Luke 11:1-13

Commentary Excerpt by Tom Boomershine

In this section of Luke, Jesus is talking about prayer in response to one of his disciples asking him, "Lord, teach us to pray as John taught his disciples." This story is a series of sayings by Jesus in response to this request: first the Lord's prayer, second the parable of the persistent friend, and then a series of sayings about asking.

The mnemonic structure of the prayer is familiar: kingdom, bread, forgive, not trial. However, because Luke's version is different than Matthew's (the commonly prayed version of the Lord's prayer), there is need for a little adjustment to the remembering. Luke's version of the Lord's prayer is simpler: "Hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to [who sins against] us. And don't bring us to the time of trial." That's it. The more balanced phrases of Matthew are not present here. This is all simple, direct commands to God about what I want.

The prayer is followed by a parable. The parable has three sentences. The first describes the friend going at midnight and knocking on the door saying, "Friend, lend me threeloaves of bread." The verbal thread here is "friend": "Suppose one of you has a friend. You go to him at midnight and say, 'Friend, lend me three loafs of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived and I have nothing to set before him.'"

The next sentence is the answer from inside, a rebuff: "Don't bother me. The door is already locked. My children are with me in bed and I can't get up and give you anything." The third sentence is Jesus' statement about the reward of persistence. Even though the "friend" won't get up and give him anything because he is his friend, if he keeps asking, his "friend" will finally get up and give him what he needs. His persistence will be rewarded. Thus, Jesus' second response to the disciples' request is: be persistent in prayer.

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