The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father (Luke 11: 2-4)

Nov 05, 2010 No Comments by

A Jewish family on the streets of Jerusalem

“And He said to them, “When you pray, say:
‘Father, hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.’”

When the Lord’s disciples asked Him to teach them to pray, He delivered what many call ‘The Model Prayer.’ In keeping with their Jewishness, Jesus drew His prayer principles from two important Jewish sources.

The traditional Kiddush Hashem (sanctification of the divine Name) was specifically drawn from the Torah. “So you shall keep My commandments, and do them; I am the LORD. You shall not profane My holy name, but I will be sanctified among the sons of Israel; I am the LORD who sanctifies you.” (Lev. 22:31,32)

From a Christian point of view it is appropriate that Kiddush is prayed over the bread or wine during Shabbat.

Then there is the Mourners Kaddish which in English begins, “Glorified and sanctified be God’s great name throughout the world which He has created according to His will. May He establish His kingdom in your lifetime and during your days, and within the life of the entire House of Israel, speedily and soon; and say, Amen.

May His great name be blessed forever and to all eternity.”

The Model Prayer is closely connected to the Kaddish with emphasis on the Name and the Kingdom in both.

Jews were also taught about Hillul Hashem (defamation of the divine Name). “They shall be holy to their God and not profane the name of their God, for they present the offerings by fire to the LORD, the food of their God; so they shall be holy.” (Lev. 21: 6)

The Hebrew word ‘Hashem’ means ‘The Name.’

The Model Prayer taught by Jesus also draws from the Shemoneh Esreh (also called the Amidah) which many consider to be the most important synagogue prayer. The focus within the eighteen benedictions of Shemoneh Esreh is on divine forgiveness and provision, importantly highlighted by Jesus.

I met in Jerusalem with American executives of Focus in the Family. They were considering publishing their books in Hebrew and distributing them throughout Israel. Had they researched Jewish family-values? Did they see a difference between the Jewish family and families in the USA, I asked.

One of the biggest impressions we had living in Jerusalem was the open and joyful family activity we observed. From the porch of oufr home we watched children running along the streets to welcome dad. “Abba, abba, (Daddy/Papa) ” they called as they ran into his arms.

On Friday afternoons, dads started to arrive home for Shabbat from mid-afternoon. They always carried a bunch of flowers and a box of chocolates. The laughter and joy made every weekend a deep pleasure for us.

It was with these experiences in mind that I reearched the ‘Our Father.’ This is the Disciples’ Prayer which Jesus taught His followers. He taught this prayer during a difficult time when stress levels were high because of the Roman occupation.

The same prayer is found in Matthew 6: 9-13, a longer version. Theologian Brad Young wrote: “The late Joachim Jeremias, a well-known and talented New Testament scholar, believed that Luke’s form of the prayer was more original because it was shorter.

“He thought that the longer form, ‘Our Father, who art in heaven,’ was an expansion, possibly made by Jewish believers (Christians).

“Of course the beginning words, ‘Our Father who art in heaven,’ are well-known in early Jewish prayers. However, the Evangelists were intent on communicating the message of Jesus and frequently minimized the Jewish elements of the non-Jewish, Greek-speaking disciples, since some of their concepts were foreign and could very easily be misunderstood. The tendency was to remove some of the Jewish elements – not to add to them,’ as Jeremias suggested.” (The Jewish Background to the Lord’s Prayer by Brad Young, The Centre for Judaic-Christian Studies, Austin, Texas, USA)

If we focus on the Luke version, links to ancient beliefs become obvious. Jews see a direct link between the Kaddish and the Lord’s Prayer.

The Kaddish is ‘revered as the most sacred of all Jewish prayers.’ The word Kaddish means ‘holy’ and this prayer is for the dead. But throughout it makes no reference to the dead but it looks forward to the coming Kingdom of God.

“It is perhaps of more than passing interest that the main element of the Kaddish should have been adapted into the Christian liturgy from the beginning. This was quite natural, for Jesus, the Apostles, and the other early Christians were believing Jews. It goes without saying that, like all other Jews, they too recited what was an earlier version of the Kaddish in public worship,” wrote Nathan Ausubel. (The Book of Jewish Knowledge, Nathan Ausubel, Crown Publishers – New York).

‘Our Father’

The phrase ‘our Father,’ infers we are His creation and as His children we are entitled to enjoy an inter-active relationship with Him.

“The description of God as ‘Father’ is not coincidental. The father figure was of great significance in the Hebrew family. The father had a place of honour, dignity and authority, but he was also a loving and caring figure,” according to Brad Young. (The Jewish Background to the Lord’s Prayer, Brad Young, Centre for Judaic-Christian Studies, Dayton, Ohio, USA)

A true expression of faith required more than synagogue or church attendance. In fact in Jewish thinking the synagogue is rated behind true faith at home.
Throughout biblical history the people of the Book (the Jews) were distinct in their commitment to close loving and loyal family life. That historic background helps us understand what Jesus said and what He would want us to know about it today.

The rabbis taught that the home is like the Temple and is set apart for special purposes. Home was to be a ‘house of prayer’ and ‘a house of bible study.’ It was to serve the community needs through showing hospitality and generosity,

Marvin Wilson, author of ‘Our Father Abraham’ explained: “Just as the Shekinah (the abiding Presence of the God), filled the Temple, and as light, a symbol of the Divine, brightened the holy place through the menorah (the seven-branched lampstand), so each home was to reflect God’s glory through prayer and praise.” ‘A lamp in a starless night’ is a powerful description of what they expect from the fruits of family love and unity.

From a Jewish point-of-view when the world seeks your destruction and anti-Semitic enemies seek your pain, each person should find warmth, comfort, security and dignity within the warmth and comfort of the family. ‘In his own household, even the wool-comber is a prince,’ says the Talmud.

Throughout history, threatened by widespread, cynicism, cruelty and abuse, the people of the Book found comfort, solace and strength in the family.

A Jewish child was indoctrinated with impressive values including: loyalty to God, Torah, to father and mother, and then to family and community which was simply family on an extended basis.

The Book of Jewish Knowledge says: “The patriarchal family of Biblical times may still be discovered in modern communities. Members of Jewish families seem to be able to maintain greater family solidarity than is shown by many other groups. This may prove to be the greatest contribution of the Jew to modern life.” (The Book of Jewish Knowledge, by Nathan Ausubel, Crown Publishers, New York)

Family happiness and peace are paramount in Jewish teaching.
“He who establishes peace in his own family is as if he were establishing it for all Israel,’ according to the wise men.
Consider how these principles could have been of healthy vitality to Christian values.

a) Foundation to the biblical concept of family is the Jewish teaching that home is more important than the synagogue.

The home is to be the centre of religious observance for each person..

b) Judaism is a religion of the lay people. The Jews have never considered their faith should depend on paid professionals. In fact, a rabbi is seen as a lay-person to this day.

c) Christianity preaches the priesthood of all believers. So, in the historic sense, that means all believers should have the knowledge and capacity to teach and share the Word.

Mervin R. Wilson said: “Only when the Church and home are seen as people – a community of priests ministering to God and one another – will they fulfil their God-intended function.”

Husband and Wife.

Ancient Hebrew teaches values of peace are best achieved if there is demonstrable love in the home between husband and wife.

Rabbinical educators declared: “He who loves his wife as himself and honours her more than himself, will guide his children along the right path.”

Within Jewish wisdom father had a particular role. He had specific obligations to his children. He had to provide for them and protect them from all harm. He had to have his children taught their prayers and learn, in Hebrew, the Pentateuch (the first Five Books of the Bible). If he could not afford the right religious instruction for them, then the father was required to humble himself and borrow to fulfil his responsibility

He was personally to teach the Torah to whatever standard of learning he himself had achieved.

“You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.” (Deut. 6: 7)

“Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Prov.22: 6)

Consider the role-model expectations, God placed on the father.

“Do not drink wine or strong drink, neither you nor your sons with you, when you come into the tent of meeting, so that you will not die — it is a perpetual statute throughout your generations — and so as to make a distinction between the holy and the profane, and between the unclean and the clean, and so as to teach the sons of Israel all the statutes which the LORD has spoken to them through Moses.” (Lev. 10: 9-11)

The Talmud warned fathers not to use violence when teaching or correcting a child. “If you must strike your child, do it with a shoestring,” it says.

Fathers particularly were warned not to show favoritism. “Remember what happened to Joseph?” says Talmud teaching.
This refers to the jealousy that burned in the brothers because Jacob favored Joseph.

A famous rabbi said: “Give your love equally to all your children. The great expectations many parents place on favorite children often turn out to be disappointing, while the one who may have been neglected or rejected my prove in the end to be the source of joy.” (Rabbi Moses of Evreux c. 1240)

Who is this Father Jesus put at the top of the prayer list?

Isaiah described Him….

“Look down from heaven and see from Your holy and glorious habitation; Where are Your zeal and Your mighty deeds? The stirrings of Your heart and Your compassion are restrained toward me. For You are our Father, though Abraham does not know us
And Israel does not recognize us. You, O LORD, are our Father,
Our Redeemer from of old is Your name.” (Isaiah 63: 15-16)

This leads us to Mathew’s prayer which begins – ‘Our Father who art in heaven…’

Isaiah cried out for the Father to unleash His heavenly power. He wants the spectacular forces of heaven to come to the aid of Judah and Jerusalem. “For you are our Father’ writes Isaiah.

I hear Isaiah saying, “You are our Father, you have the Power and you can do it!”

There are numerous scriptures that powerfully illustrate Yahweh as Israel’s Father.

Deut. 32:6 “Do you thus repay the LORD, O foolish and unwise people? Is not He your Father who has bought you? He has made you and established you.”

Jer. 31: 9 “With weeping they will come, And by supplication I will lead them; I will make them walk by streams of waters, on a straight path in which they will not stumble; For I am a father to Israel, And Ephraim is My firstborn.”

Mal. 2:10 “Do we not all have one father? Has not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously each against his brother so as to profane the covenant of our fathers?

Jesus, Himself, who was ‘one with the Father,’ spoke amazing words of thanksgiving. “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” (Matt.11:27)

He offered the fullness of the Father to all who would know Him as Lord. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.” (John 14:6,7)

This ‘Our Father’ relationship is available today, to all who know Jesus. We are invited to be His little children if we simply seek after Him and leave our defences behind.

Picture Jesus in His most sensitive moment. “And He was saying, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.” (Matt 14:36)

He used the word ‘Abba’ even as He cried out in the Garden. He taught His disciples to pray ‘Our Abba/Father”

Often in front of His disciples Jesus chose to refer to God as Abba, which is the most intimate of terms for the Father.

The relationship on offer between the believer and God provides the full context of the family we have considered. The Heavenly Father seeks to impart His knowledge, wisdom, comfort and assurance to us just as He has sustained Israel and the Jewish people throughout history.

He is faithful. ‘Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.” (Exodus 6: 7)

“I will also walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people.” (Lev. 26:12)

‘You shall be My people, And I will be your God.’” (Jer. 30:22)

Today on the streets of Jerusalem, the daddy’s still come home for Shabbat with flowers in one hand and chockies in the other.

Our Heavenly Father wants to give His children ‘good things’ and He has not changed.

Ron's Rave

About the author

Ron Ross worked as the first Sports Editor at WINTV. In Wollongong. He ran The Hamburger Hut an outreach and discipleship program for youth. He served with Youth With a Mission in Hawaii, Philippines and Australia. He was senior pastor of the Noosa Baptist Church, Queensland for 9 years. He reported news from Jerusalem for five years and is now the Middle East correspondent for United Christian Broadcasters and travels regularly preaching and teaching.
No Responses to “The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father (Luke 11: 2-4)”

Leave a Reply