Prayer. This is a topic that people generally spend more time talking about than actually doing. So, our hearts need to be ignited to want to pray more and to pray consistently. We call prayer one of the spiritual disciplines, and, for me, it still remains a discipline, even though I have been a believer for over 50 years. I long for the day when I can say prayer is more than a discipline. It is a passion…like ice cream!
The disciples make a simple, but important, request, “Lord, teach us to pray.” We all have probably asked the question at some point in our lives. Prayer seems so common and simple, yet it can also leave us with many questions. So, Jesus explains to them WHAT to pray. Each point of this prayer is important to understand, and it would be amazing to look at each step Jesus lays out. But I want us to focus on what Jesus says to the disciples about HOW to pray.
Jesus provides two examples about how to pray. And each story has a clear point. But, as I studied this, what stood out to me was the way in which verses 9-10 stand out in the middle of these two stories.
Let’s begin with verses 9-10, “And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” Those are powerful words…and they are frustrating words. The words are powerful because we know that God is all-powerful and can, in fact, provide whatever he wants to his children. The words are frustrating because each of us has had a situation when we probably asked and asked, but God did not answer…at least that we could see. We prayed that the person would live, but they died. We asked God for the new job, but someone else got it. And we could go on and on. We all have a story.
We need to keep in mind that, in this passage in Luke 11, Jesus is not addressing whether or not our prayers get answered the way we want. He is addressing who the Father is, the one to whom we are asking. He is a Father who gives when you ask, who lets you find when you seek, and who opens the door when you knock. That is who he is, and we must not forget it. Wrapped around this clear point of who the Father is, Jesus provides two illustrations.
Point: Persistence in what is asked
Our Takeaway: Keep asking!
READ the story in verses 5-8.
Jesus makes it clear that we are not to give up in our asking. Perhaps you have grown weary in asking God for something. I have been begging God for years for one specific request, and God has yet to grant it. Jesus says, “Keep asking.”
· Do you have a prayer that you have also asked over and over, and maybe finally you gave up? Can I encourage you today to keep asking.
· Make a list of prayers that you either quit praying or that you are still praying.
· Take the time to pray each one and commit to continue in the days ahead.
Point: Provision in what is asked
Our Taking: Be specific in asking
READ the story in verses 11-13.
Jesus also makes it clear that we are to be specific in our asking, believing that our Father will give to us good. He will give us what we ask, what is good for us. The fear can be, “Why ask? It only leads to disappointment.” Jesus says, “No, bring that request to God…and keep on bringing that request.” Your heavenly Father wants to hear your requests. And, as you pray, keep in mind that he is a Father who gives when you ask, lets you find when you seek, and opens the door when you knock.
But let’s get back to the ice cream. Think of a child, whining when walking past an ice cream shop, “I want some ice cream…I want some ice cream.” (just give these words the worst kind of whining voice, and you might be close to how I intend them to sound) The parent remains calm and says, “Why would you like some, you just ate.” The child responds, continuing in the whiny voice, “Because I am hungry!” Perfect! If the child is hungry, any good parent knows the ice cream is not what the body is crying out for, correct? The child needs fuel, and ice cream is not fuel.
The Bible provides multiple reasons why God might not answer our prayers, but let’s keep it simple. We simply just do not know enough about this world, what is good for us, how God is moving things forward, etc. Our heavenly Father does. If we know how to give good things to our children when they ask, how much more does our heavenly Father.
· Praise the Lord that he truly knows best and that, when we cry out, he will give us good things because he knows what is best for us.
· Then, grab that list you made above and bring your requests to him again…and again…and again.
As you go through this day, keep reminding yourself that your heavenly Father gives when you ask, lets you find when you seek, and opens the door when you knock. That is WHO HE IS. So, keep asking. And keep believing that he is a good Father…even when his ways are not your ways.
Take a moment to enjoy this song by Chris Tomlin, “Good, good Father.” I still remember where I was standing the first time I heard this song. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqybaIesbuA
David is Pastor of Theology and Teaching at Cornerstone where he has been serving since 2020. He has a PhD in Theological Studies from Trinity International University. In addition Pastor David is also currently a Professor of Old Testament at Biola University. David’s life goal and what he describes as “God’s inescapable call on my life” is discipleship. Towards that end, in his career, Dr. Talley has served as a Professor, Pastor, and Board Member of several different missionary and pastoral training outreaches around the world.