The Lord’s Prayer

FFF 8:4 (Apr 1962)

The Lord’s Prayer

W. H. Hunter

This article has been prepared from the stenographic notes of an address given by our esteemed deceased brother, W. H. Hunter, at Miami, on February 14, 1927. It was a blessing then, may it be even more so in its now permanent form.

Scripture Reading: Luke 11:1-13

From the beginning to the end of this passage the subject is prayer. It might be summed up this way, the example and the encouragement of prayer.

The Example

“It came to pass, that, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, one of His disciples said unto Him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” The blessed Lord is the perfect example to His people in all things, especially in service of prayer.

He was praying in a certain place.” It is a good thing to have a certain place to pray. Some say that they can pray walking along the street. Certainly, but it is better not only to pray, but to have a certain place in which to pray. In one of the other Gospels Christ said, “When thou prayest, enter thou into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret.” How beneficial it is to retreat occasionally and speak to the Father!

In the Old Testament certain men had certain times for retirement and prayer. Daniel, three times a day went up into his chamber and, with his windows open towards Jerusalem, prayed.

The disciples said, “Lord, teach us to pray,” and He encouraged them by giving a sample of prayer; not to be repeated as would a parrot, for the Lord rebuked vain repetion. Later on the Lord said, “Hitherto, ye have asked nothing in My name; ask and ye shall receive.” It is not recorded that the disciples ever repeated this prayer as the Lord gave it; it was not so intended. The Christian is expected to pray with all supplication and prayer in the Spirit. The basic principle of prayer is given to us in Romans 8:26, “We know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”

The seven sentences of the Lord’s prayer may be applied to different circumstances in the life of a child of God. For instance, the prayer opens with the address, “Our Father.” The believer may always address God that way for it intimates the relationship between them. “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father” (Rom. 8:15).

“Hallowed be Thy name,” is the second statement, and it suggests worship. The Father seeks worshippers (John 4:23). One cannot worship God in the Spirit until he first knows God as his Father.

The third item in the prayer is, “Thy kingdom come.” What does this intimate in its present-day application? Something that maybe is little understood. The coming of His kingdom in the future, implies suffering in the present. “Unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake” (Phil. 1:29). Why does this entail suffering? Because this is not reigning time but training time. The Corinthians had to be reproved by Paul, “Ye have reigned as kings without us,” said he (1 Cor. 4:8). Then he reports some of his sufferings, and states that to the world he was “as the filth and off scouring of all things.” “If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him” (2 Tim. 2:12). Therefore we pray, “Thy kingdom come.”

“Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven,” the fourth expression in the prayer indicates the submissive and obedient attitude that ought to prevail among the saints of God. “As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance” (1 Pet. 1:14). Nothing pleases God more than simple obedience to His will. “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams” (1 Sam. 15:22).

An allusion is made in the fifth statement to the dependence one ought to exercise in the Lord: “Give us day by day our daily bread.” There is no one so dependent upon the Lord as His child. It would be well if each began the day in reliance upon the Lord, appealing to Him for the necessities of life, and with the simplicity of a little child, saying, “Give us this day our daily bread.”

“Forgive us our sins; for we forgive every one who is indebted to us,” is both a confession and an appeal. How frequently we need to take this appeal upon our lips! This sixth statement must be in constant use by us, the Lord’s own. This does not necessarily entail flagrant sins; there are sins of ignorance that have to be confessed. There are sins of omission as well as sins of commission. “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy” (Prov. 28:13). Thank God for Christ the Advocate! “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:2).

The final request of this prayer reads, “Lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.” Child of God, it may be that the devil is spreading a snare for your feet. He may be spreading some trap, some gin, like the fowler setting his snare for the poor unwary bird. Pray continually, “Deliver us from evil.”

Though the Lord did not mean this prayer to be recited as a vain repetition, the people of God can take all these petitions, and present them before God as circumstances arise in life.

Let us now consider the associated parable.

The Parable

Some become discouraged if their prayers are not immediately answered, for such the Lord Jesus told this parable. “Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and shall say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me.” His friend is awakened at an untimely hour, and says, “Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed: I cannot rise and give thee.” The suppliant will take no refusal. He persists in asking until the friend arises, arises because of the persistence and gives him just as many loaves as he needs. “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” If men would do that, the Lord would do more for them than could be asked or even thought.

Would not two loaves be enough for a friend on his journey? Why must there be three; why not four? Two would be too little, and four would be too much. He wanted enough, just enough, therefore three.

“Which of you shall have a friend?” asked the Lord Jesus. The friend thus alluded to is a precious picture of the Lord Himself as the Friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

“What a friend we have in Jesus
All our sins and griefs to bear;
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer.”

“Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go to him at midnight?” The saints of God can go to that Friend not only at midnight but at midday: in adversity, in prosperity, yes, at all times. That which urges one to go at midnight must be important. There is no request too weighty, and no hour unsuitable for the Lord.

“Lend me three loaves; a friend of mine is out of his way.” Here is another friend, a friend in need, on behalf of the needy one he seeks help. It is as the intermediate friend that we can go to God for one who is out of the way, and from Him get that which is sufficient to meet his need.

Who is the friend that is out of the way? Maybe it is a poor sinner. Maybe it is a backslidden Christian. For either we can find sufficient with the Lord.

“Three loaves” of bread were necessary to meet the need. Thank God! The Lord Jesus said, “I am the bread of life; he that cometh to Me shall never hunger” (John 6:35). Is Christ not but one loaf? Did He not say, “This is My body?” Yes, but the three loaves might well illustrate the three factors in the Gospel. Paul stated to the Corinthians: “I declare unto you the Gospel … by which ye are saved … how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; And that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.” Christ died, loaf number one; was buried, loaf number two; and was raised the third day, loaf number three. These are the fundamentals of the Gospel of God concerning His Son.

To receive Christ as Saviour is to appropriate the three loaves, to eat the Bread of Life that will sustain that life, divine and eternal, until the close of the pilgrimage on earth.