As Christians, we access power through prayer. What can we learn from Jesus about prayer? In this message on Luke 11:1–13, Jim Shaddix teaches us what Jesus wants us to pray for and how Jesus wants us to pray. He highlights three key truths behind prayer.
- Prayer is the trigger by which we engage the effects and influences of the Holy Spirit.
- Jesus wants us to pray for things in view of God’s sovereignty and that have bearing on his kingdom.
- Jesus wants us to pray by being annoyingly relentless in view of God’s character. bearing on His kingdom.
Luke chapter 11 in your Bibles. Church, let me ask you to open your copy of God’s Word to that place. If you’re seated next to someone who wasn’t able to bring a copy of the Bible with them this morning, let me encourage you to invite them to look on with you as we worship the Lord through the study of His Word.
In July of 2007, Pastor David preached a four week series on Luke 11:1–13. Even though I wasn’t here – and some of you weren’t here, many of you were – I’ve had the blessing of going back and reading those manuscripts and learning from that.
This morning, I want us to look at those same 13 verses in kind of a fly-by fashion for the purpose of our series. It’s really hard to do a series on prayer from Luke’s Gospel without dealing with this passage. This is the only text that is actually being repeated that was preached in recent years, the rest of them have not. We need to go back and revisit this one. I wanted you to know that in the event that you weren’t here, or even if you were, it would be great to go back and review that to get a whole lot more detail than we will go into, and a lot of insight that is needed and helpful for this text.
I want us to come to that place this morning. And as we do, I don’t know how it is with you, but I’ve got to tell you that one of the most frustrating things for me in my walk with Christ – this is not on Christ, this is on me. It is on Jim Shaddix. One of the most frustrating things for me in my walk with Christ is to read this book right here, and what it says about God’s presence and power in my life as a Christian.
That God puts all of His presence and power inside of me to dwell for eternity through the Holy Spirit. To read this book, and to know that, but then to see so little evidence sometimes of that in my daily life. I mean in the way I treat my wife, interact with my kids, or respond to the guy that cuts me off on Highway 280 out here, or whatever the case may be. Sometimes to see a disconnect between what I know I read in this book about the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit – between that and the way it fleshes out in my own life.
Arturo Azurdia III has provided some help by way of reminder about this disconnect sometimes when he said that, “The omnipresence of the Holy Spirit is not synonymous with His effects and His influences.” Let me say that again, “The omnipresence,” in other words, the fact that the Holy Spirit is everywhere including dwelling inside of believers. “The omnipresence of the Holy Spirit is not synonymous with His effects and His influences in our lives.” In other words, it’s not automatic, is it?
Just because the Holy Spirit lives inside of you as a believer, and lives inside of me as a believer, doesn’t mean that it’s going to be automatic that all that He was intended to be and do shows up in our lives. That’s the reason for the disconnect. I want us to unpack that a little bit this morning. I want us to think together about how it is that we set in motion practically all of this stuff that’s in this book about God’s presence and power in our lives through the Holy Spirit. How do we set this in motion?
The question on the table in this series is, “Why pray?” We’re looking at Luke’s Gospel and some selected texts to let Scripture speak into that. When we ask that question this morning, “Why pray?” what I want us to do is hear Jesus say to His disciples, say to us, in order to access power that He intended to be real and to be evident in our lives as His disciples. I want us to go ahead and attach the word, “presence,” over there, not just to attach, “power,” lest we think that it is for some fleshly worldly means. To access power and presence, the power and presence of the almighty eternal God, that He intended to be worked out in our lives.
Let’s think about that together in Luke chapter one. Let me show you what prompted all of this. What prompted this conversation, or this teaching that Jesus gives His disciples. It’s really interesting. It’s actually a request on their part that I trust is our request this morning. “Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.’” (Luke 11:1 ESV)
This is where this starts. Jesus’ disciples have been watching Him do this supernatural stuff, these miracles. They’ve been listening to Him teach other-worldly truths that when He taught, they knew this wasn’t coming from a normal man. This was coming from someone else and at the same time they watched Him pray a lot.
So they did the math and they put all that together and said, “There has got to be some relationship between this prayer thing that He does and this supernatural power and these other-worldly truths and all that.” So they said, “Let us in on that. Teach us to do that. We know that John the Baptist taught his disciples, he let them in on prayer so you let us in on prayer.” That’s what prompted the teaching we have in Luke 11:1–13.
Before we read the teaching, I want you to jump to the end and I want you to see how Jesus ultimately answers them. This is really interesting. Look at verse 13. This is where this is all going to end up, this is where we’re going to arrive. “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!” (Luke 11:13 ESV)
That is Jesus’ ultimate response to their request, “Lord teach us to pray.” He ultimately comes down to saying, “Here is how you connect with the Holy Spirit. Here is how you access the Holy Spirit that I’m going to put in your life.” I want us to start with this on our minds. In your worship guide, I want this statement to be our tour guide in this: Prayer is the trigger by which we engage the effects and influences of the Holy Spirit.
Luke 11:1–13 teaches us about prayer
You see, we’ve been trying to answer this question, “Why Pray?” by looking at some connections Scripture makes that sometimes we forget. We say to one another, maybe a preacher stands up here, we read a book and it’s all about, “We just need to pray more because that’s what Christians do.” Right? Yet sometimes, we don’t really get to the connection Scripture makes that says this is why God set this thing up. This is why we pray. We’ve seen that every week, the last two weeks.
We come to it again right here with this connecting point: God has ordained prayer as the trigger that enables us to engage the effects and influences of the Holy Spirit. We know that we read this book right here, we know we’ve got Him, right? For every twice born man, woman, boy and girl that names the name of Christ, God has given us the most precious gift in the world. He has put His presence and His power in our lives. And yet, day to day, sometimes, there is a disconnect between that theoretically, or what is on pages of the Bible, and the way that plays out. God says, “Here’s the trigger point. Here’s what connects the dots. That’s prayer.” I want you to think about prayer from that standpoint.
Just so we know that this is not proof-texting or we’re not stretching this passage of Scripture, I want to show you something one book forward in the Bible. John chapters 14, 15 and 16. You’re in the Gospel of Luke, the next book is John. Look at chapters 14, 15 and 16. Some of you know that when you come to John 14, 15 and 16 – I think we’ve referenced this already – that we come to the most thorough teaching on the Holy Spirit that Jesus gives, that we have in the Gospel.
Three chapters in John’s Gospel, which interestingly are right before He’s going to be crucified. These are kind of like last teachings, last words. Jesus gathers his disciples. He spends three chapters teaching them about the Holy Spirit, and He says, “I’m going to die, I’ve got to go back to heaven. One of the reasons I’m going back is so I can give you this precious gift of God’s presence and power.” No longer will He just be wrapped up on one man. Up to this point, it was just Jesus. He says, “Now the Spirit is going to be put in every one of My followers, so I’ve got to go back to the Father.” Three chapters He spends teaching them about the Holy Spirit.
I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed how much teaching there is in these three chapters about prayer. Examples: Chapter 14, verses 12–14. Jesus is talking about the greater works. He says, “If I go away and I give you the Holy Spirit, then you are going to do greater works than even I did. So many more people. So many ways to get the gospel out there. There is going to be so many more of you that have the presence and power of God that you are going to do greater works out there.”
Right in the middle of that, in verse 13 He says, “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” (John 14:13 ESV) Then He repeats it in verse 14, “If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” (John 14:14 ESV) Go to the next chapter. In the next chapter, you know that familiar passage where He’s talking about abiding in the vine and abiding in Me. Right in the middle of that – as He’s talking about us bearing fruit because we abide in Him – in verse 7, He says, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (John 15:7 ESV)
Go down a few verses to verse 16. Now He’s talking about fruit that remains, that is abiding. “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.” (John 15:16 ESV) Remember the context. He’s teaching about the Holy Spirit. He’s talking about all things Holy Spirit. Go over to the next chapter – chapter 16.
He’s talking about how the Spirit is going to make it possible for us to experience joy to the fullest. He’s talking about fullness of joy. “In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16:23–24 ESV)
Beloved, watch this. Come in here real close. Taken out of context, these are some of the most misunderstood passages in the Bible. Why? Because people see them as blank checks. You just name it, claim it, ask for it, God has bound Himself to give it. Right? No. What he has done is said, “I’m going to give you my presence and power. My nature, my character.” He’s going to indwell you, permanently, forever. In the context of that, He says, “Here is the way you experience the effects and the influences of My presence and power in your life. Ask for it. Pray for it.” In doing that, what God does, is He sets in motion an economy in which you and I are never without. Not only never without the Holy Spirit, but we’re never without the potential and the possibility and the reality of seeing His effects and His influences lived out in our lives.
But what happens when we don’t put these two things together? We look at the Bible and we say, “We’ve got the Holy Spirit. God’s presence and power indwells us.” Then we go on about our lives, not figuring out why there’s this disconnect, and why we don’t love our wives like Christ loved the Church sometimes. Why we’re not bringing our children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Why we fly off the handle and get angry.
We don’t see those fruits of the Holy Spirit and all of those things that this Bible talks about. It’s why so many of us sometimes look and say, “I can’t serve, I can’t do anything in the church. I don’t seem to have the giftedness.” Mentally and intellectually, we know we’ve got the Holy Spirit, it’s what the Bible says. We accept it by faith. But sometimes we don’t see His effects and His influences connecting to our daily lives. And Jesus said all the time when He was teaching about this, “Here’s the trigger point. Here’s the connecting point. It is going to be this thing called prayer.”
So Jesus responds here in Luke 11 to his disciples with this trigger point, with this connection. I think he does in 13 verses, basically two things. He teaches the disciples what He wants them to pray for in order to connect the Holy Spirit to the real live effects and influences fleshed out in their daily lives, what they are to pray for, and how they are to pray for it. Let’s look at it from those two standpoints.
Luke 11:1–13 Teaches us what Jesus wants us to pray for …
What Jesus wants us to pray for. Look at verses two through four. Even if this is the first time you have ever walked into a gathering of disciples of Christ, you probably have heard these verses, or something similar to it. That’s how familiar they are. “And he said to them, ‘When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.” (Luke 11:2–4 ESV)
You’ve heard that. It’s variously called, “the model prayer,” or, “the disciple’s prayer,” or maybe most commonly, “The Lord’s prayer.” This is where Jesus starts in answer to the disciples’ request, “Lord, teach us to pray.” There may not be anything in religious circles, in spiritual journeys through the history of the Church of Jesus Christ that has been more abused than the instruction right here.
Luke’s account of the Lord’s Prayer is also taught in Matthew’s Gospel. Luke gives us a Cliff’s Notes version – it’s a little bit abbreviated. But even here, this prayer has been understood by so many to be something, let us just admit it, something almost mystical or magical, that if we just recite, it carries with it some kind of great magical power. Because the disciples want to know how to pray and this is what Jesus gave them.
Sometimes we never stop to think about the fact that we don’t find this quoted anywhere else in the Bible. We don’t find this reiterated later in the New Testament, in the other Gospel writers. You would think, if something was that important – to quote this thing exactly like it’s given here – that then we would find this on just about page. But we don’t. What we come to understand, partially in that, is that this is never given. Jesus never gave us this to be something that we recite as some magical incantation, that if we just say it before we play a ball game, or before we have a meal, or before we go to work every morning, that somehow this is just an umbrella covering.
That is simply not true. This model is not given to us as a model for recitation. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not wrong to memorize it. I hope you do. I hope you will. It’s not wrong to quote it, and it’s good for us to do that. But we must understand that its primary purpose was not a model that was simply to be recited.
Listen to me, it was a model for kinds of things to pray for. Jesus gave his disciples, in this passage of Scripture, some things that they ought to have on their hearts and minds when they come to the Lord in prayer, because these are the kinds of things – for lack of a better description – that tug on the heart strings of God. If you want to touch God’s heartbeat, pray for these things. Jesus also, in this prayer, really reveals a presupposition that ought to be a part of our praying as well. You know what that presupposition is? This God we’re praying to is sovereign over everything.
You don’t read the things Jesus said to pray for in here without coming away from it saying, “This is God and He is the one true God, and He is in charge of everything.” Think about it, He tells them to pray for things like worship. Pray that God will be worshiped. Pray for this kingdom that He has that is going to come in all of it’s power. Ask him to meet your needs – so He’s telling them to look to Him as their provider.
He says to look to Him to forgive your sins. And if this one is the one that forgives sins, that puts Him in a different category. He’s the one that has the resources necessary for us to say no to temptation and endure in the midst of all of this stuff. All of that stuff speaks to sovereignty, it speaks to the same thing that shows up in the Old Testament and New Testament about this God that we pray to. That ought to greatly encourage us.
Job said, “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” (Job 42:2 ESV) The Psalmist said, “The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.” (Psalm 33:11 ESV) Isaiah, God said through the prophet, “The Lord of hosts has sworn: ‘As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand,'” (Isaiah 14:24 ESV) This shows up everywhere. And listen, if that is the case, if this is who God is and this is His character and nature, this has got to be the lens that we pray through – the way that we approach prayer.
Let’s say it this way when we talk about what Jesus wants us to pray for: pray for things in view of God’s sovereignty. Pray for things in view of God’s sovereignty, and that have bearing on His kingdom. That is a great guide, it’s not perfect, it’s not the only thing that we would have in mind. But it is really a good lens when we come to God in prayer, and especially when we’re trying to think, “Well what kinds of things should I pray for?” Pray for things in view of God’s sovereignty, and that have bearing on His kingdom.
Let me tell you one of the reasons I think Jesus did this, one of the reasons He gave this model for kinds of things we ought to pray for. He gave it because this is not our natural tendency. The things that He mentions in this model prayer are not the normal things that people think about when we think about prayer.
I’m saying that, up against the selfish, materialistic, God-is- a-cosmic-grocery-store mentality that so many times we relegate prayer to. I’m here; God’s up there somewhere; this is how I talk to Him, and I tell Him my problems and the things that I need. And that’s kind of what many people have reduced prayer to. Jesus, in this model, takes prayer and He sets it back up on the pedestal where it was intended to be in view of God’s sovereignty. With a healthy guide of the kinds of things to pray for that go against our natural tendency.
Luke 11:1–13 teaches us to pray for God to be worshipped.
Let me show you what I’m talking about – the kinds of things that we need to pray for in order to engage the Holy Spirit, to trigger the Holy Spirit’s effects and influences. First of all, pray for God to be worshipped. That’s what He says in verse two, “Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name.” Somebody’s name was their reputation, it was their honor. For it to be “hallowed” means, “Set it apart, glorify it.” Another way to say it is, “Let it be treated, let this reputation and let this honor be treated like it deserves.” Beloved, that’s worship.
Our tendency, our natural tendency, is not for prayer to be worship, it is to be a way we get things from God. Jesus starts off and says, “No. Here’s how you connect with the heartstring of God. Here’s how you tug on His heartstring. Here’s how you get to His heartbeat. How you put your finger on His pulse – you start with worship.” He tells His disciples, “Pray for this. Pray for it in your life, pray for it in other people’s lives.” Hallowed be Your name. Pray for God to be worshiped.
Luke 11:1–13 teaches us to pray for the completion of God’s reign.
Pray for the completion of God’s reign. Look at verse two again. What does He say? Three simple words in my English translation, “Your kingdom come.” He says, “You pray that God’s rule, His sovereignty over everything, would be fleshed out in it’s entirety, to it’s complete degree.” I want you to know this has a couple of different dimensions to it. This prayer right here for God’s kingdom to come. One dimension is ‘the already’ and the other dimension is the ‘not yet’. Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is in you. It is near. It is here.” When Jesus showed up on the planet, the manifestation of the kingdom of God was launched, so to some degree it is here. He lives inside of your life and mine. He dwells inside of His Church and so the kingdom of God is already.
But we also know it is ‘not yet’, right? We’re not seeing it in its fullness, everybody is not getting it. Everybody is not bowing the knee to Jesus, many people are not even acknowledging Him. There are so many manifestations in our world that show us that this is not the fullness of the kingdom of God. We’ve been studying about how we long for the day to come when His kingdom comes in its fullness. Jesus says, pray about those dimensions.
There is application that is personal here as well as corporate. If you’re going to pray, “Your kingdom come, Your reign to be brought to fruition everywhere.” That includes your life, it includes my life. When we pray this prayer or something like this, we’re praying, “God, I want Your reign to come in my life.” This causes us to look at areas of disobedience, right? Sins of commission, sins of omission. Things we’re leaving out that we need God’s reign in. We want Him to be completely manifested as Lord in our lives, but we want that for everybody. We want it for this church, corporately.
We want it for this nation. We want it for this planet, every people group. There is this application of this that is for every place and every people under the sun. I want to tell you, there are some implications there that are really important also. Implication of His glory.
We want His glory to be known. We want it to be known in our lives and manifested in our lives. We want people to look at The Church at Brook Hills and say, “That’s a church that reflects the glory of God, but also His mission.” We can’t pray for God’s kingdom to come without the acknowledgement that the way that His kingdom is advanced in this world is for twice born men, women, boys and girls to share the gospel for churches. Evangelical missional churches like this one to take the gospel to the nations. All of that is wrapped up in those three words. Jesus says, “Pray about these kinds of things, pray for the completion of God’s reign.”
Pray for God’s provision of basic needs.
Not only that, pray for God’s provision of basic needs. Look at what He says there in verse three. “Give us each day our daily bread,” (Luke 11:3 ESV) This one is tricky. Remember what I said about how our flesh has a tendency to pull a different direction. We have a tendency not to look at prayer as worship, but as a means of getting ourselves stuff. We have a tendency to think God’s kingdom is just way out there somewhere and not in our lives.
Let me tell you something, on this one right here, we have a tendency to look at prayer as a means of getting more than we need, and stuff that has no bearing on His kingdom. Isn’t that the way a lot of people look at prayer? “I’m just going to pray about it and I’m going to have faith, because if you just believe it hard enough, then God is going to give it to you.” We see prayer as this means… So what does Jesus do? He calls time-out and he puts a check on that part of our flesh. And He says, “Pray this. Pray for God to give you what you need for today.” Not stockpiled for a lifetime but what you need to sustain you for today. Jesus said, “It is those kinds of things to pray for.”
I adopted a prayer out of Proverbs many years ago that I pray on a regular basis for myself and for my family, because I know the tendencies of my flesh in this area. I think the author of Proverbs must have as well. Listen to what he says, “Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die: Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?” Or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God. (Proverbs 30:7–9 ESV)
That’s just earthy, isn’t it? That’s just right where we are. Our flesh will have a tendency to go to one extreme or the other, so the author of Proverbs says, “God, this is what I’m asking. Just give me what I need to sustain me.” Jesus says the same thing in the Lord’s prayer.
Pray for God’s “practical” forgiveness.
He also says to pray for God’s practical forgiveness. “And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.” (Luke 11:4 ESV) This is not the forgiveness of sin that comes in confessing Christ, that we’ll celebrate at the Lord’s table and remember here in just a little bit.
This is that practical forgiveness of applying that to our lives, because Jesus knew the longer we live in these fleshly bodies, the more these bodies are going to pull us toward the things of this world, and we will disobey God. And if that disobedience goes unchecked, unconfessed, it will hinder our relationship with God. And Jesus said it will also hinder your relationship with one another, so make sure this stays on your radar when you pray. Keep praying about this, because in these fleshly bodies you’re going to keep sinning. Pray for God’s practical forgiveness.
Pray for God’s help to remain faithful.
Then finally, pray for God’s help to remain faithful. We studied this in Luke 18. We’ve seen it a number of places. “Lead us not into temptation.” (Luke 11:4 ESV) Jesus is not saying, “Pray that God won’t tempt you,” because God doesn’t tempt us. The book of James tells us that.
This verb, “lead,” is better taken as a permissive than a causative. In other words, He’s not saying, “Pray that God won’t cause you to sin.” Because He doesn’t do that. He’s saying pray that God will not allow you to go into a situation in which you would fall and you would not be able to say, “No.” Ask God to protect you and deliver you. This is about faithfulness. So this is where Jesus starts – what to pray for. Not these exact words, but ideas and concepts. Things that are related to His sovereignty and His kingdom.
Luke 11:1–13 teaches us how Jesus wants us to pray …
Then Jesus begins to speak to the disciples about how they are to pray for these things. How he wants us to pray. Jesus communicates in a story, an illustration if you will. A story, or illustration that is intended to compare something and some people – that the listeners would have been very familiar with – to the character and the nature of their God.
Look at Verse 5. “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.” And then Jesus says this, “I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs.'” (Luke 11:5–8 ESV)
Now, Jesus reaches into the hospitality character, culture of His day and describes a situation that, as I said, His listeners would have been familiar with. Enter character number one. It’s a guy that, by surprise, has a friend show up at his door in the middle of the night, and he doesn’t have any food to set before him. This was a hospitality driven culture. Everybody did it – they didn’t have a wealth of Holiday Inn Expresses or Hampton Inns everywhere to stay in.
They depended upon private citizens to accommodate their traveling needs. And because this guy didn’t text or email or call ahead, he shows up unbeknownst to this particular guy. And he catches him at a time where he doesn’t have anything to eat, which would have been pretty much all of the time except for when they were cooking meals. They didn’t have freezers to stockpile food in, or microwaves to pop something in and heat it up. There were no 24-hour Whataburgers or Wal-Marts to run to and get something. And because he didn’t know this guy was coming, he finds himself in a mess.
Enter character number two. He’s a product of his culture as well. Because you see, most of the homes in that day would have been one or two rooms, maybe. And when they bedded down at night, they pretty much all bedded down in the same room. And so, husband and wife and kids. And while most of us in this room can’t identify with that particularly, we can identify with the problem this guy is having.
Any of us who have raised kids, or have been around somebody raising kids, knows that sometimes it’s difficult to get those little critters to sleep. And once you get them to sleep, woe is the person that makes the racket loud enough to wake them up, right? I mean, I’ve gone to people’s houses before, and you walk up on the porch, and there’s a little note posted, taped to the doorbell, “Don’t ring the doorbell, because it’s nap time!” or “It’s after hours!” or whatever the case is. And that’s what we find going on here.
That was the situation. It would not have been that weird. But Jesus makes a statement here. He communicates a truth that maybe would have caught them a little by surprise. He basically says,”Friendship is not enough to get this guy out of bed.” Friendship is not enough to get this guy to wake up his family, and give this guy something that he needs. But He identifies some characteristic and quality of the neighbor from next door that He says is enough. And it’s called in my English translation in verse eight, “impudence.”
Now, some translations, because impudence is not a word that we use a lot, use the word, “importunity.” And I know that completely clears it up for us. Impudence and importunity – words we don’t necessarily use often. Some English translations use the word, “persistence,” and that gets us a little bit closer, but it doesn’t get us quite close enough.
Some Greek lexicons describe this as, “overly bold.” They define it as, “utter shamelessness.” Some Bible dictionaries have it as, “troublesomely urgent.” Or my favorite, “annoyingly relentless.” That’s the word Jesus used. That’s not a stretch. That’s not a paraphrase. That’s what the word means. And Jesus says, “Because this guy from next door is annoyingly relentless, his neighbor will get up and give him something so that he’ll go away.”
Now, I want you to look at your worship guide and I want you to write it down this way, because I want us to use that last description. It’s probably the most accurate. How does Jesus want us to pray? Without reservation, without hesitancy, I can tell you, based upon this passage, He wants us to be “annoyingly relentless” in view of God’s character. He wants us to be annoyingly relentless in view of God’s character.
And now, listen to me, stay with me, this is going to stretch some of you. But I want you to see what He’s doing right here. Here comes this guy, and this guy has caught him off-guard. He’s got a guest now, he doesn’t have anything to put out for him, so he goes next door. And he comes up and maybe he starts off by just kind of whispering through the door, “Hey man, you in there? Hey, are you asleep yet?”
It’s like somebody calling you at night, you know, and they wake you up, and the first thing they say is, “Were you asleep?” “Well, yeah. It’s like, midnight or 2:00 in the morning.” And the man’s like, “Hey, are you in there?” And he doesn’t hear anything, so he gets a little bit louder, “Hey! Hey, man! Can you hear me? You in there?” Maybe he doesn’t hear anything. And then, he starts knocking. He starts knocking. And finally, you hear the guy on the other side, he’s getting up, and he starts with a low voice. He says, “Shhh. Be quiet, man! I’ve got my wife and my kids here, and it took us a long time to get them to sleep. Be quiet!”
And this guy is just over there and he keeps going, “Hey man, listen. I need some food, I got a friend that’s…” He says, “Be quiet!” And sooner or later, he’s yelling at the top of his lungs, “Be quiet! You’re going to wake everybody up!” And this guy is just going after it. And he’s banging on the door, and he won’t let up, and he’s annoying everybody in the house, and he’s relentless with his request. And Jesus said,”That’s what’s going to get the guy out of bed.” And the question we’ve got to ask is – remember, Jesus has got his disciples in the school of prayer. He teaches them what to pray for, and then He teaches them how to pray. And this is the description that He uses.
Are we really supposed to pray like that? Are we really supposed to come to God with that strategy? With that approach? You know, the Psalmist, from whom we learn a lot about prayer and a lot about worship, seemed to think so. You ever read some of his prayers in the book of Psalms? Let me just give you a few. Psalm 5, “Give ear to my words, O Lord; consider my groaning. Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray.” (Psalm 5:1–2 ESV) And listen, that’s more likely how he was talking here.
Matt taught us, a little bit ago, that the Bible not only teaches us the things we’re worshiping, but how we’re worshipping. And one of the things it tell us is, “Sing aloud!” Raise your voice to the Lord who deserves all the praise! Well, guess what? It give us some very similar ideas about praying. I come to the Psalms sometimes, and I kind of read them devotionally. Don’t you? And very introspectively, and I’d read this Psalm 5, “Give ear to my words, oh Lord. Consider my groaning. Give attention to the sound of my cry.” No way! That’s not what was going on here. This guy was crying out! He was groaning! And he was asking God to hear him.
Psalm 17, “Hear a just cause, O Lord; attend to my cry!” Translated, “God, pay attention to me!” “Give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit!” (Psalm 17:1 ESV)
Psalm 27, “Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me!” (Psalm 27:7 ESV) It’s almost like, you know, he’s grabbing God by the shoulders and shaking Him and saying, “Listen to me! I’m over here and I need you to pay attention.”
Psalm 55, “Give ear to my prayer, O God, and hide not yourself from my plea for mercy!” (Psalm 55:1 ESV) Do you ever feel like God’s hiding from you? The Psalmist felt like that. So he says, “God, quit hiding from me! I need you to listen to what I’m saying over here.”
Psalm 102, “Hear my prayer, O Lord; let my cry come to you! Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress! Incline your ear to me; answer me speedily in the day when I call!” (Psalm 102:1–2 ESV)
Psalm 143, “Hear my prayer, O Lord; give ear to my pleas for mercy! In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness!” (Psalm 143:1 ESV) And then, I love this in verse 2, “Enter not into judgment with your servant.” “God, don’t argue with me about this. Listen to me! Give me your ear!” I’m not making this stuff up.
This is the Psalmist, and this is the way he prayed – the man after God’s own heart. He cried aloud and he kept begging and asking. And many great men through history that have understood that this is what Jesus was saying. Thomas Goodwin, the great English Puritan said, “When you pray, you literally can go to God and say what’s on your heart and claim His promise. In fact, you can demand that He be faithful to His promise.” And then he says this, “Sue Him for it! Sue Him for it! Appeal to God’s law, appeal to what God has said. Appeal to His character,” Goodwin was saying. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, “This holy boldness, this argumentation, this reasoning, this putting the case before God, this pleading His own promises – this is the whole secret of prayer.” And let me remind you, beloved, the secret that Jesus is saying connects our daily Christian life with the power, the effects, and the influences of His Holy Spirit.
Now, the worst mistake we can make here is once we see that, is to begin to look for God in this resentful neighbor. That would be the most natural this to do, right? “Ok, I see that I need to be like this guy, and come and bang on God’s door and keep banging on God’s door.” But is this other guy God? Who is resentful and he’s annoyed? And Jesus says, “No.” In fact, what He does in the remaining verses, in verses 9–13, is He draws a contrast.
To show that whatever this guy is, God is off the charts in the other direction. He’s simply making a simple comparison to say, “If this guy would ultimately give his neighbor some bread to get his neighbor off his back, imagine, imagine what your God, who is of a completely different character, will do if you come to Him like this.” You see it in verse 9. He says, “And I tell you, ‘Ask.'” And some of you know this, but in the language of the New Testament, these verbs are in a tense that are continuous action.
They are probably better translated, “Ask, and keep on asking.” He says, “Seek, and keep on seeking.” And, “Knock, and keep on knocking.” And when you ask this way, you will receive. And when you seek this way, you will find. And when you knock this way, it will be opened to you. And then in verse 11, “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!” (Luke 11:11–13 ESV)
I don’t know about you, but this is absolutely incredible to me. Especially in light of this talk about sovereignty and praying to a sovereign God. I mean, you would almost come to this place, wouldn’t you, and expect Jesus to say completely the opposite. I mean, He’s just talked about God’s sovereignty, and praying to Him as this God who’s in control. His kingdom is coming, and He’s the one who provides as your provider.
You would expect them to tell this story and say that this guy got up to get this guy off his back. You would expect Him to say, “Don’t you dare, don’t you dare act like this guy! Because your God knows your need even before you ask Him, right? I mean, He doesn’t need you to remind Him what’s going on in your life. He’s sovereign. Don’t you come banging around, up here in God’s throne room, asking for stuff, because He’s sovereign, He doesn’t need that!”
And, beloved, listen to me, come in here real close – that is exactly the mentality that keeps so many of us from storming the throne room of God. We have that picture of prayer, and we have that picture of God. But much to our surprise, Jesus turns around, right after He tells this story, right after He uses that word, “impudence,” and “importunity,” and being “annoyingly relentless,” and He says, “Now you, ask and keep on asking! You, knock and keep on knocking! You, seek and keep on seeking! Because everyone who asks and keeps on asking receives, and everybody that seeks and keeps on seeking, they’ll find. And everybody that knocks and keeps on knocking, it’ll be opened to them.” You storm the throne room of God like the Psalmist did.
And we get the best of both worlds. We get a sovereign God who loves us and cares about us, and is described here as a good Father to us, who stands in complete contrast. And then we get the door flung wide open, to say, “Just come and ask Him what you will, and plead with Him and cry out to Him.” Because He is not like this resentful neighbor who just wanted to get this guy off his back.
God values your communion over your convenience.
How do we know all these contrasts that are here? I’ll give them to you real quick. What are the differences between God and this resentful neighbor? One, God values your communion over your convenience. Alright? He values your communion over your convenience. All this guy was interested in was convenience and this neighbor from next door wasn’t being very convenient! And all he wanted was for the inconvenience to go away. And that’s why he gave him what he needed. But when Jesus uses these continual verbs, He invites us to continue pleading.
When He makes these promises that God will answer and grant our requests, and He uses this description of Father and Son – this intimacy that is there. Jesus is saying, “There is something that I value more than being convenienced or inconvenienced by you. And that is your communion.” And guess what? Because that God is sovereign, listen to this, you can’t ever inconvenience Him. He longs for your communion, so He puts this trigger in place. That will connect you and I to the effects and influences of His presence and power.
God promises to answer, not patronize your aggressiveness.
Secondly, God promises to answer, not patronize your aggressiveness. All this guy was doing was patronizing the fellow. He wanted him off his back. He was being so aggressive that he was going to wake his family up, so he gave him what he needs. Jesus turns right around and says, “Your God’s not like that. He promises straight up, if you’ll come to Him like this, He’ll answer you.” He will answer you, He will respond to you.
That’s so consistent with so much teaching in the Scripture.
Jeremiah 33, “Call to me and I will answer you…” (Jeremiah 33:3 ESV)
Matthew 21, Jesus said, “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” (Matthew 21:22 ESV)
Mark 11, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:24 ESV)
God is awake and available 24/7.
This is the teaching of our Lord. Let me show you another one. God is awake and available 24/7. This guy wasn’t, was he? He was asleep in the middle of the night and he wanted to stay that way, with all of his family, right? What does Scripture say? “You will find. It will be opened. You will receive. How much more will the heavenly Father give to those who ask Him?” The Psalmist said in Psalm 121, “Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” (Psalm 121:4 ESV) God doesn’t take naps, He doesn’t go on vacation, He is available and accessible to you 24/7.
God invites you into His process, not just His provision.
And then God invites you into the process, not just His provision. We’ve talked about this before. This is a process that is being described – ask, seek, knock. Keep pleading, keep storming the throne room of heaven. This guy, on the other end, wasn’t interested in the process, he wanted the process to go away. “Quit yelling! Quit knocking!” he said.
He wanted the process to end, so he made provision just to quit the process. Jesus turns around and says, “God wants the process to keep going. He wants you to keep asking, and keep knocking, and keep seeking because He calls you into that journey in communion with Him.” And because He desires communion, the process that is perpetuated enhances the communion that He has with you.
God is your Heavenly Father, not your worldly friend.
Maybe most beautiful, God is your Heavenly Father, not your worldly friend, right? When Jesus uses these terms in verse 11–13 – what Father among you, if his son asks for a fish – He uses the idea of children coming to their father. And then He describes God as our Heavenly Father. He reaches in and He touches something that any of us who have been dads know.
And that is, there is something that really brings pleasure to us when, number one, our kids remind us what we say. That can be painful, but in our heart of hearts, we know it means they were listening to us. Right? And number two, that they appeal to us to provide for them based upon our dad-hood. And that brings pleasure to us.
And Jesus said that’s the way it is with God. With one major difference – you’re human and you run out of patience. So our children annoy us sometimes when they keep asking. Because we have limitations in the earthly realm. Jesus said, “This is your,” don’t miss it, “Heavenly Father.” And He moves God’s character and nature into a different realm. And He says this, “God never gets impatient with you. And you can never annoy Him. Even though you approach Him with annoying, relentlessness. You will never exhaust His patience with you. And the pleasure that He gets when you come to Him asking, crying out, pleading, and begging.”
God is interested in both your spiritual and material needs.
And then God is interested in both your spiritual and material needs. This guy in the house didn’t have any interest in the intangibles in his neighbor’s life. He didn’t care about his peace of mind, he didn’t care about his reputation with his friend that has shown up at midnight. He didn’t care anything about the joy of his fellowship with his friend. He just gave him what he wanted, to get him off of his back.
God on the other hand, in verse 13, gives the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him. Oh, He gives the fish for our daily needs, He gives the egg, He gives good gifts to meet our daily needs. But He doesn’t stop there, He gives that which meets our spiritual needs.
God gives you Himself, not just His resources.
And then, finally, God gives you Himself, not just His resources. God gives you Himself, not just His resources. This guy gave his neighbor the resources to get him off his back. But in verse 13, Jesus said, God gives you the Holy Spirit. And we know that when He said He gives you the Holy Spirit, He was saying He gives you Himself. Right? One and the same. Now, think about this. I know that’s the last blank, but be careful, don’t miss this. I want you to be encouraged by this, alright?
You go to God and you ask for some guidance, He gives you the guide. You go to God and you ask for some wisdom, He gives you the source of wisdom. Right? You go to God and you ask for truth, and He gives you the source of truth. You go to God and you ask him for some money, he gives you the bank. You go to God and you ask for peace, love, and joy and patience, He gives you the fruit-producer. He gives you His entire life, all that He is. He gives you everything in His character and His nature, and He puts it in you life.
Even if you and I are praying in a small way, and we miss the target in prayer. This is the way that God answers – He gives Himself. This is why the apostle Paul said, “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think according to the power at work within us. To Him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever.”
This is the good God that we have. Whose door is always open. Who beckons us to be annoyingly relentless. Knowing that we can never annoy Him, and His patience will never run out. And the God who knows that we will not always pray on target. But even then, He gives us Himself for every need that we have. Every situation and circumstance in our daily life. He connects us with His power and His presence. For daily living and the advancement of His kingdom.
Prayer is the trigger by which we engage the effects and influences of the Holy Spirit. (Luke 11:1-13; cf. John 14:13-14, 16; 15:7, 16; 16:23-24, 26)
What Jesus wants us to pray for
Pray for things in view of God’s sovereignty and that have bearing on His kingdom. (Luke 11:1-4; cf. Job 42:2; Psalm 33:11; Proverbs 19:21; Isaiah 14:24; 46:8-11; Acts 1:7)
Pray for God to be worshiped. (Luke 11:2; cf. Matthew 6:9)
Pray for the completion of God’s reign. (Luke 11:2; cf. Matthew 6:10; Philippians 2:9-11)
Pray for God’s provision of basic needs. (Luke 11:3; cf. Proverbs 30:7-9; Matthew 6:19-33)
Pray for God’s “practical” forgiveness. (Luke 11:4; cf. Matthew 6:12, 14-15)
Pray for God’s help to remain faithful. (Luke 11:4; cf. Matthew 6:13)
How Jesus wants us to pray
Be annoyingly relentless in view of God’s character. (Luke 11:8; cf. Nehemiah 1:4-11; Psalm 5:1-2; 17:1; 27:7; 55:1; 102:1-2; 143:1; Acts 4:23-31)
God values your communion over your convenience. (Luke 11:9-13)
God promises to answer, not patronize your aggressiveness. (Luke 11:9-10; cf. Jeremiah 33:3; Matthew 7:7-8; 21:22; Mark 11:24)
God is awake and available 24/7. (Luke 11:9-10; cf. Esther 4:11; Psalm 121:4; Hebrews 4:14-16)
God invites you into His process, not just His provision. (Luke 11:9-10)
God is your Heavenly Father, not your worldly friend. (Luke 11:11-13; cf. Psalm 84:11; Jeremiah 29:11-13; Romans 8:12-30; Galatians 4:4-7)
God is interested in both your spiritual and material needs. (Luke 11:11-13)
God gives you Himself, not just His resources. (Luke 11:13; cf. Matthew 7:11; Ephesians 3:20-21)