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The Word, The Truth

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In his travel account Luke incorporates an episode in which Jesus, at the request of his disciples, teaches them to pray and practically gives a catechism on prayers for Christian converts whose knowledge of the God of Jesus and of OT revelation needs development and who need encouragement to persevere in prayer in a hostile environment, (Lk 11:1-13). During the time of Jesus (a tradition which still much alive even today), to have its own form of prayer was a mark of a religious community (v1). But what really prompted them to ask to be taught to pray was the fact that they were struck by Jesus’ constant example in communing with God,(cf 10:21-22). As before every major teaching moment (6:12; 9:18; 9:28) Jesus is at prayer.

The Lucan version of the prayer (vv2-4) consists of an address (Father v2b), two wishes uttered before God (v2c,d) and three petitions asked of him (v3-4), (in comparison with the traditional and commonly used Matthean form which has an expanded address, three wishes and four petitions). Scholars, (based on the tense and mood of the verb used in the instruction of Jesus, v2a), consider Luke’s as the mode of all Christian prayer, whereas Matthew’s gives it merely as an example.

Talking about the mode of prayer, Luke continues his teaching by joining the prayer to two parables (or logia/wisdom sayings, the first found only in Luke), emphasizing the importance of perseverance (vv5-13). The term used is ἀναίδεια (anhaideia) (v8), a combination of the noun haidōs, meaning shame, and a privative particle an, meaning without or none; thus, it literally means without/no shame, ‘shamelessness’. Translated as persistence, it could also mean being unwearied or the more direct manner of importuning (as Abraham importuning God, Gen 18:20-32; a widow wearying an unjust judge, Lk 18:1-8). But such a stance is rendered easily by the fact that God is addressed as Father (v2,11,13, an ‘inclusio’).

Luke’s direct and unqualified address of the Father (using the simple Greek vocative equaling Aramaic ‘abba’, the original address used by Jesus-10:21; 22:42) was initially proper to Jesus and is now shared by all Christians in light of their baptism (Gal 4:6; Rom 8:15). Father is no longer meant in the corporate or collective, national or covenantal sense of old but points to an intimate relationship between the disciples and God that is akin to that of Jesus himself. God is not merely the transcendent lord of the heavens but is near as a father to his children.

Jesus taught us to call God, Father and so we have the courage to pray the “our father”. Jesus tells us that his Father can be pestered and importuned into answering, like the neighbor requested by a friend, and a father asked by his son, under no circumstances would God leave our prayers unanswered. We can confidently sing with the psalmist: “On the day I cried out, you answered.” (Ps 138).

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Veritas Editorial

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

President of Radio Veritas

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