Keep On Asking...Once Isn't Enough

Read: Luke 11:1-13

This passage is very familiar to most of us. It is the passage where the disciples approach Jesus after listening to His prayer session. They ask Him, “teach us how to pray,” then Jesus proceeds to instruct them in the Lord's prayer. Most of us stop here at verse 4, but verse 5 says this…”Then, teaching them MORE about prayer, He used this story” (emphasis added). He then tells the story of a man going over to his neighbor’s house after dark to ask for 3 loaves of bread. A guest had arrived, and he had nothing to offer him. Jesus shares that the neighbor responded to the one knocking that he was already in bed, the door was locked, and he could not help him. Jesus then brings the point that even though their friendship was not enough to  get the neighbor out of bed to help, it would be the man’s persistence in knocking and asking that would cause the neighbor to help him. In fact, Jesus uses the statement “shameless persistence” to express the reason the neighbor finally helped him.

During that time period, it was customary to feed a guest upon arrival to your home. You would offer them food and drink and a place to stay, even if unexpected. It would have been rude and insulting not to provide those things, even to someone showing up unannounced. So the urgency of the man to provide something for his guest was greater than the man’s concern for upsetting his neighbor. Jesus wanted to drive home a scenario that would make sense to the guys listening to him. They would have understood the urgency the man was experiencing to feed his guest.

It would be like us on Christmas morning having realized we forgot to get the batteries for our child's toy so they could not play with it until we found batteries. We would jump in our car and drive around looking for a store that was open and sold batteries, then we’d end up paying more because it was at Sheetz. It would have to require that shameless persistence to find the batteries, knowing our child could not play with the toy you bought them until you did.

Jesus, uses this story to teach his guys MORE about prayer, keep that in mind. Not only do we follow the example of the Lord’s prayer, but there is an underlying heart behind the story. And no, it is not that we should keep asking like a spoiled brat until God gives us what we want. Verses 9 & 10 tell us that there is a blessing, an answer, to those who continue to ask God persistently.

You see, I have found that one of two things happen to that which I ask for in prayer. One, I realize that it was not so important to me that I continue asking or maintain persistence in looking for the answers to my prayers. I grow tired of asking, my persistence gives way to fatigue and frustration, and I realize the thing I was asking for was not as important as I originally thought. Two, my persistence exceeds my fatigue, because I am more desperate and in need of God’s answer than I am to my own comfort and self-reliance, which compels me to continue asking.

If you read verses 9 &10 in the King James version, it reveals to us that the action of asking, seeking, and knocking are written in a present progressive participle, which means it is an action that continues to occur now and into the future. It is ongoing. So for those who continue to ask will receive, those who continue to seek will find, and those who continue to knock the door will be opened. Persistence.

So the Lord’s prayer teaches us about keeping God first and honoring Him above all else, to establish His Kingdom on Earth, and to depend on Him for everything we need each day. That forgiveness is necessary for the believer to receive and to give. We should pray for God to always reveal a way out of the temptations of our heart so that we are not drawn away into sin/disobedience.

Jesus teaches us how to pray, then says, “but wait there's MORE.” Not only should we pray, as in verses 2-4, but we should be persistent in asking. It is one of the great mysteries of God. He is sovereign, and yet He is moved with compassion by His people. We can actually enable God to move on our behalf or on the behalf of others through consistent and ongoing prayer. The problem is that most of the time, we give up too soon asking, seeking, and knocking because of self-reliance. We just decide to take matters into our own hands and “help God out.” God is not going to bypass your will to accomplish something, instead He is looking to see if WE will bypass OUR will to see Him accomplish it all. Persistence in prayer begins to tell God that I am dependent on You and YOUR BREAD. It positions our hearts to a place that if God is not in it, I don’t want it. Persistence in prayer allows us to take on His heart and His will and desires for us.

Find a rhythm of prayer, where you come asking, seeking and knocking. Do not grow tired in waiting for God to move; you just may be that one additional knock away of Him responding on your behalf. We don’t get to choose God’s timing; we do get to choose if we will remain persistent in our dependance on Him.

Then the next couple of verses show us a father giving good gifts to his children. I could not imagine giving a gift to my kids that I knew would be harmful to them. I would only give them things that would be good for them. God’s response to my prayers also lets me know if what I was asking for was harmful to me. God does not want to give us something that is going to hurt us. In fact, He goes on to say that He will give us the Holy Spirit, Whom has His very nature and character. The Holy Spirit is the absolute best gift He could ever give us for all eternity. So when we recognize He has already given us the BEST gift He could, what would He ever withhold from us when asking? The most He will say is, ”I don’t think that will be helpful for you.” If I am persistently praying for it, along with the Lord’s prayer, His kingdom will be further established in me, my heart will then conform to His heart, and I no longer will desire/want/pray for that thing to come to pass.

All of that works beautifully together and provides a place and a rhythm for God to be present with you and answer your prayers in ways that do not result in disappointment, but with the thought that He has better for you. So pray with the Lord’s prayer in mind, pray for your heart and will to be conformed to His, and always bring your petitions to His feet and lay them there with persistence and trusting Him TO ANSWER with what you need the most.

Journal Questions
1. In my day, where can I make prayer a consistent part of my life, where I make the decision that NOTHING is more important than that time and nothing will ever override it? Start with a pledge of 15 minutes a day to read your Bible and to pray.

2. Is there one thing in your life right now that you are seeking God’s answer for? Make it a priority to not move until He has answered your persistent daily prayers. Don’t give up and don’t quit. Your answer is coming. HE PROMISED.

3. Do I really believe that the Holy Spirit was His best gift to me?

4. Do you keep a list of things to pray for? Do you update it daily/weekly based on the answers or the changes that take place in heart regarding that list?

Father, You are amazing. You are the only One that knows my heart, You know my thoughts, and You know my desires. I pray that Your kingdom would be alive in me today. Let me walk in Your principles and be empowered by Your Holy Spirit. As I walk through today, I know I will need forgiveness from You, and I will need to offer forgiveness to others when I feel wronged by them. It is never a one-time thing, and please let me always be reminded of that. Father as I walk after You and seek You, I will encounter things that will try to lure me away from Your heart. When that happens, help me to see it. Help me be wise in You and listen to Your Holy Spirit that lives within me to find an escape route. I never want temptation to result in living a standard that is less than the one You died for me to have. I am eternally grateful for Your love and as I lift these other requests and prayers to your throne including:
Please hear me ,and I trust that You will always answer my prayers or change my heart in them so that my will conforms to Yours in all things. You are the Creator of all things, and I trust in You to be the author and finisher of the novel that is called ‘me.’ I love you.
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