Prayer In Luke-Acts -- By: P. T. O’Brien

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 24:1 (NA 1973)
Article: Prayer In Luke-Acts
Author: P. T. O’Brien


Prayer In Luke-Acts*

P. T. O’Brien

* This paper was originally read to the Arnold Ehrhardt Seminar of the University of Manchester.

The general subject of ‘prayer’ in the New Testament has, by and large, been neglected by scholars. In 1965 Wilhelm Ott1 noted that although Luke had rightly been called ‘the evangelist of prayer’2 the exact significance of this had not been assessed. All too often commentators had noted that the Third Evangelist made many references to the subject that were not found in either of the other Synoptists but these instances had not been evaluated.

In an attempt to fill this need Ott published the results of his research on Lukan prayer in a monograph. As the sub-title suggests, Die Bedeutung der Gebetsparänese in der lukanischen Theologie, Ott’s study concentrated on the paraenetic material of the Gospel (particularly the Parable of the Unjust Judge, Luke 18:1–8), and in contrast to Matthew’s presentation of prayer as an expectation of God’s coming, he understood the Lukan emphasis to be: men ‘ought always to pray and not lose heart’ (Luke 18:1). The example of Jesus at prayer, according to Ott, buttressed this Lukan demand for unceasing petition which was set against the background of: (1) temptations which began with the passion of Jesus and would continue; and (2) the church would remain in the world for an indefinitely long period of time, and its members needed to be on guard so that their faith would not be stifled.3 In a brief (thirteen-page) survey of the prayer material in Acts4 the

writer showed that the early church heeded this injunction to unceasing prayer (e.g. Acts 2:41f.), thus following the example of her Lord.5 The second volume of Luke’s history, like the first, pointed to the necessity of this prayer ‘for the preservation of faith’. Thus to Ott ‘Prayer and Salvation’ has become ‘Prayer for Salvation’.

Although this author has brought out several important points about the Lukan paraenetic material on prayer, several weaknesses appear: (I) his brief treatment of Luke’s second volume has not done justice to the prayer material contained in that work; (2) the Third Evangelist in both the Gospel and Acts has employe...

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