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Christian Prayers

General Comments about Prayer in Luke

by Brian Stoffregen, Faith Lutheran Church, Marysville, CA

Luke has a greater emphasis on prayer than the other gospels. The following are the occurrence in the Gospels and Acts of words related to prayer.

proseuche/proseuchomai = prayer/pray in the gospels

Mt = 17 verses
Mk = 13 verses
Lk = 21 verses -- 12 of those verses in Luke are unique to that gospel
Jo = 0 verses
Acts = 25 verses

deomai/deesis = ask, beg, pray/prayer, petition

Mt = 1 verse
Mk = 0 verses
Lk = 10 verses
Jo = 0 verses
Acts = 7 verses

erotao/eperotao = ask, request, beg/ask for

Mt = 12 verses
Mk = 29 verses
Lk = 32 verses
Jo = 29 verses
Acts = 9 verses

Although deomai/deesis and erotao/eperotao don't specifically mean prayer, there are instances where requests are made of Jesus or God.

Many times in synoptic events, Luke includes comments about Jesus' praying that are not found in the other gospels.

Jesus is praying at his baptism before heavens open (3:21)
Jesus spends the night praying to God before selecting the twelve (6:12)
Jesus is praying before he asks the disciples, "Who do the crowds/you say that I am?" (9:18)
Jesus is praying on the mountain before the transfiguration. (9:28, 29)
Jesus is praying before the disciples ask him to teach them to pray. (11:1)
While the other synoptics indicate that Jesus went into the hills to pray, Luke's particular verse is in a unique context (5:16).

The following parables about prayer are unique to Luke:

The Friend at Midnight (11:5-8)
The Widow and the Judge (18:1-8)
The Pharisee and the Tax Collector (18:9-14)

Other synoptic passages about prayer in Luke

Pray for those who mistreat you (6:28 Q -- source)
"When you pray, say . . . . (11:2 -- Q source)
"My house shall be a house of prayer" (19:46 -- Mk source)
Scribes, for a show, make lengthy prayers (20:47 -- Mk source)
Jesus praying in the garden and asks disciples to pray (22:40, 41, 44, 45, 46 -- Mk source)
Why this emphasis on prayer in Luke? Especially the number of times Jesus is pictured praying (and the apostles/disciples in Acts)?

It may be that Luke was writing to a group of people unfamiliar with Christian/Jewish prayer, so he emphasizes the importance of prayer. If Jesus often prayed, how much more do we need to pray?

I often begin classes on prayer by asking these questions:

Why don't people pray?
Why do people pray?
What might you conclude about a person who prays regularly?
What might you conclude about a person who feels no need to pray?
Should a person who claims to be a believer but never prays, be considered a Christian? Why or why not?
We might also ask, just because somebody prays, does that make him/her a Christian? (Part of the LCMS's objections to lodges is that they pray, but since they don't use a Trinitarian formula in their prayers, they must be praying to some false god.) Many other religious groups pray to god or gods. Does our God hear the prayers of Muslims and Hindus, etc. If our God hears, does God respond to their requests?

What is the relationship between the Christian faith and praying?

Michael Foss (Power Surge) lists "daily prayer" as "The first mark of a disciple." (There are five other marks that he lists. Similarly the ELCA's Seven Faith Practices includes "Pray Frequently".)

Foss begins the section on prayer with these two paragraphs:

Frankly, I was stunned. He approached me after worship and said, "I have really enjoyed the sermon series you and the other pastors have given on prayer. And I really feel called to pray more. The only problem I have is that I just don't know how."

When Rod Kopp, our director of finance and personnel at Prince of Peace, offered a workshop at our annual Changing Church Conference on prayer, we were all excited by the number of participants who attended. But I was stunned again when one of the pastors responded to Rod's workshop with a startling confession, "You are assuming," he said, "that we pastors know how to pray. But many of us don't." [p. 90]

From the first disciples to those of today, we need to ask, "Teach us to pray." (Luke 11)

See Also:

Two Kinds of Prayer
Christians who attend liturgical church services--services where prayers and creeds are written out and repeated each Sunday--find security in the repetition of time-honored words. Christians who attend non-liturgical services find comfort in the opposite--praying and professing in a different, spontaneous way each week.

Sermons and Bible Commentary/Analysis for the 2nd sunday after Shunoyo

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