The Prerequisite

2 And He said to them, “When you pray, say:
‘Father, hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
3 ‘Give us each day our daily bread.
4 ‘And forgive us our sins,
For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.’ ” Luke 11:2–4 (NAS)

I’ve heard many preachers camp out on these instructions on prayer, devoting a full message to each phrase. I’ve also heard versions of this prayer uttered hundreds of times, from locker rooms to luncheons. It’s been put to music and is best sung by a baritone with a great pair of lungs. It’s the go to when the unspiritual find the need to be spiritual. The more concern the slower it’s chanted. So it’s easy to miss something in its familiarity.

So landing here in my study of Luke there is a tendency to gloss over the passage without giving it its just due. So I slowed it down long enough to notice the phrase, “for we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.” Now I understand why they call it “the Lord’s Prayer,” because only he is qualified to say this!

The bottom line in prayer is that it can’t be engaged in if you hold something against someone else. It’s a prerequisite to be square with everyone, not just a couple of people. There’s a verse that says,

23“Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.”Matthew 5:23-24

So any instruction on prayer must note this requirement, and to be truthful, to not relieve oneself of this burden is to pray like the Pharisee, thanking the Lord that you’re not like someone with whom you detest.

11 “The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.’” Luke 18:11

This tripwire was incorporated into Jesus’ instructions on prayer to give one pause. It forces one to come clean before engaging. I wonder why he did not put it first.

About Rick Reynolds

You'll find me in the far right hand corner of evangelical Christianity. Been studying the Word for nearly 45 years and counting.
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