Today we continue our sermon series in Luke 11 on the subject of Prayer. We have learned that prayer is communication with God and that it is an act of worship in which a person communicates with God the Father, through the access provided by God the Son, and by the prompting of God the Spirit.
This morning we will discover that Jesus not only encourages us to pray, but insists on us praying shamelessly, persistently and expectantly.
In verses 5-8, Jesus told His disciples a parable about a man going to his friend at midnight and asking “Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him” (5-6). Midnight is not a very good time to go asking for bread, but having nothing to set before a guest, regardless of time, was unthinkable for a host in Jesus’ day. The friend of the man refuses to help because everyone in his house is asleep. Jesus said, “though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs” (8).
Jesus told this parable to call Christians to shamelessly and boldly ask God the Father to help them in times of need. An important difference, however, is that God the Father is not answering from a locked house: “Do not bother me”; but saying “ask…seek…knock” (9). If you truly need God, boldly come before Him in prayer and shamelessly ask Him for what you need.
In verse 9, Jesus tells His disciples “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” Jesus is telling Christians to pray persistently. The exciting aspect of this verse is that the three verbs (ask, seek, knock) are all indicating a continual habit. Literally the verse reads: “Keep on asking…keep on seeking…keep on knocking”. Do not be content to ask once and move on. Jesus says that we are to continually and persistently bring our prayers to the Father.
If you have trouble understanding what persistence looks like, go to any grocery store and watch a child asking his/her parents, “Can I have that?”
In verse 10, Jesus tells His disciples “For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” Jesus is telling Christians to pray expectantly.
In verses 11-12, Jesus asks a rhetorical question to indicate that we serve a good God who is a loving Heavenly Father. He asks, “What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?” The obvious answer is that only a wicked father would do something as mean as give a snake to a child who asks for fish or a scorpion instead of an egg. Any father who did such things would be evil.
Jesus then says in verse 13, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Did you see what Jesus did in His response? His hearers would have correctly thought “Only an evil father would give those bad gifts!” Jesus then tells them that they are evil yet they give good gifts to their children. Jesus is highlighting the ability of all humans to show love even though they are “dead in their trespasses and sins” (Eph 2:1) and “by nature children of wrath” (Eph 2:3).
Jesus is arguing from the lesser to the greater. If humans, who are spiritually dead (“the lesser”), are able to give good gifts to their children; how much more is God, who is the epitome of spiritual life (“the greater”), able to give good gifts to His children?
What Will You Receive?
Jesus says in verse 13, “how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” This verse is important because it reminds us not to use our verses this morning for our own selfish desires. Too often Christians will read “Ask and it will be given to you” and interpret it to mean “I can ask for anything I want regardless of its eternal value.” When Jesus says that God the Father “will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him” (13), He is reminding us that our asking, seeking, and knocking are in the context of: His Name being hallowed (2), His coming kingdom (2), His will being done on earth as it is in heaven (Matt 6:10), His provision of daily bread (3), His forgiveness of sins (4), and His protection in temptation (4). Our receiving from God must be understood that He will give His children what they need even if it isn’t what they think they need.
Jesus tells Christians to pray shamelessly and “with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
Jesus tells Christians to pray persistently and remember that “God will give justice to His elect who cry to Him day and night” (Luke 18:7).
Jesus tells Christians to pray expectantly and trust that “every good gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17).
Pray shamelessly, persistently, and expectantly to your good God who delights in answering the prayers of His children.
Questions for Reflection
- Does God give us anything we want?
- Do you pray shamelessly?
- Do you pray persistently?
- Do you pray expectantly?
- Do you believe God is good and delights in answering your prayers?