Keep on praying! – Luke 11:1-13
By Pastor Lee Hemen
March 11, 2012 AM
It was a dark night. The traveler had a flat tire on a seldom used road. To complicate matters, he could not find his tire jack. The only solution lay in appealing to unknown persons in the dark farm house down the road. As he approached the house, the traveler thought to himself, “I’m sure that the farmer will be angry if I wake him and he will probably respond angrily to me. If he gives me anything at all, it will probably be out of total annoyance. The sleepy farmer came to the door and asked the traveler, “What can I do for you?” “Keep your old tire jack,” growled the traveler, “I didn’t want it anyway!” He stomped off, leaving a perplexed farmer scratching his head. Here was a needy person who returned to his needy situation without a needed solution. His approach only brought him frustration, not satisfaction. Sadly, many Christians have the same results with their prayer lives.
Jesus gave the disciples the resource of prayer to be overcomers in a hostile world. The model is Jesus’ own pattern designed to match the cross-bearing lifestyle. It has a proven track record, used by Christ who faced life’s worst and gave it his all. Take your seat in the Lord’s classroom of prayer. Learn to pray from the Master and see the form of prayer taught become a force of prayer caught.
Jesus had a persistent prayer life. The Gospel of Luke mentions his praying more than any other Gospel writer (see 3:21; 6:12; 9:18, 28; 22:32, 40-45; 23:46). Luke 5:16 relates that “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” The Greek verbs are present participles showing that Jesus had a habit of praying and can be translated something like “He was often withdrawing to lonely places and praying.” And here in Luke 11 the scene is Jesus on his knees again praying! By his example and by his teaching Jesus tells us that we should…
I. Pray Intentionally! (Luke 11:1-4)
1. Shoulda, woulda, coulda has never gotten out of the starting gate! — Leeferism
1) The disciples, listening to Jesus pray requested, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Apparently, Jesus’ frequent praying alerted them to the importance of prayer and made them feel the inadequacy of their praying. Notice that Jesus tells them, “When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed be your name.” “Father” is both a respectful and intimate title. Believers are to address God as their Father as Jesus did (Luke 10:21), showing the same wonderful relationship. “Hallowed”, holy is the Lord because his name represents who he is: A holy God who is our only hope to be rescued from a sinful world. God’s “kingdom come” is a wonderful condition of great blessing of the rule of God in our lives. Therefore it is a request for God to reign in people’s hearts. “The coming of the kingdom is an act of grace to an undeserving race.” The third request is for bread as the petitioner looks to God to satisfy their hunger. The request is in the form of the imperative—give—which infers daily sustenance. The next part of the prayer is a request for pardon, for God to “Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.” “For we also” introduces the prerequisite for receiving forgiveness, we are to forgive others as God forgives us; if we do not forgive, he does not forgive. The final petition is to “lead us not into temptation.” This is a request for divine protection. Jesus was speaking of a heart desire to avoid the danger and pain sin causes. So we pray to our loving Heavenly Father for protection and deliverance. To be effective in our prayer life, we should pray intentionally, praising God, seeking his kingdom, and petitioning God for daily needs, for forgiveness, and for deliverance from temptation.
EXAMPLE: The teenage boy, when asked if had done a certain task, defiantly told his father, “I will get to it!” His father immediately went and quietly sat down beside the teen and remarked, “Being “willing” is far different than actually doing.” Jesus shared a similar story: “There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. Which of the two did what his father wanted?” (Matthew 21:28-31 NIV) Of course the answer is the son who at first said “No” and then went. The same is true for us and our prayer. We can say we will pray, we can think we should pray, but if we do not actually pray, it isn’t praying! We are to pray intentionally!
In response to the disciple’s request, Jesus tells them what to pray. In a follow-up parable he gave them incentive to pray. It is an encouraging revelation about God contrasting him to a reluctant neighbor. It motivates believers to pray in spite of no immediate answer. In doing so, the story addresses the feeling we may have that prayer is useless because God does not often answer our prayers as we expect. The main point of the parable is that believers should persist in prayer because God responds graciously to his children’s needs. Therefore we are to…
II. Pray Persistently! (Luke 11:5-10)
1. Persistence is the strength of mind to keep on keeping on even when you feel weak! — Leeferism
1) Jesus loved using parables. Jesus relates about a petitioner who in desperation came to the house of a friend in the middle of the night. The petitioner needed three loaves of bread for a hungry unexpected visitor: “A friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.” Initially, the neighbor was annoyed, saying “Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.” It’s understandable that he felt this way. But the knocker would not be denied; he kept on knocking even though his friend had expressed annoyance about being disturbed! We discover that his persistence pays off! “I tell you” is Jesus’ transitional statement that moves us to the teaching. The lock clicked, the door squeaked open just a bit, and a hand reached out into the dark night with three loaves of bread and gave him as much as he needed. Jesus was not comparing God with the friend’s attitude. He was contrasting God with the friend’s attitude. The contrast is the point of verses 9-10. The annoyed neighbor’s attitude is the opposite of God’s attitude! Jesus was not saying persistence is unimportant, but if persistence worked with a friend, how much more then will our Heavenly Father help us! This is why we are to ask and it will be given to us; seek and we will find the answer; and knock and it will be opened to us! Some Christians might whine, “I asked but did not receive, I searched and knocked, but God remained silent to me!” The strength of Jesus’ words is in his promise: “For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” It encourages us to believe him even if circumstances suggest otherwise. We are to pray persistently!
EXAMPLE: We live in a world whereby we have been brainwashed into thinking we are beaten-down, down-trodden, and never given any opportunities in life. Instead we should demand justice from another’s success and make them pay for our laziness instead! Persistence in life is not nagging, begging, or whining, it is a dogged determination that sets its face toward a goal and heads for it. Kind of like that old song about an ant and a rubber tree! Everyone knows that an ant can’t move a rubber tree plant! Our prayers are more than high hopes, they are our godly persistence in the face of a sin-fallen world to rely on the unseen rather than the seen and to trust when everyone and everything else falters. We are to pray persistently!
The previous parable emphasized the persistent asking of the one who prays. One could almost assume that prayer is a persistent asking overcoming a reluctant giver. However, Jesus’ words in verses 11-13 bring home the point that God is a loving giver who desires to meet the needs of his children. A disciple in prayer can expect to be heard not by a distant deity with arms folded, but by a caring Father with arms outstretched. Verses 11-13 are a series of three rhetorical questions. The first two expect a no answer while the third anticipates a yes answer. We are to…
III. Pray Expectantly! (Luke 11:11-13)
1. The difference between baited breath and bated breath is one stinks and the other is steadfast! — Leeferism
1) The two examples of a father in verses 11-12 enforce Jesus’ teaching! God will hear our prayers and will respond to us with kindness. Since God is our Heavenly Father, we can expect him to do not less but even more than an earthly father! Even a good father does not give his son a snake or a scorpion when he asks for a fish or an egg. In fact, to do so is cruel and deceptive rather than loving. Then in dramatic fashion Jesus drew a climactic conclusion, “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” God, who is holy, will always do more than any sinful father will do. He will give the best and greatest gift—the Holy Spirit! Believers today do not need to ask God for the Holy Spirit because he gives each believer the Spirit when he or she trusts Christ (Romans 8:9). The point is still true, however. God gives and he out-gives all givers! It helps us understand why God does not give us everything we ask for even things we think are good. God gives us what we ask of him only when those gifts are good for us! God is goodness at its very best. Expectant prayer sees him as a trustworthy Father who gives perfect gifts (James 1:17). His answers match our life situations and enable us to live our moments. Often we may have said in hindsight: “That may not be what I wanted, but it was exactly what I needed.” Thank God for His wisdom in answering our expectant prayers!
EXAMPLE: No loving father would give a scorpion or a snake to his hungry son if he asked for a piece of bread or a fish. Jesus used the absurdity of that analogy in Luke to underscore the heavenly Father’s readiness to give good things to his children when they ask him. An unknown author expressed it this way:
I asked for health that I might do greater things;
I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
I asked God for strength that I might achieve;
I was made weak that I might learn to obey.
I asked for riches that I might be happy;
I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power and the praise of men;
I was given weakness to sense my need of God.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life;
I was given life that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing I asked for but everything I hoped for;
In spite of myself, my prayers were answered—
I am among all men most richly blessed.
God always gives us what’s best for us. We need to pray expectantly!
Christ’s followers grow in spiritual effectiveness as they follow Jesus’ teachings on prayer. We are to pray intentionally, persistently, and expectantly!
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 25 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2012 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.