Lord teach us to pray
Luke 10:38-11:13 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. 40 But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; 42 but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”
11 It happened that while Jesus was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples.” 2 And He said to them, “When you pray, say:
‘Father, hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
3 ‘Give us each day our daily bread.
4 ‘And forgive us our sins,
For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.’”
5 Then He said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and goes to him at midnight and says to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; 6 for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7 and from inside he answers and says, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.
9 “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened. 11 Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? 12 Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? 13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”
In Matthew 7-8 Jesus says: “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” If God knows what we need before we ask Him, is Jesus contradicting what He says here, when in today’s text He says: “So I say to 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 he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened?” Jesus says: “because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.” We pray, ask, seek and knock, not to inform God of our need. He is omniscient. He already knows what we need. The reason we are to ask is to inform our body and soul all that is available and promised to us. Praying the word of God and His promises to and for us reminds us, not Him, of all that we have through Christ as children of God and heirs of His kingdom. In Mark 11:22-24 Jesus says: “Have faith in God. Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him. Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.” It is easy for us to command a mountain, whether physical or metaphorical, to be removed from our way, then if it does not immediately move say it must not be God’s will. But if we believe, that it is truly within our authority, if we believe that God has indeed promised that this thing should move, we will persist. If we truly believe that something is ours we will continue to seek and ask. We will not be easily discouraged.
Our persistence in continuing to ask is not because God doesn’t hear us. Our need for persistence is because God may be working something in us. James 1:2-4 says: Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. It is more than that perseverance tests how much faith we have. Jesus says if we have faith the size of a mustard seed we can move mountains. (Matthew 17:20) Perseverance, persistence in prayer tests not what is the amount of our faith, but rather what is the object of our faith. Jesus says: “Have faith in God.” Very often we need perseverance because we need to come to the end of ourselves in order to fully trust in God. It is often not until we have exhausted all of our own strength and tried without success every option known to man, that we trust in God, that we rely on our faith in Him. In Matthew 6:31-33 Jesus says: “Do not worry then… your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” What would happen if we made God our first option, rather than our last? What if we truly believed Him and His promises for us? What if our faith was truly established fully in Him?
Today’s text ends with Jesus saying: “Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” Back in James 1, after speaking of perseverance verses 5-8 says: But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. If we are uncertain how to pray or what we should ask God for, we should ask for His Spirit. If we will yield to the Holy Spirit, we will know the mind and the will of God. We will know and be reminded of all that He has promised us. In Matthew 6:26-27 Jesus says: “The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” When our faith is in God, when we trust in Him, yielding to the Holy Spirit, when God is our first and only option, our Alpha and Omega, then we will have peace and all that we seek and ask for.
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen. Thank You heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ and precious Holy Spirit. Amen.