Luke 11-12
(What to Pray For)
October 26th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

He said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing."

- Luke 12:22-23

Summary of Chapters

In this set of chapters, Jesus teaches about prayer and describes the coming of the Son of Man through the use of parables and other techniques. This chapter includes some accounts that are only found in Luke. At the beginning of chapter 11, the disciples ask to be taught how to pray, so Jesus outlines a prayer that we now refer to as the Lord’s Prayer:

    And 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.

    And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.

    Give us day by day our daily bread.

    And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.

    - Luke 11:1-4 (KJV)

In a subsequent and related account in this chapter, Luke records that Jesus encouraged persistence in prayer by telling a story of a man persistently asking a friend for a loaf of bread. The friend finally gets out of his cozy bed to loan a loaf of bread, not out of friendship, but because of the first man’s persistence.

The opposition shows up again, accusing Jesus of being a servant of the devil because he can drive out demons. Jesus explains the illogic of that claim and then blesses those who truly understand what he is saying. He encourages the believers to let their light shine and to not allow darkness to enter their souls.

A Pharisee invited him to dinner, but it turns into a debate when the host accuses him of having dirty hands and Jesus accuses them of having wicked hearts. At the end of the meal, the Pharisees became more determined than ever to entrap him at a future date.

In chapter 12, Jesus shows his lack of fear of his opponents as he continues to warn the crowd about the hypocrisy of the yeast of the Pharisees. He then tells the crowd the truth about where they should focus their hearts and minds: Not on riches or on worries about material things but on preparation for the day of the LORD. On that day the world will be divided between the faithful and the wicked and there will be an unavoidable crisis. Jesus explains that much will be expected from those who had heard the word and he warns us to reconcile with our heavenly judge before it's too late:

    Then he turned to the crowd: “When you see clouds coming in from the west, you say, ‘Storm’s coming’—and you’re right. And when the wind comes out of the south, you say, ‘This’ll be a hot one’—and you’re right. Frauds! You know how to tell a change in the weather, so don’t tell me you can’t tell a change in the season, the God-season we’re in right now.

    “You don’t have to be a genius to understand these things. Just use your common sense, the kind you’d use if, while being taken to court, you decided to settle up with your accuser on the way, knowing that if the case went to the judge you’d probably go to jail and pay every last penny of the fine. That’s the kind of decision I’m asking you to make.”

    - Luke 12:54-56 (MSG)

Reflection and Application

Note the priorities of the prayer that Jesus shares during his instruction recorded in Luke 11: The first part of the prayer is focused on God, as a Father figure, hallowed (holy – set apart). We are instructed to pray that his will be done because the Father knows what is best for us and our world. Next is supplication – but in humble terms, asking only what we need for today. This prayer can be used as a model or prayed exactly as is written here. For more reflection on this prayer we recommend The Lord’s Prayer by Terry Fullam, which gives an in-depth and helpful analysis of this well-known set of verses.

Note that Jesus immediately follows this prayer with a parable about persistence, reminding us to continue to pray for the things of our heart and we will be answered – God will give us what we truly need. This statement begs the following question: What is right to pray for and what might be out of bounds? We can receive some guidance in these chapters on this topic as well, as Jesus tells us not to focus on the riches or worries of this world, but to focus on him and pray that we are prepared for his arrival.

Perhaps the quote from Jesus on letting our light shine was the inspiration for the original author of the Gospel Song, “This Little Light of Mine:”

    This little light of mine,
    I'm gonna let it shine
    This little light of mine,
    I'm gonna let it shine
    This little light of mine,
    I'm gonna let it shine
    Let it shine,
    Let it shine,
    Let it shine.

There are many renditions of this song that can inspire you. One of them comes from an unlikely source: Bruce Springsteen produced a lively and joyous version for the Seeger Sessions tour a few years ago. This is not the type of song that most people expect to hear from the Bard of the Garden State, who is more well-known for songs about rebellion, fast cars, and the human will to overcome heartbreak and disappointment. However, he performs this one with his usual enthusiasm and energy.

To the surprise of some, Springsteen included several Gospel songs among the set of folk music that he recorded and performed with the Seeger Sessions Band. Be warned that if you press the play button below you might end up getting out of your seat and waving your arms around. If you want to see it as a full screen just click the icon in the lower right:

"This Little Light of Mine, performed by Bruce Springsteen & The Seeger Sessions Band

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. What experiences have you had working with yeast?
    2. What did Jesus mean regarding the “yeast of the Pharisees?”
    3. What can you do today to let your light shine?
    Recommended Prayer
    Father in heaven, please give us this day our daily bread and forgive us as we forgive others.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: Luke 13 - 15 (An Open Invitation)

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