The Book of Luke, Teach Us To Pray - Lesson 141
Luke 11:1-13, 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. 2And 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. 3Give us day by day our daily bread. 4And 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. And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; 6For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? 7And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. 8I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. 9And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. 10For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. 11If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? 12Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
There is a line in the song, ďWhat a friend we have in JesusĒ that goes like this:
ďO what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.Ē
God desires that we acknowledge our dependence upon Him.
Godís word continually tells us to trust in the Lord and to not lean to our own understanding.
For all that we are and all that we have truly depends upon Godís hand.
We may try to operate as independent creatures but that is just our old nature, our sinful state, in rebellion against an admission that we are indeed fully dependent upon our creator.
The children of Israel also had this problem and Jeremiah revealed this neglect by telling us of their continual forsaking of the hand of God and instead making their own way.
Jeremiah 2:13, For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.
ďO what pure living water we forfeit, O what needless thirst we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.Ē
How easily we reject the fountain of living water and end up with the foul water of cisterns or no water at all with broken cisterns.
And we carelessly do this by not carrying everything to God in prayer.
This neglect ought not to be, for Jesus Christ does not neglect to teach us how to pray and this teaching is so plain and pertinent for us in this passage in Luke 11.
This story that our Lord Jesus Christ told his disciples of the man who needed bread for a unexpected guest provides us with an example of what prayer is to be.
And Christ summarizes what happened as the man considered his options as to satisfying his friendís hunger.
My friend is a guest, my friend must eat, he reasoned.
The cupboard is bare and I must, I must have food.
Hospitality was paramount in the culture of Jesusí day and the need had to be satisfied regardless of what it took.
It was unthinkable to turn the man away and whatever was necessary to get bread had to be done.
So asking of a neighbor regardless of the midnight hour must be done.
But Husband, our neighborís house is dark, his animals are in the house, his children are all with him in bed and all is quiet there, his wife reminded him.
You cannot disturb your neighbor at this hour!
But wife, we have a visitor and we must feed him.
I must have bread. So I am off to my neighbor to ask for bread.
Knock, knock, knock, knock, knock, knock, knock knock, knock.
Neighbor! I must have bread!
Go away! No one asks for bread at this time. Go away!
But I cannot go away, I must have bread for a friend is come to my house at midnight and I must have bread.
Knock, knock, knock! knock, knock, knock! knock knock, knock!
There was no stopping this man for his heart was fully in this request and his knocking would not stop until his need was met.
And it was met. Why was it met? Was it met because the neighbor was his friend?
8I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.
The need was not satisfied by a friend but by a man who wanted to get some sleep and stop his friendís persistent interruption of his sleep.
It was met, not for friendshipís sake, but because the neighbor wanted some sleep and the only way he was going to get sleep was by meeting the need of this persistent fellow.
There was self interest on his part. He wanted to sleep!
So the bread was given. This is what importunity brings in the human realm.
The motive for answering the request is not pure but the answer came regardless.
But what will importunity bring in the spiritual realm?
God is not just your neighbor but God is your father.
He does not have to be appealed to, based upon his self interest, for he is interested in you and desires to meet your needs for he loves you.
If ordinary men with questionable motives would answer the need how much more would God with pure motives be expected to do it?
The teaching is clear.
Jesus is teaching that consistent, persistent prayer, daily prayer, is to be motivated by the assurance that if a friend will give what is persistently sought, even if inconvenient, then God will surely answer our requests, but more so for God loves his children.
Jesus is telling his disciples that God will answer prayer!
Jesus Christ emphasizes this pattern by teaching the three stages of prayer, asking, seeking, and knocking.
Most times we miss many answers to prayer because we are not in earnest about the thing we desire to be done.
We do not have the passion about the need that this man had about the bread and we will not go the extra mile of seeking or the second and third mile of knocking, and knocking, and more knocking.
And you will soon find out that God will match your ho-hum attitude in his answer to such lackadaisical praying.
So Jesus Christ ties this story of the needed bread to this instruction for it describes what took place between neighbors.
9And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. 10For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
Asking implies humility and a consciousness of need.
My, how the scriptures point out our need for Godís help in all things but it takes humility to recognize that I need help.
It is a recognition that all things are not right with me.
I have a need and I, even I, the high and mighty one, cannot meet that need.
Asking requires humility of spirit.
Asking is done from someone who has a need to someone who can fulfill that need.
The Pharisee asks nothing for he tells the Lord how good he is, but the publican asks and even pleads, God be merciful to me a sinner.
Asking reveals a belief in a personal God with whom a man or woman can have fellowship.
When a man asks, he expects an answer.
So this also implies faith in a God who can, does and will answer, faith in God as a Father.
Seeking is asking plus action.
It implies earnest petitioning, but that alone is not enough.
A person must be active in endeavoring to obtain the fulfillment of his needs.
As I said last week, if you pray for the support of the missionaries which is asking God for help, the next thing you should do is look at your own assets.
Should they be placed at Godís disposal to help answer your prayer?
Can God answer your request though you or can he supply some of the need through you?
If all the need can be supplied the answer is clear, if not, keeping knocking at Godís door.
Or perhaps you might pray for a deeper knowledge of the Bible.
But it does not stop there for you should then involve yourself in a diligent search and study of the Scriptures, and purpose to attend all of the church services, and in all things strive to live in harmony with Godís will.
You ask the Lord if you are right before his eyes.
Donít look for an engraved reply from God for God tells you to study to show yourself approved unto God.
You will find that many of your prayers are to be answered by your own actions, by your own seeking.
God will help in that endeavor.
Knocking is asking plus acting plus persevering.
One knocks again and again until the door is opened.
Jesus is saying, continue to ask, continue to seek, continue to knock.
What is important to you? What is important to you is revealed by your prayers!
Romans 12:12, Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
Jesus continues his instruction in prayer in response to his disciples desire to know how to pray in verses 11 through 13.
11If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? 12Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
In the first story, Jesus used the example of a friend, who gave his neighbor what he wanted because of his persistence, even though it was inconvenient.
In the second story, Jesus moves the scene to that of a father.
If friends can be expected to give us what we ask for when we persist, what can one expect of a father, better yet, of our Heavenly Father?
Jesus instructed His disciples to pray to God as their Father.
This was a revelation to the disciples that there was to be a close intimate relationship with God and that was to be that of a Father-Son relationship.
In general earthly fathers love their children and take pleasure in giving good gifts to them.
Fathers do not give their children ďbadĒ things when they have asked for something good.
Earthly fathers do not give their children gifts which will harm them when they are asked for those things which will help them.
Fish and eggs are both helpful for they strengthen the physical body.
Snakes and scorpions are both harmful to the physical body.
God, as a Heavenly Father, does not give us those things which will be harmful to us when we have asked for those things which are beneficial to us.
Sometimes when we ignore Godís word, we may even ask for things which will harm us like snakes and scorpions, rather than for fish and eggs.
Sometimes we are drawn to things which will hurt us in our spiritual life but God loves us and I may ask for a snake, but God gives me a fish.
I may wish for a scorpion, but God gives me eggs.
God our Father, give us good gifts even when we seek those which are harmful to us.
Because God is a good God, a loving Father, He can not only be expected to answer our petitions, but to do so in a way that is for our highest good.
So from our Lordís first story we learn that God answers our prayers.
And from the second, we learn that His answers are always good ones and always for our benefit.
We may not get exactly what we wanted but in due time we shall see that what God has given was much better.
Romans 8:28, And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.