After Jesus gives his disciples his pattern for how they should pray in Luke 11, he continues by telling them a story. His main point is to teach them, and us, to continue in persistent and confident prayers, even when we see no answers.
In this story, Jesus describes a man and his family who are asleep in their home at midnight. A friend of the man suddenly begins knocking at his door because he needs bread for his guests. Jesus says the man who was in bed doesn’t get up and open the door. Instead this man yells out, “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” (Luke 11:7).
The reason the man says his children were with him in bed is because he and all his family members were probably sleeping together in one large room, as was the custom then. And if the man gets up and lights a lamp, he’ll wake everyone up.
But, Jesus says the man eventually got up because of one reason. His friend continued knocking. The Greek word, ἀναίδειαν, used to describe what this man did can be translated by several different words. One is “persistence”. He persisted knocking.
Another word is “impudence”, meaning without modesty or shame. This is a shameless boldness. It’s someone continually knocking without any shame, in brazenly immodest way. What is shameless is not what is being asked for. He’s just asking for bread. But what is shameless is that he won’t stop asking until he receives the answer.
Jesus is teaching us here that this is how we should pray. With persistent, shameless boldness especially when facing no answer.
Jesus continues teaching by saying, “And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” Luke 11:9. These words are in the present tense, meaning more literally, “Keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking.”
It’s very easy for us to see this teaching of Jesus on prayer more like suggestions of Jesus rather than commands. Prayer is a privilege of the children of God. But we also learn here that persistent prayer is also a command. If we are not persevering and persisting in prayer in the face of no answers, we are being disobedient to God.
If we are not persevering and persisting in prayer in the
face of no answers, we are being disobedient to God.
This is why a long-term devotion to persistent Kingdom prayer, following the pattern Jesus gave us, must be at the core of every church that wants to be healthy. Only a church committed to persistent kingdom prayer will be a true foretaste and instrument of the Kingdom of God on earth.
After Jesus first gives us a pattern to follow in prayer, and then he calls us to be persistent in our prayer; he ends his teaching on prayer with words meant to inspire us to have confidence when we pray.
Jesus says: “And I tell 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 the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 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 your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:10-13).
Notice how Jesus ends his teaching on prayer where he began—pointing us to the Father. In the pattern he gave us, he teaches us that, when we pray, we should pray to God as Our Father. Here he teaches us that when we pray to Our Father, we need to remember that he is a good and loving Father who takes great pleasure in hearing and answering the persistent prayers of his children.
If you ask for something and you don’t get it, it probably wouldn’t have been a good gift. Matthew 7:11.
That’s your confidence. You are not alone. You’re not without resources. You have a Father who gives good gifts. John Newton reminds us, that when our loving Heavenly Father doesn’t answer our prayers the way we want, it doesn’t mean he does not hear or that he is not answering. Newton writes, “God works all things together for our good: everything is needful that he sends; nothing is needful that he withholds.”
“God works all things together for our good:
everything is needful that he sends; nothing is needful that he withholds.”
If you want to know that you can trust the Father, look at his one and only Son, Jesus, in the Garden of Gethsemane before going to the cross. He asked the Father to allow the cup of God’s wrath not to be poured out on him if there was any other way. Did the Father answer his eternal Son’s prayer?
He didn’t answer his prayer by allowing Jesus to avoid the cross. He knew that without the cross, Jesus could not fulfill his mission by ultimately defeating Sin, Satan, and death itself. Without the cross, Jesus could never be raised from the dead with power, ascend to the right hand of God, and pour out the fullness of God’s Spirit on his church to form a people from every tribe, tongue, and nation who will worship and serve him in a new heaven and new earth for eternity.
Romans 8:32 drives home the most important point about the Father we must never forget when we pray: “He (Father) who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also graciously give us all things?” When God does not give you what you ask for, don’t allow yourself to think that the Father is not loving you. I promise you. God’s word promises you, that he does. So keep praying with confidence of his love and never forget that Jesus is the highest proof of his love.
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