One day after Jesus drove a demon out of a man, some people accused him of casting out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons (Luke 11:15).
What was Jesus doing two thousand years ago? Whose side was he playing for? Satan, the prince of demons, or God? If Jesus worked for Satan, he made for a bad employee. At every turn in the road, Jesus diminished Satan’s power rather than strengthened it.
This side of heaven, we pray for many things: healings, release from distress, blessings for family and friends, to name a few. Last week we began looking at one of Jesus’ illustrations that assures us of God’s goodness in answering our prayers.
We conclude what became an eight-part series on Jesus’ lessons on prayer from Luke 11 with Jesus’ assurances of God’s goodness in responding to our prayers. Jesus gives two basic illustrations to make this point.
If you fasted for forty days and had the power to turn rocks into bread, could you resist? If you could have all the power and prestige in the world by just bowing down to Satan, would you? If you had the ability to leap from building to building, what would stop you from showing off just a little? For forty days in the wilderness, Jesus was tempted in ways that none of us could even dream of. Yet, he did not fall to temptation and sin.
We continue our series on Jesus’ pattern for prayer, by looking at the petition, “Lead us not into temptation (Luke 11:4).”
In 2006, a man entered a single-room Amish school house and violently murdered 5 young girls. One can hardly imagine the heartache felt by this Amish community after the tragedy. Yet, when news media outlets reported the story, the response of the community outshined the gruesome act itself. Without missing a beat, the community choose to forgive the murderer and even reached out to his family in sympathy instead of understandably demanding that he pay for his crime.
My grandparents used to have a woodcut picture in their kitchen based on a famous scene of two peasants in a field. In the background, a church bell rang to mark the end of the day. In the foreground, a small basket of potatoes laid on the ground. The two peasants hovered over it, with heads bowed, thanking God for the fruits of their labor. Though it was small, it was enough. They thanked God for enough.
Last week we looked at the first petition in Jesus’s pattern for prayer, “hallowed be your name.” This week we look at the second petition, “your kingdom come.”
We all desire a world where justice rolls down like water, where sickness and death ceases, where God rules the nations and the nations rule as God would have them rule, and where we behold the face of our Father in Heaven with unveiled faces. Many of us have given up on such a world. We have become too content with moldy bread, when a feast awaits us. God’s Word assures us such a day will come.
Jesus responded to his disciples request to teach them to pray by giving them a pattern for prayer (Luke 11:2-4). You may have noticed that the words Jesus gave his disciples in the Gospel of Luke differ from those in the more familiar version found in Matthew 6:9-13. Jesus likely gave his disciples this prayer many times. The words themselves are not as important as the pattern. This reminds us that God does not need our repetitive words. He wants to hear us speaking to him from the heart.
The mid-nineteenth century missionary to South Africa Andrew Murray once said of prayer: “The disciples had been with Christ and seen him pray. They had learned to understand something of the connection between His wondrous life in public and His secret life of prayer. They had learned to believe in Him as a Master in the art of prayer – none could pray like Him. And so they came to Him with the request, ‘Lord, teach us to pray.’ And in after years they would have told us that there were few things more wondrous or blessed that He taught them than His lessons on prayer.”