Exposition of Luke 11:2
On this occasion Jesus was praying in a certain place. The disciples had taken note of His prayer habit and they wanted to know about prayer and so they asked Him: “Lord teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples”. Clearly prayer is not something that comes naturally. Clearly prayer is a spiritual discipline, and the Lord assumes that believers should pray and that they must learn how to pray. We see here also that John taught his disciples to pray.
So, in response to their request, Jesus gives them this short outline on how to pray. Matthew’s version of the Lord’s prayer is a little more detailed, and indicates that this is not a prayer in itself but that this is a pattern after which to pray. “Pray then like this” (Matt 6:9).
Jesus probably taught about prayer on many occasions. He may even have taught His own disciples repeatedly concerning the nature and the form of biblical prayer. You know how we are. We learn so slowly. Things take time to sink in! Spiritual truths do not always sink in the first time. That is why we need to read and re-read the Bible. That is why we need to be taught its truths repeatedly. For this reason we make time to be reminded concerning on of the core disciplines of the Christian church at every beginning of the year. Matthew and Luke’s accounts of Jesus’ teaching on prayer certainly seem to indicate different occasions on which He taught principles of praying. In Luke’s account Jesus adds information concerning the necessity of persevering in prayer (Lk 11:5-13). We must learn to be patient. We need to learn to trust God. We need to trust His timing. We need to learn vital lessons in prayer – in particular that when praying that we should always seek His glory and purposes FIRST!
The Lord’s prayer has a very specific logic or structure and we cannot afford to ignore this. This is part of the divine inspiration of the Bible. The order in which things are written are important. There is a clear order and structure attached to the Lord’s prayer, and we would be foolish not to see this and apply this.
Today, we will focus on the ‘first half’ of the Lord’s prayer in Luke 11: 2. Here the Lord Jesus directs His disciples to begin prayer with the request that God’s Name might be sanctified – that His Name might be declared holy. Jesus says to them: “Pray like this…start your praying like this: “Father, hallowed by your name”. Linked to this is an added request : “your kingdom come”. Luke omits the third part of the petition, mentioned in Matthew’s account : “your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt 6:10b). One might argue that the various components of the first part of the Lord’s prayer are really all variations of the same theme, namely that the glory of God might be made visible on our earth!
This then is the very first thing that ought to occupy our prayers. This is challenging for we know that very often our prayers are not structured that way. We tend to be ‘need focused’ or self- centered in in prayer.
Prayer is often considered to be the last resort - like the woman who once undertook a sea journey, and in the midst of a serious storm, she asked the captain: “Captain what shall we do?” “Well, you can always pray“, answered the captain. “Oh no!“… she cried, “Is it as bad as that?” You may laugh – but that’s how we tend to use prayer - only in real crisis- when it’s really bad! There is, of course a place for that sort of prayer, as was the case of Jonah’s story, where the men in the ship were praying that the storm might subside , and when Jonah was praying to God from within the whale to save him.
The prayer that Jesus is thinking about here is not ‘emergency prayer’. He is thinking about regular prayer, or routine prayer. Here we are thinking about the regular personal quiet time or the regular church prayer meeting. Jesus regularly took time out to pray ; John taught his disciples how to conduct their times of prayer. The early church had regular times of prayer, which followed the pattern of temple worship with its regular times of prayer. We must make time for prayer – individually and corporately. It is important that this discipline should form a part of our spiritual lives :
“O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear – all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.” 
How then should we structure our prayer time? The structure of the Lord’s prayer helps us here. We are taught to begin praying with God and His glory in mind! Let’s try to be practical about that. How do I do that ? There is no more practical way to begin prayer than by reading the Bible. The Bible in its very essence is God –focused. So, as I read the Bible my thoughts are directed to God, and immediately I am in the spirit of prayer.
Let me give you an example how this works for me. Recently I was reading through the book of Leviticus. Now, that book presents a great challenges to many people. The laws for burnt offerings, grain offerings, peace offerings, sin offerings guilt offerings (Lev. 1-7), together with the laws of cleansing, and various laws for guiding human relationships appear to be tiresome. But I cannot get away from the fact that all this ordered ritual was designed to bring glory to God and happiness to man. The unblemished, the very best sacrifices brought by the worshiper to God were not only designed to provide atonement for the worshiper, but it was also designed to be a pleasing aroma to the LORD. Does this not apply to prayer? The goal of prayer is to offer up time (Yes, it takes time!) to seek the presence of God so that I might worship Him, and so that I, a sinful being might find my peace with Him and therefore my joy in Him through the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ.
And then there is the story of the death of Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron the high priest in Chapter 10 who offered ‘unauthorized fire‘ . This story sent cold shivers down my spine, as I realized afresh that God will not be worshipped casually.
The repeated use of the phrase “holy to the Lord” challenged me greatly, and the Lord used the reading of this book to cause me to pray for an awareness of a greater revelation of His holiness in me and in our church and in our society. Can you see how that links up with this part of the Lord’s prayer? I prayed in essence: ”Lord may your glory be seen in our society!” May your Name be hallowed here in my life, and at Eastside, and in Windhoek, and in Namibia – and indeed in the whole world.“ I would argue that the entire Bible will do that for you. So, use the Bible to provide you with fuel for this vital part of prayer. It is important that you do, for so the Lord Jesus has taught us to pray: “May your Name be hallowed. May your Kingdom come. May your will be done.”
Will This Aspect Of Prayer Really Make A Difference ?
Of course it must! Anything that God commands in His Word, if it is obeyed, will carry His blessing. I direct your attention to 1 John 5 :14,15 :
"And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.”
If we pray that God’s Name would be glorified in our lives, our church, our country and our world then we should expect God to honour this prayer. Who knows what God has spared us from in Namibia as we have often prayed that God’s glory would be seen and felt in every corner and part of our country. Who knows what God is doing in our country as He brings men and women to conviction and repentance through Christ our Lord. While there are many things that are not good, we do need to thank God that there is a general sense of the fear of the Lord among us, and I do not want to take that for granted, and so I would encourage Christians to earnestly continue praying that God’s Name would be honoured in our land. Pray for visible tokens of the advancement of his kingdom . I cannot speak for other churches and Christian organizations, but I thank God, that the gospel has not stood still among our churches.
So, learn to make the glory of God central to your praying. The degree to which God’s Name will be hallowed in the earth; the degree to which His kingdom advances and the degree to which His will is done on earth, will ensure your and my happiness this side of heaven.
Pray therefore brothers and sisters that the glory of the LORD will be seen and felt in these days ! Amen .