Luke 11 – Persistence, looking in the light of how to pray
Remember that we need to read the Bible in the context of surrounding verses and overall truth. Too much deception creeps in because of misquoted verses and verses out of context.. Eg many people know what John 3.16 says, but what does John 3.15 say?
Also we must never take a verse of the Bible on its own and make a doctrine out of it. So many people have done this throughout time. Even some modern day charismatic churches make religious rules out of single verses plucked out of the Bible as in a lucky dip! So basically, read all of the Bible and then relate a verse of the Bible in the light of what the rest of the Bible says! Imagine this: you're watching a football game and there's an amazing player on the team unknown to you. He plays really badly that week so you say 'he's a useless player!" But you haven't rated him according to all the games he's played that season. If you had, you'd realise he was a great player! That's what happens when people read the Bible verse without reading others!!
Then (Jesus) said, “Imagine what would happen if you went to a friend in the middle of the night and said, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread. An old friend traveling through just showed up, and I don’t have a thing on hand.’
“The friend answers from his bed, ‘Don’t bother me. The door’s locked; my children are all down for the night; I can’t get up to give you anything.’
“But let me tell you, even if he won’t get up because he’s a friend, if you stand your ground, knocking and waking all the neighbours, he’ll finally get up and get you whatever you need.
“Here’s what I’m saying: ask and you’ll get; Seek and you’ll find; Knock and the door will open.
“Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This is not a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. If your little boy asks for a serving of fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? If your little girl asks for an egg, do you trick her with a spider? As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing—you’re at least decent to your own children. And don’t you think the Father who conceived you in love will give the Holy Spirit when you ask him?”
In Luke 11, the disciples have asked ‘teach us to pray’ so Jesus is teaching them to pray. We need to pray the same prayer!
Luke 11 this lets us know that we can learn how to pray and we can grow in praying! The way to learn and to grow is to go to Jesus and to his Word. It’s like faith – faith "comes by hearing… the Word of God" (Luke 10.17). So as Derek Prince used to say, "If you don’t have faith, it can come!" It’s the same with prayer - you can grow in your praying and learn!
In Luke 11 we find that the ‘friend’ (who doesn’t seem to be that good a friend!!) tells his friend to come back later. But God contrasts his reaction to us. God doesn’t say ‘come back later’, he never says ‘don’t bother me’ and God’s door is never locked! Hebrews 4.16 says we can enter right into the presence of God anytime to get mercy and God’s answers in our times of need.
God just says, "ask and you’ll get; seek and you’ll find; knock and the door will open" (Luke 11.9). In the Amplified, it lets us know that we keep on asking, keep on seeking and keep on knocking, so it does suggest some persistence:
So I say to you, Ask and keep on asking and it shall be given you; seek and keep on seeking and you shall find; knock and keep on knocking and the door shall be opened to you.
God tells us to be direct and simply ask. In the context of not coveting stuff and not fighting, not having the wrong motives, James 4.2 says you have not because you don’t ask.
Luke 11 is about movement, action and motion. This isn’t forced motion, this is a lifestyle of obedience; its about walking and talking with Jesus, just like the disciples did. Hebrews 4.3 says, “Now we who have believed enter that rest…” So here’s another clue about praying. If we truly believe God then we find ourselves in a place of rest in our minds, emotions etc. OK so this can be a bit up and down but overall we just trust God.
George Mueller said, “The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety.”
So here’s some ideas from the teaching:
- Get close to God and put him first. Matthew 6 promises he’ll look after us
- Ask God. Obviously it’s got to be in line with his will! Be direct.
- Seek God and his will. Seek God in prayer, worship, the Bible and then get busy in obedience, being faithful to and for God.
- Knock on doors. Doors are things that have to be knocked on in order for them to open. The suggestion is that the door may not open unless you knock on it. So if you feel God is leading you, knock on doors. Be patient. Wait for God’s timing and answers in his way.
- God wants to give good things to you – Luke 11.10.13. Believe him! God responds to our faith. Hebrews 11.6 says without faith it’s impossible to please God and anyone who comes to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him.
- Just be yourself in prayer, ask God to teach you and learn who you are and how you best pray.
- Finally, God is bigger than any box you may think he should be in. Realise that in line with Isaiah 55.8-9, God’s ways are higher. Don’t let anyone put you in a box or tell you there are ‘right’ ways to pray. If your heart is for God, you love him and want to obey him and you are living and praying in line with His Word then that’s enough.