Praying Persistently Luke 11:1-13 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." 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 tome 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 give 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!" There are three sections to this passage regarding to prayer. The first section deals with the model of prayer that Jesus taught the disciples verses 1-4. The other two sections 5-8 and 9-13 reveal how persistent we can and should be. Our first four verses are commonly known as the Lord's Prayer. 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." The disciple that had asked Jesus to teach them to pray had actually voiced a request that we as followers can ask as well; this can be an actual prayer request. We can be persistent on praying like this and by using the model that Christ gave us. Now, there are some who will just repeat this prayer as a repetitive prayer without really meditating on what Jesus was really teaching us in it. There is nothing wrong with praying this prayer, however, this prayer was not a formula for repetition so much as it an outline for expansion. We first must take notice that Jesus put the Father as the main focus in His model. We should be persistent in prayer in the form of worship that would be more than just a sentence. When we recognize our Father in heaven, indeed He is there, but He is everywhere as well because He is omnipresent. In prayer, we should take time to recognize His omnipresence and praise Him for it, worship Him for it. When we make our petitions for our daily bread, they need not be narrowed down to just one sentence. Yes, it's true that our Father knows our needs, but He does not tire about hearing His children asking for things from Him. Bear in mind though that there is certainly a difference between needs and wants. Many times we go to the Father seeking to fulfill the desires of our flesh instead of our basic needs, which is why we don't always get what we are seeking. And, there are times we don't receive what we are asking for because the Father knows that they would be harmful to us. As we mature in Christ our prayer life reflects that in what and how we pray. Sadly, there are those who have been Christians for many, many years and yet have not matured, especially in the area of prayer. Forgiveness is to be asked for in specific areas, not in generalities. You have heard the saying we are to name and or list our blessings one by one. Well, we need to list our sins as well as we seek the Lord's forgiveness. It's true He already knows them, however, He desires us to confess them to Him. How can there be a sincere desire of repentance without true confession? We first need to be honest with ourselves, and then we need to confess our sin plainly to the Father and ask Him to deliver us from it. As God's children we need to daily persist in seeking forgiveness and repentance as we pray to Him. When we ask God to not lead us into temptation, but to deliver us from the evil one: We need to understand that first God tempts no one, and that the word temptation here literally means a test, and a test is not always a solicitation to do evil. It would help us to remember what Paul said about testing in 1 Corinthians 10:13. No temptation (test) has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted (test) beyond what you are able, but with the temptation (test) will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. Although God tempts no man, He does allow His children to pass through seasons of testing. This section in His model prayer is for those who recognize their own weaknesses, and that we should pray to be spared from testing and exposure in those areas where we are most vulnerable. If we truly do not want to be lead into temptation we should consider these things. We should never boast in our strength, never desire trials, never go into temptation, and of course never lead anyone else into it either. Persist in recognizing who God is and where He dwells. Persist in asking God to fill your basic needs. Persist in repentance and seeking His forgiveness. Persist in asking the Father for protection and deliverance from evil. We should as the children of God always persist in using this model of prayer that Jesus taught His disciples. That model was not meant just for them; it was and is for all those who are following in His steps. The following is an amazing prayer penned from Andrew Murray, taken from his book With Christ in the School of Prayer. "Blessed Lord! Who ever lives to pray, You can teach me to pray, me to ever live to pray. In this You love to make me share Your glory in heaven, that I should pray without ceasing, and ever stand as a priest in the presence of my God. Lord Jesus! I ask You this day to enroll my name among those who confess that they do not know how to pray as they ought, and specially ask You for a course in teaching in prayer. Lord! Teach me to wait with You in the school and give You time to train me. May a deep sense of my ignorance, the wonderful privilege and power of prayer, of the need of the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of prayer, lead me to cast away my thoughts of what I think I know, and make me kneel before You in true teachableness and poverty of spirit. And fill me, Lord, with the confidence that with a teacher like You I shall learn to pray. In the assurance that I have as my teacher, Jesus, who is ever praying to the Father, and by His prayer rules the destinies of His Church and the world, I will not be afraid. As much as I need to know of the mysteries of the prayer-world, You will un-fold for me. And when I may not know, You will teach me to be strong in faith, giving glory to God. Blessed Lord! You will not put to shame Your student who trusts You, nor, by Your grace, would he put You to shame either. Amen." This second section (verses 5-8) that Jesus instructs us on how to pray, is regarding how to pray boldly with persistence. 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. Unlike the man who was in bed at the time his friend came pounding on the door, God really desires and waits for our passionate persistence in prayer. That man in the house could be anyone of us, who most likely was annoyed at the persistence of his friend pounding on the door during that late hour, especially because his whole family was asleep. I know I would most likely be annoyed and would finally get up just so they would go away. It's a most comforting thing to know this about our Father when we go and knock on His door; He is never annoyed to hear from us, He is never asleep, nor is He ever to busy to hear our request. However, we do need to understand something about this persistent prayer. Our persistence doesn't change God; it changes us, it will develop in us a heart and passion for what God wants. And what does God want of us? I believe the main thing is to be like His Son Jesus; just as Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 11:1 "Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ". I once heard a man say, "Why should I continue to ask God for the same thing, He heard me the first time." While it is true God does hear us the first time, this passage really does encourage persistence. I had an aunt who prayed for her lost husband the whole time they were married over 30 years, it was only when he was in the hospital clinging to life, that her prayer was answered and he gave his life to the Lord shortly before he passed away. She persisted in praying for his soul. Persistence also teaches us on how to wait on the Lord as well. We need identify with the man pounding on the door and to be just as persistent as he was. (William Gurnall; June 28) This third section reveals that we should be praying with childlike confidence, verses 9-13. So I say to you ask, and it will be give 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!" We are instructed to keep on asking, seeking and knocking. These three verbs are continuous: Jesus is not speaking of single activities here, but of those that are of a persistent nature. Many times our prayers are simple wishes that are just cast up to heaven, the continually asking, seeking and knocking describe an earnestness and intensity that should be part of our prayer life. Interestingly, there have been churches built on this passage about asking and receiving, it's known as the prosperity doctrine. My friends this is a false teaching. God is not some genie in a bottle that we can rub with prayer and get the desires of our heart feeding our fleshly desires. Did we ever see Jesus pray to the Father for riches and wealth or power and position, no! His prayers were for those around Him, and that the Father's will would be done in all that He did so that the Father would be glorified. We are to follow His example. 1 John 2:6, "Whoever says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked." Ephesians 5:1-2, "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." Our take away from Luke 11:1-13, we should never procrastinate when it comes to prayer, instead we should have a continual diligent persistent prayer life. Let us key in on verse 13 and exactly what we should be focusing in on when we are praying. The Father wants to bless us and give us amazing gifts that He knows is best for us. He wants to pour out His Holy Spirit into us. I cannot think of a greater gift than that except the greatest gift, which came from the sacrifice of His Son Jesus, the gift of eternal life. These are gifts that continue to give, we should persist in seeking more of them from the Father, He takes pleasure in lavishing them on those who want them.