Here in Luke, Jesus teaches on prayer. He gives us four lessons so we can understand how God hears our petitions and wants to take care of us. Ive divided this section into the Four Principles of Praying Productively. They are The 4 Ps
Prayer Verses 1- 4
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. And 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. Give us day by day our daily bread. And 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. -- King James Version
Notice from verse 1 that Jesus was praying. He believed in prayer and practiced it. The next thing we see is that one of the disciples had a desire to pray as Jesus prayed. We can never really learn how to pray or experience its miracle-working power unless we have a genuine desire to pray. We have to want it deep down in our soul. Now how did this desire grow in this disciple? First, we see how he saw Jesus praying. Im sure he saw him praying on many other occasions. He began to see that strength, peace, and renewal can only come from prayer. But not only had he seen Jesus pray, but notice that he says, "teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples." Apparently this man had also been a follower of John and had been instructed in prayer. So mentally, intellectually, he understood the concept of prayer: he had seen John pray, he had seen Jesus pray, John had even taught him how to pray. But now this disciple wanted more than intellectual understanding of prayer -- he wanted to experience the power of prayer in his own life. He wanted communion with God, he wanted to talk with his Heavenly Father.
McGeecomments, "We see John as a man of prayer. Teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. Is anyone going to say that about you or me? All great servants of God have been men of prayer. The barren lives of Christians and the deadness of the church today are the result of prayerlessness. That is our problem."
How many of us pray, but it has become an empty routine! We dutifully pray for our family and ourselves and maybe even our church and perhaps our country, but it is only an exercise in words. This disciple wanted to fervently pray and touch the throne-room of heaven. Lord, help us to have that same desire.
Now Jesus gives his disciple instruction in how to pray. Observe that the words Jesus gives here are similar, but shorter than the prayer he gives in Matthew 7 -- The Lords Prayer.
Why is this? Wasnt Luke paying as close attention as Matthew? Or was Luke just a sloppier writer? Neither is the case. In Matthew Jesus taught The Lords Prayer during his Sermon on the Mount right at the beginning of his ministry. Here in Luke, Jesus is teaching later in his ministry, so it is not the same occasion. This shows us that its not so important the form we use in prayer, but the ideas we use in prayer, and this is what I want to look at: what is Jesus really teaching us here in verses 2-4. I believe Jesus is giving us ideas of how to pray, not necessarily just one form of prayer.
1. Acknowledge God as Lord of your life -- Our Father which art in heaven
2. Praise and worship him -- Hallowed be thy name
3. Pray for Gods will to be done, not your own will -- Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done as in heaven, so in earth.
4. Make your requests known to him -- Give us day by day our daily bread
5. Ask for forgiveness for yourself -- And forgive us our sins
6. Ask for forgiveness for others -- for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us.
7. Pray for his help for the trials you may face today -- And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil
E. M. Boundswrote eight books on the subject of prayer in the early 1900s. Here is what he had to say about prayer.
"This is the attitude with regard to prayer that ought to mark every child of God. There are, and there ought to be, stated seasons of communion with God when, everything else shut out, we come into his presence to talk to him and to let him speak to us; and out of such seasons springs that beautiful habit of prayer that weaves a golden bond between earth and heaven. ... Thus, in every circumstance of life, prayer is the most natural outpouring of the soul, the unhindered turning to God for communion and direction. Whether in sorrow or in joy, in defeat or in victory, in health or in weakness, in calamity or in success, the heart leaps to meet with God...."
He also wrote, "The word prayer expresses the largest and most comprehensive approach to God. It gives prominence to the element of devotion. It is communion and fellowship with God. It is enjoyment of God. It is access to God."
Persistence Verses 5-8
And he said to them, "Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him; and he will answer from within, Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him whatever he needs." -- Revised Standard Version
Before we explore what Jesus is teaching here about prayer, we need to understand two of the customs of Jesus day. The first is their custom of hospitality. When they traveled a long distance, they arrived at their destination hungry and thirsty. There were no Jack-In-The-Boxes along the route, and it was difficult carrying an ice chest on your back when you were walking on foot. So it was considered a grave insult not to be able to feed your friends or relatives when they arrived after a long journey. The other custom is not unique to the Middle East. When families in Israel went to bed, they did it much the same way families in America did 150 years ago. Since the houses were so small, during the day the childrens beds, really only a wood pallet with straw on it, were shoved underneath the parents bed to make more room. At bed-time all these smaller beds were pulled out and surrounded the parents master bed. If there wasnt enough room for everyone, some of the smaller children might wind up sleeping in the parents bed. So to rise up after putting everyone to sleep would have been a major undertaking.
Lets examine this parable. The first thing we need to understand is that this story has nothing to do with two friends borrowing from each other, but it has everything to do with prayer. Remember, Jesus is teaching on prayer. Im glad Jesus used the example of two friends. When we go to the Lord in prayer, we are going to our friend. He cares about us. He is our best friend. Even though the neighbor wasnt too happy to hear his friend at midnight, God is always ready to hear our prayers. The neighbor also wasnt too eager to come to his friends aid, but God is ever willing to help us. God doesnt care if its midnight or 3 a.m. He loves hearing from his children. Notice the point of this parable is given in the last line: "because of his importunity he will rise and give him whatever he needs." This word "importunity" means persistence or determination. In other words the friend wouldnt give up. He kept knocking on the door until his neighbor answered and met his need. So what is Jesus teaching us here? When we pray, dont give up. Keep praying. Be persistent. Be determined. And God will answer your prayer.
"Keep On Praying!"
by R. A. Smith
Promise Verses 9-10
And I tell you, Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. -- Revised Standard Version
What a wonderful set of promises these verses contain. Jesus is giving a lesson on prayer. First he taught that we should pray, next he showed us how we need to pray with persistence, and now he reveals that when we pray, and are persistent, God will answer in a miraculous way.
I believe that these verses show us the three ways we pray: sometimes we ask, sometimes we seek, and other times we knock.
1. We ask when we know specifically what to pray for, and we know what God is directing in our prayers.
2. We seek when we know what to pray for but were not sure of Gods direction in this particular area.
3. We knock when were not sure exactly what to pray for or how to pray in a particular situation.
Back in verse 5 Jesus said that the friend went to his neighbors house and asked for three loaves of bread. Did you ever wonder why Jesus specified three loaves? It could mean that when we pray, all the godhead hears us: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Or three could represent the three areas of our life in which we may need help: mind, body, and spirit. But I like to think that the three loaves of bread represent the three ways we can pray: ask, seek, and knock. And in verse 8 we saw that the friend received his three loaves. So it is with God. No matter which way we pray -- whether we ask, seek, or knock -- we will receive from God.
God has promised he will answer our prayers. He goes so far as to say that every one who asks receives, and everyone who seeks finds, and to everyone who knocks it will be opened. How marvelous are Gods promises!
Lets examine each one of these three areas:
Example: Roger had just moved up from Southern California to Merced with his wife and young son. He worked for a few months and was fired from his job. We prayed, God, find Roger another job. He was fired on Friday. On Monday he had a new job.
I believe that every time we ask according to Gods will, we will receive. Thats what this verse promises. We have to ask with the proper motives as James 4:3 tells us, "When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures." And we cannot pray for something opposing Gods sovereign will for our life. I always pray, "God if its your will." This is what Jesus taught earlier in this chapter of Luke when he was teaching the disciples the prayer in verses 1-4. Remember in verse 2 when he said (KJV) "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done"? We are to pray according to Gods will, not our own. My experience has been that most of my prayers God answers with yes; sometimes he answers yes, but wait; and a few hes answered with no. Billy Graham explains, "When we pray for help in trouble, or for healing in sickness, or for deliverance in persecution, God may not give us what we ask for because that may not be His wise and loving will for us. He will answer our prayer in His own way, and He will not let us down in our hour of need."
Example: Gary had moved to Livingston with his wife and three sons from Hemet. He had a good job, but they wanted to move back to Hemet to be closer to their family. But the reason they had moved to Livingston in the first place was Gary had difficulty finding steady work in Hemet. So we prayed God would reveal to them what he wanted for them. After spending only a few hours in Southern California, both Gary and his wife knew that they were supposed to stay in Livingston.
Sometimes we know what to pray for, but were not sure of Gods direction. So we pray seeking his will for our life, or his guidance, or his answer to our problems. Jesus has promised that if we seek, we will find. Be assured that whatever problems you are facing, whatever difficult decisions you may have to make, you can seek your answers from the Lord, and he will respond to you.
Example: Before I became a pastor, I knew God was calling me into the ministry, but I didnt have the answers to most of my questions -- what, when, where, how. He had opened up some doors to my understanding, but for others I was still awaiting his answer. So I prayed Lord, help me to know. After that, God did show me where he wanted me to serve and opened up the opportunity for ministry.
There are times when we simply dont know how to pray. There come difficult times in our life when we are not sure which way to turn. Isnt it comforting to know that there is one who knows what lies ahead of us, who is watching out for us, and will help us along the way? Jesus said if we knock on heavens door for help, God will open it. He does not leave us alone to wander in our confusion, but he will reveal himself to us. He will give us wisdom in the most difficult situation, and he will help us through the most trying of circumstances.
Heres an acrostic I wrote based on these three forms of prayer
So whenever you pray, pray in confidence knowing that God will answer your prayers. If you ask, you will receive; if you seek, you will find; if you knock, the door will be opened to you. Praise God for his promise to us! As Hebrews 4:16tells us, "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."
Provides Verses 11-13
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? 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! -- Revised Standard Version
This portion of scripture shows us how God provides for us. In this parable of the good father Jesus tells us that even though we are evil by nature, we know how to give good gifts to our children. So how much more does God desire to give good things to us! In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus also told this parable, but a little differently. In Matthew 7:11 instead of saying "give the Holy Spirit" as here in Luke, he said "give good things."
I find this both fascinating and instructive. Because in these two portions of scripture teaching on the same parable, Jesus is telling us that God cares for both our spiritual needs and our earthly needs. In Matthew Jesus has promised that the heavenly Father will provide us with "good things" -- take care of all our earthly needs. And here in Luke Jesus promises that God will provide us with "the Holy Spirit" -- take care of all our spiritual needs. Psalm 103:2-5 beautifully combines both of these benefits as it enumerates Gods blessings to us, both physical and spiritual, "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the Pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good as long as you live so that your youth is renewed like the eagles."
So why do we fret so much about our future. Believe Gods word. He has promised to provide for us. How: first prayer, then persistence in prayer, then believe Gods promises when we pray, and finally know that God will provide for us.
Prayer, Persistence, Promise, Provides -- These are the four Principles of Praying Productively.
This Study on Luke 11:1-13 © 1997 by David Humpal, all rights reserved
Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, vol. 4, pg. 295
Bounds: The first quote is from Purpose in Prayer pg. 311, the second quote from Reality in Prayer pg. 225
James 4:3 from the New International Version
Graham: The Faithful Christian pg. 149
Hebrews 4:16 from the King James Version
Psalm 103:2-5 from the Revised Standard Version