulgate Latin; See Gill on Matthew 6:9, Matthew 6:10.

And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, {1} Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.

(1) A form of true prayer.

Luke 11:2. λέγετε, say, but not implying obligation to repeat regularly the ipsissima verba. The divergence of Lk.’s form from that of Mt., as given in critical editions of the N. T., is sufficient evidence that the Apostolic Church did not so understand their Lord’s will, and use the prayer bearing His name as a formula. Interpreters are not agreed as to which of the two forms is the more original. For my own part I have little doubt that Lk.’s is secondary and abbreviated from the fuller form of Mt. The very name for God—Father—without any added epithet is sufficient proof of this; for Jesus was wont to address God in fuller terms (vide Luke 10:21), and was not likely to give His disciples a form beginning so abruptly. Lk.’s form as it stands in W.H[102] is as follows:

[102] Westcott and Hort.

Father! Hallowed be Thy name.

Come Thy kingdom.

The bread of each day give us daily.

And forgive our sins, for we also forgive every one owing us.

And bring us not into temptation.

The third petition: Thy will be done, etc., and the second half of the sixth: but deliver us from evil, are wanting.

2. When ye pray, say, Our Father] ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ had already been enshrined in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:9-13), but it was now more formally delivered as a model. Various parallels for the different petitions of the Lord’s Prayer have been adduced from the Talmud, nor would there be anything strange in our Lord thus stamping with His sanction whatever was holiest in the petitions which His countrymen had learnt from the Spirit of God. But note that (1) the parallels are only to some of the clauses (e.g. not to the fourth and fifth); (2) they are mostly distant and imperfect; (3) there can be no certainty as to their priority, since even the earliest portion of the Talmud (the Mishna) was not committed to writing till the second century after Christ; (4) they are nowhere blended into one incomparable petition. The transcendent beauty and value of the lessons in the Lord’s Prayer arise from (i) the tone of holy confidence:—it teaches us to approach God as our Father (Romans 8:15), in love as well as holy fear; (ii) its absolute unselfishness:—it is offered in the plural, not for ourselves only, but for all the brotherhood of man; (iii) its entire spirituality:—of its seven petitions, one only is for any earthly boon, and that only for the simplest; (iv) its brevity and absence of all vain repetitions (Ecclesiastes 5:2); (v) its simplicity, which requires not learning, but only holiness and sincerity for its universal comprehension. For these reasons the Fathers called it ‘the Epitome of the Gospel’ and ‘the pearl of prayers.’

which art in heaven] Psalm 11:4. This clause, as well as “Thy will be done, as in heaven, so also upon the earth,” and “but deliver us from the evil,” are wanting in some MSS., and may be additions from the text of St Matthew. If so, the prayer would stand thus: O Father! Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Give us day by day our daily bread. Andforgive us our sins for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.

Hallowed be thy name] i.e. sanctified, treated as holy. “Holy, Holy, Holy” is the worship of the Seraphim (Isaiah 6:3). The ‘name’ of God is used for all the attributes of His Being.

Thy kingdom come] There seems to have been an early gloss, or reading, “Thy Holy Spirit come upon us, and purify us” (mentioned by St Gregory of Nazianzus).

Thy will be done] This was the one rule of the life of Christ, John 5:30; John 6:38.

as in heaven] “Bless the Lord, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word,” Psalm 103:20.

Luke 11:2. Εἶπε, He said) The Master promptly teaches both the words and right manner of praying: Luke 11:2-3; Luke 11:5-6.—λέγετε, ye say) Matthew on the one occasion records this incomparable form of prayer, as it was prescribed to the people, in more words: Luke on a different occasion records it, as it was prescribed in briefer form to the disciples, who had begged to be taught. Therefore the main substance of prayers is in all cases the same: but at one time all the αἰτήματα, or chief topics of prayer, are introduced; at another, only some out of them all, the choice of the words and subjects being left free. Nor did Luke hold it necessary to agree exactly with Matthew in the number of petitions; which latter evangelist, however, does not expressly say that they are seven: for Luke enumerates the beatitudes also in ch. Luke 6:20, et seqq., differently from Matthew: so also he recounts the commandments of the Decalogue differently from Moses. [Comp. Marg. of Vers. Germ. on this passage.]—[Πάτερ, Father) By this one word, especially the spirit of the prayers of Christ, and of His disciples, is distinguished from the spirit that characterizes the prayers habitually used by believers under the Old Testament, as also those used by John and his disciples.—V. g.]

Verse 2. - And he said unto them, When ye pray, say. The older authorities leave out the clauses erased. The prayer, as originally reported by St. Luke, no doubt stood as follows. The erased clauses were filled in by early scribes from the longer formula supplied by St. Matthew, and spoken at an earlier period by the Master: -

"Our Father which, art in heaven,

Hallowed be thy Name.

Thy kingdom come.

Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.

Give us day by day our daily bread.

And forgive us our sins;

for we also forgive every one

that is indebted to us.

And lead us not into temptation;

but deliver us from evil."

It has been said that our Lord has derived from the Talmud the thoughts embodied in this prayer. If this could be shown to be the case, it would in no way detract from its admitted value and beauty. Indeed, the earthly training of Jesus would naturally lead him to make use of whatever was true and practical in the teaching of the schools of his people. There is no doubt that in the New Testament many a gem of exquisite beauty could be found, drawn from that strange, weird Talmud, where the highest wisdom is mingled with the wildest errors and conceits. But in the matter of the "Lord's Prayer," it must be borne in mind that only a comparatively small portion of its thoughts can be traced to Talmudical sources, and there can be no positive certainty as to their priority, since the Mishna was not committed to writing before the second century of the Christian era, and the Gemara later still. The Lord's Prayer, in the report of St. Luke, contains five petitions. Two have reference to the love of God, and three to human needs. Our Father which art in heaven. It was not now uncommon in Jewish liturgies and prayers to invoke the Eternal of Israel under the dear name of "Father." "Thou, O Lord, art our Father." Hallowed be thy Name. Not only do we pray that the Name of God may be to us a sacred precious thing, not lightly used in trivial speech, still less in bitterness and anger, only in holy reverent prayer; but we include in these words a prayer, too, that tho our thoughts of God may be pure, lofty, holy. Thy kingdom come. No Messianic kingdom, in the old Jewish meaning of the word, is signified here. It is a far onlook to the close of this dispensation, which close, we believe, is hindered by human sin and perversity. It is the prayer for the end, when there will be no more tears and partings, no more sorrow and sin. It tells of the same feeling which John, at the close of the Revelation, expressed in "Even so, come, Lord Jesus." Instead of these words, Gregory of Nyssa, in his manuscript of St. Luke, appears to have read, "Thy Holy Spirit come upon us, and purify us." Luke 11:2
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