Persistence in Prayer

Prayer is one of the most important activities that a Christian or church can engage in.  However, it is an often misunderstood subject and an often neglected practice.  Let’s take a look at some key teachings about prayer from Luke chapter 11.

Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.”
So He said to them, “When you pray, say:
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us day by day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.”
-Luke 11:1-4

The disciples came to Jesus and asked Him to teach them to pray.  Prayer is something to be learned; nobody starts out as a prayer warrior!  There are many principles of prayer that we find throughout the Bible, and it is important to understand them.  However, the best way to learn how to pray is to…pray!  Jesus gave the disciples a great model prayer, that we now call “the Lord’s prayer.”  There is much that can be gained from studying this prayer, but today I want to focus on the next few paragraphs in this chapter, as Jesus continues to teach on prayer.

And He said to them, “Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’? I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.  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. If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 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!”
-Luke 11:5-13

Jesus shares a parable of a man coming to his friend at midnight and asking for some bread.  Why? ” A friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him.”  Part of the reason why we should pray is so that we will have something to “set before” the people around us who are in need.  Everyday we come into contact with people who are “hungry”- they are lost, sick, hurting, broken, bound, and in need of God’s love and power.

Do you ever feel like the man in this parable?  Like you have nothing to truly give to the ones who are in need around you?  After all, you cannot give what you do not have.  When Peter healed the lame man at the temple he said “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk” (Acts 3:6).  Peter had something to give!

Jesus said that the man received the answer to his petition because of his persistence.  This is important for us to understand.  We must ask and keep on asking, seek and keep on seeking, knock and keep on knocking.  We must not give up.

Jesus said that God is our heavenly Father, and will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask.  It is interesting that when Jesus finished His teaching on prayer, He stated that the focal point of our asking should be for the Holy Spirit.  “…how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:13).  The more of the Holy Spirit’s presence and power that is in our lives, the more we will have to give to those who are in need.

Even though as believers we already have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, we are still to ask for the Holy Spirit.  This seems like a foolish thing, but it is exactly what this passage is teaching.  We must continually be filled with the Spirit.  We are promised that we will be clothed with power from on high, and we must persistently ask, seek, and knock until this is true.  It was the anointing of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus that empowered Him to heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons, and perform many miracles.

Jesus once said this regarding the Holy Spirit:  “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”  We are to be filled to overflowing with the Spirit of God so that others around us may be refreshed.

Let us ask, seek, and knock.  Let us be persistent in prayer until we are so filled with the Spirit that we have something to “set before” the ones who are hungry and in need!

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