And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. — Luke 11:9-10
Countless people of God have proved that persistence in prayer brings results. May Richardson was one who received an answer after many years of praying for the salvation of her husband, Art.
May met Art just before she graduated from high school. His family had been a part of the Apostolic Faith Church for years, but he had gone his own way. After the two were married, a group of mothers in the church began to pray for their unsaved children, and May’s mother-in-law was among them. She invited Art and May to attend a camp meeting service, and May later testified, “God put such conviction on me from the moment I entered the church that I felt it was my last chance to pray. I fought all through the service, wondering if I could take that step or not. I tried to sing; I couldn’t. I tried to listen; I couldn’t. When the preacher asked those who wanted prayer to raise their hands, I almost had to sit on mine to keep it down. As soon as the benediction was given, I asked Art to pray with me. He said no, but told me to go and pray and he would wait for me. I made my way through the crowd toward the altar, and knelt at a seat in the front row. I poured out my heart to God, and before I got up from that place of prayer, God gave me His wonderful salvation.”
A few weeks later, May received her sanctification, and two months after that, the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The years went by, and May continued to serve the Lord faithfully, but Art still was not saved. She recounted, “I prayed long and earnestly for Art. One year he didn’t go to church with me even once, though he always encouraged me to take the children to Sunday school and church. Occasionally he came, and he would be under such conviction and yet would leave without praying. Often I wondered, What am I doing wrong? But how close God was to me through those years!
“One day I felt overwhelmed with the burden. I cried out to God, ‘You take over completely. Let me be clear out of the way.’ I continued to pray for Art, but I let go of all the preconceived ideas about how God would work. And God began to put heavy conviction on him. About two weeks later, he gave up to the Lord and prayed through to salvation at an altar of prayer — twenty-one years after I had been saved. We were able to serve the Lord together until God called him home, many years later.”
In our text today, one of Jesus’ disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples” (Luke 11:1). In response, Jesus gave what is often referred to as “The Lord’s Prayer.” Also He related a parable which taught the importance of importunity in prayer — of persisting until the answer comes. Then He stated our focus verse, instructing His disciples to ask, seek, and knock. To persist in prayer does not mean spending hours repeating the same words over and over. It means keeping our requests constantly before God as we live for Him every day, believing always that He hears our prayers and will answer in His way and time.
Persistence in prayer requires patience, and waiting can be a time of spiritual growth. As we tarry before God, He can use that time to mold and transform our desires, to change how we pray, and draw us closer to Him.
Perhaps you have a personal experience of waiting for an answer from God. Take heart! Persistence does not guarantee you will get what you asked for, but God will answer your prayers . . . perhaps not when you wanted or even how you wanted, but in a way that you truly longed for in the depths of your soul.
Today’s text has two sections. In verses 1-13, Jesus taught His disciples about prayer. In verses 14-28, He answered hostile accusations about how He cast out demons.
The initial entreaty, “Lord, teach us to pray” seems to indicate that the disciple who made the request had been deeply moved by listening to Jesus pray. Christ’s prayer was no doubt very different than the formal prayers typically offered in the synagogue.
The model prayer Jesus gave in verses 2-4 is similar to the version found in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 6. The key difference is the phrase “forgive us our sins” which Matthew records as “forgive us our debts.” While the Bible teaches that Christians do not commit sin, this verse does indicate that it is still possible for Christians to fall back into sin. If that should occur, forgiveness and restoration is contingent upon a willingness to forgive others. It also seems to indicate that unintentional wrongs, once recognized, should be acknowledged and made right.
Following His model prayer, Jesus used the parable of a friend at midnight to teach a vital truth about prayer: the necessity of perseverance. The daytime heat in that area east of the Jordan River made night travel common, so a friend arriving at midnight would not have been unusual to Jesus’ hearers.
The request for three loaves (verse 5) would also have been understandable. Typically one loaf was provided for the guest, one was for the host who would sit at the table with his guest, and one was set out as evidence that abundant provisions were available and the guest need not fear that he would be consuming the last of his host’s supply. Etiquette norms of the day dictated that a host could not allow a guest to retire hungry, so the host in Christ’s parable who lacked a supply of food had to go to his neighbor with a request for the necessary provisions. The phrase “my children are with me in bed” refers to the local custom of the entire family sleeping on a raised platform or “bed” in the typical one-room house.
The point of Christ’s parable was that importunity, or persistence in prayer, brings results. Resolute and continued seeking is not discourteous toward God but rather indicates a realization that He is the only possible resource for an urgent need.
After casting a devil out of an individual, Jesus was accused of casting out devils through Beelzebub. Beelzebub is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Baal-Zebub. It is not known how that name came to be regarded as a designation for Satan, but that was the inference in this accusation. Matthew and Mark both record a similar event (see Matthew 12:22-45 and Mark 3:20-30) but this event took place in Judea, while the event described in the other Gospels took place in Galilee.
Jesus’ reference to the strong man keeping his palace (verse 21-22) may have been a reference to Isaiah 49:24-26.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
V. The rejection of the Son of Man
A. The commencement of the rejection of the Son of Man
6. The instruction in prayer (11:1-13)
a. The request for a lesson in prayer (11:1)
b. The model of prayer (11:2-4)
c. The principles of prayer (11:5-13)
(1) Need of persistence (11:5-10)
(2) Need of trust (11:11-13)
B. The conflict causing the rejection of the Son of Man
1. The occasion (11:14)
2. The charge of empowerment by Satan (11:15-16)
3. The defense against the charge (11:17-23)
4. The illustration of Israel’s plight (11:24-28)
Jesus’ parable teaches us that persistence in prayer will bring a response from our loving Heavenly Father.