Weekly Bible Reflection
Luke: Signs of the Kingdom
Eighth Sunday after Trinity
Text: Luke 11.1-13: "When you pray"
Begin by using the Bible Study method as outlined
A Window on the Text
The disciples want Jesus to teach them how to pray, to do what they see him doing. He responds by, first, telling them how to address God and then by providing them with what amounts to a set of instructions, a list of biddings. These are not unlike the headings for intercessory prayer at public worship found in many prayer books (the World, the church, the local community and sick). Those guidelines have, over the centuries, come to be known as the Lord's Prayer.
God can be addressed by the intimate, familiar term 'Daddy', but nevertheless he is to be hallowed, his 'apartness' is to be acknowledged.
In many ways, this is a demanding prayer, requiring God to provide. Top of the list is prayer for God's Kingdom, that it might come into being and overturn the ways of the world.
Then comes prayer for food, literally for 'tomorrow's bread'. To a peasant people this is a primary concern. But what does this mean in western society, where food is stored in household cupboards and freezers and even supermarket chains have three days food in stock? (see Note 1, below)
Luke describes sin in terms of indebtedness. Our sin puts us in debt to God. The sin of others put them are debts of honour to us. This latter notion is affirmed by the parable (11.5-8) where the word, friend, would imply a social equal. The refusal of the friend to help would damage his or her reputation within his community. (See Malina & Rohrbaugh, Social-Science Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels)
Responding as a community
- What do you hope for when you ask God for "daily bread"?
- What are you expecting when you pray, "your kingdom come"?
Say the Lord's Prayer together, then reflect in silence on each phrase for, perhaps, 5 minutes.
Repeat the Lord's Prayer, but stop at the end of each phrase and give thanks for the new insights which have emerged form the discussion and the silent reflection.
End by saying the Grace.
- Bishop J V Taylor, speaking at a Gloucester Diocesan Conference in 1984, commented on how hard he found it to say "give us this day our daily bread" when there was at least a weeks supply of bread in the freezer.
- The idea of demanding that God provide 'tomorrow's bread' conflicts with God's instructions through Moses to the Israelites during the Exodus that he would provide just enough manna for each day and that they were not to store it for the next day. God had to be trusted to provide. (See Exodus 16)