Jesus’ disciples ask Him a simple question, “Lord, teach us to pray.” In today’s passage, Luke describes a scene rich with Jesus’ teaching on prayer. Join Julie Jenkins on today’s episode of Walking in the Word as we examine Luke 11:1-13.
Welcome to Walking in the Word, the biblical teaching arm of the Women World Leaders’ podcast. My name is Julie Jenkins.
As I record this, it is Thanskgiving week in the United States – a holiday that is set aside to reflect on God’s goodness and give Him thanks and praise. We at Women World Leaders have so much to thank God for as 2022 nears a close. This year, we have met and partnered with women leaders from around the globe as we individually and collectively seek to walk in our God-given purpose. We’ve welcomed new contributors to Voice of Truth magazine, new writers to our daily devotions, and empowered women to use their voices on our podcast platform. Together, we’ve written and published two new best-selling books – congratulations to all the authors of Surrendered: Yielded with Purpose and United Men of Honor: Overcoming Adversity Through Faith – both of which are available on our website, on Amazon, and through outlets around the world. And we’ve held local events and monthly Zoom gatherings where we have worshipped and learned together. Most importantly, through 2022, we have grown closer to each other in community and developed a more intimate walk with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. If you are new or newer to the ministry, it is our prayer that you will join us wholeheartedly, serving and growing with us. God is doing a new thing in and through His people. Even as our world becomes more divided politically and socially, we can see God drawing His people together. We at Women World Leaders are certainly as diverse as they come – but we are united by our love for Jesus Christ and our love for our brothers and sisters in Christ. This is a safe place where we focus on God alone. And one more thing we are thankful for – that is that YOU have joined us today!
On this, our Wednesday podcast, we focus on opening the Word of God together and asking the Holy Spirit to guide as and teach us what it is He wants us to learn. We are currently walking through the gospels chronologically, and I think it is certainly no coincidence that today, Thanksgiving week, our Scripture itinerary has taken us to Jesus’ teaching on prayer. Today we will be reading and studying Luke 11:1-13. Before we begin, let’s pray.
Most Holy God – we come to you today with hearts filled with thanks and praise for who you are and all you have done for us throughout this past year. God, you have guided us, provided for us, and blessed us beyond measure. Father, we continue to lean on you and your Word for wisdom and direction. We thank you in advance for meeting us where we are and teaching us what we need to know today. Guide my words and guide our thoughts as we study together in your presence. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Let’s begin reading Luke chapter 11, verse 1 from the New Living Translation.
Once Jesus was in a certain place praying. As he finished, one of his disciples came to him and said, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
The disciples were getting to know Jesus better at this point in their journey. They had witnessed His strength, wisdom, and peace amid turmoil … and they had seen Him pray. They knew firsthand that Jesus’ relationship with God the Father was the most important relationship He had, and they wanted to learn how they could have that relationship, too.
But the way this question is asked tells us that the disciples wanted even more than a strong personal relationship with God. They also craved unification and community as followers of Christ Jesus. It was common for groups of believers to have a united way of praying – a liturgy if you will. An agreed upon practice that they could, together, offer to God. The Jews recited scripture regularly together, and, as the disciples stated, John the Baptist’s followers also had a prescribed way of worshipping and praying as a community.
It’s important that, as a community, we are clear about what we believe. Companies will pay consultants thousands of dollars to help them develop a vision statement, and even churches proclaim a doctrine that they follow. The disciples wanted clarity and unity from their leader on how they should pray.
They asked…and Jesus responded. If you think about it, that, in itself, was a prayer.
This shows us that prayer can be simple. Prayer is simply going to God with an open heart and speaking to Him. God longs to have an ongoing conversation with you. He is indeed worthy of our honor and deserves all the glory and reverence we can offer, but God thinks you are pretty cool. I like to picture a parent picking up a child from preschool…can you visualize it? The child runs to the parent and the parent scoops him up in her arms. An onlooker would be hard-pressed to say if the parent or the child enjoyed the encounter more. When we go to God, He is the loving parent who scoops us up into a bear hug, making us both smile.
Jesus responded to his disciples request…because that’s what Jesus does when we go to Him…verse 2…
2 Jesus said, “This is how you should pray:[a]
“Father, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. 3 Give us each day the food we need,[b] 4 and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation.[c]”
The first sentence of Jesus’ prayer recognized the tension that every Christian wrestles with – the fact that God is our Father who longs for a personal relationship with us, and yet is indescribably holy, requiring our reverence and awe. We must love and cling to God, but not let ourselves take His greatness and worth for granted.
Prayer is simple…and prayer requires that
God be approached with love and reverence.
Jesus prays…May your Kingdom come soon. We, too, are to pray for God’s will to be done on earth. This includes praying that OTHERS will follow and yield to God’s will, but we should also request that we, the pray-er, will have the strength and wisdom to willingly submit to following God’s will for US.
Jesus continues his prayer…Give us each day the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation.”
We can trust God’s provision, forgiveness, and protection – but He wants us to go to Him and ask for it.
Prayer is simple and God is to be approached with love and reverence. And when handled as such, our prayers will remind us of God’s goodness.
When we ASK God to provide our needs, and then He does – the glory goes to God alone. When we sin and go to God seeking forgiveness and it is granted – God gets the glory. And when we ask God for His protection in a difficult circumstance and His power then flows through us giving us the strength to stand strong against the winds of this world – God alone gets the glory.
Prayer is simple. We are to approach God with love and reverence, and when we do, we learn to trust God in all things, and He alone gets the glory.
Jesus answered the disciples’ request, giving them words to pray as Christ-followers in community. But Jesus had more to teach His disciples about prayer. Verse 5…
5 Then, teaching them more about prayer, he used this story: “Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him, 6 ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’ 7 And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’ 8 But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence.
Let’s attempt to step into Jesus’ culture to understand this story better. The first thing to recognize is that offering hospitality to guests was of paramount importance. When someone arrived on your doorstep, they were to be treated well, including being fed after a long day’s journey. The second thing we need to understand is that there were no carry-out restaurants, pizza delivery, uber eats, or 24-hour grocery stores. Bread was baked likely every few days at each household, and it was not a quick, easy process. Those in the community would have leaned on each other in times of need. Neighbors would have known what days their neighbors baked on. This was important because how a visitor was treated reflected on the community as a whole.
So the “you” in this parable – the person with the visitor and no bread offer – was not at fault. They were just at the tail-end of their bread cycle. The respectful thing to do was to go to the neighbor who had baked that day and request some bread for their visitor. In this case, the neighbor reacts a bit grumpily, after all, he had just gotten the kids down for bed – I think many of us can relate to that! But, because of cultural expectations, he does eventually open the door and share his bread.
As we hear this story, we are not to assume that God is the surly neighbor with the bread. Instead, we are to make a correlation. If THAT neighbor, though unhappy, would share HIS bread because someone knocked on his door and asked, how much more can we depend on our God who is NOT surly, who loves us unconditionally, AND who holds ALL the bread? When we knock on GOD’S door with a request, we can trust that He will respond with a joyful heart, ready to provide exactly what we need.
9 “And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
God wants us to come to Him with everything. Our prayers are to be ongoing. We must never hesitate to knock on His door.
Our prayers can be simple, but they should be constant, full of love and reverence, and offered with an expectation to see God’s glory.
11 “You fathers—if your children ask[e] for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? 12 Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! 13 So if you sinful people 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.”
God loves you more than you can possibly imagine!! And the God who loves you is also the all-sufficient God who created and rules the universe. When we ask our God, it is HIS DELIGHT to bestow His blessings on us! God is not a vending machine or a genie in a bottle, available to grant our wishes. He is so much more. God is PERFECT and HOLY, and when we ask Him, He will give us what we NEED. He may not pull us out of a trial, but when we ask, we can be assured that He will walk through the trial with us. God may not fix all our issues, but when we seek Him, we can trust that He will give us wisdom and strength to handle anything that comes at us. Our gracious Father may not provide everything we want and desire, but when we knock on His door, we can trust that He WILL provide us with everything we need.
We are to ask, seek, and knock on God’s door every day of our lives. We do that through prayer – corporate prayer and personal prayer, by reciting liturgy and singing songs together, and even by offering our groans to God through our pain. Our prayers can be simple and should be ongoing. They should be full of reverence and love for the only God we are to glorify and praise. And our prayers can be offered with FULL ASSURANCE that our God will respond – better than we could ask or imagine.
Dear Most Precious God – we love you. We honor you, praise you, and thank you! God we offer our prayers to you – our eloquent words, our needs, and our indiscernible groans. We offer them in full assurance that you will ongoingly hear and answer us – for our good, and most importantly, for your glory. Thank you! Thank you for being our God, our Savior, and our friend. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.